Betting Guide for UFC 280
Well, last week was almost an unmitigated disaster. The two-legger was canceled based on a weight miss Friday, my largest UFC bet all year fell over in one punch, and only one of the darts hit. Thank heavens for Joanderson Brito.
There's no time to sulk, though. We were just getting some losses out of the way before the greatest MMA event I can remember takes place on Fight Island this week. Let's dive in.
UFC 280: Oliveira vs. Makhachev will take place Saturday from the Ethiad Arena in Abu Dhabi. Which MMA bets stand out on FanDuel Sportsbook?
Manon Fiorot and Karol Rosa to Both Win
(-112; 1.0 Units)
I've dropped the two-legger to just a unit this week because it's brutal to find a moderate favorite to love. We're still going to try.
Even though all four women's divisions saw an upset rate in 2021 higher than any men's division, it's hard not to love Karol Rosa (-320) and Manon Fiorot (-225) to win their bouts this weekend.
Rosa will be first up on the card taking on Lina Lansberg. She was a superstar prospect, but "prospect" turned out to be the keyword. She was controlled for over 10 minutes by Sara McMann, which only brought into further question her "black belt" in Brazilian jiu-jitsu that she's yet to use in UFC.
Still, Lansberg isn't the type that will successfully wrestle Rosa. Her takedown accuracy is a poor 26%, and Rosa's takedown defense (72% overall) was strong before facing the veteran wrestler. This fight is much more about how Rosa's +2.20 striking success rate should dominate Lansberg's (-1.15).
As for Fiorot, she's the first fight on the pay-per-view portion of the card, battling top contender Katlyn Chookagian. I have a hard time seeing Chookagian having an ounce of success in this matchup.
Fiorot's 70% striking defense has been elite, and Chookagian's weakness is her efficiency on the feet (35% striking accuracy). Plus, Chookagian has faced Fiorot's last opponent, Jennifer Maia, twice, and the results are hard to ignore. It took two full fights for Chookagian to post a combined +35 striking differential on Maia. Fiorot's was +46 in her lone bout.
These aggressive strikers are two of the best favorites on the card given Muhammad Mokaev (-1000) just doesn't make a lot of sense to toss in a parlay.
Beneil Dariush to Win (+162; 0.75 Units)
It's not that I'm extraordinarily confident in Beneil Dariush (+162) to beat Mateusz Gamrot; this should just be closer to a pick 'em.
Dariush and Gamrot are basically the same fighter -- give or take a few small differences. They both average north of 2.00 takedowns per 15 minutes as primary wrestlers, and they both have a sub-35% takedown accuracy. They usually have turned their bouts into an ugly grind.
Gamrot's surprise win earlier this summer over Arman Tsarukyan has shot him out as a sizable favorite here, but the reason Dariush hasn't had a comparable win? He's been injured. Beneil has been out since May 2021 after hurting his ankle while training for title challenger Islam Makhachev.
The bottom line in this fight is that both Gamrot and Dariush -- well-tested with wrestlers previously -- have impeccable takedown defense. Both are north of 80%. This could be a fight with more striking in it than expected if neither budge, and Dariush (+1.22 striking success rate) has historically had the edge there over Gamrot (+0.35).
In a close bout, take the moderate 'dog.
Sean O'Malley to Win (+240; 0.5 Units)
I promise I'm not insane.
There's a massive canyon between the pedigree and level of competition between former bantamweight champion Petr Yan and Sean O'Malley (+240). There's an analytical reason to believe the UFC isn't insane making this matchup, either.
These two are predominately strikers, and for whatever the gap between competition, O'Malley has the better striking peripherals. He's got a higher striking success rate (card-best +4.27), striking accuracy (62%), and striking defense (64%).
Top-10 contender Pedro Munhoz didn't land a single head strike on O'Malley in eight minutes. With five inches of reach over Yan, this is a matchup O'Malley's peripherals have said he can compete in for years. He's intentionally taken on weaker foes, though.
This win would catapult "Suga" Sean into the title picture. He shouldn't be favored given Yan still has excellent marks striking, and Yan's competition has been a lot tougher.
Marlon "Chito" Vera has surged into the top five of this division, and O'Malley's fight with Vera was neck-and-neck before Sean injured his foot. He's more real than anyone wants to give him credit for, so I don't mind taking a flier in what should be an exciting, competitive fight.
TJ Dillashaw and Aljamain Sterling Don't Go The Distance (+160; 0.5 Units)
Sticking with that same theme, this may not be the most likely outcome, but it's more likely than these 38.5% implied odds.
Aljamain Sterling (-186) and TJ Dillashaw (+144) are the bantamweight title fight that will serve as the co-main event Saturday. With 25 minutes to work, we absolutely shouldn't doubt the historical potential of one of these two finishing this fight early.
The challenger, Dillashaw, is actually the more experienced foe in title bouts. He's been in seven and won five -- all by knockout. His only exceptions were a split decision loss to Dominick Cruz and a knockout loss to Henry Cejudo, but that was in a different weight class. He's got a 64.7% pro finishing rate.
Sterling's favored status here is absolutely driving this number. He's got just a 52.4% pro finishing rate, and he's only secured one true finish in his last five fights. The other was the infamous knee from Petr Yan. Still, Aljo's submission danger is always present; he is one of just three UFC fighters to ever land a suloev stretch.
Predicated on his wrestling into Sterling's 41% takedown defense, I tend to believe Dillashaw is a better bet than his odds, and he's got a history of ending these fights inside the distance.
However, I also don't think he can outpoint the lanky, dominant striker and grappler, so I'll use this line as a method of backing Dillashaw while still leaving myself a margin for error if the champ separates from him instead.
Dart Throw of the Week:
Charles Oliveira by KO/TKO (+500; 0.25 Units)
I'd rather not be heartbroken by perhaps the greatest UFC bout ever, so a sprinkle on the most likely fight outcome -- at least in my eyes -- will do.
Islam Makhachev and Charles Oliveira (+136) will give us a substitute for a bout between the two greatest lightweights ever.
Makhachev is 11-1 in UFC, but his record doesn't really speak of him as a contender in this division. His last win was over unranked Bobby Green. The reason he's here? His style, poise, and technique mirror that of head coach Khabib Nurmagomedov, who retired early while undefeated in UFC back in 2020.
That's evident in Makhachev's 3.41 takedowns landed per 15 minutes on insane 65% accuracy. We'd love to have seen Charles and Khabib square off because Oliveira is the all-time UFC submission win leader (14) and averages an insane 2.9 submission attempts per 15 minutes.
On paper, Makhachev would be walking right into the lion's den with one of the best to ever do it. My theory is that won't be his gameplan. Rather, he'll look to force Oliveira to fight him in his less-skilled domain.
That's where this bet comes enters contention. Oliveira is still a more skilled striker than Makhachev, landing three knockdowns across his three title fights against actual strikers like Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler.
This is a small flier Oliveira shows his well-roundedness and scores the upset.