Betting Guide for UFC Orlando

The heavy hands of Tai Tuivasa return to the octagon this weekend in Orlando. Should we back him -- or his opponent -- on Saturday?

After a week off for the holiday, UFC is back with its first road show since summer, but the weather in "The Sunshine State" should be a throwback to those warmer days as I'm buried under snow in Denver.

UFC Orlando: Thompson vs. Holland takes place from the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida on Saturday. Which MMA bets stand out on FanDuel Sportsbook?

Rafael Dos Anjos and Niko Price to Both Win
(-106; 2.0 Units)

I've gotten robbed a few times this year by decisions in the two-legger, but not two weeks ago. We were very fortunate that Charles Johnson got a decision many felt he shouldn't have, bumping the two-legger to 22-10 YTD.

This week, I had to dive a little lower to get a near-even-money lay given Rafael Dos Anjos (-620) was a must.

RDA isn't even fighting poorly before this gigantic step back in competition. He had just a -10 striking differential -- and landed multiple takedowns -- on ranked challenger Rafael Fiziev in July. Dos Anjos' brutal schedule appears to have seen an abrupt halt here in Bryan Barberena.

Barberena is a defensive mess. His 44% striking defense is as poor as his 55% takedown defense, and he's been taken down at least five times in four of his last five. At worst, Dos Anjos (1.96 takedowns per 15 minutes) can do that to cruise, or he could just knock his foe out on the feet.

Pairing RDA was the challenge, but I'm turning to veteran welterweight Niko Price (-148) to do so. Price's results haven't always been there, but since the start of 2019, his only three losses are to ranked challengers Michel Pereira, Vicente Luque, and Geoff Neal.

"The Hybrid" is a creative, high-paced warrior. You see that in 5.16 significant strikes landed per minute in this division that usually lacks volume. I'm expecting his efficiency (-0.51 striking success rate) to improve significantly facing the inexperienced Phil Rowe.

Rowe's last two wins came over guys a combined 3-5 in UFC. Price went the distance with Pereira two fights ago. This is a gigantic step up in competition.

Realistically, RDA should be fighting Price, and Rowe should be fighting Barbarena. Given these matchups, we can take the more experienced, battle-tested favorites.

Angela Hill to Win (+102; 1.0 Units)

I've (fairly) been accused of leaning on stats over experience. This is the opposite.

Angela Hill (+102) finally got the decision monkey off her back with a unanimous win over Loopy Godinez in August. She had lost five of six decisions -- many by split -- before that. That's placed her in a level of competition she's probably better than. We saw that as she handled Godinez as a disrespected +300 underdog.

I like Emily Ducote on the other side here, which makes me supremely confident I've snuffed the value out of this one. Ducote landed 56% of her strikes and defended an outstanding 74% in her debut. The problem is those marks were just three and six percentage points above expectation facing Jessica Penne, who holds a horrible 32% striking accuracy and 47% striking defense.

Hill's striking metrics are solid, too. She's got a 48% striking accuracy and 62% striking defense that is vastly more tested across her 22 UFC appearances. I know she can strike. All I know about Ducote at this point is that she performed slightly better than expected in a toothless matchup.

As a result, I'll take the veteran and short 'dog to show why there are more upsets in all four women's divisions than any single men's one.

Tai Tuivasa by KO/TKO (+215; 0.5 Units)

Seven of the eight UFC wins for Tai Tuivasa (+164) have come via knockout, including all since July of 2018. Add some juice to this prop and scale back the unit size.

Tuivasa and Sergei Pavlovich should brawl until a tree timbers this weekend at heavyweight. Pavlovich has won all four of his UFC bouts by first-round knockout, and these two have identical, terrible 45% striking defenses. That's why you see this fight at a comical -1100 to not go the distance.

I feel supreme backing Tuivasa in a firefight. He's never really lost in UFC by that fashion due to the Aussie's mammoth right hand and iron chin. Pavlovich has never attempted a UFC takedown, so forget the threat he wrestles Tuivasa, which led to two of Tai's four losses.

The other two were more an accumulation of damage from Ciryl Gane (+2.86 striking success rate) and Junior Dos Santos (+1.16). The question becomes is Pavlovich's striking efficiency (+2.33 striking success rate) real, or is it a product of a small sample?

I think the latter. Pavlovich's four wins have come against foes with an average striking defense of 47.8% and an average of 3.8 losses by knockout in their careers. He's crushed cans.

"Bam Bam" is my dart in this wild fight.

Dart Throw of the Week:
Eryk Anders by KO/TKO (+550; 0.25 Units)

As a resident member of the Daukaus Caucus, I'll back Kyle Daukaus in a lot of matchups. I think this is another poor one, though.

It appears Eryk Anders (+172) is really leaning into his grappling. The former Alabama linebacker on the 2009 title team entered UFC as a brawler, earning wins in three of his first four appearances as exclusively a striker. He took a grappling bout with the credential Andre Petroski earlier this year, which is a testament to his newfound skill even in a loss.

Anders won't win this fight grappling. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Daukaus (2.1 submission attempts per 15) is just far better in that domain. The question is whether Anders can defend and survive because he's got a path to win this bout if he does.

It's Anders' 47% striking accuracy that can win him this fight. Daukaus' 41% striking defense is painfully low, and it bit him badly in a brutal knockout loss to Roman Dolidze that resulted in multiple broken facial bones. Anders (1.07% knockdown rate) has similar power.

A good chunk of the time here, Daukaus will rebound with a submission. I like this dart that, if Anders' path to victory striking holds, his power probably overwhelms the rightfully trepidatious "D'Arce Knight" inside the distance.