UFC 286 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Chris Duncan vs. Omar Morales: A Green Light to Bet the Red Flags (Saturday, March 18)

UFC 286 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Chris Duncan vs. Omar Morales: A Green Light to Bet the Red Flags (Saturday, March 18) article feature image

Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC lightweight Omar Morales of Venezuela

Chris Duncan vs. Omar Morales Odds

Duncan Odds
Morales Odds
2.5 (+150 / -190)
The O2 Arena in London
4 p.m. ET
ESPNews and ESPN+
Odds as of Saturday and via Caesars

In a preliminary card bout at UFC 286 on Saturday, Contender Series alumni clash when Scotland's Chris Duncan takes on Venezuela's Omar Morales.

And, quite frankly, this lightweight matchup is a field of red flags. If you wanted a reason to fade a fighter, you've got them in bunches – on both sides of this matchup.

Still, despite all of the unknowns and hard-to-quantifies, we can still capitalize on the chaos.

Let's do our best to extract some value from this closely lined bout.

Tale of the Tape

Avg. Fight Time3:3611:49
Weight (pounds)155 lbs.155 lbs.
Reach (inches)71"73"
Date of birth5/10/199310/17/1985
Sig Strikes Per Min7.103.47
SS Accuracy44%38%
SS Absorbed Per Min7.943.12
SS Defense41%61%
Take Down Avg4.180.54
TD Acc40%100%
TD Def0%63%
Submission Avg0.00.0

I'm happy to admit that a big part of my handicapping process is simply seeing what my friends are up to.

I'm friendly with a lot of folks who just happen to be pretty sharp MMA bettors. And if most of them concur with my prediction for a fight, I know I'm probably on the right track.

But when it comes to the Duncan vs. Morales matchup, which is part of the UFC 286 regular prelims on ESPNews and ESPN+ (3 p.m. ET), those fight experts seem to be all over the place.

You can chalk up a lot of that disagreement to the endless list of red flags between these two fighters. My personal handicapping often comes down to finding good reasons to fade a fighter.

And for this bout, we've got many reasons for caution on both sides.

Take Duncan:

  • He's coming off a Contender Series win but needed a big comeback after being rocked and staggered multiple times.
  • He doesn't put much of an emphasis on defense and has proven to be hittable throughout this career.
  • He hasn't fought since August 2022, a long-ish layoff for a fighter who should be in his prime at age 29.

And then there's his opponent, Morales:

  • He's 37 and hasn't fought since a brutal knockout loss to Uros Medic in May 2022.
  • He's suffered back-to-back stoppage losses and is on a 1-3 skid going back to 2020.
  • He's on the tail end of his career, and though his losses came to legit competition, his chin is questionable at this point.

As of this writing on Thursday, this fight is lined as a pick'em at Caesars with -110 on Duncan and -110 for Morales. And given all the unknowns and various paths to victory, I'm OK laying off for the moneyline for now. I consider this a 50-50 fight – not an easily predictable one, but a 50-50 fight nonetheless – so I don't see any real value unless you get either fighter at +115 or better come fight day.

Instead, I dove into the totals and time props for this bout, and I found an angle that works well. Best of all, it allows us to capitalize on the chaos regardless of which slugger gets his hand raised.

We know that Duncan has fight-altering power, and he's finished eight of his nine wins via stoppage (seven knockouts and one submission). But he's also hittable, as we learned in his second Contender Series effort. Like, really hittable – but also pretty durable:

That. Was. INSANE[! 🤯@TheProblem155 just closed the show with a 𝐒𝐓𝐀𝐓𝐄𝐌𝐄𝐍𝐓! #DWCSpic.twitter.com/ZjYBPF9DnF

— UFC (@ufc) August 3, 2022

Duncan can be especially vulnerable to technical strikers and good counter-punchers. And that's an area where veteran Morales can shine, especially against less-experienced and less-accomplished competition.

If Duncan stands and trades with Morales, he will have a willing – and effective – dance partner. In fact, Duncan may find that his under-used wrestling is his best path to victory. And if that happens, I do worry about the aging Morales' ability (and fortitude) to navigate trouble:

LOCKED it in TIGHT 🔒@JSPMMA gets the job done in the second!

[ #UFC266 | Early Prelims Live NOW on ESPN+ & @UFCFightPass] pic.twitter.com/w231t3spoW

— UFC (@ufc) September 25, 2021

All of these red flags lead me to believe this is a fight that won't require the judges' involvement.

So let's bet it accordingly.

Duncan vs. Morales Pick

If Duncan wins this fight, I think it's because his early pressure pays off – or he finally relents, uses his wrestling, and eventually muscles his way to a submission or some ground and pound on a wounded opponent.

If Morales wins, it's likely going to be due to some effective and technical counter-striking. As other opponents have done to Duncan, Morales can use his height and reach to wear him down with more precise and effective strikes.

Either way, I think the ref waves this off within the first two rounds of the fight.

Although I considered a bet on "doesn't start Round 3" at -135 and "doesn't go to decision" at -220, I ultimately settled on under 2.5 rounds at -175, which is available at Caesars and DraftKings (as an alternate total).

I think this one ends within 2.5 rounds at least 70% of the time, which converts to fair-money odds of -233. At -175, we're betting some nice value, and I'd happily take the bet down to -200.

The Pick: Duncan vs. Morales under 2.5 rounds (-175 at Caesars) 

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