Betting Guide for UFC Vegas 66
Last week's card was headlined by a couple of poor decisions. We'll -- as always -- look to avoid those on the final card of the year.
UFC Vegas 66: Cannonier vs. Strickland on Saturday. Which MMA bets stand out on FanDuel Sportsbook?
Amir Albazi and Julian Marquez to Both Win
(-113; 1.5 Units)
I haven't done a two-legger every week, but it's 23-11 for the year on the weeks I've rolled it out. We've clinched a profitable year (don't worry, next year I'll track units), but it's always nice to finish strong.
This week, we're in pretty solid hands with Amir Albazi (-480) and Julian Marquez (-178).
Albazi is a superstar prospect at flyweight, and he's the largest favorite on the card taking on newcomer Alessandro Costa. I'm not even sure I understand this matchup. Costa went to a sloppy split decision on Dana White's Contender Series in which he was outstruck. That's left him with a -0.27 striking success rate (SSR) despite the win.
Perhaps, because Costa thwarted all four takedowns on the show, the promotion believes he can stop Albazi's grappling. I doubt it. Albazi has submitted two of his three foes -- all UFC winners by submission themselves -- with the promotion already, and his 62% takedown accuracy has been virtually unflappable.
Marquez is the latest with a chance to bully Deron Winn. At 5'6" tall, Winn likely isn't a middleweight with better conditioning, and he'll face an eight-inch deficit in height (and two in reach) to the favorite. That's given Winn (-1.66 striking success rate) significant trouble striking.
It's fair to be a bit concerned about Marquez's 53% takedown defense given Winn's solid wrestling (52% takedown accuracy), but Marquez is likely more dangerous there. He averages a card-best 3.00 submission attempts per minute despite never landing a UFC takedown. I think he's totally content to let you use your energy to get him where he's supremely dangerous.
Neither Costa nor Winn have secured a UFC win by finish, so expect these more dominant finishers -- with submission skills -- to find an opening before 15 minutes elapse.
Sean Strickland to Win (-115; 1.0 Unit)
Sean Strickland (-115) and Jared Cannonier combined for just 1.33 takedowns per 15 minutes with an average takedown defense of 75%. Expect a striking match in the main event.
In that event, it could be as easy to favor Strickland based on his +1.23 SSR versus Cannonier's pedestrian mark of +0.23. There's also just one inch of reach between them. But, even diving deeper, Sean appears to have a significant advantage.
It's always the pace of "Tarzan" that seems odd. He doesn't get tired, posting 5.54 significant strikes per minute with 40% accuracy. That means he attempts 13.85 significant strikes per minute to Cannonier's 7.31.
Efficiency is helpful, and Cannonier's 51% accuracy is higher. But, when you're firing half as much, it'll be hard to keep pace on the scorecards. Plus, Strickland's 65% defense is excellent, and he's been knocked out in just 2 of his 29 pro fights.
Personally, the odds a third knockout happens in this fight are inflated because Strickland was finished by the champ of this division, Alex Pereira, last time out. All in all, he's been durable, and as these two battle on Saturday, he should comfortably lead the dance if Cannonier can't get find a seminal blow.
David Dvorak to Win (+190; 0.75 Units)
This is one of those value bets in UFC where you've got to take it -- even though I'll be holding my breath throughout.
Manel Kape has three knockdowns in two straight first-round finishes against unranked foes, but there's still not a lot going on for the one-dimensional striker to be a -250 favorite. His +0.10 SSR is fairly average, and his 51% striking defense is actually below the flyweight average.
David Dvorak (+190) took his first UFC loss in a tight decision with Matheus Nicolau in his last bout. Nicolau is a top-five guy in the division, and Dvorak outstruck him by three significant strikes. It's arguably a more substantial performance than Kape's victories, both of which came against unranked foes.
Kape also lost to Nicolau with a +6 striking differential, so this should be a close fight. Dvorak's +0.87 SSR is also better than Kape's. There's no reason these odds should be this wide other than the impressive win in Kape's last fight and the loss in Dvorak's.
Dart Throw of the Week:
Cody Brundage by Submission (+650; 0.25 Units)
It's bizarre to me that Michal Oleksiejczuk is the favorite in this middleweight bout.
Yes, it'll be the Polishman's second bout at 185, but unless his wrestling defense (50% takedown defense) is tremendously improved, Cody Brundage (+220) can not only win this fight but finish it in the first round.
Oleksiejczuk is a phenomenal boxer, but he's only faced two fighters with any grappling skill at all (0.50 submission attempts per 15 minutes or higher) and was submitted by both. Ovince St. Preux got him in the second round, and Jimmy Crute ragdolled him in an eight-takedown, first-round win via kimura.
At 1.20 submission attempts per 15 minutes, Brundage has shown those skills, but he's also landed 1.81 takedowns per 15 minutes to get this fight to where he can win it.
Brundage's striking stands no shot to compete in this one, so it should be a lopsided rout one way or another -- and, personally, chances are pretty even in both directions. I see plenty of value in this prop compared to Michal Oleksiejczuk by KO/TKO (-105) when comparing the two most obvious paths for this clash to end.