Dominick Cruz vs. Casey Kenney UFC 259 Odds, Pick & Prediction (Saturday, March 6)
Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: Dominick Cruz.
- Former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz looks to get back to winning ways against Casey Kenney.
- Kenney is 5-1 in the UFC and has won three straight fights, while Cruz lost to Henry Cejudo in a title fight last May.
- Sean Zerillo breaks down where he sees betting value in this prelim contest at UFC 259.
Dominick Cruz vs. Casey Kenney Odds
This is similar to the Aska Askarov-Joseph Benavidez fight in the sense that it represents a significant step down in competition for a future UFC Hall of Famer who is currently lined as an underdog in a spot where, just one year ago, they both would have been significant favorites.
It differs from the Benavidez fight for several reasons, however. Namely, Cruz hasn’t won a bout since June of 2016, which was against an aging Uriah Faber. Since that time, Kenney has fought nearly an entire career, going 10-2-1 while winning two belts in LFA and competing eight times under the UFC banner.
Below I preview the matchup and odds for tonight’s fight. For more analysis on the rest of the card, you can check out my projections for the entire slate here.
Tale of the Tape
|Avg. Fight Time||17:04||13:30|
|Weight (pounds)||136 lbs.||136 lbs.|
|Date of birth||3/9/85||3/20/91|
|Sig Strikes Per Min||3.52||4.79|
|SS Absorbed Per Min||2.28||4.07|
|Take Down Avg||3.05||1.25|
Ring rust, or cage rust, is real, and it’s difficult to judge Cruz’s current level on 10 minutes of action, coming off of a 3 1/2-year layoff against Henry Cejudo, the best bantamweight in the world.
MMA fans are still picking Cruz with confidence. I source multiple public data sets to create these projections, and the preponderance of the picks, by a fairly wide margin, are backing the former champion.
But the line on this fight, which opened closer to a pick’em and has moved about 6% toward Kenney, doesn’t reflect that same confidence. Either those fans who pick Cruz are in the same boat as me, expecting him to be the more likely winner with major hesitancy about betting him, or there is significantly more and much quieter money backing the Kenney side.
Vintage Cruz would run circles around a fighter of Kenney’s caliber. I would hope that Cruz leans on his grappling (3.05 takedowns per 15 minutes, 48% accuracy) since this is the weakest wrestler (56% takedown defense) that he has faced in some time.
Sitting cage-side, as a UFC analyst, I would also expect Cruz to have a pretty good idea about which fighters he thinks are a strong matchup for him at this point in his career.
And while Kenney looked sharp in his recent wins over Heili Alateng (won 109-46 on strikes) and Nathaniel Wood (landed 123 significant strikes and two takedowns), Cruz won’t simply stand in the pocket and give Kenney the kickboxing match that he wants.
The result here is really dependent upon Cruz’s current level. If he’s even 80% of what he used to be, this is still his fight to lose.
Unlike Benavidez, who seemingly has not slowed down, Cruz has appeared to lose a step. The elite lateral movement that has frustrated so many opponents can be cut off more quickly now with the advanced implementation of calf kicks.
As a result, while I could certainly see Cruz dancing around Kenney, landing, and then darting back out of range, I expect Kenney to land some clean shots of his own and appear to be the aggressor in the cage.
Cruz vs. Kenney Pick
While I show value both on Cruz’s moneyline (to even money) and his decision prop (to about +125), I show a much more significant edge on betting this fight to go the distance (projected 85%), and I would play the distance prop up to about -315, at a 10% edge.
The Pick: Cruz/Kenney, Fight Goes the Distance (-250, 0.5u)