UFC 268 Betting Odds & Best Bets: 3 Picks for Baghdasaryan vs. Souza, Shahbazyan vs. Imavov & More (November 6)
Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images. Pictured: UFC announcer Bruce Buffer.
- UFC 268 is headlined by Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington, but there's betting value up and down the card.
- Our team of MMA betting analysts see three fights as having great value throughout the night.
- They break down each bout and lay out their picks below.
Madison Square Garden has been the scene of some of the most iconic fights in combat sports history and the MMA returns to the Mecca for UFC 268. Saturday’s action features two title fight rematches — Usman vs. Covington and Namajunas vs. Zhang — on it the 14-bout card, which begins at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN+.
So where should you be looking to place your bets? Our crew has pinpointed three fights and picks on Saturday’s stacked card that present betting value.
You can find their analysis and picks on those matches below.
Sean Zerillo: Melsik Baghdasaryan vs. Bruno Souza
Betting Analyst, The Action Network
Melsik is one of my favorite Featherweight prospects, and he’s a potential handful for a short notice debutant in Souza — a karate specialist who keeps his hands low and appears very hittable.
Baghdasaryan by KO/TKO (+150) is the apparent value play (projected +114). Still, I prefer his odds to win by finish or inside the distance (projected -102, listed +130) because you never know when a fighter will latch onto a club and sub opportunity.
I also project value on this fight to end inside the distance (projected 61%, -153 implied) compared to listed odds (-125). Alternatively, you can play the Under 2.5 rounds.
Lastly, I would look to bet Melsik to win in Round 1; he’s an aggressive starter and his first-round odds may get slashed in the future.
The Picks: Baghdasaryan wins Inside the Distance (+150, 0.5u) | Baghdasaryan/Souza, Under 2.5 Rounds (+100, 0.25u) | Baghdasaryan wins in Round 1 (+250, 0.2u)
Erich Richter: Edmen Shahbazyan vs. Nassourdine Imavov
Contributor at The Action Network
Put me in the category of “non-believer” when it comes to Edmen Shahbazyan’s MMA career. He came into the UFC with a ton of fanfare as the protege of Ronda Rousey. Still 23 years old, Shahbazyan is surely going to continue improving his game and may one day fulfill the promise of a title shot. That time is not now.
Shahbazyan is coming off of two brutal losses against Derek Brunson and Jack Hermansson. The last one was especially troublesome as he seemed to quit while on the ground getting crushed by Hermansson. That fight should have been a TKO, but the referee let him take unnecessary punishment.
Imavov has out struck all of his opponents in the UFC and has never been knocked out. His loss to Phil Hawes in February was not due to his striking issues either. Imavov was taken down and controlled by Hawes in the second and third rounds. Shahbazyan does not possess any sort of wrestling background that would point to an ability to land consistent takedowns against Imavov.
No one has been able to knockout Imavov in his career and he looked significantly improved against Ian Heinisch in July. Most of Shahbazyan’s win condition is in the first round. If Imavov is still standing after the first round, he is an excellent live betting spot at any plus money price.
Imavov is a better grappler, with excellent defensive striking, and will tire Shahbazyan out in the clinch as the fight gets into the second and third rounds. I would bet Imavov’s moneyline at -115 on BetMGM and bet it up to -150.
The Pick: Nassourdine Imavov ML (-115)
Billy Ward: Gian Villante vs. Chris Barnett
Contributor at The Action Network
Chris Barnett made his UFC debut as a late replacement against Ben Rothwell back in May. He lost that bout by second-round guillotine (that he put himself in with a terrible shot.) Before being submitted, he was getting out-struck 72 to 34 by the 39-year old Rothwell.
Rothwell’s two rounds against Barnett were both among his best 10 rounds in the UFC in terms of strikes landed, even though the second round lasted barely two minutes (Rothwell has 39 UFC rounds in my database.)
My point to all of this is that Barnett is not a UFC-caliber fighter. His last pre-UFC fight came against a debuting professional. I’m fairly certain that the UFC offers last-minute replacement fighters a guaranteed (or near-guaranteed) second bout as an incentive to step up for these fights. That’s what we have with Villante this weekend.
Villante is no world-beater, going 7-10 in his UFC career with four of those wins being via knockout. With that said, he still has seven more UFC wins than Barnett likely ever will. Villante will almost surely be cut if he loses this bout, so the stakes are extra high for him.
This fight opened up — hilariously — as a pick‘em, with both men at -110. Sharp money has pushed the line down to -135 — which still has some value — but we’re going a different direction.
I don’t see many routes to Barnett making it to the distance here, if he doesn’t get knocked out, he’ll find his way into another submission, or maybe just run out of gas. (I’m not trying to body-shame here, but Barnett makes Roy Nelson look like Cheick Kongo.)
Villante to win by (T)KO/Submission/DQ is +240 at DraftKings and BetMGM.
The Pick: Gian Villante to win inside the Distance (+240)