Islam Makhachev vs. Bobby Green UFC Fight Night Odds, Pick & Preview: How To Bet Main Event With Huge Underdog (Saturday, February 26)
Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: Islam Makhachev and Bobby Green.
- Bobby Green looks to pull one of the biggest UFC upsets as he faces off against Islam Makhachev in Saturday's main event.
- Green is taking the fight on just a 10-day notice and is a +600 underdog against the favorite Makhachev (-900).
- Sean Zerillo explains below the best way to find value in this Catchweight bout.
Islam Makhachev vs. Bobby Green Odds
Bobby “King” Green will attempt to upend the MMA world — and the Lightweight division — on Saturday night in a Catchweight bout with Islam Makhachev.
Green took this fight on a 10-days notice, following a victory over Nasrat Haqparast at UFC 271 just two weeks ago.
Makhachev was initially supposed to face Beneil Dariush in a presumed No. 1 contender bout. However, Benny sustained an injury in training, and the unranked Green said yes to a presumed title eliminator that numerous ranked contenders likely declined first.
With a victory, Green is a made man for life, and he could seemingly ask for whatever he would want such as a title shot against the Gaethje/Oliveira winner or a big paycheck for a PPV Main Event spot with a still-rehabilitating Conor McGregor.
But does he have a chance in a fight where the favorite is over -900 (90% implied), and he’s the biggest main-event underdog since Anthony Smith (+550 at UFC 235 against Jon Jones)?
Below, I’ll preview this main event in-depth and provide my thoughts on where you can find actionable value.
Tale of the Tape
|Avg. Fight Time||9:42||12:39|
|Weight (pounds)||160 lbs.||158 lbs.|
|Date of birth||10/27/91||9/9/86|
|Sig Strikes Per Min||2.21||5.93|
|SS Absorbed Per Min||0.79||3.65|
|Take Down Avg||3.37||1.36|
To justify a -900 moneyline in a fight at this level of MMA, a fighter needs to have the advantages in every single tangible or intangible quality that you use to handicap: striking, grappling, durability, stamina, aggression, physicality, athleticism, etc.
There are subcategories within those individual categories of analysis, such as stark contrasts in offensive vs. defensive submission grappling. Still, in a general sense, to win a five-round fight 90% of the time, you need to be incredibly durable, with impeccable cardio and clear advantages in offensive striking and grappling.
If Makhachev can take Green down and submit him in under five minutes, without Green getting back to his feet, I might consider that his -900 pricetag is justified. But in that case, why wouldn’t you bet his Round 1 prop (+200 to +250 depending on the book) or his submission line (around -110 to +110)?
Do you want to hold a -900 Makhachev ticket — or have it tied into parlays — if he can’t get a quick finish?
Islam is an incredibly powerful grappler who manages distance as well as anyone in the sport. He either backs out of the way of strikes (70% striking defense) or gets inside on your hips and hands where he can push you against the cage, make you wear his weight, and take you down (paces for 16.9 takedowns landed over a 25-minute fight).
Makhachev also uses his striking well to set up those grappling exchanges. His left high kick pushes opponents back towards the fence; he can keep them from advancing with straight punches down the middle and then grab an overhook behind his left overhand where he reinitiates his blanketing push.
Makhachev has a couple of unquantifiable advantages which might go overlooked in this fight too: This bout is taking place in a small cage inside the UFC APEX, and it’s at a 160-pound Catchweight — the preferred weight for Makhachev and his coach/training partner Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Makhachev should have better cardio at 160 than he’s ever had in a UFC fight, and he may feel utterly unstoppable without sucking himself dry for the scales. Moreover, Green doesn’t have as much space to get away from Islam’s pressure in the APEX, and that smaller cage is the worst-case scenario for any of Makhachev’s opponents.
All of that said, Green has shown excellent takedown defense (72%) and submission defense throughout his career. But more importantly, since everyone goes for a ride against Makhachev, Green excels at getting back to his feet; he is a difficult man to control.
Unfortunately for Green, he doesn’t carry a significant amount of one-punch power. He is an attritional volume striker (most strikes landed in UFC Lightweight history; averages 148 per 25 minutes). He keeps his hands low to defend takedowns, but he has excellent hand speed and throws from awkward angles to keep opponents off balance.
Green is a very fluid boxer while moving all directions, but he’s also an entertainer, and his fights tend to be close wars whether he is favored or lined as an underdog.
And that’s really what I want to see in this fight: some entertaining moments. Can Green have a Nate Diaz vs. Leon Edwards moment? Can he put Islam on skates, even for just a second, and see if he can capitalize on it?
Makachev is a different fighter from the one who lost via knockout in his early UFC days, seven years ago; he’s far more measured and composed.
Still, aside from his exciting back-and-forth matchup with Arman Tsarukyan, we haven’t seen the Daegaestan native face much adversity at the UFC level. However, if Green can extend this fight and avoid an early finish, I’m confident that he will eventually work his way back into the proceedings.
Bobby won’t give Makhachev anything for free in the grappling exchanges. He is a tireless worker, and he always picks up the pace in the third round of his MMA fights. Makhachev started to wilt in the late stages of a three-round fight with Tsarukyan, the only time someone has forced him to work for 15 minutes.
I do see a path to victory for Green late — and he may steal an early-round too — since Islam prioritizes control over ground and pound, while Green favors volume over everything.
Moreover, aside from catching Islam in space at a random moment of this fight, there’s a chance that Green can find a late finish just by sticking around, defending submissions and takedowns and getting back up for three rounds and refusing to go away.
Frequently in MMA, all that you have to do is exist longer than the other fighter and wait for them to wilt. And I would bet on Bobby Green to outlast most people on the planet.
Makhachev vs. Green Pick
I projected Islam Makhachev as a -428 favorite (81.1% implied) in this fight — and there is certainly a chance that he runs through Bobby Green in Round 1 — but if you’re playing the favorite, I would just bet his submission prop (projected -111, as 65% of his win condition) instead of his moneyline.
That said, I suspect that Green, or almost any MMA fighter at this level, wins any fight more often than 15% of the time. I bet Green at +600 but would take as low as +550. However, if you wait until closer to fight time, you might get an even better price tag.
At the very least, Green should be able to make this fight competitive in the early stages, and the longer he can keep it competitive, the better chance he has of winning.
As a result, I bet the Over 1.5 rounds at -160, but it has moved closer to -200; at that price, I might have to pass; but if you can find a Fight Starts Round 3 line at a comparable number, that’s still a fair play.
Lastly, I would take a whiff of Green to win in Round 4 (+5000) or Round 5 (+6000), where he possibly runs into his win condition if he can survive that long. That’s likely better than anything you’ll get in the live market in Rounds 4 or 5 (likely closer to +2000), even if Makhachev is up 3-0 but tiring.
The Pick: Bobby Green (+600) / Over 1.5 Rounds (-160)
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