MMA Prop Squad Bets for UFC 277: Our Experts’ Best Long Shots Include 18-1 Submission Prop (Saturday, July 30)
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC heavyweight Don’Tale Mayes
Welcome to the inaugural edition of MMA Prop Squad, in which we offer a buffet of prop bets with oversized odds for Saturday’s UFC 277 event.
For this new weekly feature, The Action Network’s MMA team welcomes in a revolving cast of contributors and fellow combat-sports analysts. Each installment will feature 3-6 picks from our squad of prop-betting enthusiasts.
This week we’re joined by Dan Tom, Manpreet Jhass and Clint Maclean – three veterans of the MMA-betting world. They helped us identify some plays for UFC 277 at Dallas’ American Airlines Center.
As with all betting, always wager within your means. That guidance is especially important when dealing with prop bets. Although the props often offer tantalizing odds, they also cash far less frequently than standard bet types.
In other words, sprinkle before you sprint.
Dan Tom: Julianna Pena by KO (+1100)
Contributor at The Action Network and host of the Protect Ya’ Neck podcast
The UFC 277 main event features a rematch for the women’s bantamweight title when champ Julianna Pena (11-4) meets Amanda Nunes (21-5).
Although I don’t disagree with the former champ being favored (-295 at this writing), I find myself siding with the underdog this time around. Recency bias aside, I suspect that Pena’s durability and self-belief help support a style that could be stylistic kryptonite for ex-champ Nunes.
I also don’t like the fact that Nunes moved away from American Top Team for this fight given that major camp changes can come with weird intangibles like adjusting periods or weird performances. Regardless of what kind of game plan Nunes comes in with, I suspect that she’ll have to score some sort of club-‘n’-sub within the first seven minutes.
Pena’s style (particularly now that she’s coming in with even more confidence) won’t allow for a conservative approach, as she’s probably gambling on her ability to take Nunes’ shots. Pena could certainly pick up another submission win this Saturday, but I think that there’s a decent chance that the champ is able to force a stoppage by strikes from the mount position by the third round.
The Pick: Julianna Pena by TKO/KO (+1100 at FanDuel)
Manpreet Jhass: Ji Yeon Kim by KO (+1100)
Contributor at The Action Network and MMA content creator
Not often do we see knockouts during women’s MMA fights. This year alone through 55 WMMA fights in the UFC, we’ve seen just six KO stoppages.
Based on that fact alone, we can see why KO props for WMMA are considered long shots. Knockouts usually take a large striking discrepancy or just an urge to be as primal as possible, as was the case with Molly McCann in both of her KO wins this year.
Ji Yeon Kim Kim (9-5-2), a former McCann opponent, has a very solid striking background. Additionally, I think she’s levels above her UFC 277 preliminary-card opponent, Joselyne Edwards (11-4), in her striking technique.
You can see the power with which Kim strikes, even without looking at her KO finish of Nadia Kassem in October 2019. Edwards, meanwhile, is coming off a performance against Ramona Pascual in which we saw her get hurt multiple times to the body. And Pascual isn’t even known as a big power puncher against legit competition.
I fully expect Kim to connect early and often against Edwards. I hope her team, led by George Hickman, has seen the tape on Edwards being soft to the body and will target it in this matchup. Kim is on the chopping block because of two controversial decision losses, which pushed her overall skid to three fights.
I’m hoping Kim decides to leave the judges out of it by putting her foot on the gas and seeking a finish for the 11-1 “Kim via KO” payoff. Can’t get screwed by the judges if you leave them out of it, right?
The Pick: Kim wins via TKO/KO (+1100 at DraftKings)
Clint Maclean: Don’Tale Mayes by submission (+1800)
Contributor at The Action Network and host of the Die Hard MMA Podcast
UFC 277 is a great card with lots of betting opportunities, but some of them are juicier than others. Take, for instance, the preliminary-card bout between heavyweight Don’Tale Mayes (9-4) and UFC newcomer Hamdy Abdelwahab (3-0).
Mayes competed on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2019 and made an immediate impression with a first-round knockout of Richardo Prasel. Just three months after his Contender Series win, he then had to face Ciryl Gane in his UFC debut and fell to a heel hook late in the third round. Mayes went on to drop his next fight by submission to Rodrigo Nascimento, but he’s since rattled off back-to-back wins to get himself back on track.
On Saturday Mayes faces Abdelwahab, whom we know precious little about. What we do know is that Hamdy has three MMA wins and two bare-knuckle boxing fights with all five wins coming by knockout. He’s an Egyptian Olympic Greco-Roman wrestler and trains with former UFC fighter David Branch.
When these fighters step into the cage on Saturday, it will look like we have a 185-pounder fighting at heavyweight. While Mayes will likely look to avoid the short explosive power puncher, there’s a big chance that this fight ends up hitting the mat at some point.
Mayes and Abdelwahab are capable of knocking the other to the floor. Abdelwahab may well come in with a grapple-heavy game plan. Either way, though, once this fight hits the canvas, I can’t expect the fighter coming in on short notice to have the gas tank to last too long.
The most durable fighters are subject to tapping to submissions when they’re tired and already gasping for air. Mayes was recently promoted to a Brazilian jiu-jitsu purple belt, and I expect him to potentially show off these new skills against a smaller and more tired opponent after he gets past the first round, when Hamdy will be his most explosive. This is the kind of prop you look to sprinkle. Small risk with a huge 18-1 reward. Look for Mayes to hit an arm-triangle in the second round.
The Pick: Don’Tale Mayes wins by submission (+1800 at BetMGM)
Billy Ward: Ihor Potieria in Round 1 (+380)
Staff Writer at The Action Network
Ihor Potieria is a dangerous Ukrainian fighter who’s finished 16 of his 20 professional bouts. Of the 12 that have a finish time listed, 11 came in the first round, including his bout on Dana White’s Contender Series that punched his ticket to the UFC.
Potieria came out super aggressively in his DWCS bout, almost finishing his opponent in the opening minute before looking completely gassed. He was “lucky” enough to take a groin strike after that, giving him some time to recover, and he finished his opponent shortly thereafter.
Potieria (19-2) will likely adopt a more reserved approach to start fights as his UFC career progresses, but the fact that he’s making his UFC debut – on a major PPV no less – means he’ll probably be fairly amped up from the start. Therefore I’m expecting him to start aggressively again on Saturday while trying to finish Nick Negumereanu (12-1) early.
This prop also provides a ton of opportunities for hedging, including a live bet on Negumereanu if Potieria is unable to put him away early, or parlays of Negumereanu’s moneyline and the over on various time props. Any variation that includes over half a round is +125 or better on DraftKings, as an example.
The Pick: Ihor Potieria wins in Round 1 (+380 at FanDuel)
Sean Zerillo: Alex Perez by decision (+380)
Staff Writer at The Action Network
In what should be a competitive flyweight fight, Alex Perez is the underdog to Alexandre Pantoja.
I actually favor Perez, the underdog, on the moneyline, as I detailed in my UFC 277 breakdown. And among the prop options, I also like Perez.
In this main-card matchup, I think Perez has higher decision equity while his Pantoja has more finishing upside, particularly early.
However, I also Perez (24-6) as the more technical fighter, with superior wrestling and cardio. He may also be able to take down Pantoja (24-5) and control him in guard while landing moderate ground and pound. And he should land slightly more volume – though perhaps less damaging blows – when the fight returns to striking range.
All of this leads me to believe Perez will be the superior minute-winner throughout three rounds, mainly down the stretch. So long as he doesn’t get his back taken in a scramble or get clipped on the feet, this could be Perez’s fight to lose.
I bet Perez on the ML at +160, and I will look to add a live bet after Round 1.
But in the prop market, I also like Perez to win by decision. I projected it at +310, but you can get it at +380 for a nearly 4-1 payoff.
The Pick: Alez Perez wins via decision (+380 at BetRivers)
Dann Stupp: Derrick Lewis by decision (+850)
Senior Editor at The Action Network
If our debut edition of the MMA Prop Squad were a beautiful and refreshing punchbowl, my pick would be the housefly in it.
I mean, who would really watch the heavyweight rumble between badass Derrick Lewis (26-9) and Sergei Pavlovich (15-1), an absolute mountain of a man, and actually root for a decision?
Alas, if you want the big payoffs, you’ve got to take big risks. And despite the potential for this fight to end with a single meathook from either competitor, I think the potential payoff is just too juicy to ignore this decision prop.
I do favor Lewis in this matchup, especially now that he’s flipped from a small favorite to a small underdog. That moneyline is certainly playable at the +130 price, especially if you think Lewis can survive Pavlovich’s early onslaught.
And if Lewis does survive, then what? He could certainly pour it on and force a stoppage of his own. Or, he could use a more conservative plan to close the distance and avoid his opponent’s massive reach. And if Pavlovich, who’s gone past the first round just three times in 16 pro fights, starts to tire, Lewis could win the later rounds, as he’s done against other scary-but-tiring heavyweights during his lengthy UFC tenure.
Plus, though Lewis has struggled when fighting in his home state of Texas, he could benefit from some hometown cookin’ if this fight goes to the scorecards. If you’re the judge of a close fight, good luck giving the decision to a Russian over a native Texan while dealing with 17,000 partisan MMA fans in Dallas.
Sure, if this bet cashes, a lot of fight fans are going to be disappointed. But a winning ticket on Lewis to win via decision at +850 odds might help soften the blow of this potential slugfest going all 15 minutes.
The Pick: Derrick Lewis wins by decision (+850 at FanDuel)