DFS Picks and Recommended Lineup for UFC 253
Once again, I aimed high with the big upset in a UFC main event, and I missed it. Thanks a lot, Tyron Woodley.
My MMA DFS lineup wasn’t perfect beyond that, but Woodley getting KO’d in round five certainly didn’t do me any favors.
Niko Price also settled on a Draw against Donald Cerrone, and T.J. Laramie got choked out for his first loss since 2018. At least Khamzat Chimaev, David Dvorak, and Randy Costa were all winners, so you weren’t that far away from the green if you made some changes.
My MMA DFS picks have been a mixed bag, but you’re probably never just rolling one lineup out there, anyways. I suggest using my final squad, but also generating different variations of it.
We’ve got another event on tap this week, as UFC 253 is the biggest, loudest fight card we’ve had in some time. I’ll run through my favorite MMA DFS picks for UFC 253, and if you plan on betting on the event, check out Adam Haynes’ UFC 253 betting preview.
Paulo Costa ($7.7k)
I absolutely want some exposure to the main event, and once again, I can’t get away from the underdog. In-house UFC expert Adam Haynes pegs Adesanya as one of the best UFC 253 bets, but from a DFS perspective, I want all of the Costa.
That’s even with Adesanya being ridiculously confident he’s winning this fight.
This weekend, I’m gonna make it look easy.— Israel Adesanya (@stylebender) September 23, 2020
Whether that happens or not, it’s obvious we could be in for an epic battle where both fighters accrue a ton of fantasy points. You can pair them in your daily fantasy MMA lineups, but Costa is cheaper, and he offers more KO upside.
Costa is averaging 104.7 fantasy points per match at DraftKings, and he’s just the bigger, stronger, and more explosive presence.
Just look at him. Do you want to bet against this dude?
It’s true that Adesanya’s defense and superior technical fighting could get him to the end – and maybe even the win – but Costa is the upside play. Once more into the fray, I go.
For a closer breakdown of how this specific bout may play out, check out Haynes’ Israel Adesanya vs. Paulo Costa betting preview.
Juan Espino ($9.1k)
If I am aiming high with Costa, you better believe I like Espino, who has an exceptional floor game, with six of his nine victories coming via submission.
Espino also has a knack for ending fights early, as he’s scored a first-round win in four of his last five fights. He’s nearing the finish line at age 39, but the guy has one loss to his name, and it came against heavy-hitting legend Vitaly Minakov via knockout almost a decade ago.
Since then, Espino has won even straight fights, and he’s been dominant when things get to the ground. That’s all bad news for Jeff Hughes, who has faded badly ever since a promising 10-1 start to his MMA career.
Look for Espino to get a quick win on the ground in this one, instantly paying off this hefty price tag.
Brandon Royval ($7.3k)
Royval makes the cut in our UFC 253 sleepers, and I am in agreement that he’s a very sneaky play in MMA DFS contests, too.
Blessed with an elite ground game (seven career submissions) and the ability to grind fights out (0 non-decision defeats), Royval is the classic high-floor, high-ceiling sleeper play.
He also just never seems to be in a spot where he isn’t in control.
He’s coming in hot, too, as he’s won each of his last three fights, all of which he’s pulled off a submission move. You can’t say the same for his opponent, as Kai Kara France usually tries to outlast his opponent, and despite nine career KOs, hasn’t stopped anyone early since 2018.
This fight could be tough for Royval if he’s forced to sit and exchange blows, but this thing getting to the ground makes him an elite value pick in every regard.
MMA DFS Lineup for UFC 253
- Paulo Costa ($7.7k)
- Brandon Royval ($7.3k)
- Juan Espino ($9.1k)
- Dominick Reyes ($9k)
- Danilo Marques ($7.5k)
- Jake Matthews ($9.4k)
I just don’t see the point in curbing our upside by rostering both fighters from the main event. In an insanely close match, I’ll take the savings and upside with Costa, while I’ve also detailed why Royval and Espino (albeit both coming with some risk) make sense.
To close out my UFC 253 daily fantasy lineup, I’ll add the hard-hitting Reyes, who has literally only lost in a decision to Jon Jones in his career.
Marques is a bit of a dice roll, but it’s fantasy MMA, and that’s just how it goes. He’s looking to prove himself in his UFC debut, however, and he gets a fading fighter in Khadis Ibragimov who has lost each of his last three bouts.
Lastly, I have saved enough cash to pay up for a rock-solid option in Jake Matthews. He doesn’t provide the upside we really covet, but he feels about as safe as anyone.
Matthews is a solid 16-4, has a well-rounded skill-set, and is in pretty good form with a 4-1 record over his last five fights. He’s also facing a regressing Diego Sanchez, who is 3-3 over his last six bouts and has one knockout win since 2009.
At worst, it’s likely Matthews racks up points en route to a decision, but I think there’s a solid chance he ends this one early.
That does it for my MMA DFS picks for UFC 253. Hopefully, these fighters serve you well.