Saturday UFC Fight Night Odds, Picks, Projections: Our Staff’s Best Bets for Semelsberger vs. Fletcher, Jackson vs. Kirk
Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC fighter AJ Fletcher.
- UFC Fight Night gets underway on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET, and our staff is targeting two fights as their favorite bets.
- They include a +180 underdog and Damon Jackson at around -110.
- Get both our favorite UFC Fight Night bets for March 12 below.
We’ve got a great UFC Fight Night card this Saturday night headlined by an exciting main event between top tier light heavyweights Thiago Santos and Magomed Ankalaev who is stepping in on short notice. The card features a tacked eight-bout prelim card (4 p.m. ET on ESPN+) and six main card fights (7 p.m. ET).
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.
Billy Ward: Matthew Semelsberger vs. AJ Fletcher
Contributor at The Action Network
AJ Fletcher is making his UFC debut against four-fight UFC veteran Matthew Semelsberger in the final prelim fight of UFC Fight Night 50. Fletcher is fresh off an extremely impressive Contender Series victory, in which he battered his opponent with punches before putting him down with a flying knee in the first round.
While Semelsberger has a very strong 3-1 record in the UFC, that record is a bit overinflated. His best win came against Jason Witt, who’s 2-2 in his other UFC bouts That was also a potentially fluky 16-second knockout. While impressive, I’d rather see a fighter control longer stretches of action.
Neither of Semelsberger’s other wins came against fighters with a UFC win. Nick Maximov is 4-3 as a professional, and fighting in the UFC essentially as a favor/negotiation piece to Nick Diaz. Carlton Minus went 0-2 and was cut by the promotion.
This isn’t just a pick fading Semelsberger as a -200 or so favorite, though. Fletcher has a huge athletic advantage here. The former football player has explosive ability in his hands and legs, and (defensive) football players generally have explosive takedowns. He allegedly had a 500-pound squat and 315-pound bench as a high school junior and is likely even stronger now.
While a highly skilled fighter can overcome an athleticism deficit, Semelsberger hasn’t shown anything to indicate he can. His knockout loss against the also-explosive Khaos Williams provides a great example. The big issue here is the reach advantage for Semelsberger, who has eight inches on Fletcher. (Williams has a longer reach than Semelsberger.)
However, Fletcher is an undefeated welterweight with a 67-inch reach. This won’t be the first time he has to fight far rangier fighters, and he’s shown an ability to compensate with quickness and power in the past. He’ll likely need to drop down to 155 pounds at some point in his career, but don’t expect the reach to be an issue against lower level competition.
Fletcher’s line has creeped down throughout the week, but you can still get him at +180 at FanDuel. I’d be willing to bet his moneyline all the way down to +140 though.
The Pick: AJ Fletcher ML (+180)
Sean Zerillo: Damon Jackson vs. Kamuela Kirk
Staff Writer at The Action Network
Jackson opened as high as +154 (39.4% implied) at FanDuel but steamed to a pick ’em price before Friday’s weigh-ins, and I still see value on his moneyline (projected 61.3% or -158 implied) at current odds.
“The Leech” presents a similar stylistic archetype to Kirk’s last matchup — against Makwan Amirkhani. Jackson will look to grapple Kirk for 15 minutes (Amirkhani landed 5-of-9 takedowns, with 6:50 of control time) — and either press Kirk against the fence or control him on the mat.
The one area where Jackson has a significant advantage over Amirkhani towards executing that game plan is cardio — “Mr. Finland” tends to tire out after five to seven minutes of exertion; Jackson can compete for 15 minutes.
Jackson can mix it up in the striking exchanges too, and likely keep the fight competitive with his boxing — if he can overcome a four-inch reach discrepancy. While I favor Kirk in the striking — particularly in power optics — he doesn’t push an exceptionally high pace at a distance.
Still, Jackson has a more straightforward path to minute winning — or potentially a finish via submission — if he can control Kirk for extended periods along the fence and weaponize his three-round cardio.
I would bet Jackson to win one unit up to about -124 (55.3% implied) at a six percent edge compared to my projection. I would lower the stakes to a half unit from -125 to -140 (58.3% implied, a three percent edge).
Moreover, I value the fight to go to a decision (projected -170, listed -130) and Jackson to win by decision (projected +154, listed +200). However, those outcomes are likely linked — and I would only consider a small wager on Jackson’s winning method prop at boosted odds.
The Pick: Damon Jackson (-110)