Saturday UFC Fight Night Odds, Picks, Projections: Our Staff’s Best Bets for Johns vs. Castaneda, Rakhmonov vs. Harris, More (Feb. 5)

Saturday UFC Fight Night Odds, Picks, Projections: Our Staff’s Best Bets for Johns vs. Castaneda, Rakhmonov vs. Harris, More (Feb. 5) article feature image

Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC fighter Carlston Harris.

  • UFC Fight Night begins Saturday afternoon and features a main event between Jack Hermansson and Sean Strickland.
  • Our staff is targeting three fights -- Johns vs. Castaneda, Gore vs. Battle and Rakhmonov vs. Harris.
  • Get all their favorite bets for UFC Fight Night below.

After a week off, the UFC returns to the APEX in Las Vegas for a huge 13-fight card headlined by Middleweight contenders Jack Hermansson and Sean Strickland. 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 the final six bouts of the night.

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.

UFC Fight Night Projections

Prop Projections

Sean Zerillo: Miles Johns vs. John Castaneda

Staff Writer at The Action Network

I’m not exceptionally high on Miles Johns as a fighter, and until he shows improvement to his cardio — or his ability to blend his skillset — I’ll continue to take shots against him at plus money.

Although Johns has scored third-round knockouts in each of his past two victories, he has slowed late in fights; it isn’t easy to rely on finishes at Bantamweight, where the overall finish rate (48.7%) is below average.

If nothing else, John Castaneda is exceptionally durable, with excellent cardio, and he can push a pace in the standup exchanges against Johns and potentially pull away on volume.

Castaneda possesses a 5-inch reach advantage and can fight out of both stances — but I expect him to come out as a southpaw against the orthodox Johns — and look to avoid the big overhand right. He also needs to stay on his bike and continue to move laterally since Johns has difficulty finding the target when his opponents don’t stay on the center line.

While Johns might have a significant advantage with his offensive wrestling, grappling exchanges tend to sap his energy more quickly. Unless he can secure the first two rounds of this fight with top control, or finish a very durable opponent, this is going to be a close scrap.

While I’m not exceptionally high on Castaneda either, I think he is a good archetype (durability, movement, and pace) to frustrate Johns’ powerful style. And that +170 moneyline (BetRivers) ticket will look better the longer this fight goes.

I projected Castaneda as a 41.3% underdog (+142 implied), and I’m happy to play his moneyline down to +150 (40% implied). Furthermore, I would look to bet Castaneda live at any plus money price after Round 1.

The Pick: John Castaneda ML +170

Billy Ward: Tresean Gore vs. Bryan Battle

Contributor at The Action Network

Bryan Battle and Tresean Gore were set to meet to decide the winner of The Ultimate Fighter season 28. However, Gore was injured before the finale took place, leaving Battle to fight Gilbert Urbina for the TUF trophy. Both Gore and Battle fought Urbina in their last fight, with both men picking up second round victories.

The way they achieved those victories was very different, though. Gore fended off grappling exchanges from Urbina, before ultimately knocking him out. Battle forced the grappling, keeping Urbina against the fence for much of the bout before dragging him down and submitting him.

This stylistic difference is one of the reason’s I’m on Battle for this one. He should be able to stifle Gore’s more explosive grappling, before ultimately wearing him down and securing a takedown. I generally prefer the grappler in a grappler vs. striker matchup, particularly when the grappler is the longer fighter. Battle is 6-foot-1 with a 77-inch reach. Gore is 6-feet tall with a 75-inch reach, and visually looks to have far shorter arms.

That makes it tough to get inside against somebody who wants to grapple. If Gore pushes forward too hard, Battle can lock up and turn it into an ugly fight where he has the advantage. Gore is a solid grappler, but that’s not where he wants the fight to take place.

Battle also has a decided experience advantage. Counting amateur and exhibition action, he has a total of 19 fights. Two of his amateur opponents went on to make the UFC. Gore has just nine fights, with his three professional opponents sporting a combined 1-0 record. Battle also has his official UFC debut already out of the way, which should be another slight edge.

Additionally, Gore is coming back from a knee injury that has kept him out of action the past nine months. I’m not certain how serious the injury was, but it was enough to keep him from making his UFC debut. This isn’t a major data point, but Gore could be slightly less than 100%, or at the very least a bit rusty, coming into this one.

If I were setting the line for this fight, I’d make Battle a slight favorite. Getting him at +130 odds feels like major value here. I’d bet it down to even money.

The Pick: Bryan Battle ML (+130)

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Erich Richter: Shavkat Rakhmonov vs. Carlston Harris

Contributor at The Action Network

Shavkat Rakhmonov will face off against Carlston Harris, who has looked particularly impressive recently. In the Welterweight division, 47.5% of fights go to decision, per Fight Matrix.

Harris has shown knockout power and Rakhmonov is a solid grappler and the contrasting styles could lead to a stalemate against the cage early on until one of the fighters begins to tire. My expectation for this fight is that Rakhmonov wins, likely by decision (+300). I don’t see much value in this prop especially when you look at the time props.

Earlier this week you could have found this fight to go to decision at +230 (now down to +188). These time props still have not corrected with that initial line, however.

There can always be a flash KO or quick submission in the UFC. However, I believe that these two fighters are close enough in talent that this fight could be longer than expected.

If you want to bet this fight to go to decision, I recommend you stagger these bets. FanDuel has over 1.5 rounds set to -136 and the fight starts Round 3 prop at +132. Don’t bet a single unit on each one but perhaps you could total the four bets around two units.

Example: Fight starts Round 2 -158 (1u) | Over 1.5 rounds -136 (.5u) | Fight starts Round 3 +132 (.33u) | Fight goes to decision +188 (.25u)

In total you are betting about two units on these props to win around two units. Subtract your total bets as necessary.

The Pick: Fight Starts Round 2 (-158)

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