UFC 287 Luck Ratings: The Undervalued Stars to Bet Now (Saturday, April 8)
Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC bantamweight Raul Rosas Jr.
- UFC 287 takes place Saturday night with 13 fights, including champ Alex Pereira vs. Israel Adesanya 2.
- Check out how luck-related factors have impacted the UFC 287 odds and betting markets.
- Action Network's Billy Ward goes through his Luck Ratings for UFC 287 below.
Let’s look into some mispriced UFC 287 betting lines for this Saturday and see which fighters are overvalued and which are undervalued heading into the April 8 pay-per-view event.
UFC 287 takes place at Miami-Dade Arena in Florida. ESPN+ streams the early preliminary card at 6 p.m. ET (3 p.m. ET), and ESPN and ESPN+ carry the regular prelims at 8 p.m. ET. The main card then streams via ESPN+ PPV at 10 p.m. ET.
With no UFC event last week, most sportsbooks released UFC 287 odds early for the 13-bout fight card That was a perfect scenario for this column, as we’ll have a better chance at getting ahead of line movement that comes closer to fight day.
One of the first “aha!” moments I had in gambling (generally, not just MMA) was to start thinking about why markets might be wrong, rather than just trying to predict what I think will happen.
At its core, that’s what a betting line is: a market where we can “buy” or “sell” events happening. For the most part, these markets are efficient, with the “price” eventually reflecting the true odds of the event.
While this is less true in MMA, where there are far more information asymmetries than in major markets like the NFL or NBA, it’s still broadly (and increasingly) the case. Therefore, to beat the markets over the long term, we need to figure out spots where they’re wrong.
That’s the point of this piece. Inspired by our NFL “Luck Rankings,” I’ll be looking into spots where variance has favored one fighter more than another, causing the line to be inefficient. The biggest input will be split and/or controversial decisions, with short-notice fights, fights that are later overruled, fluke injuries, and out-of-weight-class fights considered, as well.
The focus will be on fights reasonably likely to see the scorecards here, or where one fighter holds most of the finishing upside.
* Odds as of March 29 and via FanDuel
Israel Adesanya (-150) vs. Alex Pereira (+118)
This fight – from a betting perspective, at least – is eerily similar to the UFC 286 headliner between Kamaru Usman and Leon Edwards: longtime champions vanquished late in the fight with an immediate rematch, and the current champion lined as an underdog.
Like that fight, the former champion was firmly in control of the prior meeting before being put away late by the new champion.
Unfortunately, we’re not getting nearly the value on Pereira that we were given on “Rocky” a couple of weeks ago.
THEY MEET AGAIN 🔥🔥@AlexPereiraUFC and @Stylebender run it back for the middleweight strap SATURDAY!
[ #UFC287 | Live on ESPN+ PPV: https://t.co/UU0nUgr0j4 ] pic.twitter.com/kDvfvGqpQZ
— UFC (@ufc) April 6, 2023
From a “luck” standpoint, Adesanya has the only split decision on his record of the pair. That was a win over Marvin Vettori, which he later cemented with a unanimous 50-45 victory. One could argue “Poatan” got lucky with the late finish in the first UFC meeting between the pair, but that’s a bit of a stretch.
This fight is the one instance on the card in which the opportunity to get in front of line movement has already passed us by. Pereira was as high as +180 or so when lines first popped up, but that number is long gone. I’m still leaning toward the Brazilian at the current lines, but it’s hard to say either man is significantly undervalued
Verdict: Fairly Valued
Gilbert Burns (-450) vs. Jorge Masvidal (+360)
Gilbert Burns’ five professional losses include two knockouts and three fairly clear decisions. One of those knockouts was to longtime welterweight kingpin Kamaru Usman – but the other was against lightweight Dan Hooker.
That was nearly five years ago, though, and outside of the Usman fight, Burns has been highly competitive in all of his fights. Even his unanimous-decision loss to Khamzat Chimaev was razor close, with a late flurry from Chimaev stealing a round that was likely going Burns’ way.
Masvidal has just one stoppage loss in the UFC, which also came against Usman. He’s riding a three-fight losing skid, though, with two losses to Usman and one to Colby Covington.
Remarkably, four of Masvidal’s eight UFC decision losses were splits, and he’s never won a split decision in the UFC.
I’ll have a hard time pulling the trigger here, but Masvidal deserves more respect. It’s been many years since he lost to anyone but the elite of the division, and he’s consistently got short shrift from the judges. I’ll probably wait to pull the trigger on a knockout prop rather than his moneyline, though, since Burns has a potentially questionable chin.
Verdict: Masvidal Undervalued
Adrian Yanez (-185) vs. Rob Font (+150)
Adrian Yanez is off to a hot start in his UFC career, ripping off five straight wins with four knockouts, as well as a KO win on the Contender Series. He’s 19-3 overall as a professional with two of his three losses coming against fellow future UFC fighters – and both of those going to split decisions.
Rob Font is 9-5 in the UFC and is currently on a two-fight losing skid. He’s fought a higher level of competition than Yanez, but at 35, he is on the downswing of his career. His last few wins have aged poorly, as well, coming against fighters who were top contenders at the time but have been worse since.
Font has remarkably never had a split decision as a professional, and he is 3-4 in UFC fights involving the judges.
That all adds up to a pretty compelling case for Yanez being undervalued, as he hasn’t definitively lost a fight since 2014 (when he was just 20 years old). I’d expect this line to close closer to -225 or so on Yanez.
Verdict: Yanez Undervalued
Raul Rosas Jr. (-230) vs. Christian Rodriguez (+190)
This is a slight step up in competition for Raul Rosas Jr. – but not enough of one to scare me away.
Rosas closed north of -300 in his UFC debut against Jay Perrin, and it wouldn’t shock me to see this line get close to that number.
Christian Rodriguez is 1-1 in the UFC, but a win against Josh Weems doesn’t inspire much confidence. The UFC is in the Raul Rosas business, and this fight was put together to make the 18-year-old look good against a fellow grappler.
While it’s not based on “luck” in any meaningful way, the market is still a bit behind on Rosas, especially the -230 at Caesars. Other books have moved as far as -275, and it won’t be long before that line is the widespread standard.
Verdict: Rosas Undervalued
Kevin Holland (-310) vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio (+230)
Santiago Ponzinibbio is 1-2 in his last three, with both of the losses via split decision. Those losses both came against ranked welterweights in Michel Pereira and Geoff Neal.
Hard to hold either of those against him.
Since dropping down to welterweight, Kevin Holland is 2-2 in the UFC. All four of those fights have ended up inside the distance, though one needed the championship rounds.
Of course, those losses came in a weird fight against Khamzat Chimaev. That was on the reshuffled UFC 279 card, where Holland was originally scheduled against a different opponent. The other was against perennial contender Stephen Thomspon – so no shame in those losses either. He’s finished seven of his 10 UFC wins, and he’s 3-3 in decisions. Two of those decisions were splits with Holland winning both.
All things considered, this line feels a bit long on Ponzinibbio. Holland has publicly stated his interest in facing fellow strikers, and Ponzinibbio can stand and bang with anyone. This isn’t a high-confidence pick, but I’d line Ponzinibbio on the other side of +200.
Verdict: Ponzinibbio Undervalued
Luana Pinheiro (-165) vs. Michelle Waterson-Gomez (+140)
This is just the third UFC fight for Luana Pinheiro, who comes into this one 10-1 overall and 2-0 in the promotion. While one of those wins was a disqualification, Pinheiro was dominating the early goings with her aggressive striking and high-impact judo throws. Her lone career loss came via split decision.
Her sophomore outing was somewhat less impressive as she struggled at times against Sam Hughes. It was still a clear win, though, and valuable experience for a fighter with seven straight first-round finishes.
MMA vet Michelle Waterson-Gomez has just one win in her last five fights, and it was a split decision at that. She’s 37, and it’s pretty clear at this point that her best days are in the rearview mirror.
From the tape I watched on Pinheiro, she’ll be very vulnerable to fighters with a strong wrestling base. That’s not Waterson, whose nickname is “The Karate Hottie” for a reason.
The -165 line is courtesy of BetMGM, and they’re the outlier here. Pinheiro is as high as -188 at other books, and she should finish this one at -200 or more.
Verdict: Pinheiro Undervalued
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