UFC Fight Night Odds, Picks & Projections: Betting Analysis for Saturday’s 12 Bouts (Feb. 6)

UFC Fight Night Odds, Picks & Projections: Betting Analysis for Saturday’s 12 Bouts (Feb. 6) article feature image
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Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images. Pictured: Detailed view of the UFC glove and Reebok shorts of Irwin Rivera (L).

  • Looking for picks in tonight's UFC Fight Night at the Apex? You've come to the right place.
  • Using his betting model, Sean Zerillo lays out his plays for 10 of tonight's 12 scheduled fights.
  • Check out his analysis, projections and picks below.

I’ll update this post immediately after tracking each play in the Action Network App. If you want bet notifications right away, make sure to follow me there.


The UFC returns to the APEX in Las Vegas on Saturday with seven preliminary bouts on ESPN+ at 5 p.m. ET, before moving to a six-fight main card at 8 p.m.

As a reminder, the cage at APEX (25-foot diameter) is about 30% smaller in terms of square footage than a regular UFC octagon (30-foot diameter), and consequently, the finish rate is roughly 10% higher. 

On the three cards to start the year on Fight Island (30-foot cage), 21 of the 35 fights (60%) went the distance. Based on the listed odds for Saturday’s card, only six of the 13 fights (46%) are expected to reach a decision.

If you are new to this piece, or this sport, note that in addition to moneylines and over/unders, there are numerous ways to bet on an MMA fight — including exact winning methods, winning round props, and whether or not the match will go to a decision or finish inside the distance.

As a result, after examining all of the betting options, your typical UFC card can offer a substantial amount of actionable value.

Check out the betting odds for Saturday’s UFC card, with analysis and picks for each fight below.

UFC Fight Night Moneyline Projections and Picks

Below, you can find my fair odds moneyline projection for each of Wednesday’s 13 bouts. In the next section, you’ll discover forecasts for those fights to finish inside the distance or for each fighter to win by decision, knockout, or submission.

UFC Fight Night Prop Projections and Picks

In addition to creating a crowdsourced projection for moneyline plays, I also collect data on each fighter to win by decision, knockout, or submission, enabling us to determine fair odds for each fight to go the distance or for each fighter to win inside of the distance.

UFC Fight Night Picks

The Fights I’m Betting

Martin Day vs. Timur Valiev

Day has the unfortunate distinction of achieving the loss method trifecta (decision, knockout, submission) through his first three UFC bouts, and now draws a tough assignment on a week’s notice while going up a weight class.

Late replacements carry just a 38% win rate in the UFC, but at average odds of +171 (implied 36.9%), they still win just about as often as expected.

Valiev lost by knockout as a -631 favorite (officially overturned to a no-contest) against late-replacement Trevin Jones in August. Still, he was fully in control of that fight (66-26 on significant strikes, 70% to 52% accuracy), before getting caught, without deploying his wrestling.

The Russian should have the edge everywhere in this fight except for size (Day is six inches longer and four inches taller). Given that disparity, I’m expecting Valiev to go to his wrestling relatively early in this fight and look to expose the Hawaiian’s grappling.

I project a considerable edge on Valiev’s moneyline (listed -360, projected -809), but at that price point, I prefer him as a parlay piece with other value plays on the card.

In terms of props, I see slight value on all three winning methods for the favorite but prefer his inside the distance wager (projected -115) at -105 or better.

Durability provided, Timur should be able to decide how he wants to win this fight.

Note: Since my original parlay with Valiev and Cody Stamann is now just a one unit bet on Valiev’s moneyline at -390, I added another unit on his moneyline at -400; effectively risking two units on his moneyline at average odds of -395. You can play that up to -425. 

Bets: 

  • Timur Valiev (-395, Risk 2 units)
  • Timur Valiev wins Inside the Distance (-105, 0.5u)
  • Parlay (+100): Timur Valiev / Smith vs. Jaynes Under 1.5 Rounds (0.5u)

Seung-woo Choi vs. Youssef Zalal

I was on Zalal by decision for his entire 2020 run — and while he won three of those fights on the scorecards, and I became a fan of “The Moroccan Devil,” I think he’s a bit overvalued here.

Choi (6-foot-0, 74-inch reach) is easily the biggest man that Zalal has faced in the division, and the Korean’s Muay-Thai base could prove to be vicious inside of the small cage if Zalal (2.25 takedowns per 15 minutes, 42% accuracy) cannot keep him on the mat or up against the cage.

Choi hasn’t fought since Dec. 2019, and I’d hope that the 28-year-old has made improvements during the layoff, particularly to his takedown defense (66%).

He faced relentless pressure against high-level competition in Movsar Evloev (5 of 16 on takedowns) and Gavin Tucker (5 of 13 on takedowns) in his first two UFC bouts. While I’m high on Zalal, he still represents a step down in level from those opponents.

Furthermore, he’s coming in on short notice and may not have the gas tank to sustain for three rounds — but the fight is likely closer than the line appears, regardless of the short-notice spot.

I projected Choi’s moneyline at +170 (implied 37%), and I would take a small stab at +194 (implied 34%) or better at a three-percent edge.

Choi by decision (projected +343) is an intriguing wager at +400 or better, but I do think he could put Zalal out on the feet, and I’m not taking a huge position against a fighter on whom I’m still high.

Bets: 

  • Seung-woo Choi +200 (0.5u)

Molly McCann vs. Lara Procopio

For all of the improvements we saw in McCann’s wrestling against lower-level opponents, I was admittedly wrong to back her against Talia Santos (0-for-4 on offensive takedowns, denied only 2-of-7 takedowns) last July.

McCann comes from a boxing background but has a reach deficit against nearly every fighter, which has forced her to grapple more in the UFC.

Procopio has a five-inch reach advantage, a BJJ blackbelt, and she’s moving down from the 135-pound division — where she kept up with the much larger Karol Rosa (171-165 on significant strikes) in her UFC debut.

My only concern is her significant layoff since that fight (Aug. 31, 2019), as UFC fighters returning off of a one-year layoff win less than 40% of the time.

Hopefully, the 25-year-old has spent that time off improving, but Procopio should be the superior grappler in this matchup, and given the output, I also expect her to win more minutes on the feet.

I see slight value on the Brazilian’s moneyline down to +125, and her decision prop (projected +176), at +200 or better, and I’ll split a unit between those positions.

Bets: 

  • Lara Procopio +125 (0.5u)
  • Lara Procopio wins by Decision (+225, 0.5 u)

Karol Rosa vs. Joselyne Edwards

I mentioned Rosa in the section above. You should note that she validated her win over Procopio with a dominant victory over Vanessa Melo (120-45 on significant strikes, 30-26 on two scorecards) last July.

I immediately became a fan of Rosa, her aggressive nature, and her tree-trunk legs — she has denied all five takedown attempts in the UFC (five against Procopio, two against Melo), and it looks like you’ll need an ax to get her down.

Rosa throws a ton of volume (9.7 strikes landed per minute, 50% accuracy) — including a high volume of leg kicks — and it will be difficult for Edwards to maintain a similar output.

Like Rosa, I immediately became a fan of Edwards after her debut. She showed an extremely aggressive style and some slick submission attempts on short notice.

I would give her a pass for potential late-round cardio concerns, but this is just a three-week turnaround after her debut on Fight Island, and she’s entering this card as a late replacement for Nicco Montano.

Edwards faded in the third round of that debut, and a stronger fighter would have posed a stiffer test in the grappling department.

These are two of my favorite bantamweight prospects, but Rosa is much more likely to win minutes in this fight.

I have Rosa’s decision line projected at -148, and I would bet that prop up to -130 at a three percent edge.

Bets: 

  • Karol Rosa wins by Decision (+105, 1u)

Devonte Smith vs. Justin Jaynes

I projected this fight to end inside the distance nearly 88% of the time, and at implied odds of -710, there’s still betting slight value relative to listed odds at -500 (or 83.3%).

However, I never lay that much vig, and when such a situation arises, I typically look to the Under 1.5 Rounds in the fight, which is juiced to -170 (implied 63%) for this matchup.

Smith has recorded seven of 10 wins via first-round knockout and is returning from a long layoff, following an upset loss as a massive favorite (-986) against Khama Worthy in August 2019 and a subsequent Achilles injury.

Jaynes is taking this fight on short notice and making his fourth Octagon appearance since June — so there should be less ring rust — but he rarely has more than a round of gas anyway.

Smith possesses a substantial reach advantage (8 inches) in this matchup, and I expect him to punish Jaynes for rushing forward,

Congrats to #FloCombat vet and now 1-0 #UFC lightweight Devonte Smith on his devastating #KO at #UFCDenver. What a debut. 👌

📹 via @K_O_E_KINGKAGE pic.twitter.com/LzmIS7dhWD

— FloCombat (@FloCombat) November 12, 2018

Smith by KO/TKO (projected -163, listed -150) or Jaynes inside the distance (projected +355, listed +360) both offer some value. Still, I prefer the Under 1.5 Rounds (Risk 0.5u) up to -180, and I’m playing an even-money parlay with the Under 1.5 and Timur Valiev’s moneyline.

Bets: 

  • Smith vs. Jaynes, Under 1.5 Rounds (-165, Risk 0.5u)
  • Parlay (+100): Timur Valiev / Smith vs. Jaynes Under 1.5 Rounds (0.5u)

Diego Ferreira vs. Beneil Dariush

This is a rematch from a 2014 fight where Dariush — who closed as a +190 favorite — secured a decisive victory (30-27 x3) in a grappling battle.

Rematch statistics lend themselves to the 1-0 fighter — who win more than 70% of the time in the second fight — but both men have made massive improvements in the past six years to their striking.

Ferreira’s pressure has overwhelmed opponents and has served to create openings to grapple, while Dariush has refined his kickboxing before recommitting himself to the ground game.

ICYMI: Beneil Dariush (-190) caught Scott Holtzman with the spinning backfist for a knockout of the year candidate 🥊 😴 pic.twitter.com/tqyaxP677Y

— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) August 9, 2020

I think Dariush’s activity and fight IQ ultimately makes the difference here. Since their first encounter in 2014, Dariush has made twice as many trips to the octagon (14) as his opponent, who tends to be a slow starter.

If Dariush can land takedowns (1.75 per 15 minutes, 32% accuracy) with success in the rematch (3-of-6 in the first fight), he should gain enough control time to win on the cards.

But I wouldn’t be surprised to see either man finish this exciting lightweight contest.

I would bet the Dariush moneyline up to -118 (implied 54%), a five percent edge compared to my projection.

Bets: 

  • Beneil Dariush -105 (1u)

Cody Stamann vs. Askar Askar

Editors Note: This fight has been canceled. 

Like Valiev, Stamann can probably win this fight against a late-notice replacement and a UFC debutant (42% win rate vs. UFC veterans) in Askar Askar (not to be confused with UFC Flyweight Askar Askarov) in any manner he desires.

Askar is a wild swinger who comes after his opponents, and while Stamann is typically a decision machine (11 of 18 wins via decision, eight of nine UFC bouts have gone the distance), this spot sets up for a potential finish.

Unfortunately, I project this fight to go the distance (71% or -240) more often than the odds suggest (67.7%, or -210), and given Stamann’s lengthy decision history, I show slight value (projected -158, listed -150) on his decision prop; but I wouldn’t bet that above -139, at a three percent edge.

Furthermore, I project this fight to go the distance (71% or -240) more often than the odds suggest.

But I will pass on both the decision and distance props in a smaller octagon against a late-notice debutant.

Pair Stamann with the other juicy value play on the card, Timur Valiev, and risk one unit on a parlay to return at least a half unit, at -200 or better.

While Stamann hasn’t been able to navigate his way past any top-10 contenders, he should make relatively easy work of the lesser competition.

Bets: 

  • N/A

Alexandre Pantoja vs. Manel Kape

Kape, the Rizin bantamweight champ, is immediately thrust into the fire at flyweight against a ranked contender in Pantoja, who is trying to bounce back from a loss to Askar Askarov in July (not to be confused with debutant Askar Askar, listed above).

Pantoja was the backup for the main event — Figuerido vs. Benavidez 2 — that evening but lost his bout as a -210 favorite and slid down the flyweight rankings to No. 5.

Kape is an explosive athlete and a talented prospect. However, he’s still a UFC debutant (42% win rate vs. octagon veteran), and moving from ropes and wrestling shoes in Rizin to a barefoot cage fight is certainly a change of scenery.

There are questions regarding his grappling, which a high-level blackbelt like Pantoja figures to test.

Unfortunately, Pantoja is a bit too keen to get into wars and doesn’t always stick to the most optimal game plan. Still, there’s certainly a path to victory in the opening minutes here if Kape is no match for him on the ground.

I’m surprised to see this fight lined as a pick’em, giving the question marks surrounding Kape. It seems far more likely that Pantoja outperforms his price than the other way around.

I projected Pantoja’s win rate at 65% for this fight, and I would bet him up to -150 (implied 60%) at a five percent edge.

I see slight value on his decision prop (projected +242, listed +300), too, but an early submission seems as likely as a three-round decision, given the question marks surrounding his opponent.

Bets: 

  • Alexandre Pantoja -115 (1u)

Cory Sandhagen vs. Frankie Edgar

Edgar won a very controversial split decision over Pedro Munhoz in August — 19 of 23 media members, and 58% of fans scored the bout for the Brazilian.

Perhaps the 40-year-old former world champion is getting some veteran deference in close fights, and the opportunity to go back to a three-round battle against Sandhagen should improve his output (3.7 strikes landed per minute) even further. However, Edgar still has five-round cardio.

Edgar should look to secure a couple of takedowns (2.28 landed per 15 minutes, 31% accuracy) as grappling is Sandhagen’s lone weakness (30% takedown defense) though he is a very effective scrambler.

The lengthy bantamweight (five inches taller, two inches of reach on Edgar) is an unorthodox striker. Still, Edgar has run the gamut of opponents at this point in his career and mentioned that the Sandhagen matchup reminds him of the Yair Rodriguez fight.

Running with Elevation Fight Team, Sandhagen will certainly improve his wrestling base over time, and stamina is rarely an issue for the kickboxer, though starting slow can be.

Even if Sandhagen dropped the first round in a five-round fight, I would expect him to win at least three, if not all four of the remaining rounds. But in a three-round fight, the margins are so much slimmer. One takedown could prove the difference.

Sandhagen is being priced as though he’s likely to win by finish, but the betting market expects the fight to go the distance 64% of the time (listed odds of -177), which could make this an interesting sweat.

I would consider a small moneyline play on Edgar at odds of +335 (implied 23%) or, better, a three percent edge compared to my projection (26%).

For now, I’m placing a small wager on his decision prop at +450 or better, relative to my projection at +400.

Bets: 

  • Frankie Edgar wins by Decision (+450, 0.25u)

Alistair Overeem vs. Alexander Volkov

Speaking of fighters who have run the gamut of opponents across eras, we may have to change Overeem’s nickname to “The Time Machine.”

Alistair Overeem has fought:

Chuck Liddell
Vitor Belfort
Lil Nog
Fabricio Werdum
Shogun Rua
Mark Hunt
Mirko Cro Cop
Brock Lesnar
Bigfoot Silva
Frank Mir
Big Ben
Junior Dos Santos
Roy Nelson
Andrei Arlovski
Stipe Miocic
Francis Ngannou
Jairzinho Rozenstruik

😳 #UFCVegas18

— MMA On Point (@OnPointMMA) February 4, 2021

In order to have a career in anything that spans four decades, that person would need to evolve and improve over time continually — and The Reem has done exactly that since moving his camp to Elevation Fight Team in 2018.

In the five fights since the switch, he has attempted takedowns at a higher rate and spent far more time in control positions (either on the ground or in the clinch) than he had previously.

While Overeem’s wrestling is nowhere near his teammate’s level, Curtis Blaydes, who completed a heavyweight-record 14 takedowns against Volkov, Blaydes came in with a plan of attack designed to neutralize the Russian; and I would expect Elevation to craft an equally efficient plan for Overeem to follow.

Volkov’s takedown defense is better than the metrics (65%) indicate, as a consequence of the Blaydes fight. However, he possesses the ability to 1) consistently get back to his feet; and 2) maintain volume for five rounds.

As a result, while Volkov isn’t a murderous power puncher, he should eventually rack up a high volume of strikes against Overeem, who is one of the more accurate strikers in UFC history (64%) himself.

But it’s really only the elite fighters or murderous power punchers (Stipe, Ngannou, Rozenstruik) who have managed to put The Reem down in recent years. While it seems like he gets hurt in every fight, he typically covers up and manages to survive.

Volkov’s damage comes as a result of accumulation, not single shots. I was all over Volkov in his win against Walt Harris. Still, he’s even more of a significant favorite here — against a heavyweight legend — than he was against a 37-year-old Harris who was 13-8 and coming off of a stoppage loss (to Overeem).

It isn’t easy to justify Volkov’s price; I think the line should be closer to -122 (implied 45%), and I would bet Overeem down to +150 (implied 40%), at a five percent edge compared to my projection.

I also show slight value on Overeem to win inside the distance (projected +203, listed +240), but I’ll stick with the moneyline at a more significant edge.

Bets: 

  • Alistair Overeem +171 (1u)

The Fights I’m Passing On

Ode Osbourne vs. Jerome Rivera

In terms of my projections, there is no actionable value on this fight. Furthermore, it’s a bit of a weird spot. Rivera lost to Francisco Figuerido on Jan. 20 on Fight Island and is returning both on short notice, and up two weight classes, as a replacement for Denys Bondar; who was originally favored over Osbourne.

As a reminder, late replacements carry just a 38% win rate in the UFC, but at average odds of +171 (implied 36.9%), they still win just about as often as expected.

I expect to see an early finish in this fight; nine of Osbourne’s 11 bouts have ended in the first round, and “The Jamaican Sensation” is incredibly aggressive.

Mike Rodriguez vs. Danilo Marques

“Slow Mike” has a five-inch reach advantage, and significant technical striking edge over Marques, but Rodriguez doesn’t always make +EV decisions in the octagon, often abandoning his length and finding his way into the clinch with lesser strikers.

If he stays on the outside, Rodriguez probably wins this fight with ease. But if he decides to clinch Marques, it opens a path to victory for the grappling specialist.

Rodriguez by KO/TKO (projected -135, listed -155) or inside the distance (projected -163, listed -167) are the most likely results in this contest. I show very slight value on his moneyline, but not enough of an edge to consider a play.

Michael Johnson vs. Clay Guida

Like Rodriguez, Johnson is incredibly untrustworthy as a betting favorite, despite his back class (wins over Tony Ferguson, Edson Barboza, and Dustin Poirier).

And also, like Rodriguez, he should have a massive edge on the feet against his Saturday opponent. But Guida, while declining at age 39, still has the wrestling prowess to both put Johnson on his back and keep him there — especially if he can survive the early onslaught coming back the other way, and drag Johnson to deeper waters.

Ultimately, I think Johnson finishes this early or turns into a relatively sloppy, but close, three-round affair. Either way, I don’t project any betting value on this fight.


Zerillo’s UFC Fight Night Bets

Distance or Decision Props and Overs

  • Lara Procopio wins by Decision (+225, 0.5 units)
  • Karol Rosa wins by Decision (+105, 1u)
  • Frankie Edgar wins by Decision (+450, 0.25u)

Inside the Distance Props and Unders

  • Timur Valiev wins Inside the Distance (-105, 0.5u)
  • Smith / Jaynes, Under 1.5 Rounds (Risk 0.5u)

Moneylines

  • Timur Valiev (-395, Risk 2u)
  • Seung-woo Choi +200 (0.5u)
  • Lara Procopio +125 (0.5u)
  • Beneil Dariush -105 (1u)
  • Alexandre Pantoja -115 (1u)
  • Alistair Overeem +171 (1u)

Parlays

  • Parlay (+100): Timur Valiev / Smith vs. Jaynes Under 1.5 Rounds (0.5u)

Don’t forget to follow my picks in the Action Network App.

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