UFC 257 Picks & Predictions: Our Best Bets for Rountree vs. Prachnio, Hooker vs. Chandler (Saturday, Jan. 23)

UFC 257 Picks & Predictions: Our Best Bets for Rountree vs. Prachnio, Hooker vs. Chandler (Saturday, Jan. 23) article feature image
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Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images. Pictured: Michael Chandler poses on the scale during the UFC 257 weigh-in.

  • Not sure what to bet to target on Saturday's UFC PPV? Our MMA experts Sean Zerillo, Collin Whitchuch and Erich Richter have three.
  • They're betting two round totals and one method of victory prop.
  • Check out their full betting analysis and picks on UFC 257 below.

Saturday’s UFC 257 card is stacked with great fights throughout, including the return of Conor McGregor in a main event matchup with Dustin Poirier. The action kicks off with six prelim bouts beginning at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN+ followed by the five-fight main card on ESPN PPV at 10 p.m. ET.

With 11 action-packed bouts on the slate, there is plenty of value to be found on the card. So where should you be looking to place your bets? Our crew has pinpointed three fights on Saturday’s card that present betting value.

You can find their analysis and picks on those matches below.

Sean Zerillo: Khalil Rountree Jr. vs. Marcin Prachnio

Betting Analyst, The Action Network

I show value on three plays here: Rountree’s moneyline, Rountree to win inside the distance, and for the fight to end inside the distance.

Prachnio has suffered three consecutive first-round losses in the UFC – I had assumed he was cut after the most recent loss in August. Meanwhile, three of Rountree’s four UFC wins are by first-round knockout, and he recorded four knockdowns in a decision over Eryck Anders.

Formerly 300-plus pounds, Rountree is known to gas out, but when given time and space to operate and let his heavy hands fly, he can put opponents away with ease.

Stylistically, this seems like a slam dunk for Rountree, but if his heart isn’t fully in this after considering retirement, or if he has taken any step back on the heels of a 16-month layoff, then Prachio (11 first-round victories) could seize upon the opportunity.

I’m not keen to bet Rountree inside the distance at -220, even with a projected line close to -334. I would rather dabble with some Rountree in a moneyline parlay or look to play his Round 1 prop at even money.

For now, my best bet on this fight is the Under 1.5 rounds, which I like to -200.

The Pick: Under 1.5 Rounds (-160)


Collin Whitchurch: Brad Tavares vs. Antônio Carlos Júnior

Editor, The Action Network

In a UFC career that has now spanned 18 fights and more than a decade, Brad Tavares has never been submitted. His last submission defeat, in fact, came in his fourth professional fight more than 12 years ago.

Antônio Carlos Júnior provides a bigger threat to end that streak than perhaps anyone in recent memory. And while it might be enticing to play a Carlos Júnior submission prop (+350) the singular-focused nature of Júnior’s game makes it likely the veteran Tavares will be well-prepared to defend against such attempts.

The best matchup comparison we can make for Tavares is his meeting with Thales Leites at UFC 216. Leites had 15 submission victories in a 37-fight career. And while it’s true that his meeting with Tavares was later in his career and far from his prime form, Tavares defended all seven of Leites’ takedown attempts, picked the Brazilian apart on his feet, and cruised to a unanimous decision victory.

That’s largely how I expect Saturday’s fight to go. Carlos Júnior is going to be hunting for takedowns and hoping to get Tavares on his back where he can showcase his BJJ skills. Tavares’ takedown defense (77%) has been solid throughout his career, while Carlos Júnior has struggled to consistently get his opponents on their backs.

That was the case in his back-to-back losses to Uriah Hall and Ian Heinisch, and I expect more of the same here. Tavares is a logical bet straight-up at -137, but I particularly like his prop to win by decision, which you can get at +150 at DraftKings.

The Pick: Tavares To Win By Decision (+150)


Erich Richter: Dan Hooker vs. Michael Chandler

Contributor at The Action Network

Spoiler: This will not be the sexiest pick on the board. But it still has value.

This a tough matchup for both opponents as Hooker is significantly larger than Chandler who stands at just 5-foot-8 with a 71-inch reach.

Chandler has a distinct advantage landing takedowns as Hooker has never faced a wrestler of this caliber. Hooker does do an excellent job defending takedowns – 79% over his long UFC career.

“Iron” Michael Chandler was a champion in Bellator for many years, so his available statistics are limited. However, true fight fans know just how dominant Chandler can be pushing for takedowns. He has had wars with the likes of Eddie Alvarez, Benson Henderson, and Brent Primus.

If this fight does go to a decision, it should be extremely close. There is some value on Hooker to win via decision at +320, but I will not be betting on a decision victory from Hooker.

He was outclassed by Dustin Poirier in his last fight and barely squeaked by Paul Felder prior to that. The level of competition is simply not there for me to expect Hooker to defeat Chandler is his Octagon debut.

Chandler is +270 to win via decision (27.78% implied), but I would hope for a bit better odds. I would bet this prop over +300 if it were available as Chandler should have the opportunity to slow this fight down and land takedowns against the cage.

It is seemingly unlikely that Chandler KO’s Hooker and Hooker has not been submitted in nine years. Perhaps Chandler feels the first UFC fight jitters and gets tagged by Hooker but I see it unlikely that Chandler will engage with Hooker on the feet for long.

The Pick: Over 2.5 (-104)

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