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.