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UFC 249 Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions: Saturday Undercard Best Value Bets

UFC 249 Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions: Saturday Undercard Best Value Bets article feature image

Mike Roach, Zuffa LLC. Pictured: Michelle Waterson

  • Looking for betting odds and picks for Saturday's UFC undercard slate? You've come to the right place.
  • While there may not be a whole lot of value on the preliminary card, Sean Zerillo does have a prediction for Donald Cerrone vs. Anthony Pettis.
  • You'll also find main card moneyline picks, including Greg Hardy vs. Yorgan De Castro and Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje.

The UFC 249 is loaded — perhaps the best card in the history of the sport, and clearly the best that this promotion has put on since UFC 100 — and while it’s easy to get caught up in the excellent main event title fights, there is plenty of great undercard and preliminary fight action to get the night started.

Let’s discuss some of the best value bets on the card, and we’ll also try to put together a couple of parlays since this is a Saturday night and it feels like the responsible thing to do.

Beginning in reverse order, starting with the first fight at 6:30 p.m. ET,  I’ll run you through each matchup, give my quick prediction and favorite value bets, and tell you what I’m actually playing – if anything.

[Track and Sync Your Bets for UFC 249 in the Action Network App]

UFC 249 Value Bets

Preliminary Card

  • Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
  • TV: UFC Fight Pass/ESPN+

Sam Alvey (+325) vs. Ryan Spann (-420)

Alvey is in the midst of a three-fight losing streak, and this could mark his final UFC fight with a loss. Conversely, Spann is on a seven-fight winning streak, and he has now finished 15 of his 17 career fights – including 11 by submission (all chokes).

Curiously, Spann to win by submission (+320) is higher than his number to win by KO/TKO (+140), but perhaps Spann to win inside the distance (-130) is the best bet on the boar with Alvey’s quickly declining chin.

Odds of -420 imply an 81% win rate for Spann – and multiplied by an expected finish rate of 70%, you get odds of -131 (implied 56.7%).

I do think that Spann will record another stoppage, but I don’t see much value in betting on him to do so as a substantial favorite.

Alvey vs. Spann Bets

  • Pass

Vicente Luque (-265) vs. Niko Price (+215)

This is a rematch from October 2017, which Luque won via submission.

The Brazilian is the much more accurate striker (53% vs. 34%), though Price has earned four performance bonuses in his past eight matches – and remains a knockout threat against any opponent.

The value is likely on the underdog in this matchup, but this fight could go in a variety of directions and I’m not interested in playing it from any angle.

That being said, Price looks like a very contrarian play.

Luque vs. Price Bets

  • Pass

Bryce Mitchell (-162) vs. Charles Rosa (+136)

The underdog Rosa is the more active of the two Featherweights, averaging a combined 8.01 significant strikes landed and absorbed per minute.

However, Mitchell is more accurate (50% to 36%) and with better defense (59% to 50%).

Rosa is both more active and efficient on the ground, attempting, landing, and blocking a higher number of takedown attempts per fight.

But we’ve also seen Mitchell do incredible things from bad spots in the past:


🇺🇸 @ThugnastyMMA records the second twister EVER in the Octagon!

➡️ Action continues on @ESPN

— UFC (@ufc) December 8, 2019

I have seen very few people side with Rosa in this bout, and have also seen Mitchell included in a bunch of parlays.

To me, the odds look just about right, and I’m assuming that the bigger bets have come in on the underdog, who seems like another completely contrarian play.

Rosa’s active style will put him in contention if this fight goes the distance.

Mitchell vs. Rosa Bets

  • Pass

Preliminary Card

  • Time: 8:00 p.m. ET

Carla Esparza (-150) vs. Michelle Waterson (+125)

I’m uncertain if Esparza has been the same fighter since her knockout loss to Joanna Jedrzejczyk in 2015, while Waterson comes in after dropping a unanimous decision to Joanna last October.

The American has improved her striking in recent years, and she defends 57% of takedown attempts, but Esparza’s 3.53 takedowns averaged per 15 minutes could present major problems – and I don’t know if Waterson will be able to repeatedly get out of her grasp.

Esparza by decision (-106) seems like the most likely outcome – and this time I’ll pass on an underdog that looks like a popular selection.

Esparza vs. Waterson Bets

  • Pass

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Aleksei Oleinik (+250) vs. Fabricio Werdum (-335)

Werdum returns to the UFC off of a 2018 knockout loss to Alexander Volkov, and it’s incredible to see him installed as such a significant favorite in a heavyweight fight at the age of 42.

He has an edge over Oleinik in striking stats (+1.16 vs. -0.17 significant strike margin), and is considered to be the better grappler in a fight between two of the best heavyweights to ever put in extensive work on the ground.

Werdum has recorded 11 of his 23 wins by submission, while Oleinik has won 46 of his 58 fights (78%) by submission.

Both men are comfortable working off of their back, and the last knockout for either came back in 2014.

Werdum by submission (+420) and Oleinik by submission (+650) are each plus-money bets in the prop market, but the fight is also +215 (implied 31%) to go the distance).

Werdum will be a popular selection for parlays – but I don’t see how you can include him off of the layoff.

Oleinik vs. Werdum Bets

  • Pass

Donald Cerrone (+123) vs. Anthony Pettis (-150)

This is a rematch from 2013, which Pettis won by first-round knockout:

Both men now look to be on the downslope of their careers. Cerrone has lost three consecutive fights – albeit to three stars in Tony Ferguson, Justin Gaethje, and Conor McGregor – all by stoppage.

Pettis has lost three of his past four fights – including a corner stoppage against Ferguson, a decision loss to Nate Diaz, and a submission loss to Carlos Diego Ferreira.

Cerrone has a better strike margin (+0.06) compared to Pettis (-0.51) and they’re exactly as accurate (46% landed, 53% defense) as one another.

Pettis has better stamina and is probably the more underrated grappler of the two, but its Cowboy who has improved more since their last fight.

However, it remains a bad matchup for Cerrone, stylistically, and though he has bounced back from multiple-fight losing streaks in the past, there are few positives to offer about his recent efforts inside of the octagon, other than the paychecks.

I’ll side with Pettis by KO/TKO (+210), a repeat result from their last fight.

Primarily, I would use Pettis as a parlay piece.

Cerrone vs. Pettis Bets

  • Use Pettis in parlays

Main Card

  • Time: 10:00 p.m. ET
  • TV: Pay-per-view

Yorgan De Castro (+165) vs. Greg Hardy (-200)

De Castro was the first bet that I placed for UFC 249.

I also bet De Castro to win inside of the distance at +240 and believe that anything for De Castro to win by knockout, greater than +200, is a fair price.

De Castro vs. Hardy Bets

  • Yorgan De Castro +187 (+1 unit)
  • De Castro, Inside the Distance +240 (0.5 units)

Calvin Kattar (-250) vs. Jeremy Stephens (+206)

Stephens ended up missing weight for this fight, which could represent a death knell to his chances as an underdog.

It’s an immediate sign that his quarantine camp perhaps didn’t go according to plan, as the UFC veteran looks to snap a three-fight losing streak.

Kattar is an extremely active striker (11.48 combined significant strikes per minute) who might open himself up to some shots from Stephens – who has 19 knockouts in 28 career wins – but he gained substantial experience against a better fighter in his November loss to Zabit, and I like his path to victory either by finish or on the scorecards.

Stephens’ fighting style typically doesn’t sell well to the judges – he is 7-12 on the scorecards in his career.

Kattar vs. Stephens Bets

  • Use Kattar in parlays

Francis Ngannou (-278) vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik (+225)

Ngannou is a rare heavyweight and a rare fighter in general, who has looked supremely confident in his recent bouts, with three consecutive first-round knockouts, after suffering a pair of defeats to Stipe Miocic and Derrick Lewis.

It’s not so dissimilar to Justin Gaethje’s evolution following his first pair of career losses.

It’s easy to forget that, not too long ago, Ngannou was a -190 favorite to defeat Stipe Miocic for the UFC Heavyweight title.

Now facing an undefeated challenger in Rozenstruick, who has significant kickboxing experience, he’s not a much heavier favorite than he was against Stipe – but it feels like he should be.

In terms of striking metrics, Rozenstruik has a better margin (+0.67) and accuracy (46% to 37%) but Ngannou (+0.18) is the superior defender (48% to 42%).

These two will probably come out swinging, and if so it seems likely that the bout could end almost immediately.

Ngannou puts people out just with a glancing blow, sometimes. I don’t think I have ever seen a stronger person compete in combat sports, save for Mike Tyson.

Rozenstruik was minutes away from losing to a declining Alastair Overeem before scoring a late knockout.

And Ngannou’s 83-inch reach is a decided advantage when the more technical fighter, Rozenstruick, will be looking to stay out of range.

“Big Boy” could force this fight into a staring contest, in the same way that Derrick Lewis defeated Ngannou, but Ngannou to win by knockout (-134) should be one of the more popular bets of the night.

I had considered betting on Under 1.5 rounds (-134) but would need to find better juice than a matching number to Ngannou’s knockout prop.

Betting on this fight to finish inside the distance (-345) will also be a popular wager.

Therefore, potentially look for the contrarian options and take Over 1.5 rounds (+105) or look to bet the fight to go the distance (+240) closer to fight time.

Ngannou will also be a popular parlay piece, and he is one of the one big-name favorites that I like on the UFC 249 card.

Ngannou vs. Rozenstruik Bets

  • Use Ngannou in parlays

Henry Cejudo (-230) vs. Dominick Cruz (+185) 

I already broke down the co-main event and noted that I have flip-flopped on this fight multiple times.

Over 4.5 rounds (-215), betting the fight to go the distance (-182), and Cruz by decision (+275) will likely be the three most-popular wagers in this fight.

However, betting Cruz to win on the cards still seems like the best value, and though I’m not betting it directly you can thank me when it cashes.

Cejudo to win by KO/TKO at +240 seems like the most logical alternative.

Cejudo vs. Cruz Bets

  • Use Cruz in a small underdog parlay

Tony Ferguson (-200) vs. Justin Gaethje (+168)

I picked Gaethje to win by knockout but I would only bet on his moneyline, instead of hunting for that small knockout bonus around +190.

Alternatively, I think Ferguson by submission (+240) is the next-best bet in this fight – as Gaethje’s Jiu-Jitsu is probably the biggest question mark in the fight, and Ferguson would love to test those skills.

The main event is listed at -530 to finish inside of the distance, but Ferguson by decision (+500) also has some appeal – with his superior stamina taking over later in fights.

Ferguson vs. Gaethje Bets

  • Justin Gaethje +185 (1 unit)

UFC 249 Bets

  • Yorgan De Castro +182 (1 unit)
  • De Castro, Inside the Distance +240 (0.5 units)
  • Justin Gaethje +185 (1 unit)
  • Parlay: Kattar / Ngannou / Pettis (+217, 0.5 units)
  • Parlay: Cruz / De Castro / Gaethje (+1980, 0.1 units)

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