UFC 285 Props: The Juicy +600 MMA Prop Squad Pick for Jones vs. Gane Title Fight (Saturday, March 4)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images. Pictured: Former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones
- The MMA Prop Squad has an array of prop bets for tonight's big UFC 285 pay-per-view event.
- The 14-fight lineup features two title fights and the long-awaited return of Jon Jones.
- Below, we offer juicy prop picks for many of the fights, including a +600 play on the main event.
Welcome to the latest edition of MMA Prop Squad, in which we offer an array of UFC 285 prop bets with oversized odds for Saturday’s big event.
In this weekly feature, Action Network’s MMA team welcomes in a revolving cast of combat-sports analysts. Each Prop Squad installment will feature a handful of picks from our squad of prop-betting enthusiasts, who have tallied a 12.6% ROI to date.
This week marks the return of Sean Zerillo, Clint MacLean, Tony Sartori, Liam Heslin, Billy Ward, Dan Tom and Bryan Fonseca.
Check out their picks for Saturday’s event, which streams on ESPN+ (5:30 p.m. ET) from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, below.
As with all betting, always wager within your means. That guidance is especially important when dealing with prop bets. Although the props often offer tantalizing odds, they also cash far less frequently than standard bet types. And be sure to shop around for the best price.
Sean Zerillo: Jessica Penne via Decision (+400)
Staff Writer at The Action Network
Fighter walkouts: Approx. 6:25 p.m. ET
Jessica Penne is my favorite underdog bet on the card. The American should be competitive in – if not outright win – the striking against Tabatha Ricci. She is four inches taller and owns a six-inch reach advantage.
Ricci possesses the grappling advantage and the majority of the finishing upside. However, this fight is highly likely to reach a decision per oddsmakers (as high as -315, 75.9% implied).
And if the fight lasts 15 minutes, it’s unlikely that Ricci dominates significantly enough to justify her steep moneyline price.
I trust Penne’s defensive jiu-jitsu to defend against any threats on the ground from her opponent. Penne likely has a cardio advantage too. I don’t love how Ricci looks down the stretch in fights.
I projected Penne as a +220 underdog and would bet her moneyline down to +235. But I also projected her decision prop closer to +350 and would bet that prop down to +400.
The Pick: Jessica Penne wins by Decision (+400 at DraftKings)
Clint MacLean: Leomana Martinez by Submission (+1600)
Contributor at The Action Network and host of the Die Hard MMA Podcast
Fighter walkouts: Approx. 6:55 p.m. ET
Leomana Martinez is a brawler. We know this guy likes to strike and hits really hard, but what most people don’t realize is that he has a pretty slick ground game too.
Martinez prefers to strike, but if you look back to his regional scene days, he has three first-round submissions on his record.
What we are getting in this UFC 285 fight is a 22-year-old kid in Cameron Saaiman facing a battle-tested UFC fighter who has 15 minutes of high-level cage time under his belt. That experience is invaluable, and even though Saaiman might have a higher ceiling than Mana, I don’t know that he is the better fighter now.
Saaiman is relentlessly aggressive and likes to mix in grappling in all of his MMA fights. I suspect that may be even more true if Mana Martinez him on the feet once or twice.
Martinez may prefer to strike, but when a young kid forces a grappling exchange and makes mistakes like giving up his back, I think Mana will take what he is offered.
Pick: Leomana Martinez by Submission (+1600)
Tony Sartori: Cody Garbrandt by Decision (+500)
Contributor at The Action Network
Fighter walkouts: Approx. 9:25 p.m. ET
To close out the preliminary card, we have a bantamweight bout between fan favorite Cody Garbrandt and Trevin Jones. Now, many of you looking at this prop and seeing the words “Garbrandt” and “decision” next to each other probably have the famous expression of the confused Nick Young meme on your face.
But, just hear me out. Of course, the former champion’s biggest weakness is his unwillingness to leave the pocket, even when facing a barrage of shots.
Garbrandt is the embodiment of a “stand-and-bang” fighter in the UFC, which is why nine of his 12 fights in this promotion did not need any judges’ input. With that said, there are a few reasons why this fight could go differently.
First of all, Garbrandt has lost five of his last six fights, something that is truly shocking given how he looked when he dethroned Dominick Cruz for the belt in 2016. (By the way, in that fight – his last truly successful performance against a top guy – he won via decision.)
Those five losses all came against top guys, including Kai Kara-France (No. 3-ranked UFC flyweight contender), Rob Font (No. 6 bantamweight), Pedro Munhoz (No. 9 bantamweight) and T.J. Dillashaw twice at the peak of his prime. No offense to his UFC 285 opponent, Trevin Jones, but he is not even remotely close to sniffing the level of those guys, especially considering he has lost his last three fights to unranked fighters.
So, after a year-and-a-half layoff, will Garbrandt come back as a smarter fighter in what could be one of his last shots in the promotion? I think so.
He can look back to the Cruz fight, the last time he looked like the “old Garbrandt,” to see how he paced himself. Pace will be important for Garbrandt in this scrap, especially considering that he might utilize some grappling against Jones, a guy who boasts a five-inch reach advantage.
In Garbandt’s loss to Font, another guy who boasted a six-inch reach advantage, Garbrandt utilized his grappling and landed three takedowns while accumulating north of three minutes of control time. That fight went the distance, though the scorecards did not go Garbrandt’s way.
I think Garbrandt takes the same approach against the longer Jones in this scrap, which could result in a decision victory, especially considering that Jones has never been knocked out across his nine professional losses.
Pick: Cody Garbrandt by Points (+500)
Liam Heslin: Trevin Jones by Stoppage (+300)
Contributor at The Action Network and host of Liam Picks Fights
Fighter walkouts: Approx. 9:25 p.m. ET
Cody Garbrandt is 1-5 over his last six bouts, and he has been finished by his opponent in 80% (four of five) of those losses.
Trevin Jones has secured more than half his career wins by finish, posting a 54% career stoppage rate. Jones is a small underdog in this fight, an odds range in which he has struggled since arriving to the UFC.
That being said, Garbrandt has been a drain on bettors’ bankrolls as a favorite, posting a -10.6% ROI.
Jones has grappling chops on the mat as a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and he has secured four of his career wins via submission. Since arriving to the UFC, he stunned Timur Valiev and talented prospect Mario Bautista with devastating knockouts.
I believe Trevin Jones is potentially being overlooked against a damaged product in Garbrandt. Jones has sneaky power, strong fighting spirit, solid durability, and he can make an honest account of himself in the grappling. I expect Jones to have success if he lets his hands go on the counter in this fight, and my official prediction will be an early knockout for “Five Star.”
The Pick: Trevin Jones via KO, TKO, DQ or Submission (+300 at bet365)
Billy Ward: Jalin Turner by Submission (+950)
Staff Writer at The Action Network
Fighter walkouts: Approx. 10:25 p.m. ET
This line surprised me a bit, considering Turner has finished three of his last four fights via submission. On the one hand I get it – his opponent Mateusz Gamrot is expected to control the grappling sequences for their fight.
I’m not so sure it will be that easy though. This is a short notice fight for Gamrot, which introduces unique challenges when fighting an opponent like Turner. Turner is the tallest fighter in the lightweight division, fights from a southpaw stance, and has an awkward grappling style.
I’d be fairly confident that Gamrot could account for and overcome those challenges with a full fight camp, but perhaps not with two weeks’ notice. Grappling with people that much longer than you’re accustomed to has unique dangers. Positions where Gamrot usually feels safe won’t be against Turner, who can use his length to snatch limbs and necks from awkward positions.
More importantly, Turner uses the “club and sub” method of finishing fights as much as any fighter on the roster. Rather than potentially gas himself out trying to finish an opponent with strikes, Turner is happy to lock up chokes after hurting an opponent standing.
.That’s a crucial point for this prop, since Turner’s biggest edge in this fight is his striking. Gamrot looked uncomfortable on the feet against Arman Tsarukyan, and was dropped by Beneil Dariush in his last fight. Turner is a more dynamic striker than both of them.
Pick: Jalin Turner by Submission (+950)
Dan Tom: Shavkat Rakhmonov in Round 2 (+400), Round 3 (+1000)
Contributor at The Action Network and host of the Protect Ya’ Neck podcast
Fighter walkouts: Approx. 10:55 p.m. ET
This week, I decided to target a main-card attraction between Shavkat Rakhmonov and Geoff Neal.
With Rakhmonov being one of many prohibited favorites at UFC 285, you have to get creative if you’re looking to get action in on the Kazakh fighter. For that reason, I elected to sprinkle on Rakhmonov to win in Rounds 2 and 3.
Although both men are more than capable of ending things early, I believe that their skill level, in conjunction with the larger octagon, will encourage some breathing room in what should be a highly tense affair. And if this battle does make it into the second round, then I suspect that there will be a potent pocket for Rakhmonov to take the proverbial ball and run.
Not only does Neal have a Robbie Lawler-like habit of taking the second round off to recoup (something that his own coach calls him out over), but the Fortis MMA product is also coming into this fight off an injury withdrawal.
Couple that with Neal’s shortcomings on the scales, and I believe that this fight is Rakhmonov’s for the taking come Rounds 2 and 3, so I’m splitting my bets and playing each.
The Picks: Shavkat Rakhmonov in Round 2 (+400 at Caesars) | Rakhmonov in Round 3 (+1000 at FanDuel)
Bryan Fonseca: Jon Jones by Submission (+600)
Contributor at The Action Network and combat sports host and on-air talent
Fighter walkouts: Approx. 11:55 p.m. ET
This is the first we’ll see of Jon Jones in three years – since before COVID hit the U.S. – yet he’s the slight favorite against Ciryl Gane for the vacant UFC heavyweight title.
Jones, even still, is essentially undefeated. His only loss was the infamous disqualification against Matt Hamil in late 2009. He remains inactive, troubled and yet as skilled as anyone we’ve seen, which makes him a must-watch when in the octagon.
This will be Jones’ long-awaited heavyweight debut, and I’m rolling with him to get the W, but for the purposes of the Prop Squad, give me the submission at +600.
Jones is long overdue for a submission win, which he hasn’t recorded since a September 2012 victory over Vitor Belfort, and that was amid a streak of three submission wins across four fights. Ultimately, I think Jones will try to ground the larger Gane as opposed to standing and trading with him for the duration of the fight.
It’s very possible he has success either way, but Gane’s takedown defense will be tested. If this bulkier version of Jones could secure full mount and keep the larger Gane grounded long enough, I think we’re going to get multiple submission attempts. Gane’s best bet is to keep the fight on the feet, where he’ll have a strength advantage but not a skill one.
The Pick: Jon Jones to Win by Submission (+600 at DraftKings)
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