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UFC 286 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Jennifer Maia vs. Casey O’Neill: Finish-only Prop Among Top Betting Options (Saturday, March 18)

UFC 286 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Jennifer Maia vs. Casey O’Neill: Finish-only Prop Among Top Betting Options (Saturday, March 18) article feature image

Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC. UFC women’s flyweight and Scottish-Australian fighter Casey O’Neill

Jennifer Maia vs. Casey O’Neill Odds

Maia Odds +150
O’Neill Odds -185
Over/Under 2.5 (-305 / +240)
Venue The O2 Arena in London
Time 5:30 p.m. ET
Channel ESPN+ PPV
Odds as of Saturday and via DraftKings

Before an ACL injury put her on the shelf for more than a year, Casey O’Neill was one of the UFC’s fastest-rising prospects, regardless of division. She looks to regain that status on Saturday on the UFC 286 main card when she meets veteran Jennifer Maia.

Maia is the definition of a gatekeeper in the women’s flyweight division, with a 5-5 UFC record. Her losses have all been against champions or title challengers – with the exception of Manon Fiorot, who will likely challenge for a title soon.

O’Neill inserts herself firmly into the title picture with a win over Maia, but Maia is no pushover. Can she get it done on home territory in London? Read on to find out.

Tale of the Tape

Maia O’Neill
Record 20-9-1 9-0
Avg. Fight Time 14:57 11:36
Height 5’4″ 5’6″
Weight (pounds) 125 lbs. 125 lbs.
Reach (inches) 64″ 69″
Stance Orthodox Orthodox
Date of birth 10/6/1988 10/7/1997
Sig Strikes Per Min 3.98 8.65
SS Accuracy 37% 57%
SS Absorbed Per Min 4.35 4.68
SS Defense 57% 57%
Take Down Avg 0.30 2.59
TD Acc 30% 44%
TD Def 55% 60%
Submission Avg 0.1 1.0

O’Neill burst onto the scene in the UFC by picking up three consecutive finishes to start her tenure. That’s no small feat for any fighter but an even bigger deal in the women’s flyweight division, where stoppages are relatively hard to come by.

Her last bout was a bit of a disappointment, though, after she needed a split decision to beat retiring Roxanne Modafferi. However, after watching that fight back, it’s a fairly clear win for O’Neill.

While it’s still not the best look given Roxy’s 4-8 UFC record, O’Neill won the fight easily enough that I don’t want to take too much away from her.

Still, O’Neill showed some flaws in her standup game in that matchup.  While her overall striking numbers look good, much of that was accomplished on the ground. O’Neill is still developing as an all-around fighter, and she is far more comfortable on the ground than on the feet.

She’s a problem when things hit the mat, though.

Her background is in 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu, a style of grappling specifically designed for no-gi competition as well as MMA. She prioritizes getting on top and doing damage over submissions, which is ideal in MMA – and something that more traditional jiu-jitsu practitioners occasionally struggle with.

On the other hand, Maia is primarily a striker. Her foundation is in muay Thai, with a few professional boxing matches as well. While she’s also a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, she primarily relies on it defensively, with just one submission win in the UFC.

The issue for Maia is a lack of power, particularly at this stage in her career. She’s never scored a knockdown in any of her 10 UFC fights, which can be a problem when relying on her standup. She’ll look to outpoint O’Neill on the feet here while hoping her relatively mediocre takedown defense holds up long enough to win rounds.

That is, unless O’Neill respects the grappling of Maia a bit too much. That’s precisely what happened in her fight against Modafferi; O’Neill attempted just two takedowns the entire fight while her UFC average is nearly two per round.

Look for this to be a fairly binary fight, with O’Neill having considerable edges in the wrestling and grappling exchanges while getting out-pointed on the feet.

Maia vs. O’Neill Pick

Were it not for her ACL injury, I’d expect O’Neill to be a somewhat heavier favorite here. Her undefeated record, youth and finishing ability are all edges over Maia, who at 34 is on the back end of her professional career.

O’Neill being just 25 eases some of the concern surrounding her injury too. We’ve seen plenty of young athletes come back from ACL injuries as strong as ever, so it’s not a huge issue for me.

Therefore, I’m totally comfortable playing O’Neill’s moneyline at -170 (or better), but there are better ways to go about it. Which one of these you opt for depends on your risk tolerance.

First is her “finish only” prop. This is a prop DraftKings offers, with which the bet is void unless one fighter gets a finish (to place this bet, look for the “Moneyline – Finish Only” tab). I have the utmost confidence in O’Neill’s grappling ability, and Maia’s historic lack of power makes a (T)KO fairly unlikely as well. O’Neill has all the stoppage upside here, but you have to pay a premium (-225) for the additional safety.

On the other hand, O’Neill inside the distance offers a juicy +330 line. With her finishing ability, that line should be much closer to her moneyline. Obviously this line comes with higher risk, though, as Maia has never been finished in the UFC octagon.

Personally, I’ll be betting the finish-only prop fairly heavily, with a light sprinkle on the inside-the-distance line.

The Picks: O’Neill Finish Only (-225 at DraftKings) | O’Neill Inside The Distance (+330 at DraftKings)

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