UFC Fight Night Odds, Picks & Projections: Your Guide To Betting All 12 Fights On Saturday

UFC Fight Night Odds, Picks & Projections: Your Guide To Betting All 12 Fights On Saturday article feature image
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Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: A general view of the UFC Octagon Girl Round 1 card in front of the UFC Octagon at UFC APEX.

  • For the last time in 2020, "It’s Time!" UFC betting analyst Sean Zerillo breaks down all 12 fights on the final UFC Fight Night card of the year.
  • Check out his analysis and picks for Saturday's full card below, including seven props and five moneyline bets.

The last UFC Fight Night card of the year is upon us!

It has been an unpredictable year of fights, but Saturday’s slate should closeout 2020 with a bang as Welterweights Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson and Geoff Neal headline the action at the APEX. The slate has seen some changes, but should with 12 total fights beginning at 4 p.m. ET, with seven prelims on ESPN+, followed by five main card fights on ESPN+ at 7 p.m. ET.

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


Odds as of Friday and via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.


UFC Fight Night Moneyline Projections and Picks

Below, you can find my fair odds moneyline projection for each of Saturday’s 12 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 — which enables 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

[Click to Skip to Main Card]

Catchweight fight: Christos Giagos vs. Carlton Minus

Odds
Giagos odds -315
Minus odds +240
Over/Under TBA rounds TBA

Crowdsourced Projections: Giagos (78%)

Historically, late-notice replacements have just a 38% win rate in the UFC. Fighters returning from a layoff more significant than one year also win less than 40% of the time, putting Giagos (3-4 over two UFC stints) – who is replacing Rick Glenn on two days notice – in a difficult spot against Minus; who is searching for his first UFC win following an unsuccessful August debut.

Minus is competent on the feet, and as a natural welterweight, he owns the size advantage moving down to face a natural lightweight (4-inch reach advantage). Still, Giagos should have a significant grappling edge (2.74 takedowns per 15 minutes, 42% accuracy), which should help him win against a less versatile opponent.

In the betting market, Minus is just as significant of an underdog against Giagos (+250, implied 28.5%) as he was against Glenn – a similarly sized opponent to Giagos, who was set to return from a two-year layoff of his own.

I set Giagos’ fair odds at 78% (implied -354), so I see slight value on his moneyline, but not enough of a gap to make it an actionable play.

I also expect to see value on the fight to go the distance but would prefer to bet the favorite’s decision prop to about -135 (implied 57.5%), at a five percentage point edge relative to my projection at -167 (implied 62.5%).

Bets: 

  • Christos Giagos wins by Decision (+175, 0.5u)
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Flyweight fight: Jimmy Flick vs. Cody Durden

Odds
Flick odds -162
Durden odds +130
Over/Under 1.5 rounds -134/+100

Crowdsourced Projections: Flick (57%)

This fight was originally scheduled for Dec. 7, but was moved to Dec. 19 after Durden contracted pinkeye.

This is the official UFC Debut for Flick – a contender series alum who has recorded 13 of his 15 professional wins (including each of his past 12 victories), by submission.

Durden notched a draw in his own UFC debut in August – losing the final 10 minutes to Chris Gutierrez after recording a 10-8 first round on his opponent’s back.

Durden has finished 10 of his 11 career victories (five KO/TKO, five submissions), and four of Flick’s five losses have come by way of knockout.

I’m concerned about Durden – a natural Bantamweight – and his ability to cut to 125 (a new weight class) for the second time in two weeks. I see a reduced chance of his winning the fight as a result.

Compared to my analysis before the initially scheduled bout, I no longer see value on Durden’s moneyline, his decision prop, or on the fight to go the distance.

Previously, I tabbed Durden as the superior athlete and striker while cautioning against his Fight IQ – and the desire to keep the fight standing. I don’t trust him to execute an ideal game plan and solely use his wrestling defensively. If Durden tries to initiate grappling exchanges with Flick, it’s likely a -EV decision, and I’ll keep my money away from this fight.

Bets: 

  • Pass
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Middleweight fight: Tafon Nchukwi vs. Jamie Pickett

Odds
Nchukwi odds -305
Pickett odds +235
Over/Under 1.5 rounds -118/-113

Crowdsourced Projections: Nchukwi (73%)

It took Pickett three years and three tries to earn a contract off the Contender Series, while the undefeated Nchukwi was much more successful in his first attempt in September:

THIS HEAD KICK KO IS TERRIFYING 😱@TafonDaDon #DWCS pic.twitter.com/RpZOj9xzsY

— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) September 9, 2020

The 26-year-old native of Cameroon – who owns a 13-1 record in Muay Thai –  has won all seven of his MMA bouts (three amateur, four professional) by KO/TKO and could be absolutely terrifying at Middleweight. He maintains a relatively slow pace but puts a ton of force behind his crisp, clean shots.

He hasn’t merely crushed cans either; one of his pro-MMA wins came by overpowering the huge William Knight – who looked incredibly strong in his own UFC debut in September – at Light Heavyweight.

Additionally, Nchukwi displayed competent grappling in that matchup. He’ll need to keep this fight standing against Pickett – who could look to take this fight to the mat, given the power discrepancy.

Pickett has never been knocked out, and he’ll technically have a small size edge on paper in this fight (2-inch height and 3-inch reach advantage), despite Nchukwi’s physicality.

Nchukwi has some holes defensively (outlanded 55-47 and absorbed 46% of significant strikes in DWCS win), and I could see him losing fights on volume if he isn’t able to put his opponents away.

But his power is unnatural for 185, and I set Nchukwi’s odds to win inside the distance at 69% (implied -223) for this fight. I would play that prop to -200.

The UFC has already started his promotional push – and I’m boarding the prospect hype train from the jump.

Bets: 

  • Tafon Nchukwi wins Inside the Distance (-170, 0.5u)
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Catchweight fight: Deron Winn vs. Antonio Arroyo

Odds
Winn odds +134
Arroyo odds -167
Over/Under 2.5 rounds -118/-113

Crowdsourced Projections: Arroyo (67%)

This catchweight bout will take place at 195 pounds, which will help Arroyo acclimate as a late replacement coming off of a 13-month layoff. Historically, fighters in a similar spot win less than 40% of the time, but Arroyo won’t have to make a difficult weight cut.

Arroyo already had major physical advantages over Winn (9-inch height and 3-inch reach advantage) – who will have to close the distance and use his wrestling (2.49 takedowns per 15 minutes 36%) accuracy) to ground a fighter with questionable takedown defense (44%).

It’s even worse than I expected 😂 #UFCVegas17 pic.twitter.com/PsP8VcqTKH

— MILLER (@Miller_UFC) December 18, 2020

Winn was both undersized and outgunned at middleweight, and facing an even larger man – who probably belongs at 205 – it could be challenging to keep Arroyo down even if he gets the fight there. Both men have struggled to cut to 185 in the past, and each should have more stamina in their respective gas tanks than what we have previously seen from them.

In addition to the size discrepancy, Arroyo is simply much more well-rounded and seemingly unlikely to lose this fight unless he spends most of the minutes being controlled on his back.

That’s a possible – but fairly narrow – path to victory for Winn – who hasn’t been able to keep opponents smaller than Arroyo down. And Arroyo’s finishing potential is significantly higher than Winn’s in this matchup.

I set Arroyo’s implied moneyline odds at 67%, and I would play it to -178 (implied 64%), a three percentage point edge compared to my projection.

Furthermore, I see actionable value on Arroyo’s odds to win inside the distance down to +131 (implied 43.23%) compared to my projection at +116 (implied 46.23%)

Bets: 

  • Antonio Arroyo (-160, 0.5u)
  • Antonio Arroyo wins Inside the Distance (+150, 0.5u)
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Women’s Bantamweight fight: Sijara Eubanks vs. Pannie Kianzad

Odds
Eubanks odds -162
Kianzad odds +130
Over/Under 2.5 rounds -375/+255

Crowdsourced Projections: Eubanks (53%)

I see value in this fight from three different betting perspectives 1) underdog moneyline; 2) underdog decision prop; 3) fight goes the distance.

All three wagers are highly correlated, in my opinion – since I don’t see Kianzad becoming the first fighter to finish Eubanks. As a result, I’ll take the best odds and play Pannie’s decision prop.

Eubanks has finished two of her opponents by knockout, but I’m more concerned about her BJJ blackbelt disrupting the distance prop and feel that it’s a matter of time before she finds her first career submission victory.

Kianzad, a former Featherweight, has the size advantage (three inches taller) and athleticism to pose problems for “Sarj,” Her takedown defense (92% in four UFC fights) will be put to the test against a superior grappler. Still, Pannie has shown little ability to get off her back previously (two losses via rear-naked choke).

Over the course of three rounds, Pannie can win on volume (she has landed more than 200 combined significant strikes in her past two fights) if she can keep the fight standing, but Eubanks (1.86 takedowns per 15 minutes, 46% accuracy) is expected to dictate where this fight goes.

If the takedowns aren’t there for Eubanks, Pannie’s stamina and volume should help her to pull ahead late.

This should be a close fight, even if she does win. I’m playing Pannie’s decision prop small to +150 compared to my projection at +134.

Bets: 

  • Pannie Kianzad wins by Decision (+190, 0.5u)
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Welterweight fight: Anthony Pettis vs. Alex Morono

Odds
Pettis odds -240
Morono odds +188
Over/Under 2.5 rounds -200/+148

Crowdsourced Projections: Pettis (58%)

Morono represents a significant step down in competition for Pettis – who is risking his No. 12 ranking in the Welterweight division against a fighter that is 7-3-1 with the promotion since 2016.

Morono, who previously competed at Middleweight, is a larger man than Pettis – a natural Lightweight – and he could have the advantage in terms of striking volume (+2.28 strikes landed per minute, +1.58 to -0.48 strike differential) over three rounds, but that’s about where his advantages end.

Pettis is a superior athlete and one of the most creative fighters in the history of the sport. Taking a step down in competition could be just the change that Pettis needs to return to his “Showtime” form:

Morono needs to turn this into an ugly scrap where he presses forward, absorbs damage, and pushes the pace for the entire duration.

If he can maintain that forward pressure and grind Pettis up against the cage, Morono could grind his way to a decision victory or potentially even find a finish against a declining veteran.

While I show value on Morono to win by decision (projected +266) relative to the market (listed +350), I’ll stick to a play on his moneyline (projected 42%) down to +170 (implied 37%) at an edge of five percentage points.

I’d prefer to wait for a +200 to pop before locking in a play.

Bets: 

  • Alex Morono (+205, 1u)
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Main Card 

  • ESPN+
  • 7 p.m. ET

Heavyweight fight: Marcin Tybura vs. Greg Hardy

Odds
Tybura odds +100
Hardy odds -124
Over/Under 2.5 rounds +115/-152

Crowdsourced Projections: Hardy (51%)

This fight is essentially a pick’em on paper, but either man could look like a significant favorite in hindsight, given the relative strengths, weaknesses, and question marks surrounding both men.

Hardy continues to make improvements at Heavyweight – looking incredibly composed in his victory over Maurice Greene – but Tybura presents his first real test against a true grappler (1.63 takedowns per 15 minutes, 47% accuracy) who could potentially wear him down early, empty his gas tank, and drag him to deep waters.

Greg Hardy gets it done in Round 2 #UFCVegas13pic.twitter.com/SnHIGBJOe2

— Spinnin Backfist (@SpinninBackfist) November 1, 2020

Whether Tybura has the strength to hold down the former All-Pro defensive lineman is the biggest mystery surrounding how this fight plays out.

Tybura is more technical on the feet, but Hardy has landed a higher volume of strikes (+1.17 per minute) with superior efficiency ( +1.99 to +0.47 strike differential) throughout his short career, and he certainly packs more power than his opponent.

Tybura is much more well-rounded than any of Hardy’s previous opponents. However, he also has significantly more experience than all of those fighters except for Alexander Volkov.

Tybura opened as a -135 favorite and has become a slight underdog as of writing, but I like the value on his odds to win by decision (projected +192) given the stylistic nature of this matchup. You can bet that prop small to +200.

This is a good litmus test for the level of Hardy’s skills and the impact of his overall physicality at this stage of his career.

Bets: 

  • Marcin Tybura wins by Decision (+200, 0.5u)
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Women’s Flyweight fight: Gillian Robertson vs. Talia Santos

Odds
Robertson odds -112
Santos odds -112
Over/Under 2.5 rounds -177/+130

Crowdsourced Projections: Robertson (54%)

Robertson is stepping in for Montana de la Rosa, who was scheduled to fight Santos on the Dec. 5 card.

Though Robertson has made significant strides in all parts of her game since competing on the Ultimate Fighter in 2017, Santos figures to have the skill edge in the standup battle (+1.7 strikes landed per minute) on top of the 5-inch reach advantage.

However, Gillian should win the grappling matchup and aggressively pursue takedowns (3.25 landed per 15 minutes, 50% accuracy) and look to maintain control over her opponent (more than 20 combined minutes of control in her past two fights) before working her submission game.

Robertson has more finishes (five) than any other woman in flyweight history, but Santos has not been finished in her career and has also shown strong takedown defense (83%).

Santos was also much more aggressive with her own offensive wrestling in a July victory over Molly McCann (landed 5-of-7 takedowns with 7:53 of control time) and made comparable improvements at age 27 to her 25-year-old opponent.

This should be a close matchup between two intriguing prospects, but I give a slight projection edge to Robertson (54%) – who opened as a small underdog – in what now amounts to a pick’em and would consider a small play on her moneyline.

Bets: 

  • Gillian Robertson (-110, 0.5u)
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Bantamweight fight: Marlon Moraes vs. Rob Font

Odds
Moraes odds -155
Font odds +125
Over/Under 2.5 rounds -139/+105

Crowdsourced Projections: Moraes (56%)

This is a relatively quick turnaround for Moraes, who suffered a highlight-reel knockout loss at the hands of Cory Sandhagen in October:

🔊THE SANDMAN MAKES A STATEMENT

Cory Sandhagen (-145) finishes Marlon Moraes with a VICIOUS spinning heel kick🎥pic.twitter.com/woWfTb7KP7

— PointsBet Sportsbook (@PointsBetUSA) October 11, 2020

The loss continued a worrying trend for Marlon, who slowed down after the opening minutes of the fight – as he did in prior bouts against both Henry Cejudo and Jose Aldo – on the heels of three consecutive first-round wins since December 2017. The Brazilian no longer has the gas tank to maintain his finishing power (or volume) late into fights, but he remains explosive early.

I would expect Font – the naturally larger man (2-inch height and 4-inch reach advantage) to wear on Moraes the longer this fight goes. He should be able to maintain a solid pace (+1.68 strikes landed per minute; +1.22 to -0.48 strike differential) and ultimately prevail on the scorecards if he can’t put away a fading Moraes late.

However, Font is defensively deficient, and I’m fully concerned about those early exchanges – since he is far less creative or versatile of a striker as Sandhagen.

This should largely remain a kickboxing match, but if Font decides to take the fight to the ground (1.25 takedowns landed per 15 minutes, 36% accuracy), Moraes is one of the more underrated grapplers in the sport. So he’ll need to mind his aggression.

There are obvious concerns about Font’s athleticism after a year-long layoff due to a knee injury.

If Font stays out of trouble early, keeps the fight at range for 15 minutes, and mixes his strikes to all three levels, I think this is bout to lose – despite the underdog status.

 

As a result, look for Font to weather that early storm, and plan to live bet him after Round 1.

Bets: 

  • Live bet Rob Font after Round 1
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Welterweight fight: Michel Pereira vs. Khaos Williams

Odds
Pereira odds -124
Williams odds +100
Over/Under 1.5 rounds -139/+105

Crowdsourced Projections: Pereira (55%)

Not only is Khaos Williams a potential superstar, but he’s also a fascinating case study into recency bias and variance.

“The Oxfighter” has finished both of his UFC opponents under 30 seconds – two knockouts in under one minute combined. He has landed 15 total strikes in the UFC and flattened two opponents. It’s a tiny sample, that some people are putting a ton of stock into.

Khaos Williams returns this weekend against the always entertaining Michel Pereira.

Be warned: you won’t want to blink during this one….pic.twitter.com/fiHkgYbEcH

— The MMA Dude™ (@philthemmadude) December 17, 2020

So far, it looks like Khaos owns the death touch that so few fighters possess, but we want all of them to have. But how do you reconcile the results from his career on the regional scene with those recent finishes?

Williams has recorded six first-round stoppages, but he’s also gone to a decision in five of his 12 career fights. Perhaps, his UFC results to date are an anomaly – the result of two extremely well-placed and well-times strikes given his career trajectory.

We don’t know if Williams can wrestle with UFC talent, maintain his stamina over multiple rounds, or survive against a much more well-rounded opponent – which makes his matchup against 27-year-old Michel Pereira – a 36 fight MMA veteran – so intriguing.

The Brazilian looked tremendous in his last outing against Zalim Imadaev, dominating his opponent on the feet for nearly the duration (88-23 in significant strikes) before “deciding” to secure a late submission victory.

Pereira can do some highly questionably things in the octagon, at times, but when he’s on his game, he is one of the most skilled prospects in the promotion. 

Michel Pereira vs Khaos Williams at #UFCVegas17 is the ‘People’s Main Event’. It’s gonna be all kinds of nuts! pic.twitter.com/rtpUlW1cOe

— Michael Morgan (@mikewhoatv) December 17, 2020

Pereira has significantly more experience than Williams, despite the similarity in age, and I suspect that we’ll see more of his grappling (1.68 takedowns per 15 minutes, 62% accuracy) to get inside of Williams’ reach (four-inch advantage).

The move to welterweight has helped Pereira’s stamina later in recent fights, and there are too many question marks surrounding Williams’ overall skill level not to make a play against him.

I played a small edge on Pereira’s moneyline (projected 55%) and a similar edge on his odds to win by decision (projected +333), which I like at +350 or better.

Bets: 

  • Michel Pereira (-115, 0.5u)
  • Michel Pereira wins by Decision (+350, 0.25u)
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Bantamweight fight: Jose Aldo vs. Marlon Vera

Odds
Aldo odds -150
Vera odds +120
Over/Under 2.5 rounds -230/+165

Crowdsourced Projections: Aldo (58%)

For all of the controversy surrounding the late stoppage – as Petr Yan brutalized Jose Aldo in the fifth round of their July 12 Bantamweight title fight – it’s easy to forget how close that bout was in the early stages.

Aldo won the second round, pulling the live odds to a pick’em heading into Round 3 before the 34-year-old legend began to wear down and absorb more damage than he was giving back.

It was a potential life-changing beating for Aldo, who will try to break a three-fight losing streak on Saturday night against rising contender Marlon Vera – who capitalized on Sean O’Malley’s foot injury in their Aug. 15 contest.

Historically, “Chito” Vera is an extremely slow starter. Still, he has also never been finished. While Aldo (a BJJ blackbelt) is rarely tested on the ground (90% takedown defense) – Chito is more of an opportunistic grappler who seizes upon moments in the fight rather than attacking takedowns (0.86 landed per 15 minutes, 42% accuracy) or submissions (1.2 attempted per 15 minutes).

As a result, I expect Vera to lose the first round against an in-form Aldo, who should begin to tire out in the second half of the fight. However, it’s difficult to envision Vera (52% striking defense, -0.35 differential) winning a standup battle against Aldo (62% striking defense, -0.07 differential) unless he repeatedly works the body, so I can’t necessarily recommend placing a live wager.

Aldo needs to rely on early volume to win the first two rounds, and Chito will likely be searching for a late finish against a tiring opponent.

This is the first step down in competition for Aldo in some time – his first fight against an opponent ranked outside of the top five since UFC 129 – and I don’t think “Chito” has ascended to the top of that food chain quite yet.

I see some value in this fight to go the distance (projected 66%), and I’ll take a small stab on the Over 2.5 rounds at -200 or better.

Bets: 

  • Aldo/Vera, Over 2.5 Rounds (-200, 0.5u)
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Welterweight fight: Stephen Thompson vs. Geoff Neal

Odds
Thompson odds +100
Neal odds -121
Over/Under 4.5 rounds +120/-162

Crowdsourced Projections: Thompson (57%)

Like the Eubanks-Kianzad fight on the undercard, I see value in the main event from three different betting perspectives 1) underdog moneyline; 2) underdog decision prop; 3) fight goes the distance.

All three results are fairly correlated, however – I have Neal finishing Thompson inside the distance 80% of the time if he does win, for example – so I’m not going to place all three wagers.

But I do like the Thompson side of this fight, and I’m happy to play his moneyline (projected 57%) to -110 at a 4.5% edge.

However, I prefer his decision prop (projected +170, or 37%) at a much more significant edge relative to listed odds around +300 (implied 25%) or better; and I would play that prop to +200.

Neal is the younger, faster, and more powerful man, but stamina has been an issue for him in the past, and this is his first attempt going five rounds. Thompson has gone all 25 minutes on four occasions – which is notable because he hasn’t finished an opponent since 2016.

In a smaller cage at APEX, Thompson will have less room to maneuver outside of the octagon, and Neal should find it a bit easier to track him down and throw power shots.

But Wonderboy has proven excellent at avoiding pressure in the past – the primary concern is whether he has slowed down or taken a hit in terms of durability at age 37.

Despite the historical striking numbers (+2.1 landed per minute for Neal, +2.47 to +1.2 strike differential), Thompson is more likely to win minutes in this fight.

He was able to pick apart the highly aggressive Vicente Luque (138-77 on significant strikes) last November and will need to adjust to increased power from Neal in this spot. Still, I felt that the opening line (Thompson -115) was more representative of this matchup’s true odds.

Thompson closed at -130 against Luque, for instance, and looked about -400 after the fact. Now that “Wonderboy” has moved to plus-money against Neal, I’m happy to bet against a favorite who is taking a massive step up in competition.

Bets: 

  • Stephen Thompson (+102, 0.5u)
  • Stephen Thompson wins by Decision (+310, 0.5u)
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Zerillo’s UFC Fight Night Bets

Distance or Decision Props

  • Christos Giagos wins by Decision (+175, 0.5u)
  • Pannie Kianzad wins by Decision (+190, 0.5u)
  • Marcin Tybura wins by Decision (+200, 0.5u)
  • Michel Pereira wins by Decision (+350, 0.25u)
  • Stephen Thompson wins by Decision (+310, 0.5u)

Inside the Distance Props

  • Tafon Nchukwi wins Inside the Distance (-170, 0.5u)
  • Antonio Arroyo wins Inside the Distance (+150, 0.5u)

Moneylines

  • Antonio Arroyo (-160, 0.5u)
  • Alex Morono (+205, 1u)
  • Gillian Robertson (-110, 0.5u)
  • Michel Pereira (-115, 0.5u)
  • Stephen Thompson (+102, 0.5u)

Totals

  • Aldo/Vera, Over 2.5 Rounds (-200, 0.5u)

Live Betting Notes

  • Live bet Rob Font after Round 1

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

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