UFC 290 Props: MMA Prop Squad’s 7 Bets for a Big Fight Night (Saturday, July 8)

UFC 290 Props: MMA Prop Squad’s 7 Bets for a Big Fight Night (Saturday, July 8) article feature image

Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC 290 headliner and UFC flyweight champion Brandon Moreno of Mexico

Welcome to the latest edition of MMA Prop Squad, in which we offer an array of UFC 290 prop bets with oversized odds for Saturday's ESPN+ PPV event.

Each Prop Squad installment features a handful of picks from our squad of prop-betting enthusiasts, who have tallied +34.2 units and a +17.2% ROI to date.

This week marks the return of MMA Prop Squad members Dann Stupp, Liam Heslin, Dan Tom, Billy Ward, Clint MacLean, Tony Sartori and Bryan Fonseca.

Check out their UFC 290 picks for tonight's pay-per-view event below.

The UFC 290 fight card kicks off with prelims on ESPN+ and UFC Fight Pass (6 p.m. ET) and then ABC and ESPN (8 p.m. ET) before the PPV main card on ESPN+ PPV (10 p.m. ET).

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.

Dann Stupp: Denise Gomes by Decision (+600)

Senior Editor at The Action Network

Fighter walkouts: Approx. 8:25 p.m. ET

I can get 6-1 odds on MMA judges possibly making things a little funky on Saturday night at UFC 290?

In a women's bout?

In what could be a fairly competitive kickboxing match with tightly contested rounds?

I'll happily take those odds.

On the night's ABC-televised prelims, Yazmin Jauregui is a big favorite over fellow strawweight Denise Gomes. However, I'm not sure that -400 favorite status is fully justified, especially if Jauregui again ditches her grappling and instead turns this into a sparring match.

Each woman in this matchup packs some power in her 115-pound frame, and they both know it. So I do think that'll lead to a little more measured and calculated striking from Jauregui and Gomes, which bodes well for our play here.

I'm making a small play on Gomes straight up on the moneyline (+320). However, those +600 odds on Gomes to win via decision are worthy of a flier, as well.

Even if Jauregui has the edge throughout this matchup, I can't fully bank on the judges to get it right anyway. So give me the Gomes ML and Gomes via decision – and, if you're feeling frisky, betting on the fight to end via split or majority decision at +500 may be worth a punt too.

If this thing is even remotely close, Gomes is a very live 'dog on those long odds.

Liam Heslin: Nico Price by Submission (+950)

Contributor at The Action Network and host of Liam Picks Fights

Fighter walkouts: Approx. 9:25 p.m. ET

This bet could look very foolish as Niko Price is a goofy, fun-loving fighter who at times lacks consistency inside the octagon.

That being said, Price is being lined -120 (54.6%) to win this fight inside the distance while his submission prop is available as high as +950 (9.5%) on FanDuel.

Price has secured two of his seven UFC wins (28.6%) and three of his 15 professional wins (20%) via submission.

Robbie Lawler has been defeated via submission six times in his illustrious career, including his second-most-recent finish loss in the UFC against Ben Askren in 2019. That submission win would go on to be Askren's only win inside the octagon.

Lawler has defeated only Nick Diaz (an extremely washed version) since 2017, and he has acknowledged before the fight he will be retiring here.

Price is a nice guy, and Lawler is a legend, but he doesn't have the gas to fight hard for 15 minutes.

If Price rocks him on the feet or gasses out Lawler in this fight, I expect he will snatch up the neck instead of pounding out his hero.

Dan Tom: Robert Whittaker in Round 2 (+470)

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 go back to well by targeting a round prop that's jumping off the page.

Although Robert Whittaker hasn't gotten a finish since 2017, you have to remember that he's been facing un-killable mutants like Marvin Vettori and Yoel Romero for the better part of the last half-decade.

Not only is "The Reaper" due for another kill on his resume, but you could also argue that Dricus du Plessis' wild and self-destructive style is about to hit a hard ceiling.

In victory or defeat (dating back to his series with Roberto Soldic back in KSW), du Plessis always seems to struggle badly at points in the second round.

Whether that's due to du Plessis' poor pacing or his propensity to put down the proverbial back and get his second wind, it ultimately bodes badly when facing a world-class fighter who has scored a majority (eight) of his finishes in the second frame.

Pick: Robert Whittaker in Round 2 (+470)

Billy Ward: Dricus du Plessis by Finish (+450)

Staff Writer at The Action Network

Fighter walkouts: Approx. 10:55 p.m. ET

Dricus du Plessis is having quite the start to his UFC career. The South African fighter is 5-0 since joining the promotion, with four of those wins coming inside the distance. He’s finished 18 of his 19 professional wins, with big power in his hands and an underrated submission game.

He faces the stiffest test of his career on Saturday against Robert Whittaker, the perennial runner-up in the UFC middleweight division. It’s been nearly a decade since Whittaker lost to anyone other than the current champion, and he’s never lost to anyone else at middleweight.

However, if there’s a crack in Whittaker’s game, it just might be his chin. He was dropped three times in his pair of fights with Israel Adesanya and twice against Yoel Romero. He was also knocked out by Stephen Thompson at welterweight in his last non-Adensanya loss.

Which isn’t to say he has a bad chin by any stretch – Adesanya and Romero could knock out the vast majority of fighters in any weight class. Still, with 30 fights under his belt – many of them wars against top competition – he’s likely to grow more vulnerable to being put down over time.

As close as this prop is to DDP’s +290 moneyline, I’m having a hard time understanding even that much difference. Which is what makes this a solid bet: If you think the moneyline is efficient, we’re getting a ton of value on the most likely win condition.

The Pick: Dricus Du Plessis by KO, TKO, DQ or Submission (+450 at bet365)

Clint MacLean: Dricus du Plessis by Submission (+1600)

Contributor at The Action Network and host of the Die Hard MMA Podcast

Fighter walkouts: Approx. 10:55 p.m. ET

Dricus du Plessis hits like an absolute truck. Opponent Robert Whittaker has been a staple at 185 pounds and essentially has been the guardian to the title with his only losses being to the champion, Israel Adesanya, over the last 10 years.

It’s really hard to argue against him in any fight at this stage, but at 32 years old, "The Reaper" is nearing the end of his prime, and he’s taken a lot of damage.

While du Plessis may not be the most technical fighter, he is a physical freak of nature and has a decent size advantage in this matchup. He's also the master of the club and sub.

We think of du Plessis as a power puncher, but he has 10 submission victories on his professional record.

Whittaker is very hard to finish, but once rocked, fighters just aren’t the same.

If du Plessis can clip Whittaker, he is very likely to wrap up his neck, and we are getting wild odds on that scenario. I’ll take that shot.

Pick: Dricus du Plessis via submission (+1600)

Tony Sartori: Brandon Moreno by Submission (+925)

Contributor at The Action Network

Fighter walkouts: Approx. 11:25 p.m. ET

In the UFC 290 co-main event, the flyweight title is on the line as champion Brandon Moreno looks to defend the belt against the No. 2-ranked contender, Alexandre Pantoja. These two have a solid history that dates back all the way to Season 24 of "The Ultimate Fighter," where Pantoja submitted Moreno during the exhibition tournament.

These two met again in 2018, when Pantoja won once again, that time via unanimous decision. A sizable underdog, Pantoja looks to make it 3-0 (2-0 professionally as the TUF scrap does not officially count) against Moreno.

With that said, Moreno has had a very different career since that loss in 2018. Since then, he has gone on to dethrone Deiveson Figueiredo as the king of the flyweights in what ended up being an epic four-fight rivalry.

Moreno went 2-1-1 over those four fights, including a submission victory to first secure the 125-pound strap in 2021. A balanced mixed martial artist, Moreno is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and boasts 11 submission victories in his career.

Pantoja is absolutely a live 'dog in this fight, but there is a championship-experience factor that is going to be hard for him to compete with unless he gets Moreno out of there early, which is unlikely considering Moreno possesses an iron chin and has never been finished inside the distance professionally. Pantoja has never been in a five-round fight, which means he could fade down the stretch as we go into the championship rounds.

On the flip side, Moreno is coming off five straight title fights, and that experience cannot be replicated in a training camp. Pantoja is likely the better striker in this fight, and it would not be shocking to see Moreno attempt to bring it to the mat, especially if Pantoja starts to fade down the stretch.

I took Moreno via submission at Circa, which offered +925 odds. However, you can also get +900 at FanDuel, as of this writing.

The Pick: Brandon Moreno via submission (+925 at Circa)

Bryan Fonseca: Yair Rodriguez by KO (+650)

Contributor at The Action Network and combat sports host and on-air talent

Fighter walkouts: Approx. 11:55 p.m. ET

Yair Rodriguez, the ultimate featherweight wild card, is a difficult guy to bet against – less so when facing the most dominant featherweight in recent UFC history, Alexander Volkanovski, who has two losses in his MMA career (neither of them at this weight).

Still, the charm of betting on Rodriguez is, well, one, this is a longshot, but two, he's a crafty risktaker whose versatility and length should prove problematic for Volk, coming off a champion vs. champion loss against lightweight titleholder Islam Makhachev, whom he still impressed against despite dropping a unanimous decision.

Rodriguez accounted for himself well enough against Max Holloway two Novembers ago to win Fight of the Night, and he stopped Brian Ortega (TKO via shoulder injury) and Josh Emmett (submission via triangle choke) since.

Even with a five-inch height disadvantage against Rodriguez, Volkanovski will be nearly impossible to win rounds against at featherweight, and I think Rodriguez will take more risks as a result.

Rodriguez has five KO wins in his MMA career, only one after Round 2 – the famous Korean Zombie elbow with one second to spare in Round 5.

I think it's a Rodriguez-pulls-out-all-the-stops attack: flying knees, jumping switch kicks, spinning elbows, spinning head kicks – all of it.

I think something dangerous lands, putting Volkanovski in a position he's rarely seen during his reign at 145 pounds.

The Pick: Yair Rodriguez by KO, TKO or DQ (+650 at BetRivers)

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