UFC Fight Night Betting Odds, Projections & Picks: How to Bet Every Matchup On Saturday’s Card (Sept. 5)

Credit:

Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: A general view inside the UFC Apex.

Sep 05, 2020, 03:45 PM EDT

Editor’s Note: The Thiago Moises vs. Jalin Turner, Alexandr Romanov vs. Marcos Rogerio De Lima, and Brian Kelleher vs. Kevin Natividad fights have been canceled.


The UFC continues its run at the Apex in Las Vegas on Saturday with a trimmer nine-fight card, beginning at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN+. The main card starts at 8 p.m ET on ESPN+ and concludes with a Heavyweight clash between Alistair Overeem (46-18) and Augusto Sakai (15-1-1).

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 of 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 from for each fight below:


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UFC Fight Night Moneyline Projections and Picks

Below, you can find my crowdsourced fair odds moneyline projection for each of Saturday’s nine 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.

As of writing, six fighters – five favorites and one underdog – offer actionable moneyline betting value for Saturday night.

They are ranked below in order of expected betting value, relative to their projection, as of writing:

  • Alexandr Romanov (15.2%)
  • Michel Pereira (11.2%)
  • Brian Kelleher (10.8%)
  • Hunter Azure (7.9%)
  • Jalin Turner (9%)
  • Alistair Overeem (5.5%)

Each offers potential value in the prop market, as discussed in the next section, and unlike other weeks I don’t see a viable reason to pass on betting any of these fighters offering projected moneyline value.

I can offer reasons to weigh these plays differently, however.

Brian Kelleher and Hunter Azure are your low-confidence parlay pieces. The pair met back in May; Kelleher lost the first round of the fight before recording a second-round knockout.

This is Kelleher’s fourth fight of 2020, and he draws late replacement Kevin Natividad, who will make his UFC debut on Saturday. I have consistently faded fighters meeting the following conditions during the pandemic:

  • Debut against a UFC veteran: 43% win rate 
  • Late replacement: 38% win rate 

Kelleher tends to take advantage against low-level competition and guys who are not UFC caliber, serving as a measuring stick for potential prospects. That makes him a relatively confident play in this type of spot – amidst a pandemic that has forced the UFC to consistently skim lesser talent from regional promotions.

Azure should have a striking advantage over Cole Smith, and he comes from a strong wrestling base – so I’m curious to see what kind of gameplan he employs following that knockout loss to Kelleher.

Smith has a relatively dangerous jiu-jitsu game, and Azure could certainly get caught in something on the mat – he should look to use his wrestling defensively to keep this one standing, and try to pick apart Smith on the feet (+3.08 significant strikes landed per minute over two UFC fights). Smith is taller, but Azure has the reach and overall skill advantage, and this is seemingly his fight to lose.

Alexandr “King Kong” Romanov will make his octagon debut in the second bout on Saturday’s card against UFC veteran Marcos Rogerio De Lima (6-4 in the UFC). As noted above, debutants only win 43% of the time against UFC veterans, but perhaps the undefeated Romanov is a special case.

Rogerio de Lima previously competed at light heavyweight, while Romanov – who has a sumo wrestling base – had to cut down to make weight. He is a big man with big power who also moves well, and he has excellent cardio too.

Rogerio de Lima, conversely, has never shown the ability to sustain energy late into fights, and he could be in trouble if he’s unable to finish Romanov in the opening few minutes.

These two men have 18 combined wins by first-round finish amongst 28 victories, and you should expect to see a barnburner.

Romanov looks like a legitimate prospect, but despite the substantial projection value, I’m going to keep my play small – some of these UFC debutants have looked completely outclassed lately.

Jalin Turner is my one underdog play for Saturday. If you liked my guy Neil Magny last week, you’d probably become a fan of “The Tarantula” too — a southpaw who stands 6-foot-3 with a 77 inch reach in the 155-pound division.

Turner, who will have a 7-inch reach advantage over Thiago Moises, will need to prove the quality of his defensive wrestling skills and scrambling in order to survive the Brazilian’s ground attack.

Moises was losing his last fight to Michael Johnson (out-struck 27-1 in Round 1) before securing an ankle lock early in the second round.

Turner seems likely to win if this fight goes the distance – his volume (+2.17 significant strikes per minute) should outpace Moises, and also he has more stopping power than what Johnson offered before choking. Moises can catch Turner – and his long limbs – in something in this fight, however.

I just see more ways for the American to win the fight, and the line has moved his direction – down from +175 over the past week.

Michel Pereira is exceptionally talented, but also completely nuts.

He’s big for the 170-pound division and very durable. He also has massive power, but he doesn’t keep energy in reserve. Pereira has a negative fight IQ – often looking more like a performance artist than a professional fighter.

 

Zelim Imadaev should bring the best out of Pereira, however. The Russian is both reckless and relentless, and the Brazilian should have ample opportunities to counter and close the show. Pereira was dominating his last fight against Diego Sanchez (53-25 total strikes) before losing via disqualification (illegal knee) in the third round.

If Pereira fights intelligently, he should beat Imadaev.

In the main event, I’m making a small play on Alistair Overeem, now that his moneyline has come into range. Bettors have been all over Augusto Sakai, who opened as a +230 underdog.

Overeem secured a second-round stoppage over Walt Harris in May. He was injured in the first round, but the veteran rebounded after Harris gassed out:

Overeem is the most accurate striker all-time among UFC heavyweights (74%), but Sakai has shown a higher output (+1.79 significant strikes per minute) in his brief UFC career.

He is also 11 years younger and significantly more durable. Overeem has 14 career knockout losses, and as I mentioned, he took damage in the Harris fight. When there is at least a 10-year age gap between UFC competitors, the younger man has won 62% of the time.

Sakai seems the man more suited for a 25-minute battle, but its also not something that he has done previously. Overeem needs to punish Sakai’s doughy frame to slow him down and to potentially mix in some trips from the clinch – where the two men figure to spend a lot of time.

I wouldn’t play Overeem at anything higher than -160, but I do need to continue to back Team Elevation when I see the value. The Colorado-based outfit has all but printed money for us since the restart.

Overeem has more career losses (18) than Sakai has total fights (17) – and this is a tough test for the Brazilian’s first main event. I’ll ride with the Reem, albeit tepidly.

Moneyline Bets

  • Alexandr Romanov -134 (0.5 units)
  • Jalin Turner +138 (1 unit)
  • Michel Pereira -112 (0.5 units)
  • Alistair Overeem -152 (-0.5 units)
  • Parlay: Brian Kelleher/Hunter Azure (+113, 0.5 units)

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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:

Up to nine winning method props, and four inside the distance props offer projected value for Saturday.

I already used both Hunter Azure and Brian Kelleher in my parlay. Of the two, I have much more confidence in Kelleher and I see significantly more prop value on his fight.

Azure to win by decision (projected -116) is a scary play, even at plus-money. Stoppages have occurred with regularity in the 25-foot octagon at UFC Apex, particularly on the undercard.

Kelleher’s knockout prop is appealing, but I prefer his odds to win inside the distance (+170) at implied odds of 37%, a 7% edge compared to the crowdsourced projection (44%, implied +127).

I also played the inside the distance prop for our friend Michel Pereira, who should get into a firefight with Zelim Imadaev. Pereira is at his best when he is reacting, rather than dictating, and I like this matchup for him:

I backed Bartozs Fabinski to win by decision at +130 (projected -109). In fact, I also show value on his opponent, Andre Muniz, to win by submission – meaning we likely have a fairly binary outcome in this one.

Fabinski, who has averaged 7.17 takedowns per 15 minutes in the UFC (70% accuracy), should be able to take down Muniz – a competent striker – at will. The question is whether Fabinski can lay and pray while securing top control time without getting caught in a submission from Muniz’s dangerous jiu-jitsu (12 career wins via submission). Fabinski by decision is the boring side of this fight to bet, but I do think it is the correct one.

In the main event, I’m once again betting over 1.5 rounds in a heavyweight bout. Overeem has fought at a more measured pace later in his career, while Sakai will likely look to keep something in reserve for his first career five-round fight.

  • Prop Bets and Totals
  • Bartosz Fabinski to win by Decision +130 (0.5 units)
  • Brian Kelleher to win Inside the Distance (+170, 0.5 units)
  • Michel Pereira to win Inside the Distance (+170, 0.5 units)
  • Sakai/Overeem, Over 1.5 rounds (-200, 0.5 units)

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Fights to Pass On

Montana De La Rosa vs. Viviane Araujo

The moneyline and prop projections are closer to the listed odds for this fight than for any other bout on Saturday. The crowd projection likes the fight to go the distance 75% of the time, however – just more than a 7% edge compared to the current line (-210).

De La Rosa is 4-1 in the UFC with two submission victories. Eight of her 11 career wins are by submission. She’s only 25 and continuing to improve – and she trains for a red hot camp in Elevation Fight Team – home of strawweight prospect Mallory Martin, who took home a submission win to start off last Saturday’s card.

De La Rosa should have better cardio than her opponent, but the 33-year-old Viviane Araujo is the better striker and grappler in this matchup – and she should be able to win the early moments in each round.

Araujo hasn’t been taken down in the UFC (7-for-7 takedown defense) and De La Rosa lacks the dominant wrestling chops to get this fight to the mat – where she can win a decision with top control.

The American should be coming on stronger in the third round, but Araujo will have likely won a decision on volume by that point (+2.21 significant strikes landed per minute in the UFC), and De La Rosa might need to keep hunting for a finish.

Araujo also has the power to flatten De La Rosa, and I would avoid playing any distance props or totals in this matchup.

Ovince St. Preux vs. Alonzo Menifield

The intriguing co-main event was originally scheduled for August 22 – before St. Preux recorded a false positive tested for coronavirus.

I had originally expected to land on the St. Preux side of this fight – he has good submission skills and is a proven talent. Still, I can’t discount the fact that Menifield could change up his plan of attack after suffering his first career loss to Devin Clark back in June.

Until that point, Menifield never had to keep his energy in reserve in a fight – going 9-0 with seven first-round wins – and he gassed out early against Clark after landing some big shots, before losing by decision.

Menifield could adjust and fight at a more measured pace this time around. Furthermore, St. Preux has relatively poor cardio too, and this is his first fight back at Light Heavyweight after ballooning up for a Heavyweight bout. He’s not the type of fighter who will be winning on volume in the second and third rounds, even as Menifield tires.

Menifield also showed a ton of heart in that fight against Clark, stuffing nine of 10 takedown attempts before getting back to his feet in the third round through utter exhaustion. There’s still a lot to like about Menifield as a prospect. I want to see him make some in-fight adjustments and manage his gas tank better.

Neither side offers moneyline value in this bout (projected 52% for Menifield)

However, both the Menifield by KO/TKO (+162) or St. Preux by Submission (+250) winning method props offer value relative to projections (+150 and +198 respectively) because the crowd likes the fight to finish inside the distance 81% of the time (implied odds of -425); relative to listed odds of -240 (implied 70.6%).

I foresee multiple paths to victory for each fighter, but I’m more curious to see how Menifield responds off of his first loss – and Saturday’s co-main event is not bettable from my perspective.

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@SeanZerillo

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