Conmann’s UFC 296 DraftKings Plays – 12/16/23

Conmann’s UFC Daily Fantasy Intro:

Today’s UFC 296 event is now a 12-fight card starting at 6:30PM with the Early Prelims airing on ESPN+, followed by the Featured Prelims at 8:00 on ESPN2 with the Main Card starting at 10:00 on PPV. Enjoy the UFC 296 – DFS Breakdown, and as always, “Let’s get to the bag!” – Mike Constantino (Conmann22)

Fight Breakdowns: Join Conmann22 in Discord at 6:15pm EST

DFS Terms Key:

  • I only play DFS on DraftKings, that is why I only mention them specifically and give you my thoughts on how I will be setting my lineups.
  • LOCK BUTTON,” “CORE,” and “ALL IN” are used to describe when I absolutely love a fighter for DFS and will be using him/her in most of my lineups entered.
  • When I say that I will use both fighters in my lineups, as an example, favoring Jones 7/3 or another fraction, that means that I will use each fighter throughout my lineups and favor the fighter mentioned. This fraction is an example of my exposure to each fighter based on 10 lineups entered. In the above case, it would be seven lineups for Jones vs. three for the opposing fighter.
  • When I say I will use each fighter in a couple of lineups where applicable, that means that I will not have over 10 lineups of either side in the fight and I will use each fighter sporadically, if applicable.

Martin Buday vs. Shamil Gaziev

  • Buday is 13-1 with 9 wins by finish, including 7 by KO. 
  • Gaziev is 11-0 with 10 wins by finish. Shamil is making his UFC debut.
  • Buday: $8,400 / Gaziev: $7,800

Martin Buday is 4-0 in his UFC fights and finally got his first win by finish in his last fight. Shamil Gaziev will be making his UFC debut coming off a first round submission on this year’s Contender Series. Shamil is an undefeated 11-0 prospect with 10 wins by finish and has big power on the feet to compliment his plus wrestling and grappling. Buday is a plodding striker who likes to mix in cage pushing and control with his striking to win low volume control style rounds and has decent, but seldom used, wrestling and grappling. Gaziev is a bit reckless with his striking defense and loose with his grappling position once on the ground, leaving this fight with a lot of unanswered questions as to who will prevail. I favor the experience of Buday, but Gaziev is a bit of an unknown as to how he will handle the size of a true heavyweight who is equal to him in size. I will pass here on a tightly-lined fight.

I am not in a rush to play either guy in my DFS lineups, but prefer Buday for cash and single entry builds and Gaziev for GPP.

Andre Fili vs. Lucas Almeida

  • Fili is 22-10 with 12 wins by finish. “Touchy” was stopped in 5 of his 10 losses.
  • Almeida is 14-2 with all 14 wins by finish. Lucas was submitted in 1 of his 2 losses.
  • Fili: $8,500 / Almeida: $7,700

This is a fun fight between the always exciting “Touchy Fili,” vs. kill or be killed fighter, Lucas Almeida, who has won all 14 of his wins by finish and was stopped in one of his two losses. Fili is a well-rounded fighter with good striking, specifically a strong jab and leg kicks, as well as a good wrestler averaging 2.5 takedowns per 15 minutes of Octagon time. Almeida is a black belt in BJJ with high volume, powerful striking on the feet. Fili is serviceable on the ground, but I worry about his durability and how his chin will hold up vs. the powerful Almeida. I like violence in this spot, most likely an Almeida KO, but Fili is also live for a finish, especially if Almeida gasses from throwing big punches that were not able to finish Fili early.

I will play Fili in cash and single entries and Almeida in GPP.

Tagir Ulanbekov vs. Cody Durden

  • Ulanbekov is 14-2 with 8 wins by finish, including 7 by submission. 
  • Durden is 16-4-1 with 11 wins by finish. Cody was stopped in 3 of his 4 losses.
  • Ulanbekov: $8,300 / Durden: $7,900

Cody Durden is on a nice little four-fight UFC winning streak and has looked great during his run. Ulanbekov has won three of his four UFC fights and is coming off a first round submission victory. Durden is a very strong wrestler, averaging 5.5 takedowns per 15 minutes of Octagon time and has good control of his opponents once on the ground. Ulanbekov is predominantly a grappler and has below average striking, which should shape this fight up to be a grappling-heavy affair. I favor Durden to be the stronger grappler of the two and my only concern is that he has slowed down late in fights. Ulanbekov, although a grappler, is not an aggressive grappler, and gets complacent positionally. At an underdog price, I favor Durden in this spot to win a decision.

I will play Durden in my DFS lineups, and he is one of my favorite underdog plays.

Casey O’Neill vs. Ariane Lipski (women’s)

  • O’Neill is 9-1 with 5 wins by finish.  
  • Lipski is 16-8 with 9 wins by finish. “Queen of Violence” was KO in 4 of her 8 losses.
  • O’Neill: $8,700 / Lipski: $7,500

Casey O’Neill is coming off her first career loss her last time out, an unanimous decision to Jennifer Maia, which was a high volume striking affair. Ariane Lipski is on a two-fight winning streak and has won three of her last four. O’Neill has high volume striking, good cardio, and plus grappling. Lipski is a striker with good power and is average in the grappling department. O’Neill struggled in her last fight vs. Maia to get the fight to the ground, going 0-4 on her takedowns, which is a bit concerning, but Lipski should provide an easier path for “King” O’Neill should she push for the takedowns. Lipski has shown limited durability, as she has been KO in four of her eight losses, whereas O’Neill has never been finished. I like O’Neill in this fight to bounce back off her loss and use her superior grappling to continue her climb through the division. 

I will play O’Neill in my DFS lineups.

Cody Garbrandt vs. Brian Kelleher

  • Garbrandt is 13-5 with 10 wins by KO. “No Love” was KO in 4 of his 5 losses.
  • Kelleher is 24-14 with 18 wins by finish. “Boom” was stopped in 9 of his 14 losses.
  • Garbrandt: $9,000 / Kelleher: $7,200

Former UFC Bantamweight Champion Cody Garbrandt won his last time out, snapping a two-fight winning streak and is poised to make one final run to be relevant in the division again,  as he takes on Brian “Boom” Kelleher, who is on a two-fight losing streak. Garbrandt has big power with 10 of his 13 wins by KO and also has good, but underused, wrestling. Kelleher has been fighting forever and is coming off a neck surgery, which adds even more risk to his current physical status. “Boom” has been stopped in nine of his 14 losses, although eight of them were by submission. Kelleher has decent power and an exceptional guillotine choke that he has finished many of his wins with, including three in the UFC alone. I think that this is a feature fight for Garbrandt, who should use his speed and power to pick apart Kelleher. An area of concern for “No Love” is his durability, as he has been KO in four of his five losses. I anticipate a low volume striking affair until one of these two fighters hurts the other with a big punch, most likely by Garbrandt. I lean Garbrandt, but can also make a case for “Boom” to land the big KO.

I will play both fighters in my DraftKings lineups, splitting my exposure close to 50/50 in multi-entry GPP contests. I do not like either for single entry or cash games.

Irene Aldana vs. Karol Rosa (women’s)

  • Aldana is 14-7 with 11 wins by finish. Irene was KO in 2 of her 7 losses.
  • Rosa is 17-5 with 6 wins by finish. Karol was submitted in 2 of her 5 losses.
  • Aldana: $8,800 / Rosa: $7,400

Irene Aldana was the last fighter to weigh in and looked terrible, as she needed “the box” to make weight on her last attempt. I already did not like this fight to bet on, so this just makes it worse. Rosa is a high volume striker with little to no power and Aldana is also a high volume striker with a boxing heavy style and stance. Without the weigh-in issues, I would pick Aldana to win, but have zero interest in laying -200 and betting on her.

I have no urgency to play either fighter, but prefer Aldana.

Alonzo Menifield vs. Dustin Jacoby

  • Menifield is 14-3-1 with 13 wins by finish including 10 by KO. “Atomic” was KO in 1 of his 3 losses. 
  • Jacoby is 19-7-1 with 13 wins by finish including 12 wins by KO. “The Hanyak” was stopped in 3 of his 7 losses.
  • Menifield: $7,100 / Jacoby: $9,100

This should be a fun kickboxing fight between two very good strikers. Alonzo Menifield is a tank of a man with big power on a three-fight UFC winning streak, vs. Dustin Jacoby, who is 7-2-1 in his 10 UFC fights. Menifield is a finisher, with 13 of his 14 wins inside the distance and will have the grappling edge in this matchup if the fight hits the floor. Jacoby has a lot of kickboxing fights in addition to his MMA career and uses high volume, a solid jab, and good leg kicks. I like Jacoby in this matchup to use his size and skill to keep the fight standing and pick apart Menifield from distance, utilizing his three-inch height advantage. 

I will play Jacoby in my DraftKings lineups.

Josh Emmett vs. Bryce Mitchell

  • Emmett is 18-4 with 8 wins by finish. Josh was stopped in 2 of his 4 losses.
  • Mitchell is 16-1 with 9 wins by submission. “Thug Nasty” was submitted his only loss.
  • Emmett: $7,300 / Mitchell: $8,900

This should be a fun fight between the very powerful, heavy-hitting Josh Emmett, vs. Bryce “Thug Nasty” Mitchell, a high level grappler and submission artist. Emmett has lost his last wo fights after an impressive five-fight winning streak and is nine years older than the 38-year-old Mitchell. Emmett struggles to defend takedowns and that is exactly what Mitchell needs to do, and with a good fight IQ, will do. “Thug Nasty” averages 3.5 takedowns per 15 minutes of Octagon time, and once this fight hits the floor, he is live for a ground and pound or submission win or a dominant, minute-winning round. I love this matchup for Mitchell, and he just needs to avoid getting sloppy on the feet, allowing Emmett to land a big, fight-ending KO punch. The most likely outcome is Mitchell takedown to dominant control or finish.

I will play Mitchell in my DFS lineups.

Tony Ferguson vs. Paddy Pimblett

  • Ferguson is 25-9 with 20 wins by finish, including 12 by KO. “El Cucuy” was stopped in 5 of his 9 losses.
  • Pimblett is 20-3 with 15 wins by finish. “The Baddy” was submitted in 1 of his 3 losses.
  • Ferguson: $6,800 / Pimblett: $9,400

This is Tony Ferguson’s last shot at remaining in the UFC, as he is on a six-fight losing streak, having been stopped in four of those losses. “El Cucuy” has a tall task in front of him as he takes on the much-hyped Paddy “The Baddy” Pimblett, who is 4-0 in his UFC fights. Although his last time out, he won a controversial decision vs. Jared Gordon in a fight that many, including myself, thought that he lost. Ferguson has enlisted the services of Navy Seal, and one of the world’s best ultra-endurance athletes, David Goggins, to prepare for this fight. Pimblett is a powerful striker and a good grappler, however, he gets hit too easily in the striking exchanges. Ferguson is now 40 years old and very shop worn, but traditionally is an awkward striker with high level jiu jitsu. I just think that Ferguson is shot at this point and Pimblett is going to steamroll him here.

I will play Pimblett in my DFS lineups.

Shavkat Rakhmonov vs. Stephen Thompson

  • Rakhmonov is 17-0 with all 17 wins by finish.
  • Thompson is 17-6-1 with 9 wins by finish. “Wonderboy” was KO in 1 of his 6 losses.
  • Rakhmonov: $9,700 / Thompson: $6,500

Shavkat Rakhmonov is my call to eventually be Champion in the welterweight division and should run through Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson here. Rakhmonov is undefeated at 17-0 with ALL 17 wins by finish, with all but two coming in rounds 1 or 2. “Wonderboy” is now 40 years old and had a long kickboxing career prior to his MMA career. At this stage of his career, he does not have the skill set needed to defeat the 11 years younger Rakhmonov, who is also the bigger fighter with a one-inch height and a two-inch reach advantage. “Nomad” has big power and a great ground game and should be able to finish Thompson either on the feet, or most likely, the ground. This is a classic example of one of my favorite betting angles, bet on an ascending vs. descending fighter. He is a huge favorite, but give me all of the Rakhmonov!

I will play Rakhmonov in my DFS lineups.

Alexandre Pantoja vs. Brandon Royval

  • Pantoja is 26-5 with 18 wins by finish. 
  • Royval is 15-6 with 13 wins by finish. “Raw Dawg” was stopped in 2 of his 6 losses.
  • Pantoja: $8,600 / Royval: $7,600

This fight is a rematch from a 2021 fight in which Pantoja won via second round submission. Since that fight, Royval is 3-0 with two wins by finish and Pantoja has won two fights, but more importantly, he won the belt in his last fight to become Champion. Pantoja had a good edge on the ground in that fight and I don’t see how much has changed. The plan then, and the plan now, for Royval is to press the pace and look to wear out Pantoja and take over late. The problem for him last time was that he was submitted, but Pantoja was gassing a bit. Now there will be two extra rounds for “Raw Dawg” to employ his plan. I lean Pantoja to win, but Royval is very live the longer the fight goes.

I will play both fighters in my DFS lineups. I prefer Pantoja for cash and single entries and Royval for GPP tournaments.

Leon Edwards vs. Colby Covington

  • Edwards is 21-3 with 10 wins by finish. 
  • Covington is 17-3 with 8 wins by finish. “Chaos” was stopped in 2 of his 3 losses.
  • Edwards: $8,200 / Covington: $8,000

The Main Event! Colby Covington returns after a 1.5-year layoff and a victory over Jorge Masvidal in the cage, and a loss to Masvidal in a street fight. Leon Edwards will be defending his belt for a second time, but for the first time vs. someone other than former Champion, Kamaru Usman, who he fought in his last two fights. Covington is a high level wrestler with good volume-based striking with a boxing style. Edwards is a big, strong kickboxing-style fighter, but offers low volume, often leading to close rounds. “Rocky” will have a three-inch height and a two-inch reach advantage over Covington, who has amazing cardio that compliments his skill set. I like Colby here. He needs to obviously watch the big power strike of Edwards, but outside of that, Colby is the higher volume striker, and better wrestler with an unlimited gas tank. I think Colby presses the pace, mixes in takedowns, and wins dominantly. Colby has been dropped four times vs. Usman in two fights, so he really does have to be safe from Edwards, but I do think he gets it done.

I will play Covington in my DFS lineups. If multi entering, you have to play an Edwards lineup as well for every three Covington lineups.

Favorite DFS Spend Up Plays:

  • $9,700 – Rakhmonov
  • $8,900 – Mitchell

Favorite DFS Value Plays:

  • $7,900 – Durden
  • $8,000 – Covington

Favorite DFS GPP Plays:

  • $7,200 – Kelleher
  • $7,600 – Royval

Continue Reading: Conmann’s UFC 296 Betting Blueprint


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