UFC 278 Odds, Picks, Projections: Our Best Bets for Aldo vs. Dvalishvili, Tybura vs. Romanov, Lacerda vs. Altamirano (August 20)

UFC 278 Odds, Picks, Projections: Our Best Bets for Aldo vs. Dvalishvili, Tybura vs. Romanov, Lacerda vs. Altamirano (August 20) article feature image

Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC bantamweight Jose Aldo

UFC 278 takes place Saturday in Salt Lake City with a welterweight title fight atop the 12-fight card.

The event features a headliner and rematch between welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and challenger Leon Edwards. Before that title fight, the early preliminary card streams on ESPN+ (6:30 p.m. ET), and ESPN carries the regular prelims (8 p.m. ET). The pay-per-view main card then follows (10 p.m. ET).

So where should you be looking to place your bets for the event? 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 plus Sean Zerillo's projections below using odds from BetMGM.

Moneyline Projections

Prop Projections

Dann Stupp: Jose Aldo vs. Merab Dvalishvili

Senior Editor at The Action Network

OK, here we go.

I am making this pick with my head, not my heart. I am making this pick with my head, not my heart. I am making this pick …

OK, those reassurances were as much for me as they were for you. After all, very rarely do my "favorite bets" line up perfectly with my "favorite fighters."

But this time around, I'm liking a Jose Aldo bet as much as I'm liking "Scarface" himself. He's been a bright spot during my 16 years of covering MMA. He's also the consummate pro. There are lots of reasons he's your favorite fighter's favorite fighter, including his in-cage theatrics.

Aldo ( 31-7), who's the former longtime emperor of the featherweight division, meets fellow bantamweight Merab Dvalishvili (14-4) on UFC 278's pay-per-view main card. For 35-year-old Aldo, it's an opportunity to score a fourth consecutive win as part of his once-unlikely career resurgence at 135 pounds.

Not only is it a good opportunity to take out the No. 6-ranked contender Dvalishvili, but it's also a solid stylistic matchup for the No. 3-ranked Aldo. The Brazilian, who will have a small height and reach advantage, should get the better of the standup, especially with his crippling leg kicks and jarring body blows.

Plus, should the takedown-minded Dvalishvili force the fight to the mat, Aldo is no slouch there. Dvalishvili is relentless, but he often struggles to keep opponents on the mat after securing a takedown. Aldo is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt with an effective get-up game and enough veteran savvy to escape all sorts of trouble. And he can make Dvalishvili pay for even trying for a takedown in the first place.

With Aldo a small underdog at most sportsbooks, I'll happily take plus-money on the ex-champ to beat his Serra-Longo counterpart. As my head and my heart hopefully align for a winning bet, I'd take Aldo down to +100.

The Pick: Jose Aldo (+120 at DraftKings)

Billy Ward: Daniel Lacerda vs. Victor Altamirano

Staff Writer at The Action Network

Daniel Lacerda and Victor Altamirano open the UFC 278 festivities with a flyweight matchup on Saturday. This is the rare flyweight bout with plus-money odds to go to a decision. Not just plus-money, but all the way up at +205.

The flyweight overall finish rate is 57%, which implies odds of -132. That alone provides an edge in this one, but there are other factors at play, as well.

UFC 278 takes place in Salt Lake City, which is more than 4,000 feet above sea level. The thinner air will obviously have an impact on fighters' cardio. My intuition is that with larger fighters, one or both tiring out will increase the finish rate. However, smaller fighters tend to pick up finishes, especially (T)KOs through volume, not by one or two big shots. That lowers their ability to end the fight as this one wears on since they have less capability of striking with the needed volume.

Beyond that, Altamirano (10-2) is a fairly moderate favorite, and he’s secured half of his professional wins – against sub-UFC-level competition – by decision. While Lacerda (11-3) has been finished twice in the UFC, this is arguably a step down in competition for him.

Ultimately, though, getting these odds on flyweights to last 15 minutes is enough for me. I’d bet this one all the way down to +150.

The Pick: Daniel Lacerda vs. Victor Altamirano Goes to Decision (+205 at FanDuel)

Sean Zerillo: Marcin Tybura vs. Alexander Romanov

Staff Writer at The Action Network

Marcin Tybura is my favorite underdog play on Saturday's card and one of my favorites overall.

The Polish heavyweight is the taller, longer, and heavier fighter with apparent advantages in striking and cardio. Moreover, he's faced a far more difficult slate of opponents than Romanov to this point in their respective careers.

Additionally, while Romanov may get takedowns early in this fight, Tybura is skilled at staying safe and working up off his back. If he can extend the fight and get Romanov to deep waters, he should take over the second and third rounds at a high clip.

To justify Romanov's steep price tag, one would assume that he needs to run through Tybura on the mat. And I don't see that happening in this fight.

Romanov has essentially faced low-level grapplers in the UFC's heavyweight division. Tybura presents a far stiffer test. And the only time Romanov went deep into a fight – seeing the third round against Juan Espino – he quit after a cup check.

I expect a close and competitive affair in which Tybura has more success increasingly down the stretch.

The Pick: Marcin Tybura (+300 at Caesars)

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