UFC 258 Best Bets: Picks & Predictions for Pitolo vs. Marquez and Gastelum vs. Heinisch (Saturday, Feb. 13)
Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images. Pictured: Kelvin Gastelum.
- Two of our UFC analysts like the same bout to end inside the distance, but they're each backing different fighters.
- Check out where our crew is finding an edge at UFC 258.
Saturday’s UFC 258 card is stacked with great fights throughout, including the long awaited welterweight title fight between Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns in the main event. The action kicks off with six prelim bouts beginning at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN/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 two fights and three bets on Saturday’s card that present betting value.
You can find their analysis and picks on those matches below.
Sean Zerillo: Maki Pitolo vs. Julian Marquez
Betting Analyst, The Action Network
Pitolo is far from UFC PPV material in terms of talent, but he’s reliable with regard to his “Coconut Bombz” nickname as someone who moves forward and throws heat.
Whether Marquez can exploit Pitolo’s porous takedown defense (50%) and take advantage of his grappling edge depends upon his conditioning after the long injury layoff. Still, Pitolo — who fought three times in 2020 — should be sharper from the jump.
I have Pitolo’s moneyline projected at 45% or +122, and I would bet that down to +138 (implied 42%) at a three percent edge.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) June 7, 2020
I also show value on the fight to end inside the distance (projected -232, listed -170), which I would play to about -184 at a five percent edge.
I’m not high on Pitolo’s long term future with the UFC — he could even get cut after a loss here — but this is an excellent spot to bet against Marquez coming back from a pretty terrible injury.
The Pick: Maki Pitolo (+140) | Fight ends Inside the Distance (-179)
Erich Richter: Maki Pitolo vs. Julian Marquez
Contributor at The Action Network
It will be 953 days since Marquez entered the octagon due to his back injury.
These two fighters are very similar in style and neither is particularly strong defensively – Pitolo absorbs 4.0 significant strikes per minute while Marquez absorbs 3.33 per minute.
The under 2.5 rounds sits at -136 or 57.63% implied and is my favorite bet on the card. I would project this prop to end closer to 60% or -150, which is fair value.
The current price is very enticing as neither fighter has ever coasted for decision wins. Just two of Marquez’s nine fights have gone to decision and five of Pitolo’s 20 have hit the scorecards.
Marquez is known for his creative — albeit wild — striking that puts him in constant brawls. Being out for over two years raises legitimate questions about whether he can still fight tin that style. It is possible that the layoff weakened his chin, setting him up for KO letdown like Santiago Ponzinibbio a few weeks ago.
Marquez’s track record does help him here — a KO victory over UFC newcomer Phil Hawes and second-round guillotine submission over Darren Stewart. This fight is important because Pitolo also fought Stewart and was submitted by him in the first-round via guillotine.
Marquez attempted three submissions on Stewart, including two guillotines and one straight arm-lock that he nearly finished at the end of round-one. Marquez is clearly confident in these techniques, so there could be submission prop value here too.
There is a chance that Pitolo shoots for a takedown — maybe even out of desperation with a wild pace expected. Playing that scenario out in a bet could result in a second-round submission for Marquez, which is listed at 30-1 on BetMGM.
Marquez was a much better fighter than Pitolo when we last saw him, so I would expect him to get a stoppage victory. Betting the under on rounds is my favorite bet on the card and I would consider under 1.5 if I could get it at +140 or better.
The Pick: Under 2.5 Rounds (-136) | Marquez Under 2.5 Rounds (+195)
Collin Whitchurch: Kelvin Gastelum vs. Ian Heinisch
Editor, The Action Network
At first glance, it’s tough to see why you’d expect this fight to end early. Three of Gastelum’s last four fights went to decision, as did four of Heinisch’s last five.
But styles make fights, as they say, and neither of these guys have much interest in bringing the fight to the mat. Even if they did, neither is all that good at getting it there. There’s not a positive takedown accuracy to be found in the cage in this particular bout.
Even with a majority of this duo’s recent fights having gone to decision, we’re still looking at career results that show a likelihood for a finish. Twelve of Gastelum’s 21 career fights ended via knockout or submission, and eight of Heinisch’s 17 have done so.
Likewise, Heinisch ended Gerald Meerschaert via first-round KO last time out, and Gastelum lost in the first round via submission against Jack Hermansson. These aren’t lay-and-pray wrestlers pointing their way to a decision.
All that said, the decision to play the round total here instead of the distance prop was not made without a good amount of consternation. Under 2.5 rounds is +200, but if you don’t want to risk losing your bet if the fight is finished in the final 2:30 of the third round, you can get the distance prop at +170, which isn’t a huge difference.
I’m taking the risk for a little extra payout, though, because I’m that confident this fight will end early. This is going to be an ugly fight between two guys desperate for a win (five losses in the last six fights between them).
I actually like Heinisch as a live ‘dog at +190 or better, but am more confident in an early finish, so we’ll take the under 2.5 rounds at +200 and play it down to +180. If it gets below that, you’re better off just playing the distance prop.
The Pick: Under 2.5 Rounds (+200)