UFC 279 Odds, Picks, Projections: Our Best Bets for Diaz vs. Ferguson, Dawodu vs. Erosa, Collier vs. Barnett (Saturday, September 10)
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC heavyweight Chris Barnett
- The Action Network's MMA team shares their favorite bets for UFC 279 on Saturday night.
- Billy Ward is going with a moneyline, Sean Zerillo is targeting props, and Dann Stupp has picked a total.
- Check out their bets for the 13-bout PPV event below.
Saturday’s UFC 279: Chimaev vs Diaz features 13 bouts and a slew of betting opportunities.
After Friday’s UFC 279 fight-card changes, veteran welterweight Nate Diaz (20-13) meets former title challenger Tony Ferguson (25-7) in the main event, and undefeated welterweight contender Khamzat Chimaev (11-0) – who badly missed weight – now fights Kevin Holland (23-7) in a 180-pound catchweight fight in the co-headliner.
Their bouts are part of the pay-per-view main card (10 p.m. ET, ESPN+ PPV), which follows prelims on ESPN+ (6 p.m. ET) and ESPNews (8 p.m. PT) live from Las Vegas.
So where should you be looking to place your bets? Our crew has pinpointed three fights and picks on Saturday’s PPV card that present betting value.
You can find their analysis and picks on those matches plus Sean Zerillo’s projections below using odds from DraftKings.
Billy Ward: Nate Diaz vs. Tony Ferguson
Staff Writer at The Action Network
All the shuffling around at the top of the UFC 279 card has left Nate Diaz as the big winner. Instead of being ushered out the door by the toughest non-champion the UFC could find, he gets a fun bout with another aging legend in Tony Ferguson.
Diaz opened as high as +140 or so when this bout started showing up on sportsbooks, but I still like him at +110. While this is also an easier matchup for Ferguson than his previously scheduled bout with Li Jiangliang, the change favors Diaz more.
Diaz was already preparing for a five-round bout whereas Ferguson was previously scheduled for only three. That’s the biggest factor for me personally here. Diaz is very durable, with his only stoppage loss since 2013 coming by way of a cut. That means to win, Ferguson likely needs to beat Diaz for 25 minutes.
While Diaz isn’t a big welterweight, this is also the first bout in the weight class for Ferguson. I’m not worried about the size difference, but Ferguson’s cardio could be challenged even further by carrying the extra weight.
Additionally, while both men are of similar ages, Diaz seems to have more left in the tank. Ferguson is riding a four-fight losing skid, with a brutal knockout to Michael Chandler just four months ago. Diaz has fought less frequently, but he’s looked much better. He nearly upset now-champion Leon Edwards late in his last bout.
This is obviously a volatile situation, but I’ll take the cardio and chin on Diaz. I’d bet this down to even money.
The Pick: Nate Diaz (+110)
Sean Zerillo: Hakeem Dawodu vs. Julian Erosa
Staff Writer at The Action Network
Saturday’s featured prelim between Hakeem Dawodu and Julian Erosa 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).
In the winning method market, Dawodu by KO/TKO (projected +243, listed +270 at FanDuel) or Erosa Inside the Distance (projected +374, listed +390 at FanDuel) could be viable, 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 as one of my best bets this week.
The Picks: Dawodu-Erosa Ends Inside the Distance (+104) | Erosa wins Inside the Distance (+390)
Dann Stupp: Jake Collier vs. Chris Barnett
Senior Editor at The Action Network
Both of these big men can hit. Both of them also tend to get hit.
And when it comes to betting on totals in heavyweight fights, that’s among the list of ingredients I want to see.
We already know that the heavyweight division produces more finishes than any other weight class. Those knockouts and submissions are even more likely when you have two heavyweights with significantly different body types, and that’s what we get with 6-foot-3 Collier and 5-foot-9 Barnett, who actually missed weight for the fight (1.5 pounds over the 266-pound limit).
In terms of a simple breakdown, Collier should use his size and pace to stay ahead of and eventually wear down Barnett. And Barnett, who’s basically a rubber bouncing ball of a man, needs to keep Collier honest with his typically wild strikes from all angles, hoping to connect on a fight-altering shot.
Those are reasons enough for me to like “under 2.5 rounds” in this fight, especially considering it can be had for near-even money.
But I also really like the wild cards in this scenario. Barnett, for example, is a showman who plays to the crowd, and he should have a good one at UFC 279 to feed off. He knows his best path to victory is via knockout, and with two losses in three UFC fights, he also knows a win is paramount to assure job security. Still, even with that motivation, we’ve seen Barnett fade in the second half of fights, and he’s now facing an opponent who can capitalize on it with much better cardio.
Collier is coming off an absolute robbery loss to Andrei Arlovski. Two fights before that one, he also lost a controversial decision to Carlos Felipe. I know all fighters prefer to keep it out of the judges’ hands, but for Collier, it must feel like an imperative at this point.
There’s no single reason to expect this one to end early. Instead, I see lots of possibilities for it, and in the end, I expect one of them to come through for us.
The Pick: Collier vs. Barnett under 2.5 rounds (-115)