Betting Guide for UFC Vegas 51
After last week's "Fight of the Night" performance at UFC 273 between Khamzat Chimaev and Gilbert Burns, a win this week is a must for either Belal Muhammad or Vicente Luque to stay in the mix for a pending title shot at 170 pounds.
UFC Vegas 51: Luque vs. Muhammad 2 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?
Pannie Kianzad and Miguel Baeza to Both Win (-111; 1.5 Units)
The two-legger stayed hot as Alexander Volkanovski and Anthony Hernandez dominated the entire duration of their fights last week.
This week's starts with Sweden's Pannie Kianzad (-430). Kianzad's four-fight winning streak was snapped by a close decision where she outlanded Raquel Pennington by two strikes. That's been the theme for the former pro kickboxer; she has a +0.99 striking success rate in seven UFC-affiliated appearances.
Her opponent, Lina Lansberg, hasn't paid much mind to defense in her eight-fight UFC career. "The Elbow Queen" has just a 44% striking defense and a 50% takedown defense -- though Kianzad won't challenge the latter. Kianzad is the more efficient striker and is a heavy favorite to pick apart Lansberg over 15 minutes here.
The other leg is a bit more harrowing with Miguel Baeza (-184). The Miami prospect had title dreams before being on the wrong end of a war with Santiago Ponzinibbio, and he followed that with a knockout loss to Khaos Williams. His ground game (1.90 submission attempts per 15 minutes) should be a decided advantage over this weekend's opponent, kickboxer Andre Fialho.
Fialho won't be out of the woods on the feet, though. His -4.13 striking success rate is the worst mark on the card, and though Baeza is a step back from his previous opponent (Michel Pereira), Baeza has 7 of his 10 pro wins via knockout.
Kianzad will likely put the fate of this two-legger in the judges' hands -- which is terrifying. But she's got such an advantage in efficiency that it's easy to back her with Baeza, who holds plenty of paths to a finish in his bout.
Belal Muhammad to Win (+152; 1.0 Unit)
I love Vicente Luque, so it kind of hurts to pick against him this weekend. It's just hard not to see value in Belal Muhammad (+152) at this number.
Muhammad is becoming undeniable in UFC's welterweight division. His seven-takedown battering of Stephen Thompson -- a more dominant ground display than title challenger Gilbert Burns posted against him -- put the division on notice. Overall, Muhammad is 11-3 with one no-contest in UFC, and one of those losses was at the hands of Luque.
Luque sparked Belal in the first round of a prelim bout in 2016. However, as their careers have progressed, Muhammad's durability has been legendary. He's got a 59% striking defense and that was his only loss via finish in 23 career fights.
Vicente's larger concern should be Muhammad's wrestling offense in the rematch. Luque has just a 64% takedown defense -- a poor mark for this top-five level of UFC. Muhammad averages 2.20 takedowns per 15 minutes, and he's never been professionally submitted.
In a shocker, Muhammad also has a better striking success rate (+0.99) than Luque (-0.02). It's easy to forget that Luque took plenty of damage in his knockout wins over Randy Brown and Niko Price, too.
Overall, I see this fight as closer to a coin flip leaning in Muhammad's direction. Backing him at +152 odds is a no-brainer.
Dart Throw of the Week: Sam Hughes by Submission (+900; 0.25 Units)
Last fall before her fight with Luana Pinheiro, I called Sam Hughes (+184) the New York Jets of UFC. It was the meanest thing I've ever said about a fighter.
However, even Zach Wilson and the boys won a couple of games. Hughes has had a gauntlet of a schedule in UFC thus far where the shortest she's been to win on the moneyline of a fight that happened was +335. At +184 this weekend, it feels like her first real shot.
The way Istela Nunes grappled in her first bout, she's actually got a wide-open path. Nunes had just a 28% takedown defense in a third-round submission loss to Ariane Carnelossi. The early returns on the feet for Nunes were great (+2.02 striking success rate), but it doesn't matter if she can't stay upright.
Hughes has three of her six pro wins via submission, but she's been outmatched to the point where she's had no opportunity to try. She only was positioned for one takedown attempt in three fights and failed to secure it.
"Sampage" has been ridiculously durable despite the beating she's taking thus far, so the second-most likely outcome of this fight behind a Nunes clear decision striking is Hughes dominating on the mat. Nunes has zero career wins and two losses via submission. She's just not comfortable there.
The odds of Hughes duplicating the result that Carnelossi posted are way higher than the 10% implied ones at this mark.