Zerillo’s UFC 260 Betting Preview: Odds, Picks, Projections for All 10 Fights

Zerillo’s UFC 260 Betting Preview: Odds, Picks, Projections for All 10 Fights article feature image
Credit:

Christian Petersen/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: Bruce Buffer.

  • UFC 260 begins on Saturday night, March 27, with 10 total fights, including Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou in a heavyweight title bought.
  • We've seen a few knockouts and one submission through the early fights.
  • Sean Zerillo gives out his model projections for each fight and outcome, and breaks down every bout below.

The UFC continues its run at the APEX in Las Vegas on Saturday, with a 10-fight card for UFC 260, featuring a heavyweight title rematch between Stipe Miocic and No. 1 contender Francis Ngannou.

The cage at APEX (25-foot diameter) is about 30% smaller in terms of square footage than a regular UFC octagon (30-foot diameter), and consequently, the finish rate is roughly 10% higher.

Over the three UFC shows to start the year on Fight Island (30-foot cage), 21 of the 35 fights (60%) went the distance. Since returning to APEX, just 32 of the 79 official fights (40.5%) have gone the distance.

Based upon the listed odds or Saturday’s fights, exactly half of the bouts are expected to end in a finish; and based upon the matchups, I foresee a lot of violence on this card.

If you are new to this piece, or this sport, note that in addition to moneylines and over/unders, there are numerous ways to bet on an MMA fight — including exact winning methods, winning round props, and whether or not the match will go to a decision or finish inside the distance.

As a result, after examining all of the betting options, your typical UFC card can offer a substantial amount of actionable value.

UFC 260 Moneyline Projections

Below, you can find my fair odds moneyline projection for each of Saturday’s 10 bouts. In the next section, you’ll discover forecasts for those fights to finish inside the distance or for each fighter to win by decision, knockout, or submission.

Odds as of Friday evening and via DraftKings

UFC 260 Prop Projections 

In addition to creating a crowdsourced projection for moneyline plays, I also collect data on each fighter to win by decision, knockout, or submission, enabling us to determine fair odds for each fight to go the distance or for each fighter to win inside of the distance.

[Click to Skip to Main Card]

UFC 260 Odds

Preliminary Card

  • ESPN
  • 7:30 p.m. ET

Middleweight fight: Marc-Andre Barriault vs. Abu Azaitar

Odds
Barriault odds -124
Azaitar odds +100
Over/Under 2.5 rounds -190 / +140

Crowdsourced Projections (Barriault 53%)

Both Azaitar and Barriault are returning from doping suspensions, but this will also be Azaitar’s first bout in 979 days (32 months), and I rarely side with a fighter at this level who has been inactive for such an extended period of time.

Barriault has been competitive against tough competition in his four UFC fights, but still hasn’t recorded an official win despite knocking out Oskar Piechota last June (overturned to a No Contest).

Unless Azaitar has made significant improvements in the gym over the past two years, Barriault should be the cleaner and more powerful striker. Azaitar will oblige him in a brawl, but Barriault is seemingly the more durable man if both are intent on finishing, and he should win on volume too.

Unless Azaitar catches a finish on the feet, he may need to rely on his wrestling in order to win this fight with control time. While takedown defense (69%) was somewhat of an issue for Barriault in his first three UFC bouts (all losses), Azaitar is also a lesser wrestler than any of those opponents.

Ultimately, I don’t see any projected betting value on this fight.

My read is Barriault inside the distance (projected +320, listed +300), but there are too many unknowns with regard to the current durability and physique of two fighters coming off of USADA suspensions.

Bets: 

  • Pass

Featherweight fight: Shane Young vs. Omar Morales

Odds
Young odds +145
Morales odds -182
Over/Under TBA rounds TBA

Crowdsourced Projections (Morales 70%)

Morales is one of two moneyline plays (along with Stipe Miocic) that show actionable value on the card. He’s the larger man (3-inch height and 1-inch reach advantage) and owns significantly more power than Young, whose best hope is to win this fight on output (6.01 to 3.39 strikes landed per minute, +6% accuracy).

Young is very hittable (-9% striking defense) and Morales is much more likely to find a finish here — if this bout does go the distance, judges may have to weigh Young’s volume against Morales’ damage — which makes me hesitant to lay the juice on the favorite.

I was surprised that Morales, who secured his only takedown and held six minutes of control against Dong Hyun Ma, didn’t try to grapple with Giga Chikadze in his last fight. That may be a more optimal strategy against Young since the City Kickboxing team — aside from Alexander Volkanovski — has shown little development in that area.

Thinking about it logistically, that does give Morales three paths to a victory compared to one for his opponent. Considering that I make him a 70% moneyline favorite, I would lay the chalk — albeit tentatively — up to -200.

Bets: 

  • Omar Morales (-190, Risk 1 unit)

Light Heavyweight fight: Modestas Bukauskas vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk

Odds
Bukauskas odds +135
Oleksiejczuk odds -167
Over/Under TBA rounds TBA

Crowdsourced Projections (Oleksiejczuk 66%)

I don’t think Bukauskas has the skill edge anywhere in this matchup, but he has physical advantages in height (+3 inches), reach (+4 inches), and most importantly cardio, against an opponent who generally fades in the middle of the second round.

If he’s able to survive the first round, I would take a look at Bukauskas in the live market before Round 2. He should have more output over the final ten minutes, and could eventually pull away on the scorecards.

However, “The Baltic Gladiator’s” standup style plays directly to”Lord” Michal’s advantage. This should be a pure striking battle, and without having to worry about his takedown defense, I would expect Oleksiejczuk to pressure and let his hands go against a tall man with some major defensive flaws:

There’s value on the Oleksiejczuk side at -165 or better, and value on the fight to end inside the distance (projected 71%) at -194 or better.

But I’m not certain that Bukauskas finishes a tiring Michal — and I don’t think there’s much sense in playing Michal’s moneyline when a finish is his most likely win condition and it offers a far more significant edge.

I prefer Oleksiejczuk’s knockout prop (projected +109) or inside the distance prop (projected -115) relative to listed odds of +175 and +150. You can play those down to +133 and +105, respectively.

I would also play his Round 1 prop at +300 or better. The smaller cage should really play into his chances here.

Bets: 

  • Michal Oleksiejczuk Wins Inside the Distance (+150, 0.5 units)
  • Michal Oleksiejczuk Wins in Round 1 (+300, 0.25 units)

Note: Potential live bet on Bukauskas after Round 1 (+200 or better) 


Welterweight fight: Jared Gooden vs. Abubakar Nurmagomedov

Odds
Gooden odds +195
Nurmagomedov odds -250
Over/Under 2.5 rounds -190 /+140

Crowdsourced Projections (Nurmagomedov 72%)

My colleague Erich Richter previewed this fight, and you should go read his breakdown.

I’ll keep it relatively simple: Either Nurmagomedov secures takedowns and wins on the mat with a submission attempt or control time, or Gooden keeps this bout on the feet and wins by knockout or volume.

Nurmagomedov made a positional mistake and lost his UFC debut via submission, so I don’t expect him to be in wild pursuit of a finish here and would expect him to constantly prioritize position over submission.

His moneyline offers value at -225 or better, but I prefer the Dagestani’s decision prop (projected -105) at +115 or better, and I think Erich’s suggestion of the decision or submission double-chance at -115 is on point; I would project that prop closer to -184, and would play it to -150.

Bets: 

  • Abubakar Nurmagomedov Wins By Decision (+140, 0.5u)

Light Heavyweight fight: Alonzo Menifield vs. Fabio Cherant

Odds
Menifield odds -286
Cherant odds +220
Over/Under TBA rounds TBA

Crowdsourced Projections (Menifield 74%)

As a late notice debutant, who was clobbered on contender series by Aleksa Camur, Cherant seems like a fairly obvious fade. This is a massive step down in competition for Menifield, coming off of his first two career losses against Devin Clark and Ovince St. Preux who were both able to extend their respective fights into the second round.

All of Menifield’s wins have come in the first six minutes of the fight, and if nothing else Cherant has five-round cardio — evidenced by his win at LFA on Feb. 12. He also has a pretty slick ground game under the guidance of Lauzon Mixed Martial Arts, which could help to slow this fight down.

But Menifield is incredibly powerful and difficult to keep down, and if he goes to his traditional bat out of hell game plan, I’d imagine he catches Cherant early.

Menifield wins in Round 1 is worth a small play down to +135, and you could look to come in live on Cherant if he is still conscious after five minutes.

Bets: 

  • Alonzo Menifield Wins in Round 1 (+185, 0.25u)

Note: Potential live bet on Cherant after Round 1 (+200 or better) 


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Main Card

  • ESPN
  • 10 p.m. ET

Lightweight fight: Jamie Mullarkey vs. Khama Worthy

Odds
Mullarkey odds +100
Worthy odds -130
Over/Under 1.5 rounds -177 / +130

Crowdsourced Projections (Worthy 57%)

Despite six career knockout losses, I think the durability concerns for Worthy are a bit overblown against a terribly inaccurate striker like Mullarkey (33% accuracy, -2.73 differential), who will look to win this fight with his wrestling and control (4.00 takedowns per 15 minutes, 30% accuracy).

Mullarkey’s lack of volume is going to lead to some wonky losses. In his last fight against Fares Ziam, for example, he trailed 47-20 in the significant strike battle, but secured five takedowns and held 6:56 of control. Fifteen of the 17 media members and two-thirds of fans scored the bout for Mullarkey, but Ziam won 29-28 on all three judges’ scorecards.

Worthy is the far better athlete, carries more power, and is very likely to finish this fight or rack up the volume if he can keep the bout standing. But he showed holes in his takedown defense against Luis Pena (allowed 3-of-7 attempts, with 4:13 of control), which could give Mullarkey a path to winning minutes here.

I projected Mullarkey’s decision line at +305 and was able to pick off +400 before the market moved his way — down from +140 (implied 41.6%) to +105 (48.8%) in recent weeks. I’d be OK with a small stab at +300 but would otherwise pass on this fight.

Bets: 

  • Jamie Mullarkey Wins by Decision (+400, 0.5u)

Women’s Flyweight fight: Gillian Robertson vs. Miranda Maverick

Odds
Robertson odds +134
Maverick odds -167
Over/Under 2.5 rounds -177 / +130

Crowdsourced Projections (Maverick 56%)

This fight was originally scheduled for UFC 258 in February, but had to be postponed due to COVID protocols.

Maverick opened as a much more significant favorite (-225) before the original fight, but the more-experienced Robertson received most of the early action. Maverick re-opened at -175 after the bout was rescheduled, and has generally settled into that range.

Aggressive strikers like Maverick have posed a problem for Robertson, whose own standup game has improved (though not as fast as some fans would have hoped) to complement her potent ground game. And she often reacts poorly when her opponents land strikes.

Robertson needs to get this fight to the mat (2.64 takedowns per 15 minutes, 46% accuracy) and either find a submission (six of here nine wins) or grind out a decision with top control (2-3 on the scorecards) to hit her win condition.

While Maverick’s takedown defense is one of the weaker parts of her own game, she’s still just 23-years-old, making significant improvements from one fight to the next, and is arguably the prospect with a higher ceiling of the two.

The problem with Robertson is that we haven’t seen her make those improvements on the feet (Ex. 8-of-33, 24.2% from range vs. Cortney Casey on June 20, 2020) over three years in the UFC, and if she can’t get the takedowns, she will likely wilt under Maverick’s pressure.

I don’t show any current betting value on this fight, but I might play Robertson if her moneyline crosses back over +150. 

Bets: 

  • Pass

Bantamweight fight: Sean O’Malley vs. Thomas Almeida

Odds
O’Malley odds -335
Almeida odds +250
Over/Under 1.5 rounds -152 / +115

Crowdsourced Projections (O’Malley 78%)

I backed Almeida in his return to action against Jonathan Martinez last October, and the American picked apart the Brazilian with his movement and footwork. I don’t see how Almeida fares much better against O’Malley, who is much larger than both Martinez and Almeida, arguably more technical, and possesses significantly more power.

The hype around O’Malley’s skill isn’t without merit. He is massive for the Bantamweight division, and both as fast and powerful as they come.

The primary concern on the O’Malley side is his prior injuries — he hurt his foot twice in five UFC fights, including his first career loss to Marlon Vera last August.

O’Malley has tried to claim that it was a freak injury, but in hindsight, I do think Vera caused the injury with an early low kick:

And O’Malley has admitted that it was the same injury that he suffered in 2018 against Andre Soukhamthath.

The question is whether Almeida can target that same area, and potentially slow O’Malley down, or at least make him start thinking about checking that kick consistently. Almeida has started throwing leg kicks much more frequently in recent fights (landed 14-of-15 vs. Martinez), so perhaps he does target that same spot, and completely change the dynamic of the matchup.

Either way, this looks like a good spot to bet on violence. Almeida isn’t particularly durable himself, and O’Malley is live to close the show in a hurry against any straightforward striker.

He sets up his strikes extremely well and has the fluidity to pull off vicious combinations:

I projected this bout to end inside the distance 73% of the time, and I would play that prop up to -233 (implied 70%), at an edge of three percentage points.

You could also consider a bet on O’Malley to win inside the distance (projected -141, listed -120), but I wouldn’t double-dip — choose one position or the other.

Bets: 

  • Almeida/O’Malley, Fight ends Inside the Distance (-185, Risk 1u)

Welterweight fight: Tyron Woodley vs. Vicente Luque

Odds
Woodley odds +200
Luque odds -250
Over/Under 2.5 rounds -167 / +125

Crowdsourced Projections (Luque 71%)

It’s hard to say if Woodley is completely washed, even if it looked that way in each of his past three fights, where he lost every minute of every round against Kamaru Usman, Gilbert Burns, and Colby Covington.

At age 38, he no longer looks as ripped as he did during his championship run, and the power he once possessed in his killer right hand might be severely diminished from his prime.

To the UFC’s credit, they are giving Woodley the opportunity to test that power against a fighter who will give him a war. Luque (5.72 strikes landed, and 5.82 strikes absorbed per minute) is one of the most entertaining, action-packed fighters in the promotion. He’ll look to pressure Woodley, and since he’s hittable we will see how much power the former champion still has left.

It seems unlikely that Luque secures a takedown since Woodley was notoriously difficult to grapple with (87% takedown defense) prior to his last three fights, but a club and sub after continued pressure is very possible.

Woodley’s best path to victory might be through his wrestling (1.08 takedowns per 15 minutes, 40% accuracy), but he’s rarely gone to his D-1 base for offensive purposes and seems to lack self-awareness regarding his recent defeats.

Taking Luque by decision (+150) or playing the fight to end inside the distance (+115) both align with my projections – but there’s not enough value for me to place a wager.

Luque’s style should give Woodley his best chance to win in a while, and I’d lean either to the inside the distance prop or the under given the expected pace.

Bets: 

  • Pass

Heavyweight fight: Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou

Odds
Miocic odds +110
Ngannou odds -130
Over/Under 1.5 rounds -139 / +105

Crowdsourced Projections (Miocic 54%)

For more information on Saturday’s heavyweight title fight, make sure to check out my full main event breakdown.

In short, Ngannou opened as significant of a favorite (-190) for the rematch as he closed before the first fight, which Stipe dominated; particularly after the opening minutes when Ngannou gassed out.

I projected Stipe as a 54% favorite in the rematch, and money has steadily come in support of the underdog champion, who is now closer to a pick’em in the odds market; but this is a high-variance Heavyweight bout, and a difficult fight to quantify.

At a 50% win projection – in line with his market odds – I would set Stipe’s decision line at +257 (implied 28%) since I make a decision more than half of his win condition. At my 54% moneyline valuation, Stipe’s decision projection moves to +229 (implied 30.4%).

Either way, that’s a substantial edge relative to listed odds at +450 (18.2% implied) in the decision market and the best value on this fight if you’re placing one wager.

I would skip the distance prop at +300 (implied 25%), relative to my projection at 34% – if this fight goes the full 25 minutes, it’s doubtful that Ngannou is winning on the scorecards. Miocic should have substantially more pressure and volume over a five-round fight, and you can get a superior price on his decision prop.

You could talk me into Stipe’s moneyline at -105 or better – more than a three percent edge compared to my projection. That covers all of his win conditions but leaves you vulnerable to an early Ngannou knockout.

And I wouldn’t talk you out of Ngannou by knockout or inside the distance at even money or better. You’re getting substantial value relative to the listed odds in the first fight(-170).

I would place a half-unit on Stipe’s decision line (+450 at Bet365) down to +350 and place at least a quarter unit — enough to cover my Stipe decision wager – on Ngannou Wins in Round 1 (+250 at BetMGM) down to +200.

In effect, you make a small profit if Ngannou wins in Round 1, turn up to a two-unit profit if Stipe wins by decision, or take a loss of less than one unit with any other result.

The primary wager is Stipe’s decision line — and I think he’s on the value side of the moneyline too. If you’re only going to bet Ngannou, take him by KO or inside the distance, and give a long look at his Round 1 prop.

Bets: 

  • Stipe Miocic Wins by Decision (+475, 0.5 u)
  • Francis Ngannou Wins in Round 1 (+270, 0.37u)

Zerillo’s UFC 260 Bets

Distance or Decision Props and Overs

  • Abubakar Nurmagomedov Wins By Decision (+140, 0.5 units)
  • Jamie Mullarkey Wins by Decision (+400, 0.5u)
  • Stipe Miocic Wins by Decision (+475, 0.5 u)

Inside the Distance Props and Unders

  • Michal Oleksiejczuk Wins Inside the Distance (+150, 0.5 u)
  • Michal Oleksiejczuk Wins in Round 1 (+300, 0.25 u)
  • Alonzo Menifield Wins in Round 1 (+185, 0.25u)
  • Almeida/O’Malley, Fight ends Inside the Distance (-185, Risk 1u)
  • Francis Ngannou Wins in Round 1 (+270, 0.37u)

Moneylines

  • Omar Morales (-190, Risk 1u)

Parlays

  • N/A

Live Betting Notes

  • Bukauskas after Round 1 (+200 or better) 
  • Cherant after Round 1 (+200 or better) 

Don’t forget to follow my picks in the Action Network App.

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