UFC Dana White’s Contender Series Odds, Picks, Best Bets (Tuesday, Sept. 21)
Photo by Getty Images. Pictured: Dana White.
- Week 4 of the UFC's Contender Series will feature three undefeated fighters.
- There's a lot of value on Victor Martinez and Michael Morales.
- Read about The Action Network's best bets for Tuesday's card.
Week 4 of the UFC’s Dana White Contender Series will take place on Tuesday at 8:00 p.m. ET on ESPN+.
This week’s card features three undefeated fighters — all vying for a full-time contract with the UFC.
Week 3’s card saw five of the 12 fighters net contracts. Week 2 and Week 1 also yielded five full-time contracts each.
All odds are via DraftKings.
UFC Dana White Contender Series Odds
Victor Martinez v. Jacob Rosales
Rosales is a 5-foot-10, 155-pounder who has five finishes with his hands and two via submission over his six-year professional career.
The 26-year-old has spent the better part of the last three years competing in the Legacy Fighting Alliance, where he’s gone 2-1 with a loss in the Contender Series to Jonathan Pearce sandwiched in-between wins.
Pearce has since fought twice in the UFC and is scheduled for a bout in the early preliminary rounds of UFC 266: Volkanovski vs. Ortega on Saturday, Sept. 25.
Rosales entered that 2019 Contender Series fight against Pearce as the -160 favorite — not a far-cry from his current -170 mark at DraftKings.
Martinez is a 5-foot-8, 156-pound striker with eight finishes with his fists.
The striker is currently on a six-fight win streak — including three KO/TKOs within 1.5 rounds — that dates back to 2017.
This fight is closer than the odds suggest.
While Rosales undoubtedly has the grappling and size advantage, Martinez has the power to turn the lights off with one punch.
The 32-year-old Martinez has also fought more regularly and for a longer period of time than the 26-year-old Rosales has.
Plus, having a six-fight, four-year win streak on the line doesn’t hurt, either.
Rosales’ last loss came in July 2020 to Bryce Logan, who parlayed the victory into a Bellator contract, a league generally regarded as the second-best MMA organization in the world.
Logan has lost his first two fights with Bellator.
Rosales was — like his fight with Pearce — a slight-favorite at -155 for that July 2020 bout against Logan. Both times, Rosales came away with the L.
While Rosales’ two-inch height advantage and grappling abilities give me some pause, the value is on Martinez to finish this fight within two rounds.
I would’ve liked to parlay Martinez at +160 with the under on rounds, but all the major American sportsbooks don’t offer prop bets for the Contender Series.
Take Martinez at plus-money in a contest that should be closer to even money.
Pick: Victor Martinez +160
Kleydson Rodriguez v. Santo Curatolo
This will be the first professional fight outside of Brazil for the 25-year-old Kleydson Rodriguez, who weighed in at 126 pounds on Monday and is 5-foot-6.
Rodriguez is on a five-fight win streak, with all five fights taking place with Brazilian MMA organizations. He’s had two submissions and two TKO/KOs during that streak, including a knockout that took place within the first 18 seconds of Round 1.
Santo Curatolo is a 5-foot-3, 125.5-pounder who has never heard the judges’ scorecards in his entire professional career — out of his seven career fights, he’s finished six and was finished in the other.
Curatolo has nabbed four knockouts with his fists, one with his feet and won his sixth finish via submission.
All seven of Curatolo’s professional fights have taken place in the Cage Fury Fighting Championships.
With the odds so even on this one, I can’t justify a bet either way. Rodriguez has the height and reach advantage, but Curatolo is a fighter. If this one had an under 1.5-rounds bet, I’d take that down to +120.
Pick: No bet, unless your book has u1.5 rounds.
Steven Nguyen v. Theo Rlayang
Nguyen had been undefeated until the 2019 Contender Series, when he went down from an incredibly brutal flying knee from Aalon Cruz with just 24 seconds remaining in the fight.
The 5-foot-11, 145.5-pounder has won his only fight since, against Jorge Suarez in the Legacy Fighting Alliance. Nguyen won that bout via TKO/KO within the first 30 seconds.
The 28-year-old out of Kansas has had two other finishes via punches and three submissions.
Five of his six wins have come from a finish during the first round.
Theo Ryalang is undefeated over five fights, albeit with the Ultimate Battle Grounds, a less-competitive MMA organization.
The 5-foot-6, 146 pounder has three finishes with his hands, one unanimous decision and one submission.
Nguyen is by far the more experienced fighter and has a five-inch height advantage to go along with a history of quick finishes.
But his odds have far too little value at -250. As with the Rodriguez v. Curatolo fight, I’d roll with an under 1.5-rounds bet up to +120 if your book allows it.
Pick: No bet, unless your book has u1.5 rounds.
Michael Morales v. Nikolay Veretennikov
Morales is an undefeated 11-0 fighter out of Ecuador weighing in at 170 pounds.
He’s finished a ridiculous 10 out of 11 fights, including six with his hands, two via submission and three from stoppages.
But, the 6-foot-3, 21-year-old welterweight has never competed in North American circuits.
Nikolay Veretennikov is 9-3 overall but hasn’t lost since 2014, when he dropped three straight fights. All three losses took place when he was fighting with the Russian MMA organization M-1 Global.
Since then, the 6-foot-2, 171 pounder has won eight straight, of which six were finishes.
That winning streak has coincided with his move away from Eastern Europe — each of his victories have happened with American MMA organizations.
Both fighters are coming into Tuesday with impressive win streaks, and it looks like Veretennikov is the more technical striker. He’s able to do it with both punches and kicks, while his grappling chops are solid, too. While Veretennikov hasn’t finished an opponent by submission, he does have two wins via the ground and pound.
Even so, the value on the undefeated Morales at +165 is too much to disregard.
The only reason this line is this skewed is due to Morales’ lack of experience with major MMA organizations, but if his No. 4 ranking out of all welterweights in Latin America is any indication, he has enough pedigree to get this win.
I’d throw fewer than a unit on Morales to keep his undefeated record and finish this fight — like he has with 10 of 11 of his previous opponents.
Pick: Michael Morales +165
Hashem Arkhagha vs A.J. Dobson
Tuesday’s main event features two undefeated fighters that have taken two dissimilar routes to the Contender Series.
Hashem Arkhagha is an undefeated 6-0 fighter from Jordan who has fought primarily in the Middle East. He’s notched each of his victories with no major issues but took a substantial six and a half year break between 2012 to 2019 after a series of suspensions.
Meanwhile, A.J. Dobson is an undefeated 5-0 during his career and has competed only in American circuits.
But that’s taken place over just five years as a professional — a shorter duration of time than even Arkhagha’s MMA sabbatical.
The 29-year-old from Ohio has finished four of his five professional opponents, including three with his hands and one via submission.
An important note about this fight is that Arkhagha weighed in on Monday severely overweight and will forfeit 20% of his purse as a result.
Because Arkhagha came in four pounds overweight — and 4.5 pounds up on Dobson — I’m reticent to bet this contest.
If Dobson takes this, it’s pretty likely he’ll get to sign for a UFC contract at the end of the night.
With Arkhagha’s weigh-in, expect him to go home without one, even with a win.
Pick: No bet.