UFC 266 Odds, Picks & Predictions: 3 Best Bets for Moraes vs. Dvalishvili, Diaz vs. Lawler & More (Saturday, Sept. 25)
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC fighter Nick Diaz.
- UFC 266 features a loaded 13-fight card on Saturday night at the T-Mobile Arena.
- Headlined by two title fights on the main card, there are plenty of intriguing matchups throughout that present potential value for bettors.
- Our staff of MMA betting analysts break down their favorite plays for throughout the card below.
This weekend, fight fans will be treated to three five-round fights at UFC 266, including two title fights and the rematch of a fight that happened nearly 20 years ago. The action begins at 6 p.m. ET (ESPN+/ESPN News) with eight fights on the prelim card and moves to Pay-Per-View at 10 p.m. ET for five main card bouts.
So where should you be looking to place your bets? Our crew has pinpointed three fights and picks on Saturday’s massive card that present betting value.
You can find their analysis and picks on those matches below.
Sean Zerillo: Uros Medic vs. Jalin Turner
Betting Analyst, The Action Network
This bout is one of my favorite fights on the card, as Uros Medic is one of the most intriguing prospects in the UFC and Jalin Turner is easily his most formidable opponent to date.
I expect Medic’s to excel early in this fight before Turner eventually takes over late if he can weather the early storm.
As a result, this is a solid live betting opportunity against a fighter who both expends all of his energy early and is entirely unfamiliar with the third round.
Medic wins in Round 1 (+250) seems like the majority of the win condition for the favorite — whose line has crashed down closer to a pick’em after opening at -185 (65% implied)
I don’t show value on either side of the moneyline, but I project this bout to end inside the distance 73% of the time (-265 implied), so I see value on that prop relative to listed odds (-167 at PointsBet) and would bet it up to -200.
The Pick: Fight Ends Inside the Distance (-167)
Erich Richter: Marlon Moraes vs. Merab Dvalishvili
Contributor at The Action Network
Betting lines can be confusing sometimes. Dvalishvili has been dominant thus far in UFC and all of his wins have come by decision. He has just one submission win in his career in a much smaller promotion.
Add in the fact that he has just 0.4 submissions attempted per 15 minutes, there is little reason to think he is going to a submission grappling game plan. However, we can expect an impressive display of wrestling mixed with ground and pound.
Dvalishvili averages 7.38 takedowns per 15 minutes over his eight fights in the UFC. That kind of motor is what builds champions. Being able to weaponize pace is something that few fighters have actually been able to do. We have seen Khabib Nurmagomedov do this exact thing.
Marlon Moraes actually fought for the title back in 2019 and dominated the first round. He ran out of gas in that fight, though, and was knocked out in the third round. His chin has never recovered from that defeat and he has lost three of his four fights since.
I actually think Moraes is a good fighter and can get some wins if he rights the ship, but I don’t like this matchup for him at all. Dvalishvili’s cardio is far too good to play games in the grappling. He rag dolls opponents.
Instead of betting Dvalishvili at -225, I’m eying his double chance prop to win by either knockout or decision. This prop is listed at -135 on FanDuel (I’d bet it up to -160) and should be a solid parlay builder.
The Pick: Merab Dvalishvili by KO or Decision (-135)
Billy Ward: Nick Diaz vs. Robbie Lawler
Contributor at The Action Network
While there’s two title fights happening later on the card, the rematch between Nick Diaz and Robbie Lawer is the real main event in my eyes. The 17 years between their first fight and this rematch has to be a UFC, if not professional MMA, record.
This is an extremely hard matchup to handicap due to the long layoff of Diaz since his last bout (over six years.) Lawler fought just over a year ago, but hasn’t won a contest since 2017.
There’s some encouraging signs for Diaz though. Previous winners have won 62% of UFC rematches, at least as of 2019, per Odds Shark. Younger fighters also tend to perform better in rematches, although the age gap is only about 16 months here. Of course, the 17 years in between confounds both of those variables.
I do like that Diaz asked for (and was granted) a change of this bout from welterweight to middleweight. He has a slight reach advantage, and this means he’s likely to be the heavier fighter as well. Lawler is also one of the few fighters who’s taken more damage in his career than Diaz, he ranks fifth all time in significant head strikes absorbed.
Finally, this fight being five rounds benefits Diaz. The Diaz brothers don’t lose fights, they just run out of time. With 10 extra minutes, Nick is less likely to do so. As long as Diaz is available at plus money (he’s +140 at BetMGM), I’m making the bet.
The Pick: Nick Diaz ML (+140)