Betting Guide for UFC Vegas 50
A bonafide, well-rounded light heavyweight prospect gets his chance to earn a top-five ranking with a win over a former title challenger this weekend.
UFC Vegas 50: Santos vs. Ankalaev takes place Saturday from the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, NV. Where are the sharpest places to wager on the card using UFC odds?
Magomed Ankalaev and Alex Pereira to Both Win (-125; 2.0 Units)
Another awful decision that was unanimously considered poor cost the two-legger again. That's now two in two weeks with a combined +99 striking differential.
I refuse to let the judges crush our spirit. They may very well not be needed with this pairing.
Magomed Ankalaev (-500) is the largest favorite on the card in the main event. Ankalaev has much better marks in terms of offensive (55% striking accuracy) and defensive (62% striking defense) efficiency than Thiago Santos, but Santos really can't challenge high-level competition in any capacity since his catastrophic knee injuries against Jon Jones. He's averaging just 2.29 significant strikes landed per minute in his last four. That's not enough offense to outpoint a technician.
Even over Anaklaev, Alex Pereira (-178) is my single most confident straight pick on the card. Both he and Bruno Silva are Brazilian strikers with heavy power, and both land 60% or more of their strikes historically. However, the defense couldn't be more different. Pereira is a championship-level kickboxer that defeated champ Israel Adesanya in that domain, and his 71% striking defense is elite. "Blindado" Silva has been blind to incoming strikes, defending just 32% of them.
It would be fairly shocking if Pereira doesn't handle him quickly. Ankalaev is incredibly measured, but he also has six knockdowns in his eight UFC fights. Santos has just one since his injury.
These are two fighters with technical advantages that also have significant advantages in terms of power and danger. Hopefully, this week won't be in the hands of incapable judging.
Song Yadong to Win by Knockout (+100; 1.0 Units)
Marlon Moraes was billed to be the next hot-shot bantamweight prospect when he arrived in UFC in 2017. His title fight in 2019, though, ended up forecasting his career.
Moraes was knocked out in the third round after extreme exhaustion against Henry Cejudo, and that knockout was one of four "Magic" has suffered in his last five fights. Moraes has significant energy issues that have yet to be corrected. His only two UFC wins beyond the first round have been questionable, low-volume split decisions against John Dodson and Jose Aldo.
For that reason, I'm comfortable backing Song Yadong (-260) in this way to save some of the lofty price on his moneyline.
Moraes' energy woes have him averaging just 0.89 takedowns per 15 minutes. That's where he'd need to exploit the Team Alpha Male prospect (60% takedown defense). On the feet, this one isn't close. Yadong's +1.11 striking success rate is vastly superior to Moraes' -1.13 mark.
Yadong's grappling defense is at least solid enough to have never been professionally submitted -- even through a bout with Kyler Phillips. With that the case, and striking his preferred domain, the pick is that he eventually wilts Moraes -- again -- for the knockout or technical knockout.
Dart Throw of the Week: Terrance McKinney by Submission (+500; 0.25 Units)
Yes, that Terrance McKinney (+152) is back on just two weeks' leave after a submission win at UFC Vegas 49.
The lightweight didn't expend much energy and absorbed next-to-no damage in handling Fares Ziam. Therefore, still in fighting shape, he's stepping in against Drew Dober in the same weight class. I think I know why.
McKinney made his name on a seven-second knockout, but he's primarily a wrestler, averaging a solid 3.29 takedowns per 15 minutes. That's a good base to have to face Dober. Dober has been taken down at least three times in his last three fights, and his takedown defense sits at just 55% overall.
This moneyline makes no sense, and I'll happily be betting an overall win at +152 as well. Ziam had a 68% takedown defense, and at 6'1", he is just a much larger fighter than Dober at 5'8". McKinney's athleticism burst through Ziam like he was a featherweight.
Dober was preparing for a striker (Ricky Glenn), so this is a terrible matchup on short notice to prepare for when his wrestling defense has been such a challenge. Perhaps Dober finds a way to survive until the end, but given three of Dober's last four losses have come via submission, I'll take a flier on five-to-one odds.