This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
This weekend's Stockholm event has $100,000 prize pool in the $15 MMA Throwdown, several Knockout King Qualifiers and a trip to UFC 239 all on the line. With prelims set to begin at 10:00 a.m. EST, be sure to wake up early to finalize your lineups.
If you're hoping to turn the event into an opportunity to build your DFS bankroll, DraftKings.com has you covered with a full slate of contests. Players get a $50,000 budget to select six fighters, and the scoring is distributed as follows:
(Please note that DraftKings altered their scoring system in December 2016 to add a new fighter to the lineup and adjust scoring. The most recent point values are listed below.)
Significant Strikes (SS): +0.5 PTS
Advance (ADVC): +3 PT
Takedown (TD): +5 PTS
Reversal/Sweep (REV): +5 PTS
Knockdown (KD): +10 PTS
Fight Conclusion Bonuses
1st Round Win (1rW+): +90 PTS
2nd Round Win (2rW+): +70 PTS
3rd Round Win (3rW+): +45 PTS
4th Round Win (4rW+): +40 PTS
5th Round Win (5rW+): +40 PTS
Decision Win (WBD+): +30 PTS
Significant Strikes are any Distance Strike or Clinch/Ground Strikes that are considered "Power Strikes" by official scorers.
Advances include: To Half Guard, To Side Control, To Mount, To Back Control
Now, on to the fights...
Main Event - Light Heavyweight
With both Gustafsson and Smith coming off dominant losses at the hands of UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones, both need this fight if they hope to remain in the title conversation for the immediate future.
Gus's loss to Jones last December was the far more demoralizing of the two, simply because more was expected of him. He gave Jones the most difficult fight of his career back in 2013, and the entertaining rematch most predicted never materialized. Gus allowed Jones to do whatever he wanted offensively, and unlike the first meeting, he was unable to land any damaging shots of his own. Alex has been so good for so long that I'm going to chalk up the dreadful effort as nothing more than simply facing arguably the greatest fighter of all time. If he doesn't rebound in a big way against Smith, I'll be officially concerned
Following his loss to Jones in March, Smith openly stated that he planned on taking some time off. Instead, the UFC offered him this fight and he finds himself back in the Octagon less than 90 days later. It was an opportunity Smith felt he couldn't pass up. The fact he ended up going the distance against Jones was remarkable. Smith was credited with just 45 total strikes landed over the course of the 25-minute bout, and he ate a whopping 238 strikes from the champ. Smith has power and is legitimately one of the toughest men on the planet, but his defense (his striking defense in particular) is below-average and he's not a great athlete. The fact he fought for, and deserved to fight for, a UFC championship in the early stages of 2019 is mind blowing.
This fight sets up similarly to the Jones-Smith fight in the sense that Smith is probably going to absorb too much punishment on the feet from Gus, and his ability to remain competitive will hinge on his closing the distance between the two men and fighting in tight. Smith is talented enough and experienced enough to pull it off, and his salary is ridiculously cheap given his durability, but the odds of it happening are considerably less than 50/50. That makes Gus the easy selection.
THE PICK: Gustafsson
Co-Main Event - Light Heavyweight
As has been the case for as long as I can remember (I'm not joking), the UFC's 205-pound division continues to spin its wheels. Latifi and Oezdemir are part of a group of light heavyweight's who seemingly fight each other over and over, and nothing is ever accomplished.
Latifi's most recent fight was a lopsided unanimous decision loss to Corey Anderson on the same card in which Jones beat Gus. The big Swede entered the bout on a two-fight win streak and had an opportunity to create some separation in the division and was unable to do so. Latifi possesses a ton of upper-body strength and does a good portion of his damage from top position. Despite averaging close to two takedowns per 15 minutes (1.89), his takedown percentage is a paltry 32 percent. He turns 37 years old in July and is extremely undersized for the division at just 5-foot-8.
A loser of three in a row and without a victory in nearly two years, Oezdemir could easily be fighting for his job on Saturday. Although he was able to rack up some vicious knockout wins early in his career, the concern all along has been that Volkan is nothing more than a one-dimensional knockout artist, and those fears have proven to be true. Oezdemir's power gives him a reasonable a chance of winning any fight in which he competes, but the odds of consistently scoring knockouts against talented opponents are slim, and that's why he finds himself in the midst of this losing streak.
Latifi is by far the better mixed martial artist of the two, while Volkan is the bigger of the two men and has considerably more power. I'm worried about Oezdemir being forced up against the cage by Latifi, but at that point, Ilir has to watch for short shots from Volkan, because we have seen Oezdemir to a ton of damage from that position. In a bout (and division) in which there is little separation either way, I will always take the guy who provides the bigger payoff.
THE PICK: Latifi
MORE light heavyweights! Having shown nothing for the better part of the past 27 months, Manuwa is already fighting with his back against the wall. He would probably thrive in another organization, but it's not going well in the UFC. For a guy who has gotten a decent amount of publicity over the years, Manuwa is 6-5 with the company and has lost three straight. Like Volkan, Manuwa is a one-dimensional power puncher. The difference between the two is that Jimi doesn't even attempt to incorporate any other aspects of the sport into his attacks, and his chin is starting to fade. It's a bad combination, and one that will almost certainly result in things ending poorly for the 39-year-old.
Rakic has quietly racked up victories in his first three UFC bouts. The competition has been lousy (Devin Clark, Justin Ledet, Francimar Barroso), but the Austrian has a nice frame for the division at 6-foot-5. and he has won 11 fights in a row since dropping his pro debut back in October 2011. Eight of his 11 career wins have come via knockout.
As limited as his offensive arsenal may be, Manuwa does have a bunch of power. It will be interesting to see how Rakic fares against better opposition. Three fights deep into his UFC career, I see no reason to be concerned about Rakic's chin, and I'll give him the benefit of the doubt about handling a fringe fighter such as Manuwa. I try to pick against predictable fighters whenever reasonably possible, and it's doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what Manuwa's game plan is every single time he steps into the Octagon.
THE PICK: Rakic
Ray's four-year run with the UFC has been baffling. While his record isn't all that bad (5-3), a couple of his setbacks have been dreadful, and even a few of his victories have been nothing to write home about. Ray has fought almost exclusively in Europe during his time with the company and that continues Saturday. Ray is legitimately tough and has eight career wins via submission, but his submission defense has proven to be highly suspect. He makes for decent roster depth, but I wouldn't expect much here moving forward.
Santos, on the other hand, is on a roll. A winner of four straight and unbeaten in his last 10 bouts (9-0-1) dating back to March 2010, Santos has continued to fly under the radar despite the fact he is a former Ultimate Fighter: Brazil winner and has yet to lose a fight with the company. Santos has victories over Kevin Lee and Anthony Rocco Martin on his ledger, so it's not as if he's spent his entire run beating up scrubs. He turns 40 years old next February and has never been a power puncher, so expectations needs to be kept in check despite this impressive run.
Santos is a pretty easy pick here, but his salary is too high for my liking, and I'd have some interest in using Ray if I were creating multiple lineups. Ray's biggest issue in this fight is that he hasn't won via stoppage in nearly four years, and Santos hasn't been stopped in nearly 13 years. The odds of that scrip flipping here are not good.
THE PICK: Santos