UFC Odds & Picks: How to Bet All 15 Of Saturday’s Fight Island Bouts
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images. Pictured: Fabricio Werdum.
- Sean Zerillo breaks down Saturday's UFC Fight Night bouts, complete with betting odds and picks.
- Find his analysis for all 15 fights, including the main event between Robert Whittaker and Darren Till.
- Zerillo then makes his moneyline picks and highlights his favorite prop bets for Fight Island.
We have a loaded 15-fight UFC card on Saturday night, including an exciting main event — a middleweight clash between former champion Robert Whittaker and English brawler Darren Till.
Additionally, fast-rising prospect Khamzat Chimaev — who made an impressive UFC debut 10 days ago on Fight Island — will attempt to win again on the shortest turnaround in UFC history. Chimaev is one to keep a close eye going forward, as he ascends the UFC rankings.
Lastly, some notable UFC veterans, including Antônio Rogério Nogueira, Mauricio Rua, and Fabricio Werdum, could be making their last walk to the octagon in Abu Dhabi, and since Nogueira and Rua are fighting for the third time, at least one will go out a winner – but I like Werdum to pull an upset too.
Let’s get into the card and my picks for Saturday night:
UFC Fight Night Moneyline Projections and Picks
Below, you can find my crowdsourced fair odds moneyline projection for each of Saturday’s 15 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.
I see a fair amount of betting value for Saturday night – including up to 11 fighters (10 favorites, 1 underdog) on the moneyline. However, I only bet two fighters on the moneyline – and I played significantly more props on this card.
In Saturday’s main event, I show value on the former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker (-130) as a small favorite against Darren Till. Whittaker by KO/TKO (+240) offers some value – compared to a crowd projection at +131 – and this bout does seem likely to end inside of the distance nearly 70% of the time – presenting some value on the “No – Fight will go the distance” (-152).
Both men have defensive lapses, but Whittaker should be the man landing at a higher output with better efficiency and he also has the grappling advantage. Over the course of his career, he has nearly doubled-up Till in terms of significant strikes landed per minute (4.77 to 2.41) with a superior strike differential (+1.07 vs. -0.62).
The line has held fairly steady on this matchup since it opened, but underdog backers are banking on Till landing a clean left hand or some big left kicks to the body to stun Whittaker – who has sustained a lot of damage in firefights but may not be as chinny as most think, at age 29, coming off of a decent break since his knockout loss to Israel Adesanya in October.
Before that loss, Whittaker was on a nine-fight win streak. He has multiple paths to victory in this bout, while I feel that Till does need to win inside of the distance, and I think that Whittaker’s moneyline should be closer to -200 for Saturday.
In Saturday’s co-main event, I bet on Mauricio Rua (-200) to score his third-career win over “Little Nog”. “Shogun” won both prior encounters by decision, and though both men are more likely to crumple from one big punch in their 40s, and the fight is likely to finish inside of the distance, I would have to favor Rua if the bout goes to the scorecards — he lands an additional 1.33 strike per minute.
Furthermore, he has fought more recently, while Nogueira is dealing with a 14-month layoff — and fighters who go more than a year between bouts win less than 40% of the time in the UFC. But this is an ugly bout, and I’ll keep the moneyline play small on a significant favorite — who also offers value at +160 by KO/TKO.
There is only one underdog moneyline wager that I like on Saturday’s card, and I already hinted that I am betting Fabricio Werdum (+275) against Alexander Gustafsson — who is coming out of retirement to move up to heavyweight. Gustafsson is the cleaner and more technical striker in this matchup, but Werdum has the grappling and size advantage. If the Brazilian can gain and hold top position, he could make this a long night for the Swede.
He looked sloppy in the early stages of his recent loss to Aleksei Oleinik on May 9, but he improved in the later rounds of the fight and blamed the poor start on his lack of a training camp during the pandemic lockdowns. Supposedly Werdum has been able to get in a full camp before this fight, and I would expect to see a much sharper version of “Vai Cavalo,” in what might be his final professional bout.
I’ll touch on Werdum more in the next section, but we’ll put half of our wager on his moneyline for now.
- Mauricio Rua -200 (Risk 1 unit)
- Fabricio Werdum +275 (0.5 units)
- Robert Whittaker -130 (1 unit)
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:
I saw value on multiple fighters to win by decision on Saturday because their bouts are exceedingly likely to go the distance:
- Ramazan Emeev by Decision (-170): A decision machine who fights ugly, Emeev is taking on a superior striker in Niklas Stolze, but I show a 17% moneyline edge on Emeev, and UFC debutants only win 43% of the time against UFC veterans.
- Movsar Evloev by Decision (+120): Evloev is undefeated and facing a renowned wrestler in Mike Grundy. I show a 14% moneyline edge on the Russian, who I expect to have more energy in the later stages of this fight after Grundy gases out.
- Pannie Kianzad by Decision (+110): I show a 16% moneyline edge on Kianzad, who is eight years younger than her opponent. When such a significant age gap exists between UFC opponents, the younger fighter has won 62% of the time average odds of -135 (implied 57%).
Additionally, I saw value on multiple fighters to win inside of the distance on Saturday:
- Tom Aspinall Inside the Distance (-115)/Win in Round 1 (+250): Aspinall, a UFC newcomer, has recorded all seven of his career victories in the first round. He has a significant size and power advantage against former middleweight Jake Collier who looks bloated in moving up to Heavyweight. The crowd projection makes Aspinall an 88% favorite (implied odds of -735), and they would set his inside the distance prop at -400.
- Fabricio Werdum Inside the Distance (+475): We already played Werdum to win on the moneyline, and his submission odds (+600) are extremely juicy – but I’ll make a half-unit investment into his inside the distance prop, which the crowd would set closer to +322 (implied 23.7%).
- Nathaniel Wood Inside the Distance (-120): Wood is one of the most likely early finisher on Saturday, and while his submission odds are tasty at plus-money, he could also finish the evening’s first bout via TKO. As a result, I played his inside the distance prop, which the crowd projected at -208 – nearly double his current odds.
As I mentioned earlier, some prop bets I passed up on included Whittaker by KO/TKO (+240) and Rua by KO/TKO (+160).
I also took a look at Paul Craig by submission (+185), and Alex Oliveira by decision (+250) – but I passed on both of those fights.
- Ramazan Emeev by Decision (-170, 1 units)
- Movsar Evolev by Decision (+120, 1 unit)
- Pannie Kianzad by Decision (+110, 1 unit)
- Tom Aspinall, Inside the Distance (-115, 0.5 units)
- Tom Aspinall, Win in Round 1 (+250, 0.5 units)
- Fabricio Werdum, Inside the Distance (+475, 0.5 units)
- Nathaniel Wood, Inside the Distance (-120, 1 unit)
Fights to Pass On
Tanner Boser vs. Raphael Pessoa: I like Boser as a favorite, but the crowd thinks that he is likely to win by KO/TKO again, after a long-career as a point fighter. Boser looked really fit in his recent bout and should have superior movement against his opponent – but the moneyline value is only slight and I don’t see a good way to invest in this fight.
Nicolas Dalby vs. Jesse Ronson: Ronson seems like a live underdog, but the crowd shows slight moneyline value on Dalby. I’ll pass completely.
Francisco Trinaldo vs. Jai Herbert: Herbert could also be a live underdog, especially after Trinaldo missed weight. UFC fighters who miss weight still win at a 49% clip, but they are on a 1-8 run during the 2020 pandemic – take it as a bad sign in a fight where I didn’t see moneyline value on either side.
Khamzat Chimaev vs. Rhys McKee: Chimaev is going to win inside the distance, but I’m not going to flip a coin on a +150 submission prop when he could just as easily win by KO/TKO again. Just sit back and enjoy watching the future of the UFC.
Alex Oliveira vs. Peter Sobotta: I had a difficult time laying off of Oliveira – he has more paths to victory and the crowd projection likes him more than 20% better than his listed odds. However, too many bettors and analysts that I respect are picking Sobotta this week.
Oliveira is inconsistent, and something feels off with this bout. I see the value on the Brazilian, but oddsmakers are seemingly taking a stand against him – and I’m not going to bite when there are 14 other fights to bet.
Paul Craig vs. Gadzhimurad Antigulov: This fight could end in a flash for either man. There is slight moneyline value on Craig, but Antigulov doesn’t make the first round comfortable for any man – and this could end up going in a variety of directions fast.
Carla Esparza vs. Marina Rodriguez – The moneyline projection is dead on for this fight, so there is no value worth considering. The result will likely come down to whether Rodriguez can stop the takedown attempts from Esparza, who will look to grind out a decision victory.