UFC 286 Props: +500, +1800 Plays for Edwards vs. Usman 3 Among MMA Prop Squad Picks (Saturday, March 18)
Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC welterweight champion Leon Edwards of Jamaica
Welcome to the latest edition of MMA Prop Squad, in which we offer an array of UFC 286 prop bets with oversized odds for Saturday afternoon’s event.
Each Prop Squad installment features a handful of picks from our squad of prop-betting enthusiasts, who have posted a 18.1% ROI to date.
This week marks the return of squad members Billy Ward, Tony Sartori, Dann Stupp, Dan Tom and Bryan Fonseca.
Check out their picks for Saturday’s event, which streams on ESPN+ and ESPN+ PPV beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET (9:30 a.m. PT) from London, below.
As with all betting endeavors, 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 since prop odds can vary substantially depending on the sportsbook.
Billy Ward: Yanal Ashmoz by KO (+650)
Staff Writer at The Action Network
Fighter walkouts: Approx. 3:25 p.m. ET
Yanal Ashmoz is squaring off with Sam Patterson on the UFC 286 prelims in a battle of UFC newcomers. Physically and stylistically, these fighters are polar opposites: Patterson is a 6-foot-3 lightweight with solid jiu-jitsu while Ashmoz is 5-foot-9 and wins with suffocating wrestling.
Patterson is a moderate favorite here based on the strength of his overall resume. He also fought his way into the UFC with a Contender Series bout while Ashmoz is less of a known quantity. His only semi-major promotion action was on the PFL’s Challenger Series, where he won his bout but didn’t earn his way into the PFL’s season.
However, there were some red flags on Patterson’s tape that give me pause. First, he doesn’t use his length edge especially well. His footwork was predominantly straight forward or backward, allowing his shorter opponent to close the distance fairly easily. Next – and more important to this bet – he was tagged a few times while dropping his hands after striking, primarily on his jab.
The shorter more powerful Ashmoz should be able to exploit that hole and land a looping strike over the top when Patterson gets sloppy. Ashmoz is also an aggressive striker from top position and could ground and pound his way to a TKO. Patterson has solid jiu-jitsu, but his reliance on front chokes and guillotines leads to him surrendering bottom position when he can’t finish the choke.
Ashmoz is also accustomed to fighting taller and longer fighters since most of his opponents have a reach edge. Patterson will be a tougher challenge for lightweights who generally have a reach advantage themselves, but that’s not the case here. I’ll also be betting Ashmoz on the moneyline, but he also has a solid shot of putting Patterson away with strikes.
Pick: Yanal Ashmoz by KO/TKO (+650)
Tony Sartori: Jack Shore by Round 1 KO (+525)
Contributor at The Action Network
Fighter walkouts: Approx. 4:25 p.m. ET
To cap off the preliminary card, we have a featherweight bout between Jack Shore and Makwan Amirkhani. The current No. 15 contender in the UFC bantamweight division, Shore is moving back up to featherweight for the first time since 2017.
This change in divisions is primarily due to two factors: the fact that he lost to Ricky Simon in his latest bout for his first professional defeat, and the fact that he suffered a reported “serious knee injury” last November, which took him out of his scheduled bout against Kyler Phillips at the time. While he has not explicitly said so, the rehab process also probably played a role in his return to 145.
A big-time prospect, Shore boasts an impressive 16-1 professional record and is a former Cage Warriors bantamweight champion.
Of those 16 wins, 12 have come inside the distance. Shore possesses a terrific all-around game in MMA and can beat you both on the feet and the mat.
Shore is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu but is just as impressive in the boxing department. Since joining the UFC, Shore has landed 3.96 significant strikes per minute at an impressive 58% accuracy.
His striking defense is also stout, absorbing just 2.34 significant strikes per minute at a 57% striking defense. Considering Amirkhani’s glass chin, I think Shore will knock him out regardless of whether it is standing or on the mat.
A former model, “Mr. Finland” enters this bout in poor form after dropping five of his last seven fights. Of those five losses, three have come via knockout.
Shore is a -500 favorite for good reason; he is better than Amrikhani in practically every element of MMA. This scrap should not last very long given the disparity in talent level between these two guys, so look for Shore to make a statement in his first featherweight bout since 2017, especially after his disappointing loss to Ricky Simon.
Pick: Jack Shore KO/TKO & Round 1 (+525)
Dann Stupp: Makwan Amirkhani by Round 1 Submission (+1600)
Senior Editor at The Action Network
Fighter walkouts: Approx. 4:25 p.m. ET
I know my analysis should be a little more detailed than this, but it basically comes down to this: Organizing the MMA Prop Squad has been a fun part of my job, and I like to bet on fun fights.
I especially like those fun fights when there’s a bet with oversized odds that just makes sense.
And if I ask you how +400 underdog Makwan Amirkhani can possibly upset Jack Shore in UFC 286’s featured prelim, what would most savvy MMA fans say? Probably something along the lines of, “Makwan needs to get a submission quickly, or it’s over for him.”
So why is Amirkhani winning via first-round submission – his best, and arguably his only, path to victory – priced so long at +1600?
I mean, it’s hard to imagine Amirkhani surviving three rounds and winning a decision, especially given his infamous five-minute gas tank. I also don’t see Amirkhani being the first opponent to knock out the durable Shore. Instead, he likely needs one of his famous early blitzes and a limb or neck to latch onto before the bottom drops out.
It’s not likely to happen. It’s a long shot. But just 5.8% of the time, as those +1600 odds suggest? Nah. It’s not that unlikely. “Mr. Finland’s” best days are behind him, and he’ll never be the prospect some of us thought he might become.
But he’s always a live ‘dog. Especially in the first round. And especially at these odds.
Pick: Makwan Amirkhani Submission & Round 1 (+1600)
Dan Tom: Leon Edwards by Decision (+500)
Contributor at The Action Network and host of the Protect Ya’ Neck podcast
Fighter walkouts: Approx. 6:55 p.m. ET
This weekend’s UFC offering is full of fun spots if you’re looking to throw some potentially-winning darts at the proverbial board.
This week, I decided to take a fun stab at UFC 286’s main attraction between Leon Edwards and Kamaru Usman.
Although Usman is a decently sized favorite to win his title back in enemy territory, their last fight was more competitive than many are leading on.
Not only did Edwards clearly win the first round and do deceptively well in clinch tie-ups, but the 31-year-old’s southpaw repertoire also offered a lot of advantages against a wrestle-boxer who was primarily fighting from orthodox.
Should Edwards improve upon his stymying ways and footwork, then we could see a different fight this time around.
In fact, when looking back at rematches or rubber matches in MMA, you’ll see that they seldom play out the same way (with the previous loser in immediate UFC title rematches going 3-11, historically).
Add in the fact that England has been the home of some controversial decisions throughout combat sports history, and I see no harm in taking a small +500 flier on the sitting champion to retain his title on the scorecards.
Pick: Leon Edwards by Points (+500)
Bryan Fonseca: Kamaru Usman by Submission (+1800)
Contributor at The Action Network and combat sports host and on-air talent
Fighter walkouts: Approx. 6:55 p.m. ET
The second time Kamaru Usman stood across from Leon Edwards in the octagon, we saw something we never thought we would. Edwards was +500 to KO Usman, and while down big (at least three rounds to one) entering the fifth, he unquestionably needed one to steal the UFC welterweight title.
With less than one minute to go, he memorably head-kicked Usman in a legitimate knockout-of-the-year contender in a fight that would’ve otherwise gone to the champion in mostly dominant fashion.
I recently picked Jon Jones to win by submission for similar reasons that I’m about to in this fight.
For Usman, I was surprised to verify that merely one of his 20 MMA victories has come by submission (yet another college wrestler turned MMA fighter who prefers knocking people out once they discover they could).
That submission victory was so long ago that it came right before the first Edwards fight. Usman tapped Hayder Hassan to win The Ultimate Fighter 21 welterweight tournament in July 2015 with an arm-triangle choke.
For me, I ultimately think Usman will make more of an effort to ground Edwards and limit the exchanges between the two as much as possible. He’ll still strike, but my guess is he’ll try to assert himself in the clinch and on the ground, and with that should come submission attempts, of which Usman performed zero in the previous fight.
It’d be smart to exploit because the openings could be there, given how he controlled the first bout and how great of a wrestler he is.
The Pick: Kamaru Usman by submission (+1800 at BetRivers)
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