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UFC 279 Odds, Picks & Model Predictions: Betting Analysis & Previews for Each of Saturday’s 13 Fights

UFC 279 Odds, Picks & Model Predictions: Betting Analysis & Previews for Each of Saturday’s 13 Fights article feature image
Credit:

Amy Kaplan/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: UFC welterweights Nate Diaz and Tony Ferguson

  • Sean Zerillo previews and provides projections for every fight from Saturday's UFC 279 event.
  • The 13-bout card airs on pay-per-view from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
  • Check out his betting card and other leans for the event below.

The UFC returns to the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday with a 13-fight card on Saturday for UFC 279, highlighted by a non-title bout between fan favorites Tony Ferguson and Nate Diaz.

The preliminary card begins at 6 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass and ESPN+ before moving to ESPNNews at 8 p.m. ET. The five-fight PPV main card will commence at 10 p.m. ET via 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 on the 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. All times ET.

Click on a fight to skip ahead
13. Darian Weeks vs. Yohan Lainesse
6 p.m. ET
12. Melissa Martinez vs. Elise Reed
6:30 p.m. ET
11. Chad Anheliger vs. Alateng Heili
7 p.m. ET
10. Norma Dumont vs. Danyelle Wolf
7:30 p.m. ET
9. Jake Collier vs. Chris Barnett
8 p.m. ET
8. Denis Tiuliulin vs. Jamie Pickett
8:30 p.m. ET
7. Jailton Almeida vs. Anton Turkalj
9 p.m. ET
6. Hakeem Dawodu vs. Julian Erosa
9:30 p.m. ET
5. Johnny Walker vs. Ion Cutelaba
10 p.m. ET
4. Irene Aldana vs. Macy Chiasson
10:30 p.m. ET
3. Li Jingliang vs. Daniel Rodriguez
11 p.m. ET
2. Kevin Holland vs. Khamzat Chimaev
11:30 p.m. ET
1. Nate Diaz vs. Tony Ferguson
Midnight ET

UFC 279 Projected Odds

Below, you can find my fair odds moneyline projection for each of Saturday’s 13 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 Saturday morning and via DraftKings.

UFC 279 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.

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UFC 279 Odds

Darian Weeks vs. Yohan Lainesse

Welterweight Bout Odds
Darian Weeks Odds -120
Yohan Lainesse Odds +100
Over/under rounds 2.5 (+120 / -150)

Crowdsourced Projections: Darian Weeks (53.3%)

While Weeks is favored in Saturday’s opener, Lainesse should win the first round at a fairly consistent clip. The Canadian is the larger man (2 inches taller, four-inch reach advantage) and hits substantially harder.

Still, Lainesse tends to gas out fairly quickly in his fights. He puts every ounce of energy behind each technique and generally has about five to seven minutes to find a finish before his effectiveness wanes.

While I would expect Weeks to take over in the fight’s second half, it’s no guarantee. The American is 0-2 on the scorecards in his professional career and went 7-3 in decisions as an amateur (three-minute rounds). He’s not accustomed to fighting past the 10-minute mark.

Surprisingly, Lainesse is 2-0 on decisions in his pro-MMA career.

While I’ll look to live bet Weeks after Round 1, it’s not a spot that I’m particularly enthusiastic about betting. Still, I’m reasonably confident that Lainesse will begin to fade after the opening frame when Weeks should be able to work his way back into the fight.

I don’t see value on either side of the moneyline or the total from a pre-fight perspective. While I lean to the under, or the fight to end inside the distance (projected -183, listed -186), the price aligns with expectations.

And Lainesse by KO/TKO (projected +257, listed +255) – which seems like the vast majority of his win condition – is merely a break-even price.

Weeks to win in Round 2 (+800) or Round 3 (+1200) are some worthy dart throws, considering the dynamics of the matchup. Aside from those longshot round props, or a play on Weeks Live after Round 1, I’m happy to lay off this matchup.

Bets

  • Darian Weeks wins in Round 2 (+800, 0.05 units at MGM)
  • Darian Weeks wins in Round 3 (+1200, 0.05u at MGM)
  • Darian Weeks Live after Round 1

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Melissa Martinez vs. Elise Reed

Women’s Strawweight Bout Odds
Melissa Martinez Odds -175
Elise Reed Odds +150
Over/under rounds 2.5 (-250 / +200)

Crowdsourced Projections: Melissa Martinez (60.6%)

Undefeated 25-year-old Martinez is making her promotional debut nearly three years since her last fight (December 2019). It’s not only possible – but highly likely – that Martinez has made significant improvements since her last appearance, which came with Combate Americas.

As a result, it’s impossible to assess her current skill level since she may have leveled up her grappling – previously a weak spot in her game – in the past two-and-a-half years.

Similarly, Reed prefers to strike rather than grapple. However, she’s already 29 years old and looks like a fish on the ground in her three UFC bouts. It’s doubtful that Reed has substantially improved since we saw her in May.

And as a result, Martinez has more upside in this matchup because her current skill level is entirely unknown.

While I don’t see value on either side of the moneyline or total, I do show slight value on Reed to win by decision (projected +217, listed +240).

However, I’m not particularly enthusiastic about betting her in a striker vs. striker match against a southpaw with a three-inch reach advantage and a potential grappling advantage.

This matchup is a solid spot to pass and gather more information on Martinez.

Bets

  • Pass

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Chad Anheliger vs. Alateng Heili

Bantamweight Bout Odds
Chad Anheliger Odds +145
Alateng Heili Odds -170
Over/under rounds 2.5 (-175 / +140)

Crowdsourced Projections: Alateng Heili (62.9%).

Heili has the tools to win this matchup and cover his moneyline price. Anheliger offers minimal resistance to takedowns (51%), and Heili is a better wrestler than a striker (1.73 takedowns per 15 minutes, 33% accuracy).

Still, the Fight Ready MMA product is far too content to engage in low-volume kickboxing matchups, which narrows the margins significantly, particularly against a striker such as Anheliger, who will push a faster pace and rack up more volume.

Heili carries more power and should land the most damaging shots in each round. And if he mixes in takedowns, that should be enough to secure rounds in his favor. While Anheliger may chip away with volume, Heili should have the more impactful moments in the fight.

First fight of the night lasted 45 seconds thanks to Heili Alateng. 👀#UFCVegas51pic.twitter.com/iJPmgW16iJ

— MMA Junkie (@MMAJunkie) April 16, 2022

However, Anheliger may have the cardio advantage, which likely tips the third round in his favor. And I’m not particularly inclined to lay juice on Heili if he’s 1) unreliable to shoot takedowns, 2) likely to fall behind on volume, and 3) probably going to fade in the third round.

I show slight value on Heili’s moneyline (projected -169, listed -165 at Caesars). However, I’d need something closer to -155 to consider a bet on his side.

And I show slight value on the Over. I projected this bout to go the distance 62% of the time (-162 implied) relative to listed odds around -150 (Draftkings).

As a result, Heili by decision (projected +165, listed +180 at DraftKings) provides a similar edge.

For now, I’m going to bet the distance prop, and we’ll wait to see if a better moneyline price pops up for Alateng closer to fight time.

Bets

  • Fight goes to Decision (-150, Risk 0.5u at DraftKings)


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Norma Dumont vs. Danyelle Wolf

Women’s Featherweight Bout Odds
Norma Dumont Odds -380
Danyelle Wolf Odds +310
Over/under rounds 2.5 (-205 / +165)

Crowdsourced Projections: Norma Dumont (78.4%)

Wolf – a decorated amateur boxing champion – has minimal MMA experience: one win at a Dana White’s Contender Series event in 2020. She’s 38 years old, and her current skill level – besides her boxing – is a complete mystery.

While Wolf should succeed both at distance (three-inch reach advantage) and in the pocket against Dumont, her ground game is likely highly underdeveloped, and her opponent may only need one takedown to finish the fight.

Dumont isn’t much of a finisher, but she does carry fairly significant power and has strong top pressure. Unfortunately, she’s not always reliable to wrestle (2.2 takedown attempts per 15 minutes), and she’s a relatively low-volume striker.

Dumont must pursue the grappling and look for a finish on the mat to justify her steep pricetag.

While I don’t see value in either side of the moneyline or the total, Dumont to win by submission (projected +325, listed +420 at FanDuel) will make my card.

And depending upon the price, I would also bet Dumont to win Inside the Distance (projected +220, listed +240 at FanDuel) since a positional TKO is a likely possibility.

Bets

  • Norma Dumont wins Inside the Distance (+240, 0.25u at FanDuel)
  • Norma Dumont wins by Submission (+420, 0.1u at FanDuel)

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Jake Collier vs. Chris Barnett

Heavyweight Bout Odds
Jake Collier Odds -450
Chris Barnett Odds +360
Over/under rounds 2.5 (+100 / -130)

Crowdsourced Projections: Jake Collier (77.7%)

Barnett missed weight on Friday, coming in 1.5 pounds over the heavyweight limit, making him the second heavyweight in UFC history to miss weight.

Neither Collier nor Barnett has a heavyweight frame. Still, Collier is the much bigger man in this matchup (4 inches taller, three-inch reach advantage), and he seemingly has Barnett covered skill for skill.

Moreover, Collier fights at a higher pace (+2.07 strikes landed per minute) and has substantially superior cardio. Barnett tends to wilt halfway through his fights, and his conditioning won’t improve for Saturday, considering the weight miss.

Aside from landing a stunning knockout – as he did against Gian Villante – it’s challenging to envision Barnett winning this fight.

Chris Barnett fight week!! #UFC279 pic.twitter.com/2Aadntp8uL

— Pure Finishes (@PureKnockouts) September 4, 2022

Collier should control the minute-winning with relative ease and seemingly has a substantial grappling advantage if the fight hits the mat. Collier has looked to wrestle more in his recent matchups against heavyweights, which is an encouraging sign for his Fight IQ.

While I don’t see value on either side of the moneyline or the total for this matchup, Collier to win by submission (projected +544, listed +700 at FanDuel) is one of my favorite prop bets on Saturday.

If he pursues takedowns, Collier may cut right through Barnett, as he did with Chase Sherman.

Bets

  • Jake Collier wins by Submission (+700, 0.15 at FanDuel)

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Denis Tiuliulin vs. Jamie Pickett

Middleweight Bout Odds
Denis Tiuliulin Odds +115
Jamie Pickett Odds -135
Over/under rounds 2.5 (-140 / +110)

Crowdsourced Projections: Denis Tiuliulin (51.8%)

Tiuliulin is my favorite underdog bet on Saturday’s card. Despite a three-inch reach discrepancy, he should be the superior striker in a matchup with Jamie Pickett, who doesn’t make the most of his physical gifts.

Pickett wins fights by controlling his opponents against the cage for long stretches, stalling, and wearing them down until he can generate a takedown. While Tiuliulin has struggled with grapplers throughout his career, he looked competent in his matchup with a high-level prospect in his UFC debut. Pickett likely represents a significant step down in competition.

Moreover, Pickett’s control-oriented style has become less effective as judges prioritize damage over control. I expect Tiuliulin to win minutes anytime these fighters are in the center of the octagon and to land the most impactful strike of each round.

While Tiuliulin may get held against the fence for 80% of the fight, he still may land the biggest strike in each round and swing the judges in his favor.

And if he can deny those clinch positions and keep this fight at a distance, he may look like a hindsight favorite.

Pickett likely needs to win a close decision while Tiuliulin seemingly possesses the significant upside in this fight, and I give him more finishing equity too.

I projected Tiuliulin as a slight favorite in this matchup, and I would bet his moneyline at any plus-money price. Moreover, I show value in his knockout prop (projected +286, listed +380 at FanDuel), which could be worth a poke.

However, I don’t see value on either side of the total.

Bets

  • Denis Tiuliulin (+115, 0.5u at Caesars)


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Jailton Almeida vs. Anton Turkalj

220-pound Catchweight Bout Odds
Jailton Almeida Odds -600
Anton Turkalj Odds +450
Over/under rounds 1.5 (+130 / -160)

Crowdsourced Projections: Jailton Almeida (84.5%)

Almeida has had nearly as dominant a run under the UFC banner as Khamzat Chimaev, with a quarter of the hype.

The Brazilian has recorded a trio of finishes while shutting out two of his opponents (zero significant strikes absorbed in his last two fights while displaying phenomenal grappling pressure). And he looks every bit the part of a future title contender.

Most recently, Almeida moved up to heavyweight and walked right through Parker Porter, despite a 40-pound weight discrepancy.

Jailton Almeida RNCs Parker Porter (5/21/22) pic.twitter.com/QkK0zzryrD

— Granby Roll (@ChillemDa4) May 23, 2022

Almeida expected to remain at heavyweight – to stay active – and was set to face Shamil Abdurakhimov on Saturday. But he will fight a short-notice replacement in Anton Turkalj, a light heavyweight, at 220 pounds. The latter won a relatively uninspiring decision on Contender Series in July.

Turkalj prefers to grapple and may be out of his depth against a stronger athlete in Almeida. And the Brazilian certainly possesses the striking advantage if this fight stays on the feet.

While I don’t see value on either side of the moneyline or the total for this matchup, I like Almeida by KO/TKO (projected +295, listed +350 at BetRivers) for the winning method.

I projected Almeida’s inside the distance prop at -254, and you would need a number closer to that figure to consider playing his finish prop.

The knockout prop offers significantly more value; Almeida should have a severe striking advantage, and he can undoubtedly land some vicious hammer fists on his grappling-oriented opponent.

Bets

  • Jailton Almeida wins by KO/TKO (+350, 0.15u at BetRivers)

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Hakeem Dawodu vs. Julian Erosa

Featherweight Bout Odds
Hakeem Dawodu Odds -210
Julian Erosa Odds +180
Over/under rounds 2.5 (-125 / -105)

Crowdsourced Projections: Hakeem Dawodu (64.8%)

Saturday’s featured prelim is my pick for Fight of the Night.

Dawodu missed weight by 3.5 pounds on Friday, and if a challenging weight cut affects his already suspect gas tank, he could be in for a long night against Erosa, who’s one of the best action fighters on the UFC roster.

Erosa keeps a manic pace (13.1 significant strike attempts per minute) and goes to war with his opponents. He can also change levels and mix in some grappling (3.25 takedowns per 15 minutes, 52% accuracy) and look to snatch submissions in scrambles.

Erosa is a bit of a glass cannon, however. He’s exceptionally hittable (48% striking defense) and not remarkably durable either, but he certainly has that junkyard-dog mentality.

And while Dawodu has never been knocked out, he has been wobbled by multiple UFC opponents. While he may possess the power advantage, Erosa has superior cardio, and he may take over this fight late if Dawodu slows from a hectic pace.

Dawodu is the more measured and technical fighter, but Erosa rarely allows his opponents to settle into a comfortable rhythm. Typically, his fights are utter chaos.

While I lean slightly toward Erosa on the moneyline, I would need +200 or better to play his side.

I was surprised, however, to find the Under 2.5 rounds at plus money. I projected the fight to end inside the distance 54% of the time (-116 implied) and would bet that prop at +104 at FanDuel.

In the winning method market, either Dawodu by KO/TKO (projected +243, listed +270 at FanDuel) or Erosa Inside the Distance (projected +374, listed +390 at FanDuel) is a recommended play, depending upon the book.

While I prefer the Under or Ends ITD prop, I’ll also take a small poke at Juicy J’s finish prop.

Bets

  • Fight Ends Inside the Distance (+104, 0.5u at Fanduel)
  • Julian Erosa wins Inside the Distance (+390, 0.1u at Fanduel)

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Johnny Walker vs. Ion Cutelaba

Light Heavyweight Bout Odds
Johnny Walker Odds +175
Ion Cutelaba Odds -205
Over/under rounds 1.5 (+125 / -155)

Crowdsourced Projections: Ion Cutelaba (68.9%)

Speaking of action fighters, Ion Cutelaba and Johnny Walker will square off in the main-card opener.

Cutelaba seems like a better fighter than his recent 1-3-1 record in the promotion would suggest. And he seemingly possesses a significant wrestling advantage (7.6 takedown attempts per 15 minutes, 62% accuracy) over Walker (62% takedown defense), a rangy striker who owns a seven-inch reach advantage in this fight.

Cutelaba is extraordinarily reckless and tends to fight at an unsustainable pace. His high-effort style wears on himself more than on his opponents, and his effectiveness often wanes after his bouts’ first five to seven minutes.

Walker’s chin is a significant concern. The Brazilian sustained a brutal knockout against Jamahal Hill in February – the fourth of his career – and it now seems like he can fold on any clean exchange.

Johnny Walker fight week pic.twitter.com/pupmKuU9GV

— TB (@Bfalase) September 5, 2022

I expect Cutelaba to look to grapple from the outset, where he can put Walker in bad positions and finish the fight with ground and pound. Suppose he’s unable to land the takedowns. In that case, however, Cutelaba could exhaust himself and eventually get caught in space, trying to fire his looping hooks and overhands against Walker’s long straight punches.

I project value both on Cutelaba’s moneyline and the Under. And as a result, I also show value on Cutelaba to win inside the distance (projected -141, listed -115 at BetMGM).

While I have no issue playing his moneyline at -202 or better – at a 2% edge compared to my projection (-221 implied), I see a more significant edge (closer to 5%) on his finish prop.

And I’ll combine that wager with the Under 1.5 rounds, just in case Walker bonks him.

Bets

  • Ion Cutelaba wins Inside the Distance (-115, 0.5u at BetMGM)
  • Under 1.5 Rounds (-150, 0.5u at BetMGM)


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Irene Aldana vs. Macy Chiasson

Women’s Catchweight Bout Odds
Irene Aldana Odds -175
Macy Chiasson Odds +150
Over/under rounds 2.5 (-205 / +165)

Crowdsourced Projections: Irene Aldana (66.7%)

Aldana will be the smaller fighter in the cage against Chiasson, who is two inches taller, with a four-inch reach advantage.

While Chiasson is the longer fighter, she’s better at using her long limbs to tie opponents up in the clinch rather than making the most of her reach in striking range.

Adana is the far more technical fighter and the much cleaner striker. Chiasson may need to land takedowns from the clinch to win (5.9 attempts per 15 minutes, 33% accuracy).

While Aldana has strong takedown defense (84% career), she could get bullied against the fence by a larger opponent, and I’m moderately concerned that she will struggle to get her back off the cage.

Still, Aldana should have severe cardio, speed, and volume advantages, and I expect her to land more damage on the feet.

Aldana knows Kunitskaya is going to respond to everything by rushing in. She feints the right in order to load up the left. That draws out Kunitskaya's guard, and then Irene walks her into a peach of a left hook. Love it pic.twitter.com/gt6RMZG2r7

— King Typo (@BoxingBusch) July 12, 2021

If Chiasson can’t keep Aldana against the fence – or land takedowns – she may have difficulty keeping up with her opponent’s speed and technique. Still, she is reliable to grapple, and I expect her to fight an optimal game plan, even if she isn’t successful.

That said, I project value on the Aldana side of the matchup, and I’m happy to bet her moneyline up to -183 (64.7% implied) at a 2% edge compared to my number.

I also show value on the Over, or the fight to go the distance (projected -200, listed -170 at Caesars) and on Aldana to win by decision (projected +131, listed +148 at BetRivers).

However, I will stick with Aldana’s moneyline for this fight. Chiasson has shown concerning cardio down the stretch of her matchups, continually getting tagged in the third round, and Aldana carries significant power in her hands.

As a result, you can also look to live bet Aldana after Round 1.

Bets

  • Irene Aldana (-165, 0.5u at Caesars)
  • Irene Aldana Live after Round 1

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Li Jingliang vs. Daniel Rodriguez

180-pound Catchweight Bout Odds
 Li Jingliang Odds +130
Daniel Rodriguez Odds -150
Over/under rounds 2.5 (-155 / +125)

Crowdsourced Projections: Daniel Rodriguez (58%) 

“The Leech” got a raw deal out of Saturday’s rebookings, moving from a significant -300 favorite (75% implied) against Tony Ferguson to a 43.5% underdog against Rodriguez – a drop of more than 30% in implied win probability.

Moreover, he’ll have to face a man who weighed 8.5 pounds heavier than he did on Friday. Rodriguez is the naturally larger man (1 inch taller with a three-inch reach advantage), and that size differential could be more pronounced after their differing weight cuts.

Moreover, Jingliang will have to face a southpaw for the second time in his UFC career (lost to Keita Nakamura in 2015), but without the benefit of an entire training camp against southpaw sparring partners.

Rodriguez puts volume on all his opponents (16.12 strike attempts per minute), while Li is far more calculated in his approach (10.45 attempts per minute). Still, the Leech likely has a power advantage and may possess a wrestling advantage, too (3.18 takedown attempts per 15 minutes, 40% accuracy).

If Jingliang mixes his grappling alongside his striking and turns this matchup into a proper MMA fight, he could outperform his underdog pricetag.

And given his power advantage, I’d say he has more finishing equity, with the upside to swing rounds in his favor by landing the most impactful strike, despite a likely deficit in overall output.

I don’t see value on either side of the moneyline or the total. However, I would bet Li at odds of +150 (40% implied) or better, at a 2% edge compared to my projection.

Rodriguez by decision (projected +165, listed +170 at FanDuel), stood out in the winning method market. However, there’s not enough value for me to place a bet.

Instead, I’ll look to bet Jingliang live after Round 1. He tends to start slow and build his way into his fights. And I expect Rodriguez to win Round 1 at a relatively high clip, mainly as Jingliang adjusts to his southpaw stance.

As a result, you may get a live price nearer to +250 or +300 on Jingliang after the opening frame. And I’m happy to wait for the peak.

Bets

  • Li Jingliang Live after Round 1

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Khamzat Chimaev vs. Kevin Holland

180-pound Catchweight Bout Odds
Khamzat Chimaev Odds -560
Kevin Holland Odds +430
Over/under rounds 1.5 (-160 / +130)

Crowdsourced Projections: Khanmzat Chimaev (83.1%)

Holland likely secured a bag from the UFC by agreeing to face Chimaev on one day’s notice. And none of the six rebooked fighters saw their implied win probability move more, from -215 (68.2%) down to +430 (18.8%) – a difference of nearly 50%.

Chimaev represents a far more difficult matchup than the initially scheduled striker vs. striker bout against Daniel Rodriguez.

Holland’s takedown defense (50%) has proven to be his kryptonite throughout his career. And while his wrestling has looked better at 170 as opposed to 185, this is essentially a catchweight bout against a middleweight-sized fighter with dominant wrestling.

Chimaev should be able to use his wrestling advantage early and often to control Holland on the mat. Still, “Big Mouth” has shown excellent submission defense on the bottom and an ability to survive even after getting taken down multiple times.

Even if you grapple Holland for extended stretches (six takedowns against Derek Brunson, 11 against Marvin Vettori), he’ll try to scramble back to his feet after recovering guard. And he’s shown proven cardio in the late stages of his five-round bouts, looking the much fresher man and putting opponents on their heels, even after spending so much time in bottom position.

On the feet, Holland will be much more competitive with Chimaev than Nate Diaz. He’s an inch taller and will possess a six-inch reach advantage over the Chechnyan-born Swede.

While I wasn’t certain that Chimaev would wrestle Diaz from the outset, I’m confident he’ll look to ragdoll Holland from the opening bell.

If Holland can survive that wrestling match – and Chimaev’s top pressure – and avoid getting put into dominant positions, he may have a path to victory in the late stages of the fight.

Holland has shown excellent cardio in his five-round fights, and the championship rounds are new territory for his opponent. Moreover, we’ve only seen Chimaev in the third round of a striking war with Gilbert Burns. Yet, we’ve never seen his gas tank after landing multiple takedowns and controlling his opponent on the mat for extended stretches.

Holland will undoubtedly end up on his back multiple times early in this fight. But if Khamzat cannot finish the proceedings, this bout could get greasy for him. And Holland is extremely game.

While I don’t see value in the moneyline or total from a pre-fight perspective, I may see value in betting the Under or the fight to end inside the distance (projected -287, listed -260 at FanDuel).

However, I’m also interested in betting the Over 1.5 Rounds (-150) – and perhaps we shoot for a small middle.

Chimaev by Submission (projected +244, listed +280 at FanDuel) stands out as the best option in the winning method market. However, I’m not particularly interested in playing that wager, given Holland’s survival skills.

Instead, I would look to play the Over and try to find a better price on Holland in the live market during the middle rounds (2, 3, and 4).

Holland can execute a similar gameplan that Diaz needed to follow: survive early, take over late. However, his length on the feet presents an entirely different problem; I suspect he’ll be a handful if he’s still around for the second half of the fight.

I’ll wait to bet this fight as more books open up their totals and props. However, I’m mostly looking at the Over 1.5 Rounds (currently -150) and the Fight to End Inside the Distance (currently -260) while waiting to take live stabs at Holland’s moneyline.

Holland to win in Round 4 (+3600) or Round 5 (+4200) likely suits his win condition better than those odds suggest. You could do far worse with longshot dart throws.

Bets

  • Over 1.5 Rounds (-140, 0.5u at Draftkings)
  • Fight ends Inside the Distance (-270, 0.25u at Fanduel)
  • Kevin Holland Live after Rounds 2, 3, and/or 4

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Nate Diaz vs. Tony Ferguson

Welterweight Bout Odds
Nate Diaz Odds +105
Tony Ferguson Odds -125
Over/under rounds 4.5 (-130 / +100)

Crowdsourced Projections: Tony Ferguson (52%)

After switching opponents – from Khamzat Chimaev and Li Jingliang, respectively – Diaz’s implied win probability has moved more than 35% – from roughly 11% to 48%. Ferguson’s chances doubled after moving from a +250 underdog (28.5% implied) to a 55% favorite.

It’s nice to see the pair of established stars square off in what could be the final UFC bout for both men – as opposed to their previously scheduled executions against Chimaev and Lee.

Diaz should be the bigger man in the cage. He’ll only possess a one-inch advantage in both height and reach. Still, he’s competed at Welterweight for the past six years, while Ferguson made a move out of desperation – following his knockout loss to Michael Chandler just four months ago. Ferguson hasn’t taken the appropriate time to adapt his body to the division.

And that recent knockout is a significant concern on the Ferguson side. Typically, fighters face at least a six-month suspension after such a brutal finish; yet Tony is hopping back relatively quick while moving up in weight.

While neither Diaz nor Ferguson is a massive hitter, damage is still damage; Tony has worn plenty of that throughout his career.

Rather than one-punch power, both fighters rely on cumulative damage and excel in wars of attrition.

Historically, Ferguson and Diaz are incredibly durable, to the point of legend. Five years ago, the odds for this fight to reach a decision may have been around -250, as opposed to -125.

Still, I have reservations about either man’s physical condition for Saturday.

While Diaz has phenomenal cardio, he admitted he had stopped training for the Chimaev fight. Saturday’s bout is the last fight on his UFC contract, and it’s entirely possible that he may not want to be in there anymore and may eventually quit, like his brother, Nick, in his return against Robbie Lawler last September.

That said, a five-round fight benefits Diaz – and his triathlon training. However, Tony tends to brutalize opponents over five rounds, and Diaz has scar tissue on his face which typically opens up the longer his fights go.

This matchup should be a high-paced affair between two aging legends of the sport, both incredibly hittable.

While I expect Tony to find his best success early, I expect Diaz to take over down the stretch with superior cardio; he was training for a five-round fight and has better cardio in a vacuum.

Diaz should be able to touch Ferguson up in the extended pocket exchanges, as I expect him to have the faster hands and combinations in the pocket, particularly late.

If this fight hits the mat, it’s almost anyone’s guess. Both fighters keep an extremely active guard and will aggressively hunt for submissions in scrambles.

I don’t see value on either side of the moneyline or the total for this fight. I would need plus money on Ferguson or +117 on Diaz to bet the moneyline.

Despite projecting the bout to reach a decision more than 50% of the time, I would lean to the under, if anything.

That said, the one bet that stood out – based on initial prop odds -is Diaz by decision (projected +316, listed +400). I’d happily poke that prop at +325 or better and look for a live bet on Diaz in the middle rounds of the fight.

Bets

  • Nate Diaz (+125, 0.25u at Draftkings
  • Nate Diaz wins by Decision (+340, 0.15u at Rivers)
  • Nate Diaz Live after Rounds 2, 3, and/or 4

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Zerillo’s UFC 279 Bets

Distance or Decision Props and Overs

  • Alateng/Anheliger, Fight goes to Decision (-150, Risk 0.5 units at Draftkings)
  • Chimaev/Holland, Over 1.5 Rounds (-140, 0.5u at Draftkings)
  • Nate Diaz wins by Decision (+340, 0.15u at Rivers)

Inside the Distance Props and Unders

  • Darian Weeks wins in Round 2 (+800, 0.05u at MGM)
  • Darian Weeks wins in Round 3 (+1200, 0.05u at MGM)
  • Norma Dumont wins Inside the Distance (+240, 0.25u at Fanduel)
  • Norma Dumont wins by Submission (+420, 0.1u at Fanduel)
  • Jake Collier wins by Submission (+700, 0.15 at Fanduel)
  • Jailton Almeida wins by KO/TKO (+350, 0.15u at Rivers)
  • Erosa/Dawodu, Fight Ends Inside the Distance (+104, 0.5u at Fanduel)
  • Julian Erosa wins Inside the Distance (+390, 0.1u at Fanduel)
  • Ion Cutelaba wins Inside the Distance (-115, 0.5u at MGM)
  • Cutelaba/Walker, Under 1.5 Rounds (-150, 0.5u at MGM)
  • Chimaev/Holland, Fight ends Inside the Distance (-270, 0.25u at Fanduel)

Moneylines

  • Denis Tiuliulin (+115, 0.5u at Caesars)
  • Irene Aldana (-165, 0.5u at Caesars)
  • Nate Diaz (+125, 0.25u at Draftkings)

Parlays

  • N/A

Live Betting Notes

  • Darian Weeks Live after Round 1
  • Irene Aldana Live after Round 1
  • Li Jingliang Live after Round 1
  • Kevin Holland Live after Rounds 2, 3, and/or 4
  • Nate Diaz Live after Rounds 2, 3, and/or 4

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