Betting Guide for UFC 270

Francis Ngannou has knocked out every fighter he's faced when landing at least 25 significant strikes. Can he get to that mark and finish Ciryl Gane on Saturday?

The first pay-per-view of 2022 is a doozy. It's headlined by a heavyweight fight that truly embodies the power versus technique dynamic, but the flyweight trilogy nobody asked for might be closer than many expect.

UFC 270: Ngannou vs. Gane takes place from the Honda Center in Anaheim, California on Saturday. Where is the sharpest place to wager on Saturday's card using UFC odds?

Ilia Topuria, Raoni Barcelos, and Rodolfo Vieira All to Win (-104)

Heavy favorites litter the early fights of UFC 270, but tying these three together is my favorite way to sprinkle fair odds amongst the bouts.

Ilia Topuria (-550) is the largest favorite on the card, and the featherweight gem of a prospect has shown flashes both striking and grappling; he's got dominant wins over proven UFC winners doing both. He draws Canada's Charles Jourdain, who is fighting on short notice. Without ample time to prepare, Jourdan's 48% takedown defense and Topuria's card-best 3.4 submission attempts per match seem like a recipe for disaster.

The second-heaviest favorite is Raoni Barcelos (-500). Barcelos was scheduled to duel Victor Henry in December, but a Henry corner issue delayed the fight to this weekend. Barcelos has one of the sturdiest analytic profiles in all of bantamweight, but the signature of it is defense. His 66% striking defense (card-best) and 92% takedown defense (ninth on the card) are a tough challenge for any opponent -- especially a newcomer like Henry.

The parlay is made through the selection of either Rodolfo Vieira (-250) or Tony Gravely (-250). Either is a quality option, but Vieira stands out in my eyes. Not only was Vieira's striking improved in his last effort (55% striking accuracy; 66% striking defense), but the world champion jiu-jitsu practitioner has this key element going for him -- his opponent, Wellington Turman, needs to grapple to win.

Turman has been outstruck in four of his five UFC appearances, and in both fights where he failed to land a takedown, he lost. If he's grappling with Vieira (and his stellar 1.4 submission attempts per match), it's probably lights out.

This parlay pays out solid -104 odds. The key turning point is Vieira, and with a matchup he can exploit, it's the best spot to attack the lopsided fights.

(Editor's Note: Vieira is now out, but just as mentioned, Tony Gravely (-250) is a great addition to keep the parlay intact with the other two legs.)

Francis Ngannou by Knockout (+145)

The most terrifying man in all of UFC is probably outmatched in skill once more, but it didn't particularly matter in his last fight.

Ngannou had a laughably-low striking defense (8%) in his last fight with Stipe Miocic. No one remembers that, though, because Ngannou landed 6.14 significant strikes per minute, stuffed Miocic's lone takedown attempt, and brutally knocked him out cold.

Ultimately, in a firefight, Francis Ngannou is the great eraser. He has a 4.3% knockdown rate in UFC. That's the percentage of his punches that turn into a knockdown (and usually, that's a precursor to a knockout). Ngannou has won every single fight in which he has gotten to land 25 significant strikes. He has 25 minutes to get to that mark Saturday.

Ciryl Gane is the best heavyweight technical striker I've ever seen, and his +2.97 striking success rate is there to prove it. However, Gane has absorbed more than 25 strikes in four of his six UFC appearances -- many of them in just three rounds. History says heavyweights don't last long with Ngannou absorbing even that small amount of punishment.

Gane has completely abandoned the wrestling background he entered the promotion with, so there's no evidence he can find a way to wrestle Ngannou to the ground when Miocic couldn't. With that the case, it seems like only a matter of time before "The Predator" claims another victim.

Dart Throw of the Week: Deiveson Figueiredo by Knockout (+460)

This dart is not to say that I'm confident Deiveson Figueiredo (+144) will find a way past Brandon Moreno in a trilogy that he's 0-1-1 in thus far. I just believe there's value here.

Figueiredo was destined to be "the next king" of flyweight, following in the footsteps of Demetrious Johnson and Henry Cejudo. He took a short-notice fight against Brandon Moreno in December 2019 that went to a majority draw, and then the rematch in June of 2020 was an abject disaster.

Not to make excuses for the former champion, but something clearly wasn't right. Figueiredo attempted just 36 strikes in 12.5 minutes in the second fight and was exhausted from them. He attempted 238 strikes on short notice in their first bout. It just felt and looked bizarre.

"Deus De Guerra" did claim a health issue. I'm not saying I buy it, but the analytical difference in his aggressiveness was jaw-dropping. Figueredo, as he typically does, landed 66% of the time in the second bout on what volume he did muster. That was 57% in their first bout, and it's a staple of his greatness. His 56% striking accuracy -- with fight-ending power shown by eight knockdowns -- is tops amongst all ranked flyweights. It's miles beyond Moreno's 39% mark.

So, for a half-unit type of flier, far stranger things have happened than a man who was a -230 favorite entering their second fight rebounding closer to his norm. Moreno appeared to have a technical advantage grappling, but Figueiredo has already landed regularly, with efficiency, to a tough Moreno chin in two fights. It's not out of the realm of possibility a seminal blow finally lands.