Betting Guide for UFC 277
UFC is headed back to Texas, but they'll make their inaugural stop in Big D this time since returning from the COVID-19 break. Two title fights will cap the card stocked with weird matchups and intriguing debutants.
UFC 277: Pena vs. Nunes 2 will take place Saturday from the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. Which MMA bets stand out on FanDuel Sportsbook?
Brandon Moreno and Drew Dober to Both Win
(+119; 1.25 Units)
Last week's pair of English fighters picked up dubs, and that bumped the two-legger to 13-8 in 2022.
This week's board is tough with two gigantic favorites bookending many fights that could go either way. Still, UFC veterans Brandon Moreno (-220) and Drew Dober (-196) are worthy of being this week's trusted soldiers.
Moreno will fight for the interim flyweight title after just missing out on this being the second defense of this belt he earned in 2021. That split decision loss to Deiveson Figueiredo was the final chapter of a trilogy where Moreno held a +37 striking differential against -- statistically -- the most accurate and powerful (in terms of knockdown rate) flyweight ever.
He'll step back to Kai Kara-France this weekend, but it's not a step back in terms of striking; Kara-France has a 1.33 striking success rate. Moreno's advantage should be grappling. The challenger, "Don't Blink," was controlled for over three minutes by both Rogerio Bontorin and Askar Askarov. Moreno (0.70 submission attempts per 15 minutes) has submitted both the champion Figueiredo and Brandon Royval at the top of this division.
As for Dober, his wild comeback win over Terrance McKinney earned him an easier draw. Rafael Alves has never secured a UFC takedown, and he's attempted just once. The problem is he's got a -1.86 striking success rate as a guy that only strikes. Not great, Bob!
Alves' two UFC wins have come via guillotine chokes as a direct product of opponents trying to wrestle him. Dober (17% takedown accuracy) won't. Instead, he'll stay on the feet and out of Alves' control, and Dober has won four straight fights by knockout when he hasn't been taken down three-plus times.
These two still have formidable opponents, so my overall unit dispersion is lighter this week than normal.
Ji-Yeon Kim to Win (+100; 1.0 Unit)
Our three-card run of picking underdog winners that make no sense will look to continue this weekend with another short 'dog.
Ji-Yeon Kim (+100) is 1-4 in her last five UFC bouts, yet she's only +100 on short notice against Joselyn Edwards at a brand new weight class. Edwards put on a dazzling display last month in Singapore against a poor striker, and she's predictably moved from the underdog to the favorite in this bout.
This fight should be a close one because Edwards' strength (57% striking accuracy) will test Kim's strong defense (56% striking defense). When the inaccurate Kim (36% accuracy) is firing, she'll meet Edwards' poor 43% defense.
The difference is the level of competition. Kim's losses have come to ranked flyweights like Molly McCann and Alexa Grasso. Edwards' pair of wins are over opponents 1-6 in UFC themselves.
If Edwards had elite power and Kim was moving up in weight, it might be a different story. However, with zero career knockdowns, "La Pantera" isn't dangerous enough to make up for what should be a gap in striking skill.
In that case, let's take the plus money behind "Firefist."
Dart Throw of the Week: Julianna Pena by Decision
(+600; 0.25 Units)
It's wild to me that we're giving Julianna Pena (+220) no credit after her resounding victory in December.
Lucky UFC wins happen, but this wasn't one. Pena had a +33 striking differential on the way to a second-round submission win over Amanda Nunes at UFC 269. She landed 58% of her strikes, which shouldn't come as a surprise given Pena's strong 49% striking accuracy.
However, the fourth-largest upset in UFC history (Pena was +650 to win) is largely being passed off as a fluke. Amanda Nunes says she wasn't right in December -- as most fighters do when they lose.
That was Nunes' first weight cut to 135 pounds since 2019, and she's now 34 years old. It's well within the range of outcomes that cut has become enormously difficult for her, and it's the same one she'll make this week.
Pena had a 13.3% implied chance to win in their first meeting and delivered a convincing victory, yet she's only been bumped to a 31.3% implied chance this weekend. Of the last 13 champions to lose and be gifted a rematch immediately, 11 lost again. Nunes isn't a slam dunk to rebound.
With the public flocking to Nunes again in droves, I'll gladly take the chance that a quality sample seven months ago wasn't a "fluke," but this time, Nunes will likely substitute high output for energy conservation, and the "Venezuelan Vixen" rides out a decision behind her sneaky dipping jab.