Betting Guide for UFC 252
It's time for the big show!
The heavyweight championship is on the line this Saturday at UFC 252, with champion Stipe Miocic defending his belt against Daniel Cormier in their trilogy fight. Each of them have won one fight apiece against each other, leaving this one to settle the score for arguably the greatest heavyweight of all time, and FanDuel Sportsbook has plenty of odds: outright winners, method of victory, and more.
Let's take a look at the best bets to make.
Daniel Cormier (-116) vs. Stipe Miocic (-102)
Cormier took the heavyweight championship belt from Miocic back in July of 2018 by knocking him out with a short elbow in the clinch in the first round. Then he followed that up by out-landing Miocic in the striking department in each of the first three rounds of their rematch last August. But Miocic turned the tide in the fourth round, finding success via body shots against the gassed Cormier. That resulted in Miocic picking up a TKO victory of his own, evening the series and setting up for this trilogy fight.
Cormier is a former Olympic wrestler and has already said that he plans to use his wrestling more in this fight after attempting just three takedowns in the last bout. Although Cormier did get the KO win in the first meeting, it was only his third KO/TKO win over 14 total UFC fights and only the second KO/KO loss for Miocic in his career. The issue with Cormier's wrestling-heavy plan is that wrestling and holding down a heavyweight fighter requires a very high level of cardio. At 41 years old, Cormier does not appear to be in the shape that he once was, and his gas tank will be a point of concern once again in this fight.
Contrary to Cormier's resume, Miocic has picked up 10 of his 13 UFC victories by KO/TKO. In order for him to win this fight, he will need to outlast Cormier's early wrestling onslaught. The smaller cage in the UFC APEX facility -- where this fight will take place -- will make it harder for him to do so, but he does have a 5" height and 8" reach advantage. He also appears to be in excellent shape heading into this fight and certainly has the better gas tank of the two fighters.
If Stipe can survive Cormier's early attack, he will be in great shape for another KO/TKO in the late rounds. In what is close to a pick'em fight, the smart bet is on Miocic at -102 to win for the second time in a row.
Sean O'Malley (-310) vs. Marlon Vera (+250)
In case you're not familiar with Sean O'Malley yet, he is one of the hottest prospects in the UFC and now gets the co-main event slot for his third fight of 2020. He has gone undefeated through five fights in the UFC and Dana White's Contender Series -- with three of those ending by first round KO/TKO and the other two going the distance.
The most likely ending to this one, according to the odds, is O'Malley by KO/TKO at +150. But Marlon Vera has yet to be finished through 14 UFC fights with all five of his UFC losses coming by decision. He also already has nine UFC wins a the age of 27 and represents a step up in competition compared to O'Malley's previous opponents.
O'Malley very likely to win this fight, as the odds suggest. At -310, he should be used as a parlay piece, but as far as betting the fight straight up, those odds are too big. The better value play in this one is for the fight to go the distance at +112.
Jairzinho Rozenstruik (-132) vs. Junior Dos Santos (+112)
Cormier isn't the only heavyweight on this card who owns a 1-1 UFC record against Miocic, as Junior Dos Santos also fits that bill. The longtime veteran and former champion is currently on a two-fight losing streak with both of those coming via KO/TKO. But those fights came against the second- and third-ranked fighters in the heavyweight division. Prior to that skid, Dos Santos had gone on a three-fight winning streak, including a TKO victory over fourth-ranked Derrick Lewis.
Now he will square off with the fighter ranked one spot below himself in Jairzinho Rozenstruik, who is coming off of a brutal 20-second KO loss to Francis Ngannou just three months ago. Rozenstruik did pick up a KO victory in his fight before that one, but that came via a one-punch KO with just four seconds left in the five-round fight after he had been clearly outclassed by Alistair Overeem throughout the contest. Prior to that fight, he picked up three-straight KO wins to start his UFC career.
Rozenstruik clearly has one-shot KO power that Dos Santos will have to avoid, but Junior has already proven that he can do so against similar fighters like Lewis and Tai Tuivasa. Dos Santos also lands more significant strikes per minute with an average of 4.66 (compared to 3.84 for Rozenstruik), while both fighters land at a rate of 48%. And a big advantage in this one is Dos Santos' striking defense rate of 58%, compared to just 34% for Rozenstruik.
Dos Santos is the more experienced fighter and has already proven that he can succeed in a matchup similar to this one, making him the value pick as a +112 underdog.
Vinc Pichel (-132) vs. Jim Miller (+112)
This fight will put Jim Miller alone atop the UFC record board with 36 total fights to his name. He has put together a 4-6 record over his past 10 fights, with all four of those wins coming via submission. On the other side, Vinc Pichel has fought just seven times during his eight-year UFC career, compiling a 5-2 record, with four of those wins coming via decision.
This matchup has the rare occurrence of both fighters having a common opponent in their most recent fight. Miller defeated Roosevelt Roberts with a first-round submission in his matchup, while Pichel won a decision over Roberts. Obviously, finishing an opponent early looks better than winning by decision, but it's well known by now how good Miller's submission skills are. In Pichel's win, he out-struck Roberts in each round and piled on three takedowns.
Pichel will need to keep this fight standing and play to his advantage on the feet, where he has a strong 56% striking defense rate. As a slight favorite, he is the bet to win in this fight, and his +190 odds to win by points make sense for anyone looking for some extra juice.