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Updated UFC 271 Odds, Betting Picks Predictions, Projections: Betting Analysis for All 14 Fights

Updated UFC 271 Odds, Betting Picks Predictions, Projections: Betting Analysis for All 14 Fights article feature image
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Hans Gutknecht/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images. Pictured: A UFC championship belt.

  • Betting UFC 271 on Saturday night? Sean Zerillo has you covered with model projections and analysis on all 14 fights on the card, including Adesanya vs. Whittaker 2.
  • He's attacking a handful of moneylines, a few winning method props and plenty more.
  • Get all his analysis and betting picks for UFC 270 below.

On Saturday, the UFC returns to the Toyota Center in Houston with a 14-fight card for UFC 271, highlighted by a title fight in the Middleweight division.

The early prelims begin at 6 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass and ESPN+ before moving to ESPN at 8 p.m. ET. The five-fight PPV main card will commence at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+.

After examining all betting options, a typical UFC card can offer a substantial amount of actionable value. So, in addition to moneylines and over/unders, I’ll break down how I plan to bet every fight card, including exact winning methods, winning round props, and whether or not the match will go to a decision or finish inside the distance.

Fight times are approximate and subject to change. 

Click on a fight to skip ahead
14. William Knight vs. Maxim Grishin
6 p.m. ET
13. Jeremiah Wells vs. Blood Diamond
6:15 p.m. ET
12. Douglas Silva de Andrade vs. Sergey Morozov
6:30 p.m. ET
11. AJ Dobson vs. Jacob Malkoun
7 p.m. ET
10. Mana Martinez vs. Ronnie Lawrence
7:30 p.m. ET
9. Carlos Ulberg vs. Fabio Cherant
8 p.m. ET
8. Kyler Phillips vs. Marcelo Rojo
8:30 p.m. ET
7. Casey O’Neill vs. Roxanne Modafferi
9 p.m. ET
6. Andrei Arlovski vs. Jared Vanderaa
9:30 p.m. ET
5. Bobby Green vs. Nasrat Haqparast
10 p.m. ET
4. Kyler Phillips vs. Marcelo Rojo
10:30 p.m. ET
3. Jared Cannonier vs. Derek Brunson
11 p.m. ET
2. Derrick Lewis vs. Tai Tuivasa
11:30 p.m. ET
1. Israel Adesanya vs. Robert Whittaker
12:15 a.m. ET

UFC 271 Projected Odds

Below, you can find my fair odds moneyline projection for each of Saturday’s 15 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.

UFC 271 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.


UFC 271 Odds & Predictions

Odds as of Saturday at 1:30 p.m. ET and via DraftKings.

Early Preliminary Card

  • UFC 271
  • 6 p.m. ET

Maxim Grishin vs. William Knight

Heavyweight Bout Odds
Maxim Grishin Odds -165
William Knight Odds +145
Over/under rounds 2.5 (-130 / +100)

Crowdsourced Projections: Grishin (61.4%)

Knight missed weight by 12 pounds on Friday – and Grishin is taking 40% of Knight’s fight purse to move the bout from Light Heavyweight to Heavyweight.

This is an unprecedented set of circumstances – Knight took the bout on short notice (and he should have negotiated for a catchweight before signing the agreement), but he seemingly didn’t go through with his weight cut, while Grishin – who fought at Heavyweight in M-1 earlier in his career, made the 206-pound limit.

Knight is loaded with muscle despite his short stature, and I’m typically skeptical that he can make 205, to begin with – but this was the first miss of his career.

However, we rarely see fights play out when one fighter misses weight this badly, so while I was leaning heavily towards Grishin before Friday’s weigh-ins, I’m now closer to passing on this bout entirely.

Knight is still very raw as a prospect but has managed to go 3-1 in his short UFC tenure on raw strength. That said, those wins have overrated his current skill level.

I’m confident that Grishin (who out-struck Dustin Jacoby 66-57, with two knockdowns) will be the better striker at range. Still, his output is generally low, and the outcome of this fight could swing on two big power moments for Knight to swing rounds.

Grishin should also be the superior grappler, but Knight’s weight advantage may give him the upper hand when these two press up against the cage and start to reverse positions.

Moreover, Grishin may not have the cardio advantage here – since he was the one who cut weight – and against an opponent who is difficult to put away, that could prove the difference in the late stages of the fight.

I don’t project betting value on either side of this bout, and I only see slight value on the fight to go the distance (projected -120, listed -115), but not enough of an edge to make a play.

That said, Grishin by decision (projected +135, listed +165) and Knight by KO/TKO (projected +299, listed +300) are the bets showing value.

I will sprinkle Grishin’s decision prop, but this would have been a more significant play without Knight’s weight situation.

Bets

  • Maxim Grishin wins by Decision (+165, 0.25 units)

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Jeremiah Wells vs. Blood Diamond

Welterweight Bout Odds
Jeremiah Wells Odds -240
Blood Diamond Odds +195
Over/under rounds 1.5 (+125 / -155)

Crowdsourced Projections: Wells (72.5%)

This fight embodies the absolute circus that is MMA, with Mike Mathetha – a training partner of Israel Adesanya, who refers to himself in the third person as “Blood Diamond,” taking on Jeremiah Wells.

Wells has had two fights canceled against much more established competition (Jake Matthews, Tim Means) since his debut win in the UFC last June.

🇺🇸 Jeremiah Wells, welcome to the BIG show!

[ #UFCVegas30 | LIVE on @ESPNPlus ] pic.twitter.com/jagRwi7lyf

— UFC (@ufc) June 26, 2021

Blood Diamond is a former professional kickboxer (and two-time King in the Ring champion), but he has just three MMA fights (one since 2018), and it’s doubtful that he would be in the UFC if he didn’t train with Adesanya.

Wells is the much more well-rounded fighter, and the Renzo Gracie trained BJJ black belt – who works alongside fellow UFC fighters like Pat Sabatini, Sean Brady, and the retired Paul Felder, should have a massive advantage if this fight hits the mat.

This scrap should be very chaotic, with a high pace, and considering the limited MMA experience of one of the competitors, I anticipate a relatively quick finish on either side. Wells hasn’t been finished since his amateur debut in 2011, however.

I projected Wells as a -265 favorite, and I show slight value on his moneyline – which I would use as a parlay piece; his submission prop (projected +165, listed +175), or his odds to win inside the distance (projected -150, listed -140).

The Under 1.5 rounds is intriguing, but -150 is a steep price to pay at Welterweight when I would rather have the much more durable Wells looking to finish for the duration of the fight at the same price.

Bets

  • Jeremiah Wells wins Inside the Distance (-140, 0.5u)
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Sergey Morozov vs. Douglas Silva de Andrade

Bantamweight Bout Odds
Sergey Morozov Odds -210
Douglas Silva de Andrade Odds +175
Over/under rounds 2.5 (-200 / +160)

Crowdsourced Projections: Morozov (70.9%)

In terms of underdogs that you may want to consider backing, D’Silva checks some boxes as a nine-time UFC veteran who has faced top-level competition (Petr Yan, Rob Font, Chito Vera), with 21 finishes in 27 career victories. Still, he could get suffocated under the pace and wrestling pressure of Morozov, who presents a unique challenge for the 36-year-old Brazilian Bantamweight.

In his first UFC win last July, Morozov surprisingly out-struck Khalid Taha from a distance (33-30) while expectedly dominating the fight on the mat (landed six of 16 takedowns, 8:34 of control time), in a clear 30-27 decision.

Andrade has holes in his takedown defense (66% career) and has shown an unwillingness of late to scramble after being put on his back, as much as he had earlier in his career. Perhaps, at his age, Andrade is trying to conserve his gas tank rather than sapping his energy on explosive scrambles, which may be for naught.

Andrade is the better athlete, and he may have the more diverse striking game. Still, Morozov might be the bigger hitter, and he can weaponize his cardio against any fighter – particularly against a 36-year-old Bantamweight.

If he can keep this fight standing, Andrade has a chance to pull the upset. Still, I don’t think the striking exchanges will be as one-sided as some might expect, but I anticipate a lot of control time for Morozov.

I projected Morozov as a 71% favorite (-243 implied), and I would consider using his moneyline as a parlay piece. I also value the fight to go the distance (projected -191, listed -170) and Morozov to win by decision (projected +102, listed +140.

When I check all three of those value boxes, I typically take the fighter to win by decision and move on. You can bet that prop to +110

Bets

  • Sergey Morozov wins by Decision (+140, 0.5u)
  • Parlay (+150, 0.25u): Sergey Morozov (-210) & Bobby Green (-145)

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AJ Dobson vs. Jacob Malkoun

Middleweight Bout Odds
AJ Dobson Odds -115
Jacob Malkoun Odds -105
Over/under rounds 2.5 (+125 / -155)

Crowdsourced Projections: Dobson (50.6%)

Dobson’s fight on Contender Series looked like the effort of a man who knew he needed a finish to win a contract.

He hurt his opponent multiple times and relentlessly pursued a finish throughout the first round while looking completely reckless and as he would eventually gas out if he didn’t secure the stoppage.

But while Dobson fought like a

Typically, bettors look to fade fighters coming off of contender series – especially one like Dobson, who is 6-0 with five first-round finishes – but I have seen support for both sides of this fight since Dobson’s grappling and cardio are significant question marks – and Malkoun – who is Robert Whittaker’s jiu-jitsu coach – has had two drastically different performances in the UFC.

Malkoun ate one punch from Phil Hawes and folded in his debut – it looked like he might not be UFC caliber, and I was surprised that the promotion gave him another shot. The Aussie responded with a decision victory over Abdul Razzak Alhassan, where he secured eight takedowns (on 24 attempts) and held control for nearly 80% of the fight (11:41).

Since Dobson has finished five of his six fights in the opening frame and largely looked dominant in all of his outings, it’s challenging to assume how he might respond, either grappling off of his back or fighting into the later rounds.

He looks powerful, and unless he has no wrestling defense whatsoever, I could see Dobson putting Malkoun in trouble early – the Aussie’s striking is very limited, and Dobson can march straight through his power and walk him down.

However, if Dobson begins to gas out after the opening frame, or if he’s put on his back from the outset, he could get put into some dangerous positions.

Handicapping this fight involves a lot of speculation – and I’m not even confident in a Malkoun live bet if he survives the opening round; Dobson’s cardio is a complete unknown.

However, the debutant does have the Godfather of Grond and Pound – Mark Coleman – in his corner, and I would be severely surprised if Dobson has no counter-wrestling techniques to fall back on to keep this fight standing.

I’m more concerned that he may hurt Malkoun early and try to follow him to the ground, where he could get swept or caught in a submission.

I don’t show value on either side of the moneyline, on the total, or any winning method props for this fight – although Dobson wins inside the distance (projected +147, listed +130) would be my lean.

That said, with Dobson’s win condition likely weighted in Round 1, I’ll take a stab at his odds to win in Round 1 (+275), but skip the live bet on Malkoun unless Dobson is tiring.

Bets

  • A.J. Dobson wins in Round 1 (+275, 0.25u)

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Ronnie Lawrence vs. Mana Martinez

Bantamweight Bout Odds
Ronnie Lawrence Odds -300
Mana Martinez Odds +235
Over/under rounds 2.5 (-175 / +145)

Crowdsourced Projections: Lawrence (77.2%)

Lawrence is my favorite parlay piece on Saturday’s card. He has a similar fighting style as fellow Bantamweight Merab Dvalishvili, with the ability to drown his opponents with pace and cardio through his wrestling.

Martinez carries substantial power for the division. Although he was underwhelming in his UFC debut (under harsh circumstances after the passing of his coach), his contender series loss and regional tape are more concerning. Martinez doesn’t throw a ton of volume, doesn’t deal well with pressure, fades after the first round, and you can either keep him on his back or submit him after you take him down.

Lawrence doesn’t have excellent top control -and it isn’t easy to hold down 135ers for very long in general – but I don’t see Martinez having much success at getting back to his feet. The takedowns from Lawrence also come early and often (10.86 per 15 minutes, 76% accuracy through two appearances).

Ronnie Lawrence has an UNLIMITED gas tank ⛽️ #UFCVegas20 pic.twitter.com/9bkNqFJmjp

— UFC (@ufc) February 27, 2021

While Lawrence has some slight defensive concerns in the standup, Martinez’s win condition is limited to a knockout – and potentially in Round 1 – and he may not even have much time to do it before his shoulders are flat on the canvas.

Martinez by KO/TKO (+600) or to win in Round 1 (+1000) are worthy dart throws if you like the underdog in this fight – but I’m not interested in either wager.

Lawrence wins in Round 3 (+1200) is another potential dart throw – but I could also see Martinez getting submitted in any round if there is a chasm in grappling skill.

I project value on the Lawrence moneyline (projected -339, or 77.2%) and will use him to build parlays; however, I don’t show value on the total or any winning method props for this fight.

I would also add more live after Round 1, mainly if his price shortens.

Bets

  • Parlay (-118, 0.5u): Ronnie Lawrence (-300) & Carlos Ulberg (-260)
  • Parlay (-154, 0.5u): Ronnie Lawrence (-300) & Kyler Phillips (-420)
  • Ronnie Lawrence Live after Round 1


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Preliminary Card

  • 8 p.m. ET
  • ESPN

Carlos Ulberg vs. Fabio Cherant

Light Heavyweight Bout Odds
Carlos Ulberg Odds -265
Fabio Cherant Odds +215
Over/under rounds 1.5 (+100 / -130)

Crowdsourced Projections: Ulberg (73.9%)

Along with Blood Diamond, Ulberg is the other Adesanya teammate appearing on Saturday’s undercard. The handsome kickboxer suffered ran out of gas in his UFC debut while attempting to finish his opponent, landing 146 strikes (64% accuracy) in eight minutes against Kennedy Nzechukwu before eating a counter hook and falling midway through the second round.

Ulberg displayed excellent offensive acumen, but couldn’t overcome Kennedy’s durability, and he took his first career loss as a result.

It’s difficult to say that Ulberg has bad cardio — he emptied the tank trying to finish a wobbled opponent and couldn’t close the show. If he’s more reserved in this fight, he should have plenty of gas in the tank to fight for 15 minutes. Moreover, Cherant’s durability (and length) is nowhere near what Kennedy offered.

In his debut, Ulberg ceded an inch of height and six inches of reach. Against Cherant, he’ll possess a 3-inch advantage in both categories.

Ulberg is the far better striker, and he throws a ton of volume, so Cherant, who is not a wrestler, has a difficult path to winning minutes, and his path to victory is likely limited to a finish.

Ulberg tends to leave his head on the center line and I could see Cherant finishing him with a big shot, but the “Water Buffalo” may be better served trying to pull guillotine, or look for a takedown and try to kill the clock because he should get picked apart at range.

I project moneyline value on Ulberg (projected 74%, -283 implied), but I don’t show value on the total or any winning method props for this fight. That said, my initial read was Ulberg wins inside the distance (projected -145).

Ulberg to win in Round 1 (+175) might be the best plus-money play on this fight, but that price is likely too short considering the potential that he fights more conservatively after his most recent performance. I would need +200 or better to make that bet.

Bets

  • Use Carlos Ulberg as a Parlay Piece

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Kyler Phillips vs. Marcelo Rojo

Bantamweight Bout Odds
Kyler Phillips Odds -475
Marcelo Rojo Odds +350
Over/under rounds 2.5 (+145 / -175)

Crowdsourced Projections: Phillips (81.9%)

Rojo made a short-notice debut, up a weight class, against Charles Jourdain last March (closed +230) — and his Bantamweight debut against Kyler Phillips won’t be any easier.

One thing Rojo does have to go for him is size parity – both men are massive Bantamweights, and Phillips is more accustomed to having a reach advantage (3 inches against Raulian Paiva, 5 inches against Song Yadong, 1 inch against both Cameron Else and Gabriel Silva).

Rojo took it to Jourdain early and displayed some excellent offensive skills. He’s also extremely tough, and seems to hang around even when it looks like he’s about to go out. But he’s subpar defensively — both in terms of his striking and grappling — and he’ll have a much more difficult time getting hands-on Phillips than he did with Jourdain, who is happy to oblige in a war.

Phillips should be able to use his wrestling (3.2 takedowns per 15 minutes, 55% accuracy) to dictate where the fight takes place, but “The Matrix” is a bit of a showman who like to show off his flashy striking, and I doubt that he immediately takes Rojo down and looks for a submission, which would be his optimal game plan.

Phillips did gas out in his last fight against Paiva, but – like Carlos Ulberg – that was the product of a fighter hunting for a finish and being unable to finish the job; Phillips was more composed and his cardio help up well in the Yadong fight.

Kyler Phillips is going OFF in Round 1!! 😱 #UFCVegas32 pic.twitter.com/OWhwwotVZi

— UFC Canada (@UFC_CA) July 25, 2021

If Phillips is happy to oblige a standup battle, it opens a path to victory for Rojo; but if Phillips decides to don the wrestling singlet, he should be able to wear Rojo down, and eventually submit him.

I show slight value on Phillips’ moneyline (projected 81.9%, or -452 implied) and I would utilize him as a parlay piece.

However, I also show value on Phillips to win by submission (projected +388, listed +550 at FanDuel), and I’ll place a small wager on that prop; but his odds to win inside the distance (projected -135, listed -150) are a touch inflated given Rojo’s durability.

Bets

  • Kyler Phillips wins by Submission (+550, 0.25u)
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Casey O’Neill vs. Roxanne Modafferi

Women’s Flyweight Bout Odds
Casey O’Neill Odds -380
Roxanne Modafferi Odds +290
Over/under rounds 2.5 (-220 / +170)

Crowdsourced Projections: O’Neill (75.8%)

A living legend and women’s MMA pioneer Roxanne Modafferi will complete her career on Saturday, as the UFC hopes to use her final fight to build up “King” Casey, an undefeated Flyweight who is 3-0 (all by finish) since joining the promotion.

Modafferi has apparent advantages in overall experience and strength of schedule, and this is undoubtedly a step up in competition for O’Neill, relative to her previous opponents. That said, Modafferi also looks completely shopworn – reacting poorly to strikes, and absorbing more damage than she ever has before.

Still, Modafferi never relied on athleticism or durability to win striking battles; she is an adept grappler who can neutralize O’Neill’s strengths, reverse her in the clinch, and sweep from the bottom position if she gets taken down (25% accuracy).

Typically, Modafferi has to lumber forward on her opponents to close distance, clinch them, and drag them to the ground. However, unless O’Neill chooses to change her tactics, she should play right into Modafferi’s game plan and initiate those grappling exchanges for her.

While this is O’Neill’s first UFC fight outside of the APEX, I doubt the bigger cage makes much of a difference since she will look to fight in close quarters.

However, her record is a bit overrated – she was put in bad positions by both Antonina Shevchenko and Lara Procopio – who each won the first round in their respective fights before O’Neill rallied to victory.

Casey is a bit of a slow starter, and I could see Modafferi getting a takedown, holding position, and getting out to an early lead. Perhaps she rallies from behind yet again, but O’Neill is still very green as a fighter, and Modafferi will find and exploit whatever positional weaknesses that she has in the grappling realm.

It would be fitting if Modafferi rode off into the sunset, cashing another big underdog ticket – as she has done throughout her career – but I don’t see value on either side of the moneyline.

I do show slight value on the fight to end inside the distance (projected +142, listed +155) or on Modafferi to win by decision (projected +492, listed as high as +550), and I’ll take a slight poke at the latter; and ride with “The Happy Warrior” one last time.

I suppose you could also play both props and profit if O’Neill doesn’t win a decision.

Bets

  • Roxanne Modafferi wins by Decision (+550, 0.1u)

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Andrei Arlovski vs. Jared Vanderaa

Heavyweight Bout Odds
Andrei Arlovski Odds -150
Jared Vanderaa Odds +130
Over/under rounds 2.5 (-185 / +150)

Crowdsourced Projections: Arlovski (61.9%)

Speaking of living legends, Arlovski will make his 37th walk to the Octagon on Saturday for his 55th professional fight at age 43.

It seems inconceivable that a man who made his professional debut in 1999, his first octagon appearance at UFC 28, and who won the Heavyweight championship at UFC 51 could still be fighting at this level.

Still, Arlovski remains the perfect low-level gatekeeper — with sufficient movement, quickness, and volume — to test the bottom-of-barrel Heavyweights on the UFC roster.

That’s about where I rate Vanderaa, who I suspect will have a difficult time chasing down Arlovski without eating a ton of jabs and leg kicks. The veteran will stick and move constantly, and I’m not sure that Vanderaa has a game plan to counteract that, aside from bum-rushing the borderline senior citizen.

I doubt that Vanderaa can replicate his output from the Justin Tafa fight (121 significant strikes) against an opponent who won’t stand in front of him. His prior success has come through his grappling and ground and pound.

Still, Arlovski is likely the superior grappler (career 78% takedown defense), and I think that he’s the one who should shoot for takedowns (0.43 per 15 minutes for his career) if Vanderaa can close distance; Jared is a complete fish on his back.

Arlovski’s chin has seemingly made a comeback, but he can’t take too many clean shots at his advantaged age. That said, I’m not sure that Vanderaa has the power to put him away unless he gains top position — where any Heavyweight would be dangerous.

I show value on Arlovski’s moneyline (projected 62%, -162 implied), but I prefer his odds to win by decision (projected +116, listed +140), as I do in all of his fights at this stage of his career.

Bets

  • Andrei Arlovski wins by Decision (+140, 0.5u)


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Main Card

  • 10 p.m. ET
  • ESPN PPV

Bobby Green vs. Nasrat Haqparast

Lightweight Bout Odds
Bobby Green Odds -145
Nasrat Haqparast Odds +125
Over/under rounds 2.5 (-235 / +180)

Crowdsourced Projections: Green (61%)

Green – a veteran of 22 UFC and Strikeforce bouts – is as established and high-level of a fighter as any non-title-challenger who has graced the UFC octagon, and he has all of the skills to outclass the younger Haqparast in this fight – but he has some tendencies which make all of his fights appear closer than they are.

Green out-struck Rafael Fiziev – one of the most gifted strikers in the world, 143-104 in a unanimous decision loss – largely due to power optics, which has been an issue throughout Green’s career.

He’s not a potent finisher, and since 2017, Green is 4-5-1 on the scorecards, including a split loss, a split draw, and a loss to Thiago Moises where the majority of media members and fans scored the bout for Green (fans thought it was closer to 30-27 than 29-28 the other way.)

On metrics, Green won the striking battle in all but two of those bouts (tied 75-75 and trailed 104-93 in two fights), but how he reacts to clean shots from his opponents tends to leave a sour aftertaste with the cageside judges.

Moreover, he tends to leave a grappling path on the table to engage in standup fights, despite very underrated wrestling (career 1.45 takedowns per 15 minutes, 39% accuracy).

Green can have a close fight with any Lightweight on the roster, but that includes top-end talent and fighters who should be considered beneath his skill level.

I don’t rate Haqparast’s skillset too highly, particularly after Dan Hooker outclassed him. Aside from a quick movement and a strong left hand, I don’t see Haqparast posing many challenges for Green – and if Bobby can mix in some takedowns, he should win a unanimous decision.

That said, I do respect Haqparast’s first-level takedown defense (72%) – you can control him when you put him on his back, but it’s not so easy to get him there.

Both men are durable, so I expect this fight to see the scorecards – even if it’s a 15-minute boxing match – which makes me leery of betting Green on the moneyline.

I show value on Green (projected 61% or -157 implied) and his odds of winning by decision (projected +119, listed +180 at FanDuel).

Furthermore, I value the fight to go the distance (projected 73%, or -271 implied, listed -200).

Typically, when I show value on all three of those data points (fighter moneyline, a fighter by decision, fight to go the distance), I take the fighter by decision prop – which is my favorite way to play this fight.

The market is all over the place on the correct number – listed anywhere between +120 at DraftKings, and +180 at FanDuel – so make sure to shop around for the best number.

However, I may also add a parlay involving Green’s moneyline or the GTD prop.

Bets

  • Bobby Green wins by Decision (+180, 0.75u)

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Renato Moicano vs. Alexander Hernandez

Lightweight Bout Odds
Renato Moicano Odds -155
Alexander Hernandez Odds +135
Over/under rounds 2.5 (-110 / -120)

Crowdsourced Projections: Moicano (55.8%)

This Lightweight bout was elevated to the Main card on Friday – in place of Rojo vs. Phillips, which is sensible given the relative odds of those two bouts.

Hernandez remains one of the biggest enigmas on the UFC roster. He debuted with a win over Beneil Dariush (as a +336 underdog) but was rushed along too quickly and hasn’t been able to put his game back together since.

Alexander “The Great” is well-rounded. He carries considerable power in his right hand, offers a solid wrestling base, and can survive off of his back against Moicano, with a brown belt in jiu-jitsu. However, Hernandez hasn’t blended his skills or fulfilled his vast potential.

Hernandez serves much better as a hammer than a nail – recording seven first-round finishes. That said, the longer that his opponents hang around, the more his game seems to fall apart.

Skill for skill, Renato Moicano is the more talented fighter in this matchup. He’s a far more efficient striker (+1.69 to -0.03 strike differential; combined 112 to 95 efficiency rating) and the better grappler, with the takedown game (1.96 per 15 minutes, 60% accuracy) to put anyone on their back.

Still, I remain skeptical of Moicano’s durability at Lightweight (2-1, 1 KO loss), especially against a power-puncher who can counter-wrestle, like Hernandez.

And while Hernandez has the higher finishing upside, I’m comfortable that he also has the defensive tools – both on the feet and on the mat – to survive to see the scorecards – unless he finishes Moicano first.

I projected Hernandez as a 44.2% underdog in this fight (+126 implied), and I’m comfortable betting his moneyline at +130 or better – but it’s not a particularly strong play.

Hernandez wins inside the distance (projected +248, listed +250) is a fair price if you like the underdog, too – but I may prefer to bet his Round 1 odds, with seven Round 1 finishes (six in the first two minutes):

Alexander Hernandez adds to his highlight reel.#UFCVegas38
pic.twitter.com/j7X0QbAApj

— Alex Behunin (@AlexBehunin) October 2, 2021

If Moicano survives the initial onslaught, Hernandez might start to wilt – but that is no guarantee if “The Great” has finally leveled up.

Bets

  • Alexander Hernandez (+145, 0.4u)
  • Alexander Hernandez wins in Round 1 (+650, 0.1u)

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Jared Cannonier vs. Derek Brunson

Middleweight Bout Odds
Jared Cannonier Odds -165
Derek Brunson Odds +145
Over/under rounds 2.5 (-105 / -125)

Crowdsourced Projections: Cannonier (63.6%)

Saturday’s featured bout is a likely middleweight title eliminator unless Whittaker defeats Adesanya and the pair end up with a trilogy fight by the end of the year.

Adesanya, who hopes to clean out the entire middleweight division, is certainly pulling for fresh blood in Cannonier, a former heavyweight who seems to make 185 pounds with ease despite his impressive physique.

Adesanya defeated Brunson in the first round at UFC 230. Still, the 38-year-old is amid a late-career resurgence, entering Saturday on a five-fight winning streak (as an underdog in four of them) after losing to the current champion.

In hindsight, those wins haven’t aged particularly well. Elias Theodorou is no longer with the promotion, Ian Heinisch has gone 1-3 since losing to Brunson, Edmen Shahbazyan is 0-2, Kevin Holland is 0-1 (1 no contest) and Darren Till is still recovering from an ACL tear he sustained before the Brunson fight.

Aside from Heinisch’s win over Gerald Meerschaert, Brunson’s recent string of opponents are winless in the UFC since their matchups with him, despite continually leveling down in competition, and his dominant wrestling wins have most recently come against a one-legged Till (3-for-6), a defenseless Holland (6-for-12) and a busted prospect in Shahbazyan (4-for-8). Aside from Till (career 79% takedown defense), all opponents offer a career takedown defense rate below 60%.

I don’t want to take too much away from Brunson, who earned all of those wins and has looked fantastic since moving down to Sanford MMA, following the Adesanya loss. He’s made improvements to his game, mixing his striking and wrestling more coherently while improving his aggression from top position, but I still see flaws that opponents can exploit.

For one, he was in danger early against Shahbazyan before his young opponent gassed out. Brunson remains very hittable at range and leaves his chin up in the air when he closes the distance.

Moreover, he looked exhausted in the later rounds against Holland and in the third round against TIll. Brunson tires himself out even when he has success with his wrestling, and he tends to look exhausted when his opponents can scramble back to their feet.

Despite a big lead in the Holland fight, I didn’t feel safe with my Brunson ticket until the final bell. He looked like he could go out from one clean exchange.

The question is whether Brunson can wrestle Cannonier successfully for at least 10 minutes and survive the final frame. Relative to his recent opponents, this seems like a far more difficult task.

While Cannonier’s takedown defense (62% career) is in the same territory career-wise as Brunson’s recent opponents. He has defended 85% of takedown attempts since moving down to middleweight while making drastic improvements as an overall fighter.

I still expect Brunson to drag Cannonier to the mat early at least once or twice. However, Brunson’s recent opponents have largely accepted the bottom position and looked to get out of the round, where they could hope to catch Brunson standing since every round starts on the feet.

Conversely, Cannonier is very active from the bottom. Given his raw strength at this weight class — like Derrick Lewis at heavyweight — he can just stand up from the bottom position and chuck opponents off of him.

While Brunson carries a ton of power in his left hand, Cannonier is the far more efficient and diverse striker. His recent performances have been awe-inspiring, showing highly accurate striking (59% against Robert Whittaker) and the ability to attack all three levels while seamlessly switching stances.

And he carries as much power as any middleweight:

Cannonier’s cardio also stood out in his victory over Kelvin Gastelum. He fully settled into his middleweight frame and looked fresh in the championship rounds against an opponent who never goes away.

In this fight, I projected Jared Cannonier as a 63.6% favorite (-175 implied), and I’m happy to bet his moneyline up to that price. Given Brunson’s tendency to gas from wrestling, I would also look to bet Cannonier live after Round 1.

I don’t show value on the total or any winning method props for this fight. However, Cannonier to win inside the distance (projected +110, listed +110) is a fair price, and it’s difficult to imagine him winning clear minutes on the feet and not finishing the fight.

Cannonier wins in Round 1 (boosted to +300 at Caesars) could also be worth a poke.

Bets

  • Jared Cannonier (-160, 1u)
  • Jared Cannonier Live after Round 1
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Derrick Lewis vs. Tai Tuivasa

Heavyweight Bout Odds
Derrick Lewis Odds -190
Tai Tuivasa Odds +160
Over/under rounds 1.5 (+130 / -160)

Crowdsourced Projections: Lewis (62.7%)

Saturday’s co-main event is one of the most enticing non-title Heavyweight fights in UFC history, with a pair of vicious brawlers and fan favorites going head to head in Lewis’s hometown of Houston.

Following his loss (also in Houston) to Ciryl Gane last August, Lewis was far more aggressive in his recent main event matchup with Chris Daukaus, recording a first-round finish for the first time since 2016. Despite his power, the UFC’s all-time knockout king isn’t necessarily an under machine – because he tends to sit back and wait for his opponents to make a mistake.

Half of Lewis’s 24 UFC fights have gone past the 7.5-minute mark.

There is certainly a chance that Tuivasa looks to stand at range and blast Lewis repeatedly with low kicks, but it seems inevitable that these two end up swinging in the pocket relatively early.

While most opponents are hesitant against Lewis – and tend to get into staring contests because of his power – Tuivasa rarely commits to a gameplan for a lengthy period of time, and his killer instinct is turned up to an 11 – so he tends to overcommit to exchanges when he feels like he has an advantage, even if that leaves him open to big counters.

Lewis is the larger man (4″ reach advantage), and though I doubt either man tries to grapple, he likely has the strength and wrestling advantage too, which justifies his status favoritism.

Lewis takes a lot of flak for his lack of MMA skills, but he is still adding to his toolbelt – firing an accurate roundhouse kick, and looking for a trip takedown in his last fight, before finishing the proceedings with a collar tie:

Derrick Lewis is clever. He noticed Daukaus was moving & far away. Very hard to land on. He tries a kick that looks like a joke, but isn't: the jumping roundhouse. It pushes Daukaus to fenceline, which makes him tall and hittable.

Lewis tried inside trip later to do same thing. pic.twitter.com/N9zQwBz5au

— Luke Thomas (@lthomasnews) December 20, 2021

But the difference in his aggression was key to the outcome – Lewis’s coaches encouraged him to pursue his opponent, rather than putting his back to the cage, losing minutes, and allowing his opponent to find a rhythm, and that aggression produced a violent finish.

As a result, I wouldn’t expect to watch Lewis stand back and let Tuivasa kick his leg apart, but to launch forward at one of those naked kick attempts and try to catch the Aussie clean or at least back him up to the fence.

If Lewis comes forward and Tai refuses to back up, one of these Heavyweights will fall.

However, “Bam Bam” likely needs to work the legs and body if he wants to put Lewis down, whereas “The Black Beast” is much likelier to end this fight with one punch.

Given the matchup, and the placement on this card, I would assume both men understand what is on the line – and that a 15-minute staring contest would not be well-received by fans or UFC brass.

This is a clear step up in competition for Tuivasa, coming off of four-consecutive early stoppages, and he has a chance to push his way into the title picture with the biggest win of his career.

Given the success that both men have had with their aggression, of late, I suspect that we see the most violent possible version of this fight.

While I don’t show value on either side of the moneyline or any prop bets for this fight, I projected this bout to end inside the distance 83% of the time (-493 implied), and I bet the Under 1.5 Rounds at -165.

Depending on the book, I either gained (as high as -200) or lost (as low as -155) CLV on that wager to this point. And while I normally look to take the Over 1.5 in Heavyweight fights, both men are coming in full of confidence and with an aggressive mindset.

I would bet the Under 1.5 to -186 (65% implied), but I wouldn’t go past that juicy price tag.

Bets

  • Under 1.5 Rounds (-165, 0.5u)

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Israel Adesanya vs. Robert Whittaker

Middleweight Bout Odds
Israel Adesanya Odds -280
Robert Whittaker Odds +225
Over/under rounds 4.5 (-135 / +105)

Crowdsourced Projections: Adesanya (68.1%)

For additional information, including a full stat package for Saturday’s main event, make sure to check out my full fight preview.

In short, Adesanya is the taller man (four inches) and possesses a seven-inch reach advantage, proving detrimental for Whittaker as the former champion enters or exits exchanges. Moreover, that length translates to Adesanya’s legs, where he excels at managing distance and kicking his opponents at all three levels (legs, body, head).

Whittaker never tried to grapple in the first fight – and I expect to see a different approach from “The Reaper” this time. He is a striker who needs to win his title back by out-grappling the champion. Although he has only landed 0.64 takedowns per 15 minutes in the UFC (34% accuracy), he has attempted 22 takedowns in his past three fights (1.4 landed per 15 minutes, 27% accuracy) while also out-striking each of his opponents.

I bet against Adesanya – and on Marvin Vettori  – in his last title defense – assuming that Adesanya hadn’t faced a grappling/wrestling test of that caliber at Middleweight in some time. Still, he mostly passed the test (denied 10 of 14 takedowns, spent 6:55, or 28% of the fight in control positions), coming off of his loss to Jan Blachowicz.

Adesanya’s first-level takedown defense (80% career) is underrated – and I think that Vettori (2.04 takedowns per 15 minutes, 45% accuracy) presented a more challenging grappling test than Whittaker will on Saturday night.

And while Whittaker may be able to force this fight to the mat a few times, I doubt that he can keep Adesanya there for an extended period – or do significant damage from top position without allowing his opponent to scramble away.

He doesn’t need to have a ton of wrestling success to justify his price tag. Still, if he can secure takedowns and keep the champ honest, it should also create openings in the striking exchanges – as Izzy’s hands drop to defend potential level changes.

I projected Israel Adesanya as a 68.1% favorite (-213 implied) for Saturday’s fight, and I expect the bout to go the distance 57% of the time (-130 implied).

As a result, I show slight value on the underdog and the over. However, Whittaker’s approach to this fight influences both of those outcomes.

Moreover, I show slight betting value on Whittaker to win by decision (projected +422), and I would consider playing that prop at +450 or better (+500 at FanDuel).

If this fight does hit the scorecards, it should be close enough that you’ll feel confident you were on the right side of the betting line with a Whittaker ticket.

And If I bet this fight, I will likely stay between a quarter to a half unit on the Whittaker moneyline or a tenth to a quarter unit on Whittaker’s decision prop.

Bets

  • Robert Whittaker wins by Decision (+500, 0.2u)

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Zerillo’s UFC 271 Bets

Distance or Decision Props and Overs

  • Maxim Grishin wins by Decision (+165, 0.25 units)
  • Sergey Morozov wins by Decision (+140, 0.5u)
  • Roxanne Modafferi wins by Decision (+550, 0.1u)
  • Andrei Arlovski wins by Decision (+140, 0.5u)
  • Bobby Green wins by Decision (+180, 0.75u)
  • Robert Whittaker wins by Decision (+500, 0.2u)

Inside the Distance Props and Unders

  • Jeremiah Wells wins Inside the Distance (-140, 0.5u)
  • A.J. Dobson wins in Round 1 (+275, 0.25u)
  • Kyler Phillips wins by Submission (+550, 0.25u)
  • Alexander Hernandez wins in Round 1 (+650, 0.1u)
  • Lewis vs. Tuivasa, Under 1.5 Rounds (-165, 0.5u)

Moneylines

  • Alexander Hernandez (+145, 0.4u)
  • Jared Cannonier (-160, 1u)

Parlays

  • Parlay (+150, 0.25u): Sergey Morozov (-210) & Bobby Green (-145)
  • Parlay (-118, 0.5u): Ronnie Lawrence (-300) & Carlos Ulberg (-260)
  • Parlay (-154, 0.5u): Ronnie Lawrence (-300) & Kyler Phillips (-420)

Live Betting Notes

  • Ronnie Lawrence Live after Round 1
  • Jared Cannonier Live after Round 1

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

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