UFC Fight Night Odds, Picks, Projections: 2 Best Bets for Wilkins vs. Connelly and Gordon vs. Dawson (April 30)
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC fighter Jared Gordon (blue gloves).
- Saturday night’s are for the fights and the UFC is bringing the heat for this upcoming card.
- UFC analysts Sean Zerillo and Billy Ward are eyeing two moneyline plays for tonight’s fights.
- Check out their best bets, plus Zerillo's model projections for all 12 bouts below.
The UFC takes center stage on Saturday night with a 12-bout fight card at the APEX. The action begins at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN 2 with six prelim fights before moving to ESPN for the remaining six main card fights, which includes a main even matchup between top-10 bantamweight contenders Rob Font and Marlon Vera.
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 using odds from BetMGM.
Contributor at The Action Network
This line has bounded around a bit throughout the week, climbing as high as +165 for Gordon before settling in with +160 as the best line. Gordon is taking on Grant Dawson, in what looks like a wrestling-heavy main card fight.
Dawson has attempted an average of 3.4 takedowns per round in his UFC career, with Gordon at 2.0. That big number from Dawson isn’t a good sign though. It either means most of the takedowns he attempts are unsuccessful, or he’s unable to hold his opponent down. He went 1-of-13 against Leonardo Santos, though the one successful takedown ultimately led to a finish for Dawson.
Dawson is also a poor defensive wrestler, with a subpar 40% rate throughout his career. Gordon should be able to take advantage of that, and ideally spend much of this fight on top of Dawson.
Doing that would also be a big tax on Dawson’s already suspect cardio. Dawson lost the third round 10-8 on two judges’ scorecards as he faded heavily against Ricky Glenn in his last fight. Working for takedowns is extremely energy intensive, especially when you don’t secure them and can’t rest on top of your opponent.
I also give Gordon the slight striking edge, though neither man has been particularly impressive. He lands nearly two more strikes per minute and has better striking defense. It’s unlikely that ends up deciding this one, but it’s worth noting.
Finally, look for live opportunities on Gordon throughout this fight. Dawson tends to fade late, particularly if he has to work hard for his takedowns.
We could certainly see Dawson win the first round via a takedown, but if it takes him multiple attempts to land one Gordon would be in the better position moving forward.
The Pick: Jared Gordon ML (+160)
Sean Zerillo: Darren Elkins vs. Tristan Connelly
Senior Writer at The Action Network
I have always enjoyed betting on Darren Elkins — particularly in the Live market, where he is often a significant underdog after Round 1 and rallies to victory.
Still, I’m afraid that “The Damage” is damaged goods at this point in his career.
Elkins is coming off of a scary knockout loss to Cub Swanson in December after getting hurt multiple times (but surviving) against a one-round and done type fighter in Darrick Minner last July.
He’s 36-fights into his professional career — and seemingly impossible to submit — but Elkins reacts poorly to every clean strike he absorbs, and it doesn’t take much to wobble him at this point. Moreover, he has a ton of scar tissue on his face, and one of his fights will end with a doctor’s stoppage soon.
I have some concerns on the Connelly side too. He’s a former Welterweight who is now competing at Featherweight — and that weight cut can take a toll on his durability and stamina. Moreover, he’s returning after a one-year layoff following his loss to Pat Sabatini and underwent potentially career-threatening neck surgery in the interim.
Still, Connelly showed solid takedown defense (denied four of five attempts) in that matchup after denying three of five attempts against welterweight Michel Pereira. He’s also shown competent defensive grappling, and even if Elkins takes him down (2.65 takedowns per 15 minutes, 32% accuracy), I’m confident that Connelly can survive.
Elkins has his way with fighters who wilt down the stretch, but Connelly can also fight at a high pace, and he should have a speed advantage on the feet.
I projected Connelly’s moneyline at 44.2%, or +126 implied, and you can bet his moneyline down to +137 — at a two percent edge compared to my projection.
Additionally, you can find value on his knockout prop (projected, +654, listed +900 at MGM), and I’ll likely include that prop on some Round Robin tickets.
The Pick: Tristan Connelly ML (+150)
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