UFC 279 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Li Jingliang vs. Tony Ferguson: Don’t Write off This Big Underdog (Saturday, September 10)
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC welterweight Tony Ferguson
(Editor's note: On Friday, Khamzat Chimaev missed weight for the UFC 279 main event, which prompted a reshuffling of the top three fights on Saturday's card. The new matchups now include Nate Diaz vs. Tony Ferguson, Chimaev vs. Kevin Holland, and Li Jingliang vs. Daniel Rodriguez.)
Li Jingliang vs. Tony Ferguson Odds
We are only two events removed from the UFC's last pay-per-view outing, but the fight promotion is back at it with this Saturday's UFC 279, which features a short-notice welterweight bout between two action-packed fighters: Tony Ferguson and Li Jingliang.
This potential Fight of the Night serves as the co-main event to the highly anticipated Khamzat Chimaev vs Nate Diaz headliner.
Tony Ferguson is riding a four-fight losing skid, most recently getting knocked out cold by Michael Chandler in May.
On the flip side, Jingliang has alternated wins and losses over his past four fights. Most recently he knocked out Muslim Salikhov in July.
Will Jingliang be able to capitalize on the fragility of his opponent? Or will Ferguson be able to turn back the clock and snap this four-fight skid?
Read on as we break down the matchup and look for a way to attack this fight from a betting perspective.
Tale of the Tape
|Avg. Fight Time||10:20||11:00|
|Weight (pounds)||170 lbs.||155 lbs.|
|Date of birth||3/20/1988||2/12/1984|
|Sig Strikes Per Min||4.39||5.12|
|SS Absorbed Per Min||3.66||3.81|
|Take Down Avg||1.27||0.41|
Pre-COVID era, Ferguson's career prospects looked sky-high. He was riding a 12-fight winning streak and was lined up for a title shot for then-lightweight king Khabib Nurmagomedov.
After multiple cancellations, we were finally set to see them square off at UFC 249 in April 2020. Unfortunately, the pandemic forced off the fight one last time. When the UFC returned in May 2020, Nurmagomedov was unable to defend his title, so the UFC matched up Ferguson with Justin Gaethje for the interim lightweight title.
And that's when it all went downhill for Ferguson.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 10, 2020
The vet's unorthodox striking style didn't work well against the crisper, more technical striking of Gaethje. Ferguson's knack for playing off his back didn't bode well either against the technical grappling advantages that Charles Oliveira and Beneil Dariush had.
Ferguson did manage to find some early success against Chandler, but he ate a front kick from hell that flattened out for the first time in his career.
Prior to that, the Gaethje loss was his only ever defeat via technical knockout. The reason this is important is that it took a nuclear front kick to finally separate Ferguson from his consciousness. Until that point, he had iron-clad durability. Given his unorthodox movement and style, it is difficult to land a clean enough strike on him to put him out.
Jingliang has finished eight of his 16 UFC fights, and his last four wins have all come via knockout, as well.
— UFC (@ufc) July 16, 2022
Those finishes have come against opponents with questionable durability and cardio, however. He has big punching power but sometimes can be a little low volume, which doesn't allow him to maximize his finishing opportunities.
Opponents who have been able to defeat Jingliang have done so by mixing in grappling and clinching, and setting a pace that is difficult for Jingliang to keep up with.
"The Leech's" last loss came to the hands of the man in the main event, Khamzat Chimaev, who was able to quickly ground him and eventually work for a submission victory. I'm not sure if Ferguson will attempt to recreate that, but his Brazilian jiu-jitsu makes him live to exploit the deficiencies of Jingliang's grappling game.
Jingliang vs. Ferguson Pick
Ferguson's age (38) mixed with his recent devastating knockout loss give me pause about having too much confidence in him.
Although Jingliang has a plethora of knockout victories on his record, I think he could struggle with landing the big knockout blow here against the unorthodox movement of Ferguson.
The one aspect of predicting fights that people put too much stock in is the standing knockout. This strikes me as one of those trap spots in which people will automatically parlay Jingliang because they think he will achieve the knockout. But at -300 it's hard to agree that Jingliang knocks him out 75% of the time. I could get behind closer to 45% implied like his knockout prop indicates at around +110.
Still, I think if Ferguson's durability holds up, his style will be too much for Jingliang. Mixing in grappling with his movement, footwork, and striking, Ferguson can look much better than the 28% implied win probability oddsmakers have given him.
With the totals being volatile, I'll have to suggest making a small play on the inaccurate moneyline.
I think +255 is too wide here, and I'd put Ferguson closer to 40%, which means I'd consider a small play on him up to +150. A lot of question marks remain here, so don't go too deep on it. But it is still better than laying -300 on a fighter of Jingliang's caliber.
The Pick: Tony Ferguson (+255)