Saturday UFC Fight Night Betting Odds, Projections & Picks: How to Bet All 10 Bouts (August 1)
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images. Pictured (L-R: Gerald Meerschaert.
- Sean Zerillo breaks down all 10 UFC Fight Night bouts on Saturday's card, including full crowd-sourced projections and gives out his picks that he's betting.
- He's tying main event favorite Edemen Shahbazyan into several moneyline parlays, and attacking a few props as well.
- Get Zerillo's full breakdown and bets for UFC Fight Night below.
After concluding the fortnight on Fight Island with a 15-fight card last week, the UFC returns to Apex in Las Vegas on Saturday with a much tighter 10-fight card, beginning at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN+.
Fewer fights means fewer betting opportunities, but I’ll continue to follow the same process — and utilize crowdsourced projections to find value in the betting market.
From the jump, however, you should note that Saturday could end up being a chalky night. Unlike the last two UFC events, no +275 underdog caught my eye, and I’m mostly skipping betting on the preliminary card.
Let’s get into the card, my picks, and also the fights that I’m passing on betting for UFC Fight Night.
UFC Fight Night Moneyline Projections and Picks
Below, you can find my crowdsourced fair odds moneyline projection for each of Saturday’s 11 bouts. In the next section, you’ll discover forecasts for those fights to finish inside of the distance, or for each fighter to win by decision, knockout, or submission.
Five fighters — all favorites — show moneyline betting value for Saturday night: Jonathan Martinez, Kevin Holland, Vicente Luque, Joanne Calderwood, and Edmen Shahbazyan.
Jonathan Martinez was the only fighter on the card to miss weight, however, coming in four pounds over, and the betting edge is minuscule. As a result, I cannot recommend betting him on Saturday — even though fighters who miss weight still win 50% of the time in the UFC. They are just 2-8 during the pandemic, however.
One other point in Martinez’s favor is the 13-year age difference. When there is at least a 10-year age gap between UFC fighters, the younger man has won 62% of the time at average odds of -137 (implied 57.8%).
Moving up to the Main Card, Kevin Holland should be a more significant favorite against Trevin Giles. Holland is the bigger fighter — three inches taller with a seven-inch reach advantage — and he should be able to keep Giles at range with his kicks. But Holland also offers multiple paths to victory, highlighted by the fact that the crowd sees his chances as almost equally likely to win by decision, knockout, or submission.
Vicente Luque offers value at around -200, nearly half his projected moneyline price, against Randy Brown. Brown is the longer and taller fighter, but Luque will keep pushing forward and will be happy to stand in the pocket and exchange. Relative to Brown, he lands an additional 2.2 strikes per minute in the octagon — but Brown has the superior differential (0.99 to -0.13) while Luque is known to both dole out and take back punishment.
I don’t see him having enough power to trouble Luque, however, who should have the also have the grappling advantage in addition to the higher volume of strikes.
Joanne Calderwood has the height, reach, and volume advantage (+2.15 landed per minute) in her striker vs. striker Flyweight clash with Jennifer Maia. She has a strong kicking game to keep Maia at a distance — and she’ll be able to punish her opponent for coming forward from range.
Maia does have the ability to make this fight ugly and grind Calderwood in the clinch up against the cage. Still, Jojo has shown an improved takedown offense in her past two matches, and I could see her using it both to get out of trouble and secure rounds after doubling-up Maia in volume over the first few minutes.
22-year-old Edemen Shahbazyan can play the age-card against 36-year-old Derek Brunson. Rarely is there a 13-year age gap between two UFC competitors, but in 52 such fights, the younger man is 36-16 (69%) at average odds of -132 (implied 56.8%) — so they have won about 12% more frequently than expected.
It’s important to note that this is only a three-round Main Event, so stamina concerns in the deep waters of the championship rounds will not be at issue for either man. That plays to Shahbazyan’s advantage — the No. 9 middleweight contender has only been out of the first round once, in a split decision win on Dana White’s contender series.
He has very sharp hands and kicks with good power, and Brunson needs to look to get the fight to the ground and grind out a decision victory — he doesn’t want to exchange with the quicker man for long, and Shahbazyan should be able to pick him apart at a distance.
Brunson does have the reach advantage (three inches), and he could present a different look as a southpaw (53% win rate vs. orthodox fighters). Still, Shahbazyan has the superior strike metrics (+1.95 to +0.48 strike differential, +7% accuracy, +8 defense). Shahbazyan’s takedown defense (75%) and wrestling will be put to the test — but he has landed 6.77 takedowns per 15 minutes in his brief UFC career and is likely an underrated grappler.
Calderwood and Luque are straight moneyline bets, but I’m using Holland and Shahbazyan moreso as parlay pieces — and we can take a look at some other ways to play these fighters in the prop market.
- Joanne Calderwood -145 (1 unit)
- Vicente Luque -197 (Risk 1 unit)
- Parlay (-110): Edemen Shahbazyan / Kevin Holland (1 unit)
- Parlay (+190): Edemen Shahbazyan / Kevin Holland / Vicente Luque (0.5 units)
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 — which also enables us to determine fair odds for each fight to go the distance:
Ultimately, there wasn’t a lot of prop value that I was interested in playing for Saturday night, unlike recent cards.
Shahbazyan vs. Brunson, Luque vs. Brown, and Herman each offer theoretical value to finish inside fo the distance.
I’m skipping the Herman/Meerschaert bout for a variety of reasons we will touch on in the next section. I expect Shahbazyan to win inside of the distance (-200), specifically by KO/TKO (-160), which offers more value relative to the crowd projection (-245), but those are still too steep for my liking as prop wagers.
Luque, however, is a noted finisher (16 of 18 career wins), and Brown has been stopped twice in the UFC. Luque by KO/TKO (+200) or inside the distance (+130) both offer value relative to crowd projections at -139 and -203, respectively.
Additionally, I bet Kevin Holland to win inside of the distance at +140, compared to a crowd projection of -122. Giles has never been knocked out, but he has been submitted twice, and Holland is seemingly starting to figure out his physical gifts.
Conversely, the Green vs. Vannata and Maia vs. Calderwood bouts both offer expected value to go the distance.
The former is a rematch where Vannata nearly won by first-round knockout. At the same time, the latter is a match that I already invested in, and also considered taking Calderwood by decision (+105) compared to a crowd projection at -245.
The difference in expected value between betting Calderwood’s moneyline (19.8%) or betting her prop to win by decision (22.3%) was comparable, however, so I opted for the moneyline price since strange things happen in MMA.
Betting that bout to go the distance (-360) could be a useful parlay piece – but keep in mind that there is a higher percentage of stoppages in the 25-foot-cage at Apex, compared to the normal 30-foot octagon.
- Kevin Holland Inside the Distance (+140, 0.5 units)
- Vicente Luque Inside the Distance (+130, 0.5 units)
Fights to Pass On
Chris Gutierrez vs. Cody Durden
For whatever reason, I typically struggle to win my bets on the first fight on any card, and I’m happy to skip the first of three consecutive clashes involving a late replacement on Saturday.
Gutierrez was initially supposed to face Luke Sanders but will draw a UFC newcomer instead. Note that fighters making their octagon debut against a UFC veteran win just 43% of the time (209-276), and late replacements (less than one week notice) have a 37% win rate.
Durden has a path to victory on the mat, given Gutierrez’s questionable takedown defense (66%), and he owns seven consecutive stoppages on the regional scene.
Jamall Emmers vs. Vince Cachero
Cachero is a late replacement (37% win rate) for Timur Valiev, and suddenly Emmers is the most significant favorite on Saturday’s card after lining up as a +135 underdog against his original opponent. He lost his only prior UFC contest via split decision, and it’s difficult to trust him against any opponent as such a significant favorite.
Johnny Munoz vs. Nate Maness
Munoz is a late replacement (37% win rate) for Ray Borg, moving Maness from a +195 underdog to a slight (-138) favorite — but the crowd likes Munoz to win the bout 41% of the time — so I don’t see any line value on this fight.
Frankie Saenz vs. Jonathan Martinez
As I mentioned earlier, Martinez shows slight line value, but he was the only fighter on the card who missed weight — and fighters who have missed weight during the pandemic are just 2-8.
The 13-year age gap is to Martinez’s benefit — the younger man has won 62% of the time at average odds of -137 (implied 57.8%) in such situations, but his missing weight is enough to keep me away.
Ed Herman vs. Gerald Meerschaert
I could see this fight finishing inside of the distance because it is a preliminary fight at UFC Apex — where we have seen a higher percentage of early stoppages than in the 30-foot cages.
Meerschaert is yet another late replacement on this card (37% win rate on two weeks’ notice), and he is moving up to Light Heavyweight for this bout.
Herman should be more accustomed to the weight class, and I see him as a live underdog in this spot, but I cannot trust either man with my money — and while I expect to see an early stoppage, I wouldn’t be surprised by a dull, three-round slog either.
Perhaps the weight cut was hurting Meerschaert’s durability at 185 pounds, and he will be better suited at 205, but the 20-pound jump from middleweight to light heavyweight is like two weight classes, and I’m not sure if he’s big enough to compete in this division.
Lando Vannata vs. Bobby Green
This is a rematch from an October 2017 draw between the same competitors. Brown was taking over in the later stages of the fight, but Vannata nearly scored a first-round finish and essentially won the bout, which was declared a draw due to a point deduction.
I would probably lean towards Green in the rematch. He has the superior strike differential (+1.49 to -0.01), accuracy (+5%), and defense (+7%), but the line looks about right after Green went off at +180 for the first clash.
For some pizza money, consider betting on the draw at +5000.