MMA Prop Squad for UFC on ESPN+ 68: An Overlooked 16-1 Submission Prop Bet for Saturday
Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC featherweight Andre Fili
Welcome to the latest edition of MMA Prop Squad, in which we offer an array of prop bets with oversized odds for UFC on ESPN+ 68 on Saturday.
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 Clint Maclean and Ben Fowlkes, who both cashed their Prop Squad picks last week. Through six events and 33 units wagered, they've helped the Squad post an overall ROI of 48.2%.
Check out their picks for Saturday's event, which streams on ESPN+ (4 p.m. ET) from the UFC Apex 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.
Clint Maclean: Javid Basharat Wins in Round 3 (+1500)
Contributor at The Action Network and host of the Die Hard MMA Podcast
Fresh off of finally getting on the board with one of these Prop Squad picks, I am going for the throat this week! We aren’t looking for a +500 or a +700 play – no, we are shooting for the stars with a 15-1 shot.
The UFC has thrown Dana White's Contender Series veterans at one another for an early start to UFC on ESPN+ 68. Javid Basharat just watched his brother, Farid, get his UFC contract on Tuesday, and now he faces Tony Gravely. And you have to imagine that simply motivates Javid even more than a normal fight would.
The Basharat brothers are extremely similar in their fighting approach. They use a karate style at distance with lots of volume and kicks to wear down their opponents. But they keep strong offensive grappling in their back pockets to keep their opponents guessing.
Gravely is a tank of a man and uses a strong offensive wrestling game with big explosive power to get his wins. He tends to be the hammer more often than not, but what we have seen is when somebody can keep pace with him and withstand his offense, he is not the best nail. Gravely has a tendency to slow down the longer the fight drags on.
I believe Basharat will control the range on the feet and will be more than capable of contending with Gravely in the grappling, which will force Gravely to constantly be working.
I believe that Brett Johns laid out the blueprint on how to put away Gravely, and I believe that Basharat has the tools to use that game plan. The longer this fight goes, the more I will favor Basharat and the more Gravely should leave himself open to a finish.
We are looking for Basharat to get it done late. SuperBook Sports regularly has the best prop lines, but this one especially is high for the market. DraftKings, for example, has Basharat to win in Round 3 at +1000. We will take the discount and play it at +1500 instead.
The Pick: Javid Basharat Wins in Round 3 (+1500 at SuperBook Sports)
Ben Fowlkes: Cory Sandhagen vs. Song Yadong Ends via Split/Majority Decision (+450)
Contributor at The Action Network and cohost of the Co-Main Event Podcast
One thing I like about Saturday's main event fight between Cory Sandhagen and Song Yadong is how evenly matched they seem.
Couple of tough, durable bantamweights with good all-around games clashing in a bout to determine which of them might be the future of the division. What’s not to love there?
But any time we get a pairing that feels like a close fight in the making – and any time it features two dudes who are hard to finish – I start getting that same itch again. Next thing I know I’m hunting for the line on the fight to end in split or majority decision.
This time I found it with +450 odds from DraftKings, and dear reader, I could not resist, especially considering that the sportsbook has also lined the fight (-150) to go to decision anyway.
Fair warning: This bet has worked out for me exactly once. I have attempted it … more times than that. But when it does hit? Oh, what a feeling.
The Pick: Cory Sandhagen vs. Song Yadong to Be Won by Split or Majority Decision (+450 at DraftKings)
Dann Stupp: Andre Fili by Submission (+1600)
Senior Editor at The Action Network
Am I going with a Prop Squad pick that's probable? Nah.
But am I going with a pick that's at least possible? Sure.
And with some very long-shot odds, I have to be right only occasionally to make this a winning proposition in the long term. In this case, with the odds of Andre Fili winning by submission at +1600, I need to be correct only about 6% of the time to turn a profit over the long haul.
Again, I don't expect this prop bet to hit regularly. But I think oddsmakers and bettors may be sleeping a bit on this betting angle because they expect Fili and opponent Bill Algeo to simply slug away for three rounds.
I, too, expect plenty of fisticuffs in this featherweight clash. But Fili – who hasn't secured a definitive UFC victory in more than three years – also needs to win at any costs. And against an opponent such as Algeo, who's tough and durable but very susceptible to takedowns, Fili has an obvious advantage he can exploit.
The question, of course, is whether he will actually take that avenue. Fili is known to throw game plans out the window once he gets the taste of blood. This time, though, I'm banking on the vet to show some poise and composure. And just a few months removed from a UFC Fight Pass Invitational super-fight grappling match with Shane Shapiro, Fili at least should have grappling on his mind this weekend.
Again, I'm not saying Fili is likely to get a tap-out in this potential Fight of the Night against Algeo. But I think it's at least enough of a possibility to take a small flier on an unexpected ending to what should be a crackerjack of a fight.