Welcome to my DFS breakdown for UFC Vegas 45: Daukaus vs. Lewis. After an action-packed year of fights, the UFC will close the book on 2021 this weekend from their Ape facility in Las Vegas. We currently have 14 fights scheduled for this card including the five-round headliner between two hard-hitting heavyweights. With such a big slate ahead of us, it’s important that we prioritize high-ceiling players, as it will take massive scores to take down GPPs. I’ll be in the FTNDaily Discord leading up to Saturday's slate to discuss last-minute changes and additional general slate strategy.

If you’re interested in DFS and betting takes for every fight on this card, you can check out The Undisputed MMA Show with Jon Kelly and me.

In this weekly article, I will outline three fighters who present strong floors and ceilings for your DraftKings lineups. 

High-tier: Justin Tafa $9400

Much like last week where Bruno Silva headlined this article, Justin Tafa is not necessarily a fighter I’m extremely bullish on long-term. However, DFS is a game based on one-fight samples and Tafa’s matchup against Harry Hunsucker this weekend lines up as a great spot for the Australian heavyweight. Hunsucker dropped his UFC debut via knockout 49 seconds to Tai Tuivasa earlier this year and was also knocked out by Jared Vanderaa on Contender Series 13 months ago. Hunsucker has four career losses, and they’ve all come by first-round knockout. Tafa is not the most skilled man on the roster and is just 1-3 in the UFC, but we’ve seen his power come to fruition against Juan Adams in his lone UFC win, which came by first-round knockout. It never feels great to trust Tafa, but he has a 50% chance to win by a first-round knockout via the odds this weekend. That type of upside obviously leads to a great DFS play. 

Mid-tier: Jordan Leavitt $8200

Leavitt is a grappling specialist who is 1-1 inside the UFC octagon and is lined as the smallest of favorites this weekend in a matchup against Matt Sayles. This fight is similar to Tai Tuivasa vs. Augusto Sakai last weekend where the odds indicate the fight is essentially a coin-flip, but one fighter has a much easier path to a ceiling score in DFS. Last week, that fighter was Tuivasa, and his path to being optimal was a knockout. This week I believe that fighter is Leavitt and his grappling-heavy style. Leavitt is a strong submission grappler once fights hit the ground, but he has also displayed some wrestling skills throughout his small UFC sample size, averaging over a takedown per round. Sayles has historically really struggled when fights hit the ground and was submitted his last time out against Bryce Mitchell. I think Leavitt finds a finish on the ground this weekend, but he also carries a fighting style where he can win a decision and still put up a strong score via wrestling at 8.2K

Low-tier: Darren Elkins $7400

I’ve found this to be a tough week when searching for cheaper fighters on DraftKings, as I’m picking mostly favorites to win their fights this weekend. That doesn’t change with Darren Elkins against Cub Swanson, where I think the favorite Swanson is likely to win the fight. However, Elkins is a live underdog and carries a fighting style that has always been very DFS friendly. Elkins is a pure wrestler and has made a career out of being durable enough to not get knocked out in his fights and drag his opponents into deep waters late in fights. Elkins is very likely to attempt takedowns this weekend, and Swanson has just a 60% takedown defense and has struggled against other wrestlers in the past such as Chad Mendes and Frankie Edgar. In a week where it feels unlikely that lots of underdogs win, Elkins has the chance to A) be optimal in a win B) score well in a loss that goes three rounds where he still scores a few takedowns. This is a nice combination of floor/ceiling at 7.4K.