Joseph Benavidez vs. Askar Askarov UFC 259 Odds, Pick & Prediction (Saturday, March 6)
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: Joseph Benavidez (left) and Askar Askarov.
- Joseph Benavidez looks to bounce back from a pair of championship-fight losses against fellow contender Askar Askarov.
- The Russian grappler is undefeated in his MMA career, including a 2-0-1 record in the UFC.
- Sean Zerillo breaks down how he’s backing the 36-year-old Benavidez to rebound with a win at UFC 259.
Joseph Benavidez vs. Askar Askarov Odds
Askarov missed weight by one pound on Friday, and fighters who have missed weight since the start of the pandemic have gone 8-21 (27.6%) in their matchups at average odds right around even money.
Even before the miss, I had locked in positions on Benavidez by decision (still +300 at FanDuel) and the fight to go the distance, both of which represent substantial edges relative to my projection.
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||11:15||15:00|
|Weight (pounds)||125.5 lbs.||127 lbs.|
|Date of birth||7/31/84||10/9/92|
|Sig Strikes Per Min||3.54||3.20|
|SS Absorbed Per Min||2.62||2.51|
|Take Down Avg||1.48||2.00|
It’s always nervy to take on Russian wrestlers. I haven’t been able to verify this exact stat, but I read this week that Khabib and his Dagestani countrymen are a combined 236-27 (89.7%) in the UFC. Even if that’s not true, it certainly feels like it is since the number didn’t really shock me.
But to side with Askarov, in my opinion, you need to land on the conclusion that Benavidez’s chin is shot at age 36, on the heels of consecutive stoppage losses to Deiveson Figuerido.
But Figuerido’s power at 125 is a complete outlier, and Benavidez has only lost to the best flyweights in history (Figuerido twice, Demetrious Johnson twice, Dominick Cruz twice and Sergio Pettis).
Not only is Askarov a significant step down in competition relative to those other men, but he also doesn’t possess anywhere near the same level of power or precision as either Figuerido or Johnson in his striking.
Askarov may get Benavidez (65% takedown defense) to the mat (2.00 takedowns per 15 minutes, 18% accuracy), but he isn’t submitting Joe-Jitsu or keeping him down for very long. Benavidez is one of the best scramblers that I have ever watched and even if he has lost a touch of speed at his relatively advanced age, it hasn’t been noticeable.
Askarov has largely won his fights with control time, particularly in the later rounds against tiring opponents like Alexandre Pantoja (5:11 of control) and Tim Elliott (4:05 of control), both of whom are known to gas. His style isn’t necessarily the type that should pose Benavidez with serious issues, and he’s also the lesser athlete in this affair.
It’s been a long time since Benavidez was out-grappled and even in his first affair with Figuerido, he was ahead on the scorecards until the two inadvertently butted heads.
Benavidez vs. Askarov Pick
I would bet Joe B’s moneyline down to +110, play his decision prop at +180 or better, and combine those with the distance prop, at -245 or better, in case Askarov does manage to secure enough control time to squeak out a close decision.
If this fight was scheduled before those two losses to Figuerido, Benavidez would be at least a -200 favorite in this spot. That’s too big of a line adjustment for possibly overblown durability concerns.
And if you’re only placing one bet on this card, the +300 decision line at FanDuel is an absolute steal. It’s lined in the +250 range at most other books.
- Joseph Benavidez (+117, 0.5u)
- Joseph Benavidez Wins by Decision (+300, 0.5u)
- Askarov/Benavidez, Fight goes the Distance (-164, 0.5u)