Anthony Smith vs. Magomed Ankalaev UFC 277 Odds, Pick & Prediction: Oddsmakers Sleeping on Ex-title Challenger? (Saturday, July 30)

Anthony Smith vs. Magomed Ankalaev UFC 277 Odds, Pick & Prediction: Oddsmakers Sleeping on Ex-title Challenger? (Saturday, July 30) article feature image

Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC light heavyweight Anthony Smith

Smith vs. Ankalaev Odds

Smith Odds
Ankalaev Odds
2.5 (-160 / +130)
American Airlines Center (Dallas)
Approx. 10 p.m. ET
ESPN+ Pay-per-view
Odds as of Friday and via DraftKings.

Former UFC title challenger Anthony Smith faces a tough task when he meets Magomed Ankalaev on Saturday at UFC 277.

The pay-per-view main-card opener features the biggest mismatch of the event with Smith, the former No. 1 contender at light heavyweight, a massive underdog to possibly the next big thing.

Is the line too wide, though? Let's examine the matchup.

Tale of the Tape

Avg. Fight Time11:309:31
Weight (pounds)205 lbs.205 lbs.
Reach (inches)75"76"
Date of birth6/2/19926/26/1988
Sig Strikes Per Min3.493.03
SS Accuracy54%47%
SS Absorbed Per Min2.134.31
SS Defense61%42%
Take Down Avg.1.010.46
TD Acc33%28%
TD Def85%48%
Submission Avg0.00.8

Ankalaev may be the uncrowned light heavyweight champion, but his recent efforts have underwhelmed.

His lone blemish remains a (somewhat suspicious) stoppage loss in his promotional debut (with one second remaining) in a fight he dominated against Paul Craig (as a -800 favorite).

After rattling off four finishes in his next five bouts, Ankalaev has recorded a trio of underwhelming decisions. He enters Saturday on the cusp of title contention, but he needs a highlight-reel performance.

Smith's primary weakness is takedown defense (48%), and Akalaev is a solid wrestler, but he rarely grapples as much as he should (three takedown attempts per 15 minutes, 33% accuracy). If he brings his wrestling singlet to this fight, he may look like a massive favorite from the jump.

Smith has excellent jiu-jitsu but isn't nearly as adept at attacking his back as in top position. And Ankalaev has shown firm control when he puts opponents on their backs. Still, he's not reliable to wrestle, but we'll see if that changes in this fight.

I expect the majority of this fight to take place on the feet. And the striking matchup between Smith's jab and Ankalaev's check left hook could largely determine the outcome.

Smith vs. Ankalaev Pick

While I would give Ankalaev more finishing upside, Smith is a crafty fighter with a wealth of experience (52 professional fights), and he can undoubtedly edge a decision – in Texas against a Russian – in a slow-paced kickboxing match. It's a pace and distance that Ankalaev is far too happy to oblige.

Ankalaev's lack of urgency toward minute-winning will eventually cost him, and that variance increases in a three-round fight. And Smith is enthusiastic enough to steal a close decision.

I projected this fight to reach a decision 60% of the time and would bet that prop up to -135 (57.5% implied) at a 2.5% edge.

Additionally, I could make a case for the Smith moneyline (projected +403), and I will monitor his line until closer to fight time, but I would love to get something closer to +500.

I also show value on Ankalaev by Decision (projected -110, listed +110) and Smith by submission (projected +1337, listed +1500), but I'm going to stay on the Goes to Decision side of things and look for a peak price on Smith.

The Pick: Fight Goes to Decision (-128, 0.5u) at FanDuel

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