Betting Guide for UFC Vegas 45

Stephen 'Wonderboy' Thompson returns to the octagon for the final UFC card of 2021. How should we bet his fight?

The final UFC card of the year pits pace versus power in a heavyweight main event to cap a loaded, 14-fight card.

UFC Vegas 45: Lewis vs. Daukaus takes place Saturday from the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. Where is the sharpest place to wager on Saturday's card using UFC odds?

Chris Daukaus by KO or Decision (-120)

Although tempered compared to my model, Chris Daukaus (-138) is definitely the side to back in Saturday's main event.

I am reserved because Daukaus has just a 14-minute simple across his first four appearances, but they were a spectacular 14 minutes. Amidst four wins by knockout, Daukaus has averaged 9.03 significant strikes per minute on a 53% accuracy, and he's done well to keep his defensive wits as well with a 64% striking defense. That +5.63 striking success rate is tops on Saturday's card, and it's better than Sean O'Malley's, for context.

Derrick Lewis owns the UFC record with 12 career wins by knockout, so I do respect his power, but he's been due for knockout regression for quite some time given his peripherals. He lands just 2.49 significant strikes per minute, and his 41% striking defense is just downright worrisome.

We're likely in for a striking match. These two have a combined 37 pro wins, and just one came by submission for Lewis back in 2010. Neither has attempted an official UFC submission.

That's why I'm trimming the submission odds off to reduce the lay with Daukaus by either knockout or points. Lewis has a great chin, so the +550 odds by decision only are tempting, but taking the conservative route with respect to Daukaus' 1.5 knockdowns per match seems appropriate.

Stephen Thompson by Decision (+105)

I'm a fantasy guy first, so Stephen Thompson (-250) isn't exactly my favorite fighter.

His pace of just 4.06 significant strikes per minute is fairly average, and he's gone to a decision in eight of his last nine fights. He hasn't won by a finish since 2016. That's why I'm so keen on his number here to get some action on a great fight with fellow welterweight Belal Muhammad.

Thompson's karate-based style confounds opponents. His 58% striking defense against championship-level competition speaks for itself. Belal Muhammad has only waded into these top-five waters once, and it didn't go well. Muhammad landed just 30% of his significant strike attempts against Leon Edwards before an eye poke ended the fight by no contest. That saved Muhammad from what was trending toward an ugly loss.

"Wonderboy" Thompson has turned away dynamic, technical strikers like Vicente Luque and Jorge Masvidal. The way to beat him has been wrestling, but he has a solid 73% takedown defense, and Muhammad's 28% takedown accuracy doesn't imply it's his best skill.

Muhammad has gone the entire distance in 9 of his 10 last fights as well -- hence this fight being -205 to go the full 15 minutes. With a three-inch reach advantage, Thompson should dictate the pace of this fight so long as it stays standing. The plus money on this most likely outcome is too solid to pass up.

Dart Throw of the Week: Angela Hill by Decision (+470)

One could make the argument the largest underdog on the card, Angela Hill (+270), should be favored in this fight.

Hill is the veteran in this fight, and she's still clinging to a ranking in UFC's strawweight division. Her 6-7 record in her last 13 fights is far from inspiring, but 5 of those losses are to women currently ranked ahead of her. There's an edge to be had in accepting losses to better fighters so long as the prospective target still performs well.

"Overkill" Hill absolutely has. Despite the brutal strength of schedule, she's maintained a +1.03 striking success rate with tremendous defensive marks both striking (63% striking defense) and wrestling (77% takedown defense).

The favorite, Amanda Lemos, is indeed ranked ahead of Hill, but she shouldn't be. Just one of the fighters on Lemos' four-fight winning streak is still with UFC, and that was her last opponent, Montserrat Conejo. Lemos has yet to face a ranked fighter, so we truly have no idea how she stacks up to this level of competition. Her 46% striking defense, though, isn't going to produce a lot of wins if it holds at that mark against tougher strikers.

Despite the losses, we know Angie belongs here. Her underlying peripherals have remained strong, and she'd be positioned much differently if she got the nod in split decisions with Michelle Waterson and Claudia Gadehla. Lemos faces her first true test on Saturday, and it's possible Hill is just too skilled.

Hill has just 5 wins by early finish in 23 pro fights, so while the Hill moneyline at +270 definitely works, the heightened odds are a dangling carrot for this hungry reindeer considering she's gone to a decision in each of her last five bouts.