Betting Guide for UFC Vegas 43
2021 has provided plenty of nominees for "worst UFC main event ever", and this weekend definitely has a case. However, there are still some really fun fights and some interesting spots to attack in the betting market.
UFC Vegas 43: Vieira vs. Tate takes place Saturday from the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas. Where is the sharpest place to wager on Saturday's card using UFC odds?
Luana Pinheiro by Knockout or Submission (+120)
UFC likes to build stars. That's always a thing to keep in mind when betting on this sport.
Luana Pinheiro (-420) is becoming one. She earned a knockout on Dana White's Contender Series and earned five takedowns in a battering of Randa Markos that actually forced Markos to a panicked, illegal kick on the ground. Markos is a seven-time UFC winner and arguably a level above her opponent this weekend, Sam Hughes.
Hughes has had a wretched 0-2 start to her UFC career, but it's not a surprise with only eight pro fights under her belt anywhere. Tecia Torres blistered her to a first-round doctor's stoppage, and even as Hughes' "upside" is her size and strength, she was taken down four times by a former atomweight, Loma Lookboonme, in the second fight.
Sam Hughes enters with just a 44% takedown defense and 40% striking defense overall. Pinheiro should have her flying across the canvas with her judo-heavy wrestling style. Her black belt submission skills can finish the job, too.
-420 is a senseless price to pay with a fairly new UFC fighter, so the plus-money odds beyond her finding a way to dominate Hughes to a stoppage are a pretty solid consolation prize.
Terrance McKinney to Win (+105)
Including the main event, there are four fights close to a pick 'em. This spot, though, stands out amongst them.
"T-Wrecks" now is tied for the third-fastest knockout in UFC history after dispensing of Matt Frevola in just seven seconds back in June, but Terrance McKinney (+105) usually gets the job done with his ground game. Through two UFC-affiliated appearances, McKinney averages 4.33 takedowns per 15 minutes on a passable 33% efficiency.
His opponent Fares Ziam leaves very little doubt McKinney should get plenty of chances. Ziam is a striker, but he averages just 2.13 significant strikes per match with 0 career knockdowns. Pretty striking means very little if it can't score points with the judges or hurt opponents.
As a result, Ziam has gone to three decisions in three UFC fights. He's got just a 68% takedown defense, and he's also been controlled for an average of 6:11 across three fights. All three could easily have been losses.
The bet is McKinney -- a superior athlete, too -- overpowers Ziam to the ground. His +700 odds by submission are worth a small-unit flier, but the plus-money odds to win are the safer prospect given his grappling is still a work-in-progress, and he just showcased he has the power to put Ziam out on the feet as well.
Dart Throw of the Week: Taila Santos by Submission (+500)
Joanne Wood was talking about her potential retirement at the end of 2022 with Ariel Helwani on Wednesday. That's a terrifying red flag entering an already brutal matchup.
Taila Santos (-355) is one of the largest favorites on the card, and I can't believe I get to back her most likely finishing outcome at five-to-one odds. Wood is a tremendous striker (+2.55 striking success rate), so it would be wise for Santos to use her wrestling skills (2.60 takedowns per match on tremendous 86% efficiency) to ground the Scottish flyweight stalwart.
That's precisely where Wood has struggled to resist as well. She's been controlled for at least 30% of the fight's duration in each of her last four bouts. That is phrased in percentage instead of minutes because that sample includes a quick, low-resistance submission loss to Jennifer Maia.
Santos will struggle on the feet against Wood -- as most do. However, her power should allow her to have an opening to wrestle at some point. Santos has never secured a UFC finish, which likely explains the distant odds on all of her finishing props. She still attempts 0.80 submissions per match, and that means she's definitely due for submission regression given her volume across 75 minutes of octagon time thus far.
Jenny Maia made it look ridiculously simple to submit Wood in 2020. If JoJo's grappling skills haven't improved since then, Santos should have one or two openings. I'm even willing to deploy a full unit on this prospect with how much time Santos -- as a heavy favorite -- is projected to control Wood on the mat.