The fantasy craze of recent years has left no sport untouched, and this includes mixed martial arts (MMA). Yes, now you can draft your own team of mixed martial artists and go to battle with other team owners for bragging rights and real cash. The mechanics of fantasy MMA work in much the same manner as for any other sport.
Top Ranked Fantasy MMA Site:
If you have any experience with other fantasy sports, you’ll feel right at home when it comes to mixed martial arts. If you’re completely new to the idea, don’t worry. The basic concept is simple. Give this page a quick read-through and you’ll be ready to put your talent scouting skills to use in no time.
Before we get into the gritty details of how it all works, let’s start with a discussion of the best fantasy MMA sites.
Finding a Place to Play Fantasy MMA Online
Finding a place to participate in real money MMA fantasy leagues can be tough. This is a pretty niche sport already and finding people who not only watch MMA but also have an interest in fantasy betting is a narrow demographic. The good news is you’re not alone. There are people out there who enjoy both and now there are websites that cater to our interests.
There were once a couple sites that I liked to recommend for MMA fantasy sites, but both of those joined forces to give us just one high quality option. DraftKings.com is the top pick thanks to its in-depth coverage of MMA events and large guaranteed prize pool contests.
DraftKings.com: Official Sponsor of the UFC
DraftKings.com expanded into MMA with its inaugural contest hosted on January 3rd, 2015. The MMA contests at DraftKings.com allow you to draft five fighters from any upcoming event. You get a salary of $50,000 and prices for fighters range from around $8,000 to around $12,000.
Once you have a team, fighters accumulate points based on their statistics inside the Octagon. Points are awarded for significant strikes landed, advancing position, finishing the fight early and so on. At the end of the event, the points earned by each of your fighters are tallied up for a total fantasy score. If you have more points than the competition, you win the contest and a cash prize.
DraftKings hosts a variety of contest types for mixed martial arts. You can play against a single opponent in a winner-takes-all heads-up contest or battle it out against multiple opponents for your share of a larger prize pool. Entry fees range from just $1 at the low end to as much as $5300 at the high stakes levels.
Visit at: www.draftkings.com
How it Works
After you pay the buyin fee for any particular contest, fantasy MMA sites give you a fixed virtual salary that you use to draft a roster of five fighters from an upcoming event. Each fighter’s price is set according to their likelihood of winning and earning fantasy points (more on that in a second). The better your fighter is compared to his or her opponent, the more you’ll have to spend.
Your job as the manager is to draft the best possible roster while also staying within your virtual salary. At DraftKings, for example, you are given a virtual salary of $50,000 to draft your fighters. This is where it gets challenging. You will never have enough salary to draft a lineup consisting entirely of dominant fighters. To stay within your salary, you’re going to have to pick a couple underdogs.
The better your fighters perform on fight night, the more fantasy points you earn. At the end of it all, you and everyone else in your contest are ranked according to the number of fantasy points earned by each player. The people who end up with the most fantasy points earn real money payouts.
Naturally, it would be easy if you could simply pick the best fighters on every card and bank on them to win fights and accumulate fantasy points. There’s just that one little problem having to do with salary limitations. You’ll have to dig through the card to find a few fighters that are affordable – these will be your underdogs. If you look at the winning lineup for any decent-sized fantasy contest, one thing the winners all have in common is that they drafted a couple of underdogs who ended up outperforming expectations.
Scoring Points in Fantasy MMA Contests
Today, DraftKings is the only major MMA fantasy site with large contests and prizes, so we’ll be looking at their scoring system. At DraftKings, fantasy points are earned in MMA contests by in-fight metrics such as significant strikes, takedowns and early finishes. A takedown will get you 2 points, a knockdown 3 points and so on.
You also get bonuses for your fighter winning. The earlier the finish, the bigger the bonus. First round finishes get the biggest boost of all: 100 fantasy points. On the other end of the spectrum, a decision win is worth just 25 points. If your fighter loses, you still get points for anything he/she accomplished before losing, but you will get no win bonus.
DraftKings MMA scoring rules award points in the following manner.
- Significant strikes: 0.5 points
- Advance in position: 1 point
- Takedown: 2 points
- Reverse or Sweep: 2 points
- Knockdown: 3 points
- First round finish: 100 points
- Second round finish: 70 points
- Third round finish: 50 points
- Fourth round finish: 40 points
- Fifth round finish: 40 points
- Decision win: 25 points
Research and Strategy
One of the nice things about fantasy MMA is that you have plenty of time leading up to any fight to do your research. Between Google, YouTube and the countless MMA news websites out there, you will never suffer from a lack of information when it comes to fighters on the main card. Furthermore, there are fewer potential picks to research compared to other sports such as football and baseball in which you can choose from hundreds of potential draft picks.
One of the keys to success in fantasy MMA is to remember that styles make fights. Let’s say Fighter A and Fighter B are scheduled to meet in the next UFC event. You do your research and see that they have a past opponent in common: Fighter C. You also see that Fighter C defeated Fighter B in the past and then later lost to Fighter A. This does not necessarily mean that Fighter A will beat Fighter B.
That type of thinking is called MMA Math and it is practically an official logical fallacy at this point. Every fighter has a unique style, and looking at past common opponents requires more than just assuming Fighter A has the advantage just because he beat Fighter C, who beat Fighter B in the past.
Holly Holm, Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate perfectly exemplify the danger of the MMA Math fallacy. Ronda Rousey is known for her world class judo and put the beat down on Miesha Tate in two separate fights. Holly Holm, with a background in boxing and kickboxing, had the perfect skillset to demolish Ronda Rousey – it wasn’t even close. Then later, Miesha Tate challenged Holly Holm and won!
It is much better to look at specific aspects of each fighter’s game. Take a look at both fighters and determine where their strengths lie. Does he have a strong wrestling and submission grappling background? Is he known more for striking and getting KOs? Does she have a strong judo background?
Once you have a rough outline of each fighter’s strengths, it’s time to look at the opponent and see how he has handled those aspects of the game in the past. For example, a fighter you’re considering drafting may be scheduled to face a former D1 college wrestler. Well, you’ll want to go back and look at your potential pick and see how well he defends takedowns and if he has shown the ability to quickly pop back up after being taken down.
Because MMA scoring is weighted towards early finishes, you should also spend some time researching how good fighters are about going for the kill. Fighters who pack serious knockout power or slick submission skills are going to give you the most bang for your buck. These are also the types of fighters you should consider for your underdog picks. If I’m forced to pick a couple underdogs to stay within the salary cap, I’d rather have someone who has a puncher’s chance over someone who tends to play it safe and grind his way to decision victories.
The worst thing that can happen to one of your picks is a first round loss before your pick has a chance to accumulate any points. Fighters who can take punishment and stay in the game when things get tough is someone you want – especially for an underdog. You can at least rack up a few points if your fighter lasts long enough to see a decision.