Betting Guide for UFC 271
A rematch between dominant middleweight champion Israel Adesanya and "reborn" former champion Robert Whittaker headlines a loaded, 15-fight pay-per-view card on the eve of the Super Bowl.
UFC 271: Adesanya vs. Whittaker 2 takes place from the Toyota Center in Houston, TX on Saturday. Where is the sharpest place to wager on Saturday's card using UFC odds?
Casey O'Neill and Carlos Ulberg to Both Win (-130; 2.0 Units)
I was shocked to get this price on a parlay of fights that feel like they have no drama.
Casey O'Neill (-375) is arguably the top prospect at women's flyweight. She's demolished three separate fighters with UFC wins of their own with gaudy peripherals. With a wrestling base, she averages 3.83 takedowns per 15 minutes, and she should land at will against Roxanne Modafferi in Modafferi's retirement bout.
Modafferi has been taken down at least twice in each of her last four fights, going 1-3 in that span with the only win by controversial decision. She has just a 25% takedown defense in a gigantic, 13-fight UFC sample, and in steps one of the top wrestling prospects in the sport.
Carlos Ulberg (-250) is on the card in support of his City Kickboxing teammate, Israel Adesanya. In his UFC debut, he showed plenty of striking chops. He posted 146 significant strikes in just over 8 minutes of fight time. Kennedy Nzechukwu is a powerful comeback maven and did land a haymaker to finish Ulberg, but the striker's offense should be too much for Fabio Cherant.
In three UFC appearances, Cherant's defense has been frighteningly bad in three first-round losses. He has just a 34% striking defense coupled with a 0% takedown defense, resulting in a card-worst -3.56 striking success rate. Not ideal. Ulberg is his most voluminous opponent yet.
Both of them to win by any method pays closer to a pick 'em fight at -130, so this will be my primary bankroll building opportunity of the evening.
Renato Moicano by Submission or Points (-115; 1.0 Unit)
It's fantastic to see a former featherweight killer thriving at his new, higher weight class that's much healthier for his body.
That, of course, is Renato Moicano (-176). Moicano is coming off a smothering of Jai Herbert in a submission win, and averaging 1.96 takedowns per 15 minutes and 0.70 submission attempts per match, his ground game is really where he is at his best.
While I could swallow -176 odds to include a knockout when backing Moicano on Saturday, taking him only to win by submission or decision nets just a -115 lay instead. I believe he'll take a ground-heavy approach against Alexander Hernandez.
Hernandez is dangerous trading early. Three of his five UFC wins have come by first-round knockout. If Moicano wants to avoid that, his ground game is the best bet. Hernandez has just a 62% takedown defense overall, so you can certainly get him there.
Even on the feet, Moicano should do well -- which is why it's key to add in the decision. Moicano's +1.69 striking success rate stomps Hernandez's -0.03 mark, and "Alex the Great" has just a 36% striking accuracy. That's poor for any weight class, but it's the worst among active lightweights with a UFC win.
All four of Moicano's UFC finishes have been submissions, so I'm playing the percentages by shaving off the potential for one-shot power he doesn't really demonstrate (0.21% knockdown rate).
Dart Throw of the Week: Derrick Lewis to Win by Decision (+550; 0.5 Units)
We're all expecting a firefight when heavyweight knockout artists Derrick Lewis (-192) and Tai Tuivasa collide.
Not so fast, my friend.
Anecdotally, it's hard to see the former title challenger drop two in a row in front of his home Houston crowd, but there's reason to believe Lewis is the more well-rounded fighter here.
Tuivasa's four-fight winning streak hasn't really answered any of the questions that nearly got him cut from UFC. He had problems defending wrestling, and his takedown defense mark still sits at just 50% overall. He hasn't faced an attempt in four fights. I already knew he hit hard.
Lewis has shown, when needed, he can rely on his dated wrestling background to get the job done. He has landed a takedown in 7 of his 23 career UFC bouts. Hey, I didn't say he was an All-American.
Overall, we've never really seen either Lewis or Tuivasa suffer what they deliver to others -- a one-punch knockout. Lewis has gone out once in the first round in 2014, and Tuivasa never has.
With some length to this, I not only trust Lewis' potential wrestling ability, but I trust how he stymied the high-volume Chris Daukaus in his last bout. He averaged a brisk (for him) 3.98 significant strikes per minute on 50% accuracy.
His experience and fight IQ should allow him success in this co-main event that has much more potential for an ugly, low-volume war of attrition than anyone at UFC's corporate office would freely admit.