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With the explosion of Daily Fantasy MMA in the past five years, we’ve seen roster changes, scoring changes, and an increasingly complex strategy that’s necessary to compete with the best players in the game today.

The great part about our weekly premium breakdowns is that we dive into strategy and analysis for each and every fight, because much of it is slate-dependent, and playing this sport each and every week will allow you to build upon your knowledge base.

However, it’s still extremely useful to understand the basics, which is what I am going to explore today. We’ll talk about Daily Fantasy MMA rules and scoring, along with certain concepts that are unique to this sport and important to understand.

I’ll also cover cash-game and tournament strategy toward the end of the article. If there’s anything I missed, or if you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me or our community, as we’d be more than willing to help you get up to speed.


Daily Fantasy MMA Rules & Scoring


Let’s start with the basics — what are the rules and how does scoring work in Daily Fantasy MMA?


DraftKings Scoring


Like most games, you’ll start with $50,000 in salary to spend, and you’ll need to roster six fighters out of a total pool of 20-26 fighters, depending on the specific event.

You’ll earn points for the result of the fight, as well as in-fight actions.


Fight Conclusion Bonuses


First-Round Win – 90 points

Second-Round Win – 70 points

Third-Round Win – 45 points

Fourth-Round Win – 40 points

Fifth-Round Win – 40 points

Decision Win – 30 points

Quick Win Bonus – 25 bonus points if your fighter wins, in the first round, within the first 60 seconds (rare occurrence).


In-Fight Actions


Significant Strike – 0.4 points

Non-Significant Strike – 0.2 points

Knockdown – 10 points

Takedown – 5 points

Reversal/Sweep – 5 points

Control Time – 0.03 points per second (1.8 points per minute)


What Matters

Let’s cut to the chase and say that there are many ways to score points in Daily Fantasy MMA, and it can be confusing at first glance.

I’m going to explain what matters in regard to both the Fight Conclusion Bonuses and the In-Fight Actions, as well as talk about a couple of other important concepts before diving into how we can use those to our advantage in both cash games and tournaments.


Fight Conclusion Bonuses


Here’s what matters.

The earlier your fighter wins, the better. If they win by knockout or submission in the first round, you’re going to be thrilled because you have an insanely high floor in that outcome of 90 points. If the fight ends within the first minute, then you’re getting an additional 25 bonus points, plus a likely knockdown or takedown, at minimum. If the fight ends four minutes into the first round, you’re getting those additional four minutes worth of in-fight actions, which can sometimes add up to 30 points or more.

A first-round win is going to put your fighter in contention for the optimal lineup, which is all that we can ask, though it won’t be a guarantee and is still dependent on how the rest of the fights play out.

A second-round win is still great, and gets you an initial floor of 70 points. If the first round and second round are high-paced prior to the finish, with lots of exchanges, then you’re still looking good for an optimal score. But there’s more risk here for a suboptimal score if the fight is slower-paced, or if the second round ends very quickly.

A third-round win is similar. The floor is only 45 points, but the total result is very dependent on how those first 10+ minutes played out. The more dominant a fighter was in that stretch, the better.

A fun, recent example came from Jasmine Jasudavicius’ third-round submission win over Priscila Cachoeira. Jasudavicius landed two takedowns, one knockdown, and had more than 11 minutes of control time on the ground, which allowed her to land an insanely high 326 total strikes. It led to a score of 169.35 DraftKings points, which is one of the highest totals of all-time.

However, you’ll also find scores of 60-70 points with a third-round finish, if the initial 10 minutes of action were not exciting.

Finally, a decision only nets you 30 points, which is not often going to result in a smash score, but it’s once again dependent on how the fight plays out. There are certain avenues, which we’ll talk about, that score enough points to contend for the optimal lineup in a decision. And there are certain avenues that are likely to bust.

The bottom line is this — you’ll never go broke with a first-round victory. And the quicker your fighter finishes, the better floor you’ll carry. But in-fight actions, and timing, also play a major factor in your total score.


In-Fight Actions


There are two primary, macro fighting styles, which I would classify as striking and grappling.

Striking, although exciting, is most often considered an extremely boom-or-bust fighting style for DraftKings scoring purposes, whereas grappling exchanges don’t always win over the fans, but they offer a much better floor/ceiling combination for our DraftKings lineups.

It’s because grapplers have many more ways to score than strikers. Strikers are often dependent on landing significant strikes and knockdowns. That’s it.

This means that even in a fun, high-paced decision where a fighter is able to win and land 100 significant strikes, they will only yield a DraftKings score of 70 points, which isn’t good enough to contend for the optimal, generally. And there isn’t much more room for growth either.

Grapplers can land significant strikes too, but they also can land takedowns, earn reversals, and rack up control time and non-significant strikes while on the mat.

In comparison to a striker, we may see a grappler win by decision, land four takedowns, 40 significant strikes, 40 non-significant strikes, and earn eight minutes of control. That would be a DraftKings score of 88.4, which is decent, and there’s still plenty of room for growth from this example.

Grappling is a more lower-variance art than striking, and takedowns are simply much easier to secure than knockdowns. Knocking your opponent down is usually the end of the fight, and you’ll be very lucky if your fighter happens to get two knockdowns in one night.

However, good wrestlers can land 10 or more takedowns in a fight, which is 50 points, plus access to all of those other categories. Now, 10 takedowns is a lot, and a rare outcome, but five takedowns is not. And the control time comes free after the takedown is landed. Non-significant strikes usually come in the form of ground-and-pound, where it’s much easier to connect on your opponent while you’re laying on top of them.

And then those same fighters also have clear paths to a finish, via ground-and-pound or a submission. It’s often easier to secure finishes on the mat than it is to knock your opponent unconscious standing.

Many fighters will mix skill sets, which is why it’s important to read the breakdowns, but most have clear intentions and game plans. Those who want to stay upright, at distance, landing only punches, won’t have many ways to score points, and you’ll very often be dependent on them winning by knockout in a single moment, and capitalizing on both a knockdown and early finishing points.

Those who want to grapple can still find early finishes on the ground, but they have a much higher floor and many more ways to score points. Even a late finish or decision may lead to a dominant score, if they can find enough takedowns and ground strikes in those 15 minutes.


Betting Odds


Like most sports, using betting odds to our advantage is an important concept in Daily Fantasy MMA.

What makes MMA betting markets much different from nearly any other sport, is the inefficiency in the markets. While I would consider NFL, NBA, and MLB moneylines to be extremely efficient, I do not think that is the case for MMA.

We’ll often see rapid movements throughout fight week, both in the odds to win and odds to win inside the distance. A fighter can be lined at -120 to win on Wednesday, and -220 to win by Saturday night. Closing odds are also not nearly as efficient as they are in other sports.

One reason for this is because we are not able to access nearly as much data in MMA as we are in other sports. And a large portion of the MMA betting public will tell you they do not care about stats at all.

There are often fighters, sometimes many fighters, who make their UFC debuts each week. The only “regional” promotion that offers stats is Dana White’s Contender Series, which is just a feeder program for talent to the UFC. So many of these debuting fighters have one tracked matchup worth of statistics for us to dive into, but many debuting fighters come from elsewhere, and have none.

Even fighters who have competed five or more times in the UFC can sometimes have very small stats samples. For example, if you get a knockout artist who wins in the first minute every time, that fighter may have only competed in eight total minutes of cage time, which one may argue is not enough to build a full profile.

Essentially, odds move more in this sport than nearly any other because we lack statistics. Many times the market is just flat-out wrong. MMA also provides an opportunity for tape watching to be valuable, which is tougher in other sports.

But when we relate this back to DraftKings concepts, we’ll often find obvious values when comparing those odds to the salaries, and those values have the ability to affect a slate dramatically. I’ll touch on this more within the cash-game and tournament strategy portions.


Cash Games


Just like in other daily fantasy sports, cash-game builds are generally going to be floor-focused, with the aim of maximizing value and producing a safe number of fighter wins. Your goal here (generally) is to beat 50% of the competition, while finishing with a top-1% lineup carries little to no additional value.

While both striking and grappling can produce optimal results, fighters who are semi-dependent on winning by knockout are not the most valuable options in this format. While you might get the desired result, there is a much more significant chance of a bust compared to fighters with other styles.

Not every striker is the same though. The more willing a fighter is to exchange and throw volume, the better. The more vulnerable their opponent is defensively, the better. We’ll dive into every matchup within the weekly breakdowns, but there are times where we’ll project two high-volume kickboxers to square off with each other and even in an extended fight, both the winner and loser can meet an acceptable score.

One caveat to this would come in the form of odds to win and odds to win inside the distance.

A heavyweight fighter who is somewhat dependent on a knockout, and priced at even money, would not classify as well as a fighter in the same weight class, who is -1000 to win and -300 to win inside the distance. Simply put, moneyline odds and ITD odds can be a reflection of safety.

This is also where point projections come into play. A HW fighter at even money may project to score 55-60 points on average, although the most realistic outcomes are 100 or 0. A HW fighter who is -1000 to win and -300 ITD may project to score 90-100 points on average. Even though their theoretical lack of floor could be a concern for cash games, there is safety in the moneyline and ITD line, and that will be reflected in our projections.

The floor concept in general is an interesting thing to talk about because, in theory, no fighter has any floor. This is not the NBA. There is extreme variance in MMA, and extremely binary outcomes. While the best and safest fighters will carry the safest floors and highest ceilings over a very large sample, any fighter could get knocked out quickly and score 10 points or less on a given night.

For me, it’s why I think prioritizing matchups and fighting styles is very important in cash games.

If I see any obvious value, I am going to start my initial builds with those fighters. The more obvious values you have in one lineup, the better your win equity total will be.

The main event and any five-round fight is a priority to research for cash games as well. We haven’t covered this yet, but all main events and all championship fights are five rounds instead of three.

This just adds a greater theoretical floor to the winner because there are 10 additional minutes of potential action. So even if the fighter does not win quickly, they have the ability to score in-fight actions for 25 minutes instead of 15, which very often gets them into optimal consideration at the end of the night.

In cash games, targeting the main-event favorite is an easy strategy. Very often, you can even consider stacking the main event in cash games. You’ll need to roster 1-2 underdogs regardless, so using one that gets access to 25 minutes of action could be valuable. It is dependent on the matchup and pricing, though.

I find paying down for underdogs to be a useful strategy in cash games as well. There are many slates where a large group of underdogs will project similarly, and few are exciting or obvious values. In that case, spending as little salary as possible is optimal, especially if you can get that in combination with a fighter who (even in a loss) is projected to last the distance. You can get an adequate floor this way from your underdog, while allowing you additional salary to spend up on more safe favorites.

And, as we talked about in fighting styles, I am much more likely to focus on grapplers, and high-paced matchups, than I am to focus on knockout artists in cash games. Wrestlers will project well and that’s why we still need to look at point projections, but they simply have more ways to score and are usually in slightly less danger of getting knocked out, since they’ll want to engage their opponent on the ground.

There is no specific 3.5x fighter value that you need to focus on to beat cash games, and I usually aim for four wins out of my six fighters. If I can get four wins, I’m usually going to have a decent night in cash games.

And if you’re consistently targeting high-volume fighters, grapplers, and main events, you’ll find that even in losses sometimes, your fighter will put up 50 or more points, which won’t completely ruin your night.

In summary, we’re looking for floor-based constructions in cash games, and our goal is to beat 50% of the competition.

Getting access to the best moneyline values is important. Getting access to main events and championship fights is important due to the five-round structure. Getting access to fighters who project to shoot a lot of takedowns and/or throw a lot of strikes is more important in this format than ones who are more dependent on early knockouts.




While cash games are standard across the industry and sometimes lucrative in a sport like the NFL, tournaments are where your bread is buttered in Daily Fantasy MMA.

Most concepts that apply to DFS in general and other sports also apply here, and our goal is to create constructions that can finish atop a large leaderboard. Because of this, we’ll need to take significantly more risks when building our lineups and portfolio than we would for cash-game contests.

In tournaments, we need to aim for six wins. While there are a few occasions every year in which a loser is in the optimal lineup, the vast majority of winning lineups have six winners.

One question I get asked a ton is about stacking in tournaments. Can you stack the main event or another highly projected fight?

You can, but I would not recommend it and I almost never do it myself in tournaments. Sometimes, a cheap main-event loser will be optimal, but, again, those outcomes happen a couple of times per year at most.

If you’re stacking in tournaments, yes, you are gaining access to a higher floor, but you’re cutting out one of your legs by guaranteeing yourself a losing fighter. It’s simply much less likely that you’ll win a tournament with a stack, especially in a large field.

In cash games, while I like punting with an underdog to save salary for a more stars/scrubs-based construction, I don’t find that as useful in tournaments.

Instead, I like to target the mid-range where there are more competitive fights and more win equity with the underdogs you’ll roster.

Given that it’s necessary to have six wins, you need to be rostering underdogs who have a realistic chance to win.

Now, any fighter can win, and you’ll see as you play this sport, any fighter can win at any time. But obviously, some underdogs have better matchups than others, which will be reflected in the odds.

Consistently targeting multiple +220 or +300 underdogs to save you salary is just not going to get you as many six-win lineups compared to targeting +150 and +120 underdogs.

The downside is that you won’t have as much salary to spend up — but that’s not as important here. Yes, the bigger favorites are more likely to win, but on a typical night of 12 fights, we’re getting 12 winners.

That means that even if the big favorite wins as predicted, and scores well, there are still 11 other winners on the card. And most of them will be cheaper.

So, if you’re building more mid-range constructions and saving less salary on underdogs, you won’t easily be able to pay up to the top tier of pricing. But you still get access to fighters who can win, and fighters who have high ceilings, despite a more questionable floor.

Boom-or-bust, knockout-dependent fighters are much more in play in these formats than in cash games. I, unfortunately, have a cash-game mindset and it’s difficult for me to jam in these types heavily above the field, but they are absolutely in consideration, especially if the public is afraid to roster them as well.

That’s the other important note in regard to having 12 winners on a slate. Getting six wins is hard and you’ll likely need that to be optimal, but having any six wins won’t necessarily get the job done. You need as many elite scores in that grouping of six as possible.

Because of this, we need to take on risk. We need to shoot for the stars. Getting 85 points from an $8.8K wrestler likely won’t be enough. We need that guy who may score us zero but is more likely to hit 110 in a knockout-based win condition.

Throw floor out the window. Target the underdogs who, IF they win, will likely win inside the distance, giving us access to a higher ceiling. Target the fighters who have potential to dominate their opponents, regardless of price.

Fighting styles are still important. We want lots of exchanges. We still want takedowns. We want lots of significant strikes attempted. But don’t be scared to roster a fighter with red flags, and a risk-based profile, because what’s important in tournaments is hitting a ceiling.

One way to view ceiling potential is by looking at ITD (inside the distance) odds, which are the odds a fighter wins by knockout or submission. The better the odds, the more finishing equity that fighter carries, and the better pure play that fighter will be.

Some spots are obvious, and some lines are too obvious to ignore. But many times, fighters will fly under the radar with decent ITD odds, and they won’t project to be very popular publicly. Simply by comparing salaries to ITD odds, odds for a fighter to win in Round 1, and public ownership, you can find valuable fighters to roster who might be overlooked.

Ownership is also a very important factor in DFS and in Daily Fantasy MMA specifically, as the player pool is much smaller here than in other sports.

You should be looking at ownership projections, and trying to create builds that are not super chalky, depending on the size of the contest. You don’t have to get different in every spot, but being somewhat unique in one or two spots is incredibly important if you’re trying to maximize EV and win contests without a large amount of duplicates.

Obvious values will consistently carry high ownerships in this sport. Fighters with amazing box scores will too. Main events are always extremely popular, though they’ll typically carry elite floor/ceiling combos. Name value drives ownership as well.

Leveraging this to your advantage is extremely important, and it’s something we’ll talk about within each matchup breakdown.

Because MMA is so binary, leverage is often easy and obvious to target, if you’re willing to add some additional risk to your portfolio.

Here’s one easy example:

Fighter A is -200 to win, and -150 to win ITD at $8.6K. They are a semi-popular fighter who has had recent success. They are going to project well and carry a 42% public ownership.

Fighter B (the opponent) is +150 to win and +200 to win ITD at $7.6K. They are coming off a knockout loss themselves, don’t look awesome on tape, and don’t project super well. They will be 15% owned publicly.

The cool thing about MMA is that when one fighter wins, the other fighter loses. So while Fighter A is more likely to win, and somewhat likely to put up a smash score, they will still lose this fight quite often.

And when they lose, that means Fighter B will win. Not only would rostering Fighter B give you access to a 15% owned option who could put up an optimal score, but you are also killing off 42% of the field who rostered Fighter A.

Leverage situations come up like this all the time, and many people are afraid to target them. They won’t always work out, but WHEN they hit, they’ll be extremely helpful in boosting you up the leaderboards.

It’s all about construction too. You don’t need six leverage spots in one lineup. You don’t even need five. But jamming in the six highest-owned fighters is not a +EV move in large-field tournaments, and being different in those final two spots will be extremely valuable.

At the very least, thinking about leverage is something you should do on a weekly basis.

In summary, we’re looking for six wins, and ideally we’d like six elite scores to give us the best chance of taking down a large-field contest.

Because of this, floor is not important, but getting access to ceiling outcomes is important. Getting access to fighters who will produce a lot of offense is important. Being conscious of ownership and leverage positions is important.

And while there are a lot of things to think about when playing Daily Fantasy MMA, the good news is that we will cover all of the information you need within our matchup breakdowns each week to help you get prepared for the slate.