UFC 291 Odds, Picks, Projections: Our Best Bets for Blachowicz vs. Pereira, Ferguson vs. Green, More (Saturday, July 29)

UFC 291 Odds, Picks, Projections: Our Best Bets for Blachowicz vs. Pereira, Ferguson vs. Green, More (Saturday, July 29) article feature image

Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC lightweight Bobby Green

Check out our UFC 291 best bets ahead of Saturday's ESPN PPV+ event at Delta Center in Salt Lake City.

UFC 291 features a main event and rematch between lightweight standouts Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje, as well as a light-heavyweight co-headliner between former champions Jan Blachowicz and Alex Pereira.

The full UFC 291 event kicks off at 7 p.m. ET (4 p.m. PT) on ESPN+ before additional prelims that are simulcast on ABC and ESPN (8 p.m. ET). The ESPN+ PPV main card then commences at 10 p.m. ET.

The UFC 291 fight card features 11 bouts in all – with vets, prospects and everyone in between.

So where should be looking to place your bets? Our crew has pinpointed four UFC 291 fights and five picks on Saturday’s stacked card that present betting value.

You can find their analysis and picks on those matches plus Sean Zerillo's projections below using odds from DraftKings.

Moneyline Projections

Prop Projections

Sean Zerillo: Miranda Maverick vs. Priscila Cachoeira

Senior Staff Writer at The Action Network

Fighter walkouts: Approx. 6:55 p.m. ET

Saturday's opener features a striker vs. grappler matchup in which the grappler, Miranda Maverick, is appropriately favored. But she's potentially overvalued.

I projected Priscila Cachoeira closer to a +200 underdog in this contest and would bet her moneyline at +215 or better. However, relative to the market, I see a potentially more significant edge on her finish prop (projected +356, listed +450).

Cachoeira has finished seven of her 12 career victories (58%).

Still, I expect her to finish Saturday's bout closer to 65% of the time if she does win while the betting market puts her probability at 55%, below her career average.

Cachoeira is the taller (four inches) and larger fighter in this matchup, and she hits significantly harder. Maverick might be the better technical striker, but in smaller weight classes like women's flyweight, advantages in physicality and aggression go a long way.

Unless Maverick takes down Cachoeira, I expect her to lose minutes standing on power optics alone.

Cachoeira's takedown defense (46% career) is relatively nonexistent, and her defensive grappling has significant holes too. Still, she is extremely tough and never quits on herself, routinely fighting through adversity (or finding ways to cheat like eye-gouging an opponent) to stay in the fight.

Maverick doesn't impose significant ground and pound – or damage – on her opponents when in control positions. And she doesn't have a particularly slick submission game.

There's a possibility that Maverick loses a controversial split decision in which she lands takedowns in every round but doesn't do enough with them while Cachoeira swings rounds her way in her limited opportunities to strike.

As a result, while I typically bet Cachoeira inside the distance in nearly all of her fights, I'm inclined to split a wager between her moneyline and her finish prop. Given the way fights are now scored, the judges should favor Cachoeira's damage over Maverick's control.

The Picks: Cachoeira (+240 at DraftKings) | Cachoeira wins inside the distance (+450 at DraftKings)

Tony Sartori: Gabriel Bonfim vs. Trevin Giles

Staff Writer at The Action Network

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

In the featured UFC 291 prelim, we have a welterweight bout between Gabriel Bonfim and Trevin Giles.

An undefeated prospect in the 170-pound division, Bonfim is looking to continue his great run in MMA. Not only is Bonfim 14-0, but every single one of those wins came via finish.

A true mixed martial artist, he can beat you both on the mat and on the feet. After two straight wins in the LFA, Bonfim went on Contender Series in 2022 and won with a rare Von Flue choke in the first round.

Following that performance, he beat Mounir Lazzez via submission within the first minute of the fight, though he was rocking him on the feet right away and could have just as easily knocked him out. Meanwhile, Trevin Giles is coming off his split-decision victory over Preston Parsons.

Although Giles got worked on the mat in that fight, he still stuffed eight of Parsons’ 11 takedown attempts. If he can carry some of that success over against Bonfim, then it may force the Brazilian to stand and bang.

With his power, it would not be shocking at all if he catches Giles, especially considering that Giles has lost his past two fights via knockout to Michael Morales and Dricus du Plessis.

The Pick: Gabriel Bonfim via knockout (+270 via BetRivers)

Dann Stupp: Tony Ferguson vs. Bobby Green

Senior Editor at The Action Network

Fighter walkouts: Approx. 10:25 p.m. ET

On one hand, it's always a bit sad to bet against two OGs who have produced a number of memorable MMA moments.

On the other hand, rarely do we get near-even odds to fade two increasingly fragile bodies with Tony Ferguson vs. Bobby Green.

For all of the classic battles that Ferguson gave us, he's currently riding a five-fight losing skid, he hasn't won in nearly half a decade, he's a few months removed from an arrest following a rollover accident and suspected DUI, and the often-injured fighter turns 40 within the next year.

Oh, and after fighting at 170 pounds last year, he's cutting an extra 15 pounds to get back down to lightweight for UFC 291.

Even if Ferguson has somehow maintained his cardio and pace through it all, it's not going to matter if he doesn't have the durability to withstand what's coming back at him.

And say what you want about Green, but he's going to touch up Ferguson (remember that Al Iaquinta fight?). I'm also more willing to bank on Green's overall output in this matchup, especially as the bout wears on in the SLC elevation.

However, as with Ferguson, I also worry about the durability of Green, who suffered back-to-back knockout losses before a no-contest with Jared Gordon due to an accidental clash of heads just a few months ago.

Essentially, we're getting two guys with plenty of output but – quite likely – very little durability. These aren't the decision machines of years past. These are desperate dudes who will choose fight over flight – but arguably don't have the bodies to back it up.

Yet, sportsbooks such as DraftKings and Betway are offering "doesn't go to decision" at very attractive -110 odds. I'm going a little larger than usual on this UFC 291 best bet, and I'd feel comfortable recommending it all the way down to -150.

The Pick: Tony Ferguson vs. Bobby Green doesn't go to decision (-110 at DraftKings)

Billy Ward: Jan Blachowicz vs. Alex Pereira

Staff Writer at The Action Network

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

Alex Pereira is looking to one-up Israel Adesanya yet again by doing what Izzy couldn’t do: moving up to 205 pounds and defeating Jan Blachowicz.

Of course, when Adesanya attempted the jump, Blachowicz was the sitting champion.

While that’s not the case here with Saturday's UFC 291 co-main event, it seems fairly probable that the winner of this bout will at least be next in line for a shot against Jiri Prochazka for the vacant 205-pound title.

Given the similar circumstances and how closely matched Pereira and Adesanya are – stylistically and in their bouts – it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that this fight will have the same outcome as Adesanya vs. Blachowicz.

I’m not so sure that’s a safe assumption, though. For one, this is just a three-round fight. Blachowicz swept the final two rounds of the fight with Adesanya, with the first three much closer.

Pereira is also a different challenge, as an absolutely massive former middleweight. Blachowicz was able to bully Adesanya to the ground with size and strength more than technical wrestling – a strategy I don’t expect to work on Pereira.

Even if it does, needing to wrestle to win this fight is a tenuous strategy at best. With this fight being at high altitude, I’m concerned that Blachowicz won’t have the gas tank for repeated takedown attempts if Pereira can make him work hard to earn them.

Adesanya was also able to land some strikes on Blachowicz in their bout, a good sign for Pereira. With “Poatan” having the proverbial “hands of stone,” I wouldn’t bet on Blachowicz being able to absorb those shots this time.

Finally, Blachowicz is on the wrong side of 40 now, and he has arguably looked progressively worse each fight. Pereira isn’t young at 36 – but that’s younger than Blachowicz was when he was light heavyweight champ.

The Pick: Alex Pereira (+100 at bet365)

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