UFC Fight Night Odds, Projections, Best Bets: Our Top Picks for Daukaus vs. Lewis, Hunsucker vs. Tafa, More (Dec. 18)
Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: Derrick Lewis
- The last UFC Fight Night card of the calendar year kicks off at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN+ features 13 bouts.
- Our UFC analysts have bets on three of tonight's fights -- Eubanks vs. Gatto, Tafa vs. Hunsucker and Lewis vs. Daukaus.
- Read on for their best bets and Sean Zerillo's model projections for every fight.
For the final Saturday night of 2021, the UFC will return to the APEX for a stacked fight night card. One of the heavyweight division’s biggest hitter, Derrick Lewis, headlines the card with up-and-comer Chris Daukaus in the main event.
In the co-main event, veteran Stephen Thompson faces Belal Muhammad who hasn’t lost in nearly three years. The action begins at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN+ with seven prelim fights and the main card starts at 7 p.m. ET with six more bouts.
So where should you be looking to place your bets? Our crew has pinpointed two fights and 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.
Billy Ward: Sijara Eubanks vs. Melissa Gatto
Contributor at The Action Network
Gatto is making her second appearance in the promotion, after defeating Victoria Leonardo in her debut due to a Leonardo broken arm. While the finish was fluky, Gatto was still controlling the fight. She out-struck Leonardo 70 to 43 (significant strikes) while landing one takedown and defending all three from her opponent.
That takedown defense will be important against Eubanks, who does her best work on the ground. It should hold up for Gatto, but even if it doesn’t the Jiu-Jitsu Purple belt will be fine on the ground. She submitted Karol Rosa with a Kimura in her final fight pre UFC.
While I expect Gatto to defend Eubanks’ takedowns fairly well, I’m not so sure she’s able to get Eubanks to the ground herself. That means she’ll need to win the striking exchanges. Which she should, given her reach advantage and Eubanks’ mediocre striking. The volume and efficacy of Gatto’s striking is what impressed me the most in her prior bout.
Eubanks is also 1-2 in her last three, while Gatto is undefeated as a professional. Only one of those bouts for Gatto was in the UFC, but her pre-UFc bout against Rosa is a good sign as well.
I’d take the up-and-coming Gatto over the 36 year-old Eubanks as a pick ‘em here. Fortunately we don’t have to, with the best line being +135 on Gatto’s moneyline at DraftKings.
The Pick:Melissa Gatto ML (+135)
Sean Zerillo: Justin Tafa vs. Harry Hunsucker
Staff Writer at The Action Network
Per the betting markets, Saturday’s prelim Heavyweight matchup is the likeliest fight to end inside of the distance (-556, or 84.8% implied) on this card.
Harry Hunsucker never went past the five and half minute mark in any of his four amateur fights, and all 11 of his professional bouts have ended inside the first four minutes.
The Kentucky native has fast hands and has slimmed his physique since his last fight in March (dropped 10.5 pounds). Still, Hunsucker has previously shown just half a round of cardio in his gas tank – and I doubt that he has improved that weakness to a substantial degree.
If Hunsucker can’t get his opponent out of there early, he starts to look for a way out himself. And while Justin Tafa has a knockout loss on his record, I would still rate the Australian’s durability as above average for a Heavyweight.
Tafa has limited experience (seven fights), but he packs the type of heavy low kicks that appeared to hurt Hunsucker quickly – and to a significant degree – in his debut loss to Tai Tuivasa.
I don’t think that Hunsucker is UFC calibre — and Tafa my not be either — but there’s still a chance that Hunsucker finds an early knockout because it encompasses nearly all of his win condition.
Hunsucker’s prop to win in Round 1 (listed as high as +1000 in the market) could be worth a poke. Tafa to win in Round 1 is far less intriguing at +150, but the Fight to End in Round 1 at a pick’em price at PointsBet (which is listed closer to -135 in some other books) is my favorite bet on this fight.
I’m also adding Under 1.5 Rounds up to -200, but I prefer the Fight Doesn’t Start Round 2 prop, given the price discrepancy.
This is an extremely low-level Heavyweight bout that belongs on a regional card – but it should present a high degree of variance, which is favorable to our violence bets.
The Pick: Fight Doesn’t Start Round 2 (-112)
Erich Richter: Derrick Lewis vs. Chris Daukaus
Contributor at The Action Network
By far my favorite bet of the weekend is Lewis to win in under 2.5 rounds. For starters, if this fight goes over 2.5 rounds, it will be a total shocker. Lewis is way more battle-tested than Daukaus who also weighs 30 pounds less than Lewis.
Daukaus is a black belt in jiu-jitsu so he could look to get this fight to the mat. However, Curtis Blaydes tried this exact tactic and failed miserably. Lewis’ volume is absolutely terrible and he never grapples so this is a knockout or bust situation.
Lewis will likely wait on the outside for Daukaus to come forward who is looking at a step up in power than he has ever faced. Daukaus has only four fights in the UFC and has immediately been catapulted into the main event spot against Lewis who just fought for the title.
The size difference makes me think that Lewis’ power will be even more successful against a smaller opponent. This props is +250 at PointsBet and I would bet it down to +215 before I just take his KO prop outright at +180.
Hopefully, we get another signature post fight interview from Lewis this weekend.
The Pick: Lewis Under 2.5 Rounds +250
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