Anthony Smith vs. Ryan Spann UFC Fight Night Odds& Pick: The Betting Value in Saturday’s Main Event (Sept. 18)
Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images. Pictured: Anthony Smith.
- The UFC returns this week with a main event matchup between light heavyweights Anthony Smith and Ryan Span on ESPN+.
- Smith enters as the favorite (-170 odds) vs. Spann after back-to-back stoppage wins.
- Sean Zerillo breaks down the matchup, including the value prop he’s betting.
Anthony Smith vs. Ryan Spann Odds
After a one-week hiatus, the UFC returns on Saturday with a 14-fight offering, concluding with a Light Heavyweight showdown between No. 7 contender and former title challenger Anthony “Lionheart” Smith and No. 12 ranked Ryan “Superman” Spann.
Smith enters after a pair of early wins against Devin Clark and Jimmy Crute. At the same time, Spann (who also owns a win over Clark) has earned a victory in five of his six trips inside of the octagon after securing a contract on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2018.
There hasn’t been a ton of odds movement for this contest, but some action has come in on the favorite, Smith, who opened as a -160 favorite. Oddsmakers anticipate a finish in this main event, with the odds currently set at -330 (76.7% implied) for this fight to end inside the distance.
Below, I’ll preview this main event in-depth and provide my thoughts on where you can find actionable value on Saturday night.
Tale of the Tape
|Avg. Fight Time||9:48||5:28|
|Weight (pounds)||205 lbs.||205 lbs.|
|Date of birth||7/26/88||8/24/91|
|Sig Strikes Per Min||3.00||3.55|
|SS Absorbed Per Min||4.36||3.45|
|Take Down Avg||0.47||1.72|
Saturday will mark Spann’s first main event in the UFC — and his first time competing in a five-round bout since 2015 when he lost by unanimous decision in Legacy FC.
Conversely, Smith prepared for a five-round bout in six of his past eight appearances over the past three years with the only exceptions being his most recent win over Crute at UFC 261 and a loss to Aleksandar Rakic at the APEX; the bright lights of the main event won’t faze him.
Therefore, the 25-minute format plays to the advantage of Lionheart — who is often a slow starter but tends to grind on his opponents the longer his fights go. And he is one hell of a gatekeeper for rising prospects, with more than 50 professional fights in his career.
While Spann owns the superior striking metrics (+0.10 to -1.36 significant strike differential; 102 to 99 combined striking efficiency), Smith has faced a much higher level of competition, including multiple champions and title challengers.
Spann is capable of having some early wrestling success (1.72 takedowns per 15 minutes, 41% accuracy) given Smith’s porous takedown defense (47% takedowns defense).
In fact, after chopping Crute’s lead leg to pieces in the first round of their bout, a hobbled Crute still managed to take Smith down with relative ease, and it seemed like he had a chance to win the fight (on one leg) if the doctor had let the bout continue.
However, it seems unlikely that Spann gets Smith in a bad enough position to secure a submission finish. If anything, Smith seems more likely to submit Spann off of his back than Spann would be to secure a submission from top position. Spann’s best weapon is his guillotine, and I would be surprised if Smith recklessly shoots for a takedown (0.47 per 15 minutes); he wants to keep this fight standing.
Spann has some physical advantages (1 inch taller, with 3 inches of reach) and seems like the better athlete at 205. His striking has also improved, but I have to give the technical edge to Smith – and he should also maintain a higher output throughout five rounds.
Unless Spann can maintain top position, I see Smith as the likelier minute winner in this fight; and Spann’s wrestling isn’t at the level of a Glover Teixeira (7:58 of control time) or an Alexander Rakic (12:14 of control time) who both executed optimal game plans against Smith.
While Spann has shown lights-out power, and Smith has nine knockout losses on his record, the latter has displayed excellent durability and resiliency in the UFC.
Lionheart’s toughness — and extensive fight experience — has turned him into a bit of an opportunist, and though he seemingly ends up in trouble for moments in all of his fights, he’s typically able to outlast his opposition and capitalize when they make a mistake.
Smith vs. Spann Pick
I projected Anthony Smith as a 63.5% favorite in this fight — so my projection essentially aligns with the listed odds, and I don’t see value on either side of the moneyline.
I expect this fight to end inside the distance more often than the odds (-330, or 76.7% implied) suggest. I projected this fight to end by finish at -400, or 80% implied. However, I’m never particularly interested in laying that much juice on a fight, and when I do show value on the inside-the-distance prop, I often value one or both fighters to win by finish.
I projected a finish as 80% of the win condition for either fighter, leaving me with projections of -103 for Smith to win inside the distance and +243 for Spann. As a result, I show slight value on Smith to win by Knockout, Submission, or DQ at +114, but a bet on Spann at +215 misses the mark.
Given Spann’s inexperience in five-round fights, Smith to win in Round 4 (+1600) or Round 5 (+2500) are enticing wagers that may be worth a sprinkle, but in terms of a best bet for this fight, Smith to win inside the distance (+114) is worth a small stab at any plus money price.
The Pick: Anthony Smith wins Inside the Distance (+114, 0.5u)
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