UFC 245 Betting Picks, Odds & Predictions: Best Bets for Usman-Covington, Holloway-Volkanovski and More
Jason Silva, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Kamaru Usman
UFC 245 Betting Picks, Odds & Predictions
- Time: 10:00 p.m. ET
- Venue: T-Mobile Arena (Las Vegas, NV)
- Channel: PPV
The Ultimate Fighting Championship will close out their 2019 pay-per-view schedule in style on Saturday with three championship fights, headlined by a Welterweight title bout between Kamaru “The Nigerian Nightmare” Usman (c), and controversial challenger Colby Covington.
Saturday will mark Usman’s first title defense, and Covington won the interim championship as recently as June of 2018 – making this matchup one of the year’s most intriguing fights.
Before they get underway, Max Holloway (c) will take on Alexander Volkanovski for the Featherweight title – a weight class Holloway has dominated since losing to Conor McGregor six years ago.
And Amanda Nunes (c) will look for her fifth consecutive title defense at Bantamweight, against an opponent she pummeled for a first-round knockout in 2013.
The two-division champion has four first-round finishes in her past six matches, and another dominant performance on Saturday would only further solidify her “G.O.A.T.” status.
While I think that this card will end up relatively chalky overall, I was able to find some actionable value in the prop market.
Here’s everything I bet for UFC 245:
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Petr Yan (-525) vs. Urijah Faber (Bantamweight)
Forty-year-old Urijah Faber returned to competition in June, after a two-and-a-half-year hiatus, to score an early first-round knockout over a rising prospect, Ricky Simon, as a +185 underdog.
Faber is a legend of the sport, and to win as an even bigger underdog this time around, he’s going to need to land more of those sneaky overhand rights and use his wrestling base to control his opponent on the ground.
But Petr Yan has proven effective at deflecting takedown attempts in the UFC (opponents are 3-21), and he has a massive edge in striking speed, and variety to both punish Faber and out-point him when he comes into range.
Most importantly, I think Yan has a better chance of winning on the cards than by knockout – but the betting market disagrees.
Notice how the knockout rate decreases in the UFC at lower weight classes (per fightmatrix.com)
Yan’s only UFC stoppage came from his opponent’s corner, and Faber has never been finished in a non-title fight.
He might be overmatched, but I think Faber makes it to the finish line – I’ll take Yan on the scorecards at plus-money.
- Yan to win by Decision (+175)
Marlon Moraes (-190) vs. Jose Aldo (Bantamweight)
If I were to take one underdog on this card, it would be Aldo.
But he was already a big Featherweight, and debuts at Bantamweight looking semi-skeletal after cutting another 10 pounds off of his frame to face the smaller but dangerous Moraes – who is essentially fighting at his walking weight.
Aldo is exceptionally gifted, but his chin and stamina have been declining in recent years – which are problems that might be further exacerbated by this extreme weight cut.
And Moraes is an extremely active and dangerous striker, who will be sure to test that chin early:
Marlon Moraes, bruh, we felt that one from Los Angeles 😳. pic.twitter.com/n3vttSlzVw
— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) June 2, 2018
I won’t be stunned if Aldo can rejuvenate his career at Bantamweight, but I have to bet against the spot and the jaw after the weight cut – and I’ll split a unit between a couple of early finish props.
- Moraes to win by KO/TKO/DQ (+179)
- Moraes to win in Round 1 (+330)
Amanda Nunes (-306) vs. Germaine de Randamie (Women’s Bantamweight Championship)
This could be an incredibly dull fight, or it could be over in a flash – and I’m going with the latter.
Amanda Nunes has proven herself to be the most dangerous woman on the planet, upsetting Ronda Rousey (+240), Valentina Shevchenko (+100) and Cris Cyborg (+130) before finally gaining due respect (and favoritism) in her most recent fights:
Nunes has finished 16 of her 18 career wins, and 13 of those have come in the first round – including a 2013 win over her opponent here – Germaine de Randamie.
Germaine has improved both her takedown defense and striking since that last matchup. Still, Nunes has also grown by leaps and bounds – and while I wouldn’t expect de Ramdamie to come rushing forward into Nunes’ power, the Brazilian has come out hunting for early wins in recent matches.
I’m again splitting another unit between a couple of early finish props and placing one unit on Nunes as the first leg of a moneyline parlay with the next fight.
- Nunes to win by KO/TKO/DQ (+169)
- Nunes to win in Round 1 (+400)
- Moneyline Parlay (+105): Max Holloway / Amanda Nunes
Max Holloway (-185) vs. Alexander Volkanovski (Featherweight Championship)
Max Holloway dominates five-round matchups and owns the 145-pound division, and this will be his opponent’s first five-round match – so this plays exactly into the champ’s style.
Holloway can control the distance and pace with his length and use his excellent takedown defense (85%) to avoid getting into troublesome spots while peppering the former Australian rugby star with significant strikes.
Note that Holloway owns the UFC records both for significant strikes in a fight (290) and in a round (134).
Volkankovski will have the energy early, but Holloway should wear him down late and begin to take over in the championship rounds.
And he’s no stranger to battling back from behind:
— UFC (@ufc) April 14, 2019
His venture up to Lightweight to take on Dustin Poirier didn’t go as planned, as Holloway succumbed to more powerful striking from a bigger fighter, which opened up his face and hurt him on the scorecards.
Still, Max is arguably the greatest UFC Featherweight of all time – and it’s going to take a massive effort to take away his belt.
I’ll side with the Hawaiian by decision, while also including him on that moneyline parlay with Amanda Nunes.
- Holloway to win by Decision (+150)
- Moneyline Parlay (+105): Max Holloway / Amanda Nunes
Kamaru Usman (-182) vs. Colby Covington (Welterweight Championship)
The marquee fight is a difficult one to handicap between two stylistically similar fighters who have both improved dramatically in the past year – and they each come into Saturday with identical 15-1 records.
Covington showed improvement on the feet in his most recent fight against Robbie Lawler, throwing more than 500 punches while standing toe-to-toe with one of the most dangerous strikers in the world.
Usman has never been taken down in a UFC fight and boasts edges both in striking and takedown stats over the challenger.
If this turns into a wrestling match, the edge points to Usman – whose superior grappling and strength should allow him to dominate position.
But if the pair decide to kickbox for five rounds, Covington could out-point Usman based upon pure volume.
I expect this one to go the distance and for Usman’s wrestling to wear down Covington throughout the fight.
However, if you like Covington, I would bet him to win by decision instead.
Usman’s style isn’t always aesthetically pleasing. Still, the Nigerian Nightmare is a master at neutralizing his opponents’ strengths and, while he might not have a higher volume of strikes, Usman should have more control over the space of the octagon and pace of the fight than Covington; as he did for five rounds when he took Tyron Woodley’s belt:
- Usman to win by Decision (+110)