Jared Cannonier (13-4) has competed at heavyweight and light heavyweight and has a new home in the middleweight division. Since moving to middleweight in the UFC, Cannonier is 3-0 with three knockout victories. Cannonier has scored finishes in 11 of his 13 career victories. The three losses he has sustained in the UFC came at the aforementioned weight classes. DraftKings has the Killa Gorilla listed as the favorite at $8,200. Cannonier has been on a surge lately, and it's possible that he ends Whittaker's night early.
Robert Whittaker (21-5) has a huge opportunity in Saturday's co-main event to interject himself back into the title picture if he can knock off the surging Jared Cannonier. Whittaker has shown the ability to go to the limit or finish his opponents, with 14 of his 21 career wins coming by finish. The Reaper has only lost once in his last 11 bouts, and that was when he dropped the title to current champion Israel Adesanya. Whittaker is on a mission to earn back his title. DraftKings has the former champion listed at $8,000, which makes him a slight underdog to his opponent's $8,200 price tag. Whittaker has averaged 77.7 points per contest over the span of his UFC career.
Walt Harris (13-8) is a veteran of the UFC since 2014 and needs a big win on Saturday, as a victory could propel him to just outside the top five of the heavyweight division. The Big Ticket cashes in his victories by way of knockout, with all 13 of his career wins coming by the knockout. DraftKings has Harris as the underdog against Alexander Volkov with a salary of $7,600 for Saturday's main-card bout. Throughout his extensive UFC career, Harris averages 55.8 points per contest. On a need scale, this is massive for Harris, and he may just be able to pull out the upset to earn lucky No. 14 knockout in his career.
Alexander Volkov (31-8) has lost two of his last three fights, with those two bouts coming against Derrick Lewis and Curtis Blaydes. It's important for Volkov to score a big win here if he wants to remain in the top echelon of heavyweights. Volkov has finished the large majority of his wins, scoring finishes in 23 of 31 bouts. Drago has had a decent run in the UFC, earning a record of 5-2. DraftKings has the Russian striker listed at $8,600. So far through his seven UFC bouts, Volkov has averaged 76.6 points per contest. He's facing Walt Harris, who is coming off of a second-round TKO loss to Alistair Overeem back in May.
Jacob Malkoun (4-0) will make his UFC debut Saturday night on the main card of UFC 254. Though his opponent is making his debut as well, Malkoun is the big underdog due to his lack of competition compared to Phil Hawes'. Though he has scored knockouts in two of his four victories, this is going to be Malkoun's toughest task to date. DraftKings has him listed at $7,100 . It's not worth the risk and it's best to sit this one out on the training partner of Robert Whittaker.
After fighting under the WSOF and Bellator MMA lights, Phil Hawes (8-2) finally earned his spot into the Octagon after a Contender Series win and gets to fight on the main card of UFC 254 this weekend. Hawes is an aggressive fighter always out for the finish, as he's finished all eight of his wins, with six coming by way of knockout. DraftKings has Megatron as the favorite in this bout, listed at $9,100. Hawes said that this will be his "best performance ever." The salary may look high, but Hawes should be in your fantasy lineups come Saturday.
Liliya Shakirova (8-1) received what all fighters dream of, and that's the call-up to the UFC. The tough part, however, is that it's a late-notice bout against a veteran in Lauren Murphy. Shakirova enters the Octagon as the former Gorilla Fights strawweight champion. Shakirova has shown several times that she can go the distance, with four of her victories coming by finish and four coming by decision. It might be best to stay away from Shakirova going into this bout, as she has a very tough test in front of her in Murphy. Let's see how she performs against a veteran before investing in her moving forward.
Lauren Murphy (13-4) will enter the Octagon officially for the 10th time on Saturday night. Murphy averages 3.88 significant strikes per minute along with 1.14 takedowns per 15 minutes. The 37-year-old brings a veteran presence to UFC 254 against her opponent, who is making a late-notice UFC debut. Murphy does pack a punch, with eight of her 13 career bouts ending with the knockout, though her last two bouts have ended by decision. Look for the veteran to push the pace on the newcomer to try and grind her out.
Ion Cutelaba (15-5) will look to avenge the bad technical knockout in his last outing against Magomed Ankalaev. Fourteen of Cutelaba's 15 career wins have come by finish, and it's a sure thing that Cutelaba would like nothing more than to avenge his loss with a big knockout win. He does out-strike his opponents, landing 5.29 significant strikes per minute. The Southpaw also averages 2.59 takedowns per 15 minutes, so his ground game may come in handy as well. DraftKings has the Hulk listed at $7,300. Cutelaba averages 66.1 points per contest throughout his eight UFC bouts.
Magomed Ankalaev (13-1) and Ion Cutelaba will run it back after Ankalaev was ruled the winner via technical knockout in their last meeting. Many complained that it was an early stoppage, so these fighters will run it back. Ankalaev lands less significant strikes per minute, averaging 3.46, but he lands them at a higher percentage of 56.88%. Eight of Ankalaev's 13 career wins have come by finish. DraftKings sees Ankalaev as the favorite, listing his salary for the night at $8,900. Through five UFC bouts, Ankalaev averages 79.9 points per contest. He is going to want to show that his first victory was not a fluke.
Chan Sung Jung, also known as the Korean Zombie, was out-struck in a bout he looked to have the upper hand in. Jung only landed 62 significant strikes (64 total strikes), which was half of his opponent's strike count. Brian Ortega was always just a step ahead of the Zombie, taking all five rounds on all three judges' scorecards. Jung also absorbed 41 strikes to his legs, which served to take away his base and slow his movement down. We might never see him compete for a title again, but he still has a few more big-time bouts left in him.
Brian Ortega put on a solid striking display, taking all five rounds in a unanimous decision over the Korean Zombie on Saturday. Ortega landed an impressive 127 significant strikes (129 total strikes) along with only going 3-for-10 on his takedowns. The complete-team switch for Ortega paid off, as he dominated an opponent known for his amazing striking. It looks like Ortega's next matchup will be for the featherweight championship against another tough striker in Alexander Volkanovski. It was nice to see Ortega improve on his striking after the tough outing a few years back to Max Holloway, which was the last time we saw him in action.
Katlyn Chookagian may have been the division's top fighter, but she had an extremely tough task in front of her while facing the former strawweight champion in Jessica Andrade. With just five seconds left in the first round, the bout was called to a stop as Andrade imposed her will and earned the TKO stoppage. Chookagian was able to reel off 19 significant strikes (27 total strikes) while not attempting any takedowns. Chookagian is a solid fighter but won't do much for your fantasy lineups. Being a solid, winning fighter doesn't always translate to fantasy stardom.
Jessica Andrade impressed in her bout with Katlyn Chookagian in her flyweight debut against the No. 1 contender. With just five seconds left in the first round, the referee called a stop to the action as Andrade continued to rain down shots on her downed opponent. Scoring a win over the top contender puts Andrade in line for a shot at the title. The problem in the fantasy world for Andrade fans is that shot comes against the dangerous Valentina Shevchenko. Andrade racked up 28 significant strikes (62 total strikes) in her 4:55 of action in Saturday's co-main event. She was also solid in her takedown attempts, landing two of three.
Modestas Bukauskas ran into a tough test on Saturday, getting knocked out in the first round against Jimmy Crute around two minutes into the bout. Bukauskas only landed seven significant strikes in two minutes of action and stuffed one takedown attempt by Crute. Prior to the loss, Bukauskas had won seven bouts in a row, so the ability is there for him to get back on track. The 26-year-old should rebound, as Crute was quite the test for the Baltic Gladiator.
Jimmy Crute continues to showcase his skills in the Octagon, scoring his second straight first-round finish. He is now 4-1 in the UFC and is on quite the run. Crute only netted 17 significant strikes, but the bout only lasted two minutes. With the light heavyweight division in a new phase of its evolution, Crute should get a fighter in the top 15 next and start working his way up. It's probably a good idea to keep riding the hot hand of Crute, who has a submission and a knockout in the first round of back-to-back victories.
Claudio Silva ran into a roadblock on his path to the top 15, dropping a unanimous decision to James Krause. With top-notch grappling, Silva attempted 12 takedowns but was only successful on two of them. He also had a poor striking output, landing 29% of his strikes. Silva tallied only 64 significant strikes (66 total). The 38-year-old Brazilian is actually older than Krause, but he has less MMA miles on his body, so we should see Silva back in there soon. Silva will continue to use the playbook that got him to the UFC and got him wins in the UFC, and that has come by securing big-time submissions for the win.
James Krause looked impressive inside the Octagon on Saturday, racking up his 28th professional victory. He went into the Octagon and derailed the undefeated Claudio Silva, who was 5-0 in the UFC. At some point during the first round, Krause injured his knee. He did not let that stop him, though, as he racked up 94 significant strikes (96 total strikes). He also defended 10 takedown attempts, of which 12 were attempted. Unfortunately, it looks like this may be the back end of Krause's career, as he also runs a successful gym and coaches several professional fighters.
Jonathan Martinez looked solid against a veteran Saturday night after taking the fight on eight days of notice. Martinez racked up 73 significant strikes on the night and won the battle of exchanges in the pocket with Thomas Almeida. Martinez has now won four of his last five bouts inside the Octagon. Dragon might be a fighter you want to keep your eye on if you are running low on money to fill out your lineups on Saturday. Let's just see how he is matched up the next time out.
Thomas Almeida put on a great performance against Jonathan Martinez but was unable to get the unanimous decision. Almeida scored 64 significant strikes and did not attempt any takedowns on the night. In the battle of two strikers, the two stayed in the pocket and exchanged blows, with Martinez getting the better of the exchanges. It's been a rough road for Almeida, who has now lost four of his last five bouts. Thominhas has for sure lost a step or two from his pre-Cody Garbrandt form. Almeida may be a fighter you want to leave off of your radar when you select your lineups moving forward.
Chan Sung Jung, also known as the Korean Zombie, has looked great since his return from his mandatory two-year military service back in his homeland of South Korea. He has competed in the Octagon four times since then and has a record of 3-1. The lone loss was to Yair Rodriguez, which came on a last second hail-mary elbow that knocked Sung Jung out. DraftKings has the Korean Zombie listed at $8,600 for the night's main event. He has a very strong scoring average of 91.4 points per contest. He is absolutely someone you should roster.
Brian Ortega (14-1) returns to the Octagon after a near two-year layoff. Coming off of his first career loss, how will Ortega respond? Thus far in his UFC career, Ortega has landed 4.07 significant strikes per minute. The problem may come from his absorption rate, which sits at 7.36 significant strikes absorbed per minute. T-City has finished 10 of his 14 career wins, with seven of those coming by submission. DraftKings has the California native listed at $7,600 for Saturday's main event. He also averages 72.7 points per contest. Buyer beware: Ortega is facing an extremely dangerous striker who will keep pressure on him, similar to what happened in his devastating loss to Max Holloway.
Katlyn Chookagian (14-3) is welcoming an extremely tough newcomer to the division in Jessica Andrade in Saturday's co-main event. Chookagian uses her strikes to keep opponents away and usually goes the distance, winning 11 of her 14 bouts by decision. It will be vital to keep Andrade at bay, because if her opponent can keep it close, it may spell trouble for Chookagian making it the full 15 minutes. DraftKings has Blonde Fighter listed at $7,800 for the night's co-main event. Through her 10 UFC bouts, Chookagian averages 55.0 points per contest.
Jessica Andrade (20-8) moves up to the flyweight division with a chance to move into the title picture if she can get past Katlyn Chookagian. Andrade is a finisher, with 14 of her 20 career wins coming by knockout or submission. The former strawweight champion has lost her last two bouts in a row, but hopefully this move up in weight class will revive her career. DraftKings has Bate Estaca listed at $8,400. Throughout her seven-year stint in the UFC, Andrade has an average fantasy score of 86.5 points. Facing Chookagian, Andrade needs to come out and win emphatically to revitalize her career, which is probably what will happen.
Jimmy Crute (11-1) rebounded well from his submission loss to Misha Cirkunov by submitting Michal Oleksiejczuk in February. Eight of Crute's 11 wins have come by finish, splitting the knockout-to-submission ratio. Crute is a Contender Series winner from 2018 who has gone 3-1 since fighting inside the Octagon. DraftKings has the Brute listed at $9,000. Thus far, he has a nice average of 90.3 points per contest through four UFC bouts. He's up for a tough task, and his $9,000 DraftKings price tag is a bit steep for such a tough opponent.
Modestas Bukauskas (11-2) will look to go 2-0 inside the Octagon and continue his seven-fight finishing streak. Bukauskas has finished 10 of his 11 victories, with his lone decision victory coming in his professional debut. The Baltic Gladiator only earned 18 significant strikes in his last bout, but the bout only lasted one round. The Lithuanian earned 99 fantasy points for the contest. DraftKings has him listed at $7,200 for Saturday's main card. Though he's facing a tough opponent in Jimmy Crute, it might be worth the gamble for that price tag to roster Bukauskas.
James Krause (27-8) is Mr. Late Notice for the UFC, taking bouts regardless of preparation time. His last bout came on a couple of days notice and he ended up only losing by a split decision to a very tough opponent in Trevin Giles. Prior to that bout, Krause had won his last four bouts in a row. Krause has finished 23 of his 27 career bouts, with 15 of those coming by submission. DraftKings has Krause listed at $8,500 heading into Saturday's event. Krause also has a solid average of 74.8 points per contest. He is facing a hot up-and-coming prospect, so this should prove to be a tough matchup for both men.
Claudio Silva (14-1) is a quiet 5-0 in the UFC's welterweight division. He actually has victories over big names like Leon Edwards and Nordine Taleb. Hannibal has finished 11 of his 14 career victories, with 10 of those coming by submission. This is a huge bout for the submission specialist as he faces James Krause, who received the call on late notice to step in against Silva. With a win, there is no doubt Silva should earn his way into the welterweight's top 15. DraftKings has the submission star listed at $7,700. So far through his five bouts, Silva has averaged 95.7 points per contest. Krause will prove to be a tough test, but it's a good idea to go ahead and roster Silva.
Jonathan Martinez (12-3) gets his biggest task to date as he takes on Thomas Almeida in the night's main card. Martinez has finished nine of his 12 career victories. He is currently 3-2 in the UFC and is coming off of a third-round TKO victory in August. Martinez's significant-strike rate is a bit lower than Almeida's, as he's averaging 3.67 significant strikes per minute along with a 33% takedown defense. DraftKings has the 26-year-old listed at $8,000. Dragon has an average of 68.5 points per contest throughout his five UFC bouts. This will be a very close battle.
Thomas Almeida (22-3) has sustained his three career losses in his last four bouts. The 29-year-old Brazilian is a dangerous finisher, with 21 of his 22 career wins coming by finish, and 17 of those by knockout. By the time Almeida steps back in the Octagon to battle Jonathan Martinez, it will be nearly three years since his last bout (October of 2018.) Almeida has a solid significant-strike rate, averaging 5.66 of them. One-hundred percent of his career significant strikes have come either in the clinch or in the standup game. DraftKings has Thominhas listed at $8,200. Hopefully the time off has served Almeida well.