The UFC Paris chalkboard article was about as accurate as it could be, but we can’t take too much pleasure in that because the 9k range was so small for that event. We did manage to nail the Farid Basharat cash play, as well as Charierre being worthy of a similar play when his ownership came back so high. The fighter to avoid was Jacquline Cavalcanti, which also worked out really well, and we didn’t even bother to write up Caolan Loughran because the fight swap made him unplayable at $9300. This week we try to do it again, but on a much larger 9k range for UFC 293.
For the third event in a row, we are going to be International. This time around we head to Sydney, Australia in the Qudos Bank Arena. The card is headlined with a middleweight championship fight between reigning champion Israel Adesanya and Sean Strickland. The rest of the event is littered with other Australian fighters, mostly from City Kickboxing. To be perfectly honest, this is a fight night level card, and the fact that it is a pay-per-view event should be embarrassing to the UFC. But we press on regardless and are looking to nail this breakdown of the 9k salary range on the DraftKings slate.
For anyone that hasn’t read this article before, The Chalk Board is a DraftKings Daily Fantasy Sports article where I attempt to navigate the $9000+ salary range by offering you insight into who I will be using, considering, or fading from my personal lineups. In turn, this can help navigate the lower salary range as well by design. If you choose to alter your lineups based on my statements in this article, please understand that I am not a professional gambler or DFS player, so that decision is yours. Live with the results YOU get from the decisions YOU make.
Let’s dive in to UFC 293!
$9700 – ISRAEL ADESANYA (-650)
When I thought this fight was going to be Israel Adesanya versus Alex Pereira again I was excited for it. When I thought this fight was going to be Israel Adesanya against Dricus Du Plessis I was at least invested in the narrative. Now that this fight has materialized as Israel Adesanya versus Sean Strickland, I am just not very excited for it. Regardless though, the fight exists, so let’s take a look at my early thoughts on the usability of Israel Adesanya on this slate.
Israel Adesanya is one of the most historically worthless fighters in all the land when it comes to DraftKings fantasy. He rarely finishes and doesn’t wrestle or grapple at all if the fight goes the way he would prefer it to. That means that he produces 80-85 point scores in five round decisions. That isn’t worth $8700 let alone $9700. Adesanya’s ownership is likely to be very high though, which will make him very usable for cash games, but I couldn’t be paid enough to include him into a tournament lineup.
This time around Adesanya’s opponent is Sean Strickland. Strickland is a strange high pressure, high volume striker. He will just walk forward and touch his opponents, and then seems to just hope that he touches them enough to get the round won on points. You will constantly hear people say, “But Sean could wrestle and that is an easy path for him.” I agree with that statement, he could wrestle, and it would be an easy path for him…but he won’t. I have bought into the “Sean might wrestle” narrative more times than I care to admit, and to be perfectly honest, I am just over it. He won’t wrestle. He will do what he always does and walk forward trying to win minutes through pressure and volume. This strategy is highly unlikely to work with Adesanya, but it will work to make the main event a five round nap for anyone watching it, and could bolster Israel’s score a bit just due to having to constantly be countering as opposed to taking the long rest periods each round that Adesanya has grown accustomed to.
Like I said above, Israel Adesanya should be a fine cash play. His ownership is likely to be high enough, and he almost surely wins this fight. That being said, I don’t even think I can do it for cash. At $9700, I just can’t. He doesn’t score and there are at least two fighters in this range that are much cheaper than him and bring the same level of confidence for me. On the flip side I will almost surely punt with Strickland in both cash and tournaments because his heavy forward pressure at $6500 sounds like a decent pay off for cash and small-field single-entry tournaments, even in a loss.
$9500 – NASRAT HAQPARAST (-470)
Almost as if the UFC was in competition with themselves to find the fight that would produce the least amount of fucks given, they have delivered for us Nasrat Haqparast versus UFC debutant Landon Quinones. If Israel Adesanya fights put you to sleep then Nasrat Haqparast fights could be potentially coma inducing. The bright side here is that with a fighter making their promotion debut, they almost always go hard which could bring it out of Haqparast.
Nasrat Haqparast is a very defensively sound fighter who not only defends well in the striking department but also has near 80% takedown defense as well. Haqparast is actually somewhat high volume himself, but that doesn’t change that his fights tend to be less exciting than a game of shuffleboard at a retirement home. He only has one UFC finish win, and only one UFC finish loss, across ten fights with the promotion. His opponent here, Landon Quinones, is making his UFC debut after producing a losing effort on The Ultimate Fighter season that just wrapped up. Quinones didn’t look half bad on the show prior to getting submitted in the first round by Jason Knight, and I firmly believe he could end up being at least mid tier in the UFC. This fight is unlikely to be his coming out party though. This is a massive step up from the level of competition in the TUF house, and he didn’t last there. MMA math tells me he won’t last here either against a very sound fighter that isn’t an easy out.
Truthfully I cannot see playing this fight at all, either side. I do believe that Nasrat Haqparast wins this, and does so fairly convincingly, but I struggle to believe that it will produce a score worth rostering at $9500. When it comes to the contests that I know about, which are cash and small-field single-entry GPP’s I would not even entertain putting either fighter in a single lineup. In bigger tournaments I could see taking a stab at either in a contrarian fashion to hope for the one-off type of outcome, but there is nothing safe and reliable about the score this fight is likely to produce.
$9300 – MANEL KAPE (-385)
Manel Kape is one of those fighters that seem to have a hard time keeping an opponent. I have been an avid Kape hater for a while now, and while I still can’t wait for the day his arrogant ass gets steamrolled by someone with several vowels in their name, this is probably not the spot. Originally set to fight Kai-Kara France, this was a fight that I was very interested in, but France had to pull out with a concussion and the last minute replacement is Felipe Dos Santos.
Kape is a dynamic striker who shines in his ability to time perfect counters. He manages to stay upright better than most, with a takedown defense around 70%, but he was just recently taken down by David Dvorak twice in his last fight. That will ultimately be the path for the person that does beat him in my opinion, but I doubt we see much wrestling here. Kape’s opponent is an undefeated Chute Boxe fighter named Felipe Dos Santos. Dos Santos has numerous finish wins, but to come in and fight a top ranked fighter like Kape is too much too soon in my opinion.
Kape is a hit or miss scorer, but being $400 less expensive than Adesanya means that if his ownership is anywhere near what I would consider acceptable then I would certainly choose to save that money in cash, and most likely would carry over into single-entry tournaments as well. I can’t see using Felipe Dos Santos in either cash or small-field tournaments.
$9200 – CARLOS ULBERG (-260)
While we are on the topic of fighters that are lower priced than Israel Adesanya and very likely to score more points, let's take a look at fellow City Kickboxing fighter Carlos Ulberg. In this fight Ulberg will be matching up with Da Woon Jung. This fight is surely going to be a popular target on either side of the fence for those playing in large tournaments, but let’s break down how this fight looks for those of us that play much more reserved.
Carlos Ulberg is riding a three fight first round finish streak with some fairly well known names as his opponents. Ulberg is a large, rangy, kickboxer that has a high level of power behind his strikes. He has looked solid both offensively and defensively, having only one loss in the UFC in a fight he was winning prior to being clipped by Kennedy Nzechukwu. Ulberg’s opponent here, Da Woon Jung, is a big well rounded fighter that is capable of producing big power himself. The difference between the two is that Ulberg is much cleaner with his striking, and has a higher level of athleticism to get in and out of exchanges. Jung is probably the more well rounded fighter, but I am not completely convinced that will matter here.
I am pretty firmly on the Carlos Ulberg side here, but knowing that he has been knocked out in the UFC already leaves me with enough pause to probably exclude him from cash contests regardless of ownership. When it comes to those small-field single-entry tournaments though, Ulberg will likely be a fixture in my lineups.
$9100 – CHARLIE RADTKE (-345)
For the value hunters out there this is your spot. Charlie Radtke is sitting at -345 which makes him a much better tournament value than the fighter directly above him at only -260 for $100 more salary. Radtke is making his UFC debut and he does so against Blood Diamond, who has had a very rough start to his UFC career.
I am not incredibly impressed by this fight as a whole. I believe that Blood Diamond is a benefactor of being friends with Israel Adesanya and that has gotten him now three opportunities to show what he has in the UFC. All three of those fights have seen him as the heavy underdog, and this one is shaping up no different. Charlie Radtke shouldn’t be able to stand and strike with Blood Diamond, who is a high level striker, but when it comes to virtually all other aspects of MMA he should be able to get the job done. There were periods of sloppiness in the grappling tape I have seen from Radtke, but it shouldn’t be enough to cause concern when his opponent is someone that quite literally cannot grapple effectively.
This fight is another great target for your tournament contests. If Radtke can fulfill what the odds for this fight imply, then he likely does so with some wrestling and grappling, and if he can’t then Blood Diamond probably found his chin in the striking department. Either way it goes you have an opportunity for a big score from the winner. I would avoid this one for cash contests completely, but when it comes to tournaments I wouldn’t hesitate to roster either of these fighters.
$9000 – JUSTIN TAFA (-200)
For the last fighter in the 9k range we have everyone’s second favorite heavyweight on the card, Justin Tafa. He is set to replay his last fight against Austen Lane that was stopped early in the first round due to an eye poke that left Tafa unable to see.
Tafa is one of those fighters that will be the same fighter each and everytime someone breaks him down. He doesn’t wrestle or grapple, and prefers to stay on the outside and throw bombs until one connects for him. He packs loads of power and is live in every fight until he is put out himself. In this one he is fighting Austen Lane again, who was looking to be too much for Tafa in my opinion in the last one until the eye poke caused the action to stop. Lane could obviously still have been caught by something from Tafa, but the pressure and pace from Lane was not looking great for Justin Tafa best I could tell.
Obviously I am not going to target a heavyweight fight with two bangers for cash contests, but when it comes to tournaments this fight should be gold. The bulk of the ownership in this fight will be on Tafa is my assumption, but I can’t help but think that Lane was just too quick and pressure heavy not to be more interested in that side for tournaments.
There are loads of options when it comes to DraftKings this week because of how abundant the 9k salary range is, not to mention that the 8k range is loaded with possibilities as well. This slate should be fun, and present a real opportunity for those that understand DraftKings well to see profits because there will be plenty of casuals due to the pay-per-view week as well as people rostering low scorers like Adesanya due to name value. Sounds like a recipe for a fun week.
Hopefully, this Chalk Board article has helped you at least reduce the number of options in the upper salary range, and in turn isolate a few dogs you feel good about. I would like to take this time to again remind you to make YOUR OWN decisions. Don’t buy into anything I say unless it makes sense to you as well.
Good luck this week! If you need any help with your DraftKings entries you can join the free Discord server which has loads of very capable DFS players and I am sure you will find an opinion that will give you the confirmation bias that most people seek. If you need additional help then reach out to @WeWantPicks on Twitter, or you can shoot me questions as well if you like @WebGuyWWP. Thanks for reading, see you guys next week.