MMA Prop Squad for UFC 279: You’re Absolutely Gonna Hate This +700 Bet
Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC fighter Khamzat Chimaev
- The Squad is back and has plays ranging from +460 to +3000 for Saturday's UFC 279 card.
- Dan Tom has a trio of round props with massive odds.
- Ben Fowlkes has a play for Khamzat Chimaev, who's become the event's biggest villain.
Welcome to the latest edition of MMA Prop Squad, in which we offer an array of prop bets with oversized odds for UFC 279.
In this weekly feature, Action Network's MMA team welcomes in a revolving cast of outside contributors and fellow combat-sports analysts. Each #MMAPropSquad installment will feature a handful of picks from our squad of prop-betting enthusiasts.
This week marks the return of contributors Dan Tom, Ben Fowlkes, Clint Maclean and Manpreet Jhass.
Check out their picks for Saturday's event, which airs on ESPN+ pay-per-view from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, below.
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.
Manpreet Jhass: Irene Aldana by KO (+460)
Contributor at The Action Network and MMA content creator
Irene Aldana (13-6) looks to build upon her July 2021 knockout victory and get a streak going. Across the cage from her will be Macy Chiasson (8-2), who is also looking to string together consecutive wins.
Aldana is 3-1 in her last four fights, but most notably, her two most recent wins have come via knockout. In her 13 career wins, seven have now come via KO (two of which were in the UFC).
Aldana thrives in open space when she can let her combinations and footwork flow. When opponents attempt to initiate the clinch, she does a great job of digging underhooks and pivoting back out into open space.
In 10 UFC fights, opponents have taken down Aldana seven times on 45 attempts. Exclude the Holly Holm fight, and it's only two on 31 attempts. Those statistics will be vital for this matchup since that is the only path to victory for Chiasson in this fight.
Chiasson makes up for her lack of technical skill with her physicality. Usually, she can bully opponents against the cage or drag them to the mat. Her striking is rudimentary, and her defense leaves a lot of openings in which Aldana can capitalize.
People may argue that the Holm fight is a perfect blueprint for Chiasson. However, Holm’s wrestling game is often overlooked because of how good of a striker she is. She's one of the strongest women in this weight class, and mix that in with her underrated wrestling technique, and it was no surprise she could ground Aldana.
Chiasson lacks the technical abilities to replicate a Holm performance. It’s very evident in her fights that she overextends in positions, which results in letting her opponents off the hook in certain spots.
I think we'll see Aldana stuff a couple of takedown attempts, nullify any clinch control, and eventually find the knockout at the midway point of this fight as Chiasson starts to get demoralized.
The Pick: Irene Aldana Wins by Knockout (+460 at FanDuel)
Clint Maclean: Johnny Walker in Round 1 (+500)
Contributor at The Action Network and host of the Die Hard MMA Podcast
Johnny Walker vs. Ion Cutelaba is going to be a barely contained trainwreck. The way these two men fight sets us up for a showing of glorious violence for as long as this one lasts, and my gut tells me it isn't going to be very long.
Cutelaba has had a rough run lately, going 2-3-1 in his last six fights. Your favorite wild man brings his aggressive kill-or-be-killed style to bear in every single fight, and it seems like he has shown his ceiling in the UFC at this point.
Recently Cutelaba has beaten only mid- or low-tier 205ers, but he doesn't seem to be able to crack into the contenders circle. He either runs through his opponent – or he fades when he cannot break them and ultimately finds a way to lose.
Walker has similarly fallen on tough times, going 1-4 in his last five, and he brings a similar kill-or-be-killed style to the cage. The big difference between these two fighters to me is that Cutelaba has a grappling primary attack whereas Walker does his best work using those long legs and striking at range.
Cutelaba charges in and uses a few big swings to close the distance and rip opponents to the floor, but something we have seen from Walker is that he actually has solid takedown defense and knows how to use his hips and fight along the cage. If anything Walker has been vulnerable at range, where longer strikers can touch his suspect chin even though that is where he is supposed to be strongest.
Walker and Cutelaba are both going to bring the heat in this fight. Cutelaba more than Walker will likely look to rush in and land a bomb. We have seen him do this against every opponent to whom he suffered a height/reach disadvantage, and I believe that when Walker is forced to brawl, he will be the better striker and have an opportunity to finish using his drastic reach advantage.
One of these men is going to end the fight early, and I believe it will be Walker getting back in the win column.
The Pick: Johnny Walker Wins in Round 1 (+500 at SuperBook Sports)
Dan Tom: Kevin Holland in Round 2 (+2000), Round 3 (+2500), Round 4 (+3000)
Contributor at The Action Network and host of the Protect Ya' Neck podcast
UFC 279 is full of matchups that you may want action on – but not necessarily a ton of exposure to (which is why I love to target round props).
For me, this widely lined 180-pound catchweight contest between Kevin Holland and Khamzat Chimaev fits that bill.
Although I'm officially picking the 6-1 favorite in Chimaev due to his superior wrestling prowess, I can't ignore the unique circumstances of an utterly chaotic week that includes a big weight miss for the Chechen fighter. Chimaev has already proven to be an over-emotional character in and out of the cage, which makes me wonder what this fight looks like if he's unable to finish Holland within the first seven minutes.
Even when Chimaev successfully made weight with a full camp, the 28-year-old still dropped the second round to Gilbert Burns on all three judges' scorecards and almost got knocked out for his aggression in the process. And as we've with Holland, the opportunistic American has pinpoint-accurate punches and a penchant for hanging around and remaining dangerous – even in losing efforts.
Between Chimaev likely getting off to a strong start and the fact that this fight has little chance of going the distance, I ultimately decided to sprinkle small on Holland in Rounds 2, 3 and 4.
The Picks: Kevin Holland in Round 2 (+2000 at FanDuel) | Kevin Holland in Round 3 (+2500 at FanDuel) | Kevin Holland in Round 4 (+3000 at FanDuel)
Ben Fowlkes: Khamzat Chimaev via Round 1 Submission (+700)
Contributor at The Action Network and cohost of the Co-Main Event Podcast
Can we be honest with ourselves for just a minute?
I like Kevin Holland. He’s a fun guy, an exciting fighter, but a fight against Khamzat Chimaev would be a tough matchup for him under the best of circumstances. I’m talking a full training camp to do nothing but wrestle and drill his takedown defense and his get-ups.
Still, he’d probably lose. It’s just a bad matchup for him.
Now you’re telling me he has to do the fight when, up until yesterday morning, he was preparing for a completely different guy? Brother, that’s a nightmare.
Chimaev is going to take him down, possibly after picking him up and walking him around a little bit. And once there? I foresee some elbows to the dome to get him to turn his back, then a choke. If all this takes more than four minutes, I’ll be mildly surprised.
With that in mind, give me the +700 line on Chimaev via submission in the first round. He may not deserve to have anything good happen for him after how he’s carried it this week, but deserving stuff rarely has much to do with this sport.
The Pick: Khamzat Chimaev via Round 1 Submission (+700 at FanDuel)
Sean Zerillo: Jake Collier via Submission (+650)
Staff Writer at The Action Network
Jake Collier has looked to wrestle more in his recent matchups against heavyweights, which is an encouraging sign for his Fight IQ. It's also part of my rationale for this week's Prop Squad pick.
Collier is the much bigger man in this matchup (4 inches taller, three-inch reach advantage), and he seemingly has Barnett covered skill for skill. Moreover, Collier fights at a higher pace and has substantially superior cardio. Barnett tends to wilt halfway through his fights, and his conditioning won't improve for Saturday, considering he missed weight for the fight.
Aside from landing a stunning knockout – as he did against Gian Villante – it's challenging to envision Barnett winning this fight.
Collier should control the minute-winning with relative ease and seemingly has a substantial grappling advantage if the fight hits the mat. And that's where I see an opportunity.
Collier to win by submission is one of my favorite prop bets on Saturday.
If he pursues takedowns, Collier may cut right through Barnett, as he did with Chase Sherman, and get the sub.
The Pick: Jake Collier Wins by Submission (+650 at FanDuel)
Billy Ward: Danyelle Wolf Inside The Distance (+750)
Staff Writer at The Action Network
Danyelle Wolf’s moneyline odds have climbed north of +300 recently, making a straight bet on her nearly worthy of the Prop Squad’s +400 threshold. That’s not the only way I’m betting the former boxing champion, though.
She has just a 1-0 MMA record, making her professional debut last year on Dana White’s Contender Series. She looked fine in that one, defeating current Invicta FC bantamweight champion Taneisha Tennant by a close decision.
This time she’s fighting Norma Dumont, who’s 3-2 in the UFC, mostly as a featherweight. Both of her losses came against women who have five inches in reach over Dumont. All three of her wins came against women within an inch of Dumont’s reach. Wolf has three to four inches (depending on the source).
One of those losses for Dumont was a knockout to Megan Anderson. Wolf is clearly a better boxer than Anderson – and anyone else in the women’s featherweight division. That gives her a clear path to a knockout.
Despite that, her inside the distance line of +750 at DraftKings implies that more than half of her win condition is via decision. That seems a bit off to me, as Dumont is likely to control big chunks of this one on the ground.
I prefer the inside the distance line of +750 over her knockout odds of +800 due to the possibility of a “club and sub” situation. It’s fairly unlikely, but Wolf did attempt a guillotine in her Contender Series bout. Given the close pricing between the two lines, it’s worth it to cover the slim chance of a submission.
The Pick: Danyelle Wolf to Win by Finish (+750 at FanDuel)