UFC 252 Picks & Predictions: Our Best Bets for Ashley Yoder vs. Livia Renata Souza and John Dodson vs. Merab Dvalishvili
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images. Pictured: Ashley Yoder.
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- Our UFC crew looked through the odds for all 11 bouts to find bets with the most value on the card.
- See what bets they are making for Saturday's action below.
Champions, legends, rising stars and virtual unknowns — UFC 252 has it all. Saturday’s card will feature 11 bouts with six prelim fights kicking off at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.
The main card starts at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN pay-per-view, headlined by a heavyweight title fight between champion Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier in the final fight of his career.
Our UFC crew has pinpointed the fights on Saturday’s card that present the best betting value. You can find their analysis and picks on those matches below.
UFC 252 Best Bets, Picks & Predictions
Sean Zerillo: John Dodson vs. Merab Dvalishvili
Betting Analyst, The Action Network
Dodson packs serious power and seemingly needs to end this fight with one big shot (10-of-21 wins by KO/TKO). That could be a tall task given Dvalishvili’s chin. The Georgian owns the higher strike output (4.01 to 3.3 per minute) with a superior differential (+1.89 to -0.29) to the American.
A younger Dodson, in a standard 30-foot cage, would likely be able to use his footwork and scrambling ability to keep Merab off of him, in order to set up some big counters to make his opponent pay for his reckless aggression.
The smaller cage at Apex plays to Dvalishvili’s strengths, however, and it’s difficult to envision Dodson winning on the scorecards given Merab’s strike volume and wrestling output.
If Dvalishvili is slightly more measured with his approach, there is almost no path to victory for Dodson, but Merab has shown little respect for opposing offense, and he will likely eat a couple of big punches at some point. Those moments will likely determine the outcome of the fight.
The crowd projection lined Dvalishvili at -300, and it sees the fight going the distance 84% of the time, implied odds of -526. His moneyline was listed around -185 just one week ago.
As a result, Merab by decision (-150) offers a 6% edge relative to a crowd projection at -194 (implied 66%), and is the one bet that offers the most value for this fight. I would also consider using Merab’s moneyline, or Over 2.5 rounds (-345) as parlay pieces.
The Bet: Merab Dvalishvili by Decision (-159, 1.0 unit)
Reed Wallach: Ashley Yoder vs. Livia Renata Souza
Contributor, The Action Network
On the UFC 252 prelim card, a strawweight scrap is what caught my eye. Ashley Yoder is set to face former Invicta champion Livia Renata Souza. Yoder comes into this one with a 7-5 professional record and is matched up with Souza, who boasts a 15-2 record, 2-1 in the UFC, and is fighting for the first time since last July, as she was nursing a back injury.
Yoder is a short dog here at +130 (implied probability of 43.48%) against the much more decorated fighter. Despite the lack of accolades, I continue to find myself coming back to “Spider Monkey.”
First, Yoder is +4 in height and +6 in reach, which isn’t the end-all-be-all as Souza took care of business against a fighter with similar measurables in Sara Frota, but in this stylistic matchup it can prove very important. Yoder has shown an aggressive offense and is not afraid to let her hands go a bit. On the contrary, Souza is not nearly a scorable striker, averaging 1.79 significant strikes per minute.
The two both enjoy taking fights to the ground, but this is Souza’s bread and butter. Eight of Souza’s 13 wins have come from submission and Yoder has four to her name. Yoder may not want to get into a grappling match with Souza despite that being a strong part of her game, but she is capable of scoring by landing at range and staying in the fight.
Keeping her energy high and making this a stand-up fight for the majority is the best path to success. If Souza shoots for a takedown, Yoder does have a respectable 66% takedown defense, per UFCStats.com.
Yoder has seen some strong competition in her UFC career and is yet to be finished. She has fallen to Angela Hill, McKenzie Dern and Randa Markos through her run in the promotion, the ladder two by split decision (deserving losses, to be fair).
Losing two of three split-decisions shows that Yoder has been competitive, but maybe not good enough to swing the judges score cards so some bad luck could be in store if this goes the full 15, but I do think that the books are saying something by making her just a short +130 underdog.
I’ll bet Yoder as low as +125 and hope she can land early and often and pressure “The Brazilian Gangsta” in her first fight off a long layoff.
The Pick: Yoder +130