UFC Fight Night Betting Odds, Picks, Zerillo’s Projections: Our Best Bets for Nunes vs. Dern, Perry vs. Rodriguez
Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images. Pictured: UFC fighter Nina Nunes in 2017.
- The UFC is back this week and the action kicks off earlier than usual (11:30 a.m. ET on ESPN).
- Our MMA analysts have found three bets they like on Saturday's slate and Sean Zerillo has included his moneyline and prop projections for all 13 bouts.
- Read below for more on today's UFC Fight Night card, including our bets on Nina Nunes vs. Mackenzie Dern and Daniel Rodriguez vs. Mike Perry.
After a week off, the UFC is back and this weekend the action starts early.
Saturday night’s 13-bout card begins with eight prelim matchups at 11:30 a.m. on ESPN+ before switching over to ESPN. The main card will feature five matchups, including Marvin Vettori and Kevin Holland in the main event.
So where should you be looking to place your bets? Our MMA crew is looking at three matchups on tomorrow’s card and they see value on two moneyline bets and one prop. You can find their analysis and picks on those matches below.
You can also check out the moneyline and prop projections for every fight via Sean Zerillo’s betting model.
Sean Zerillo: Nina Nunes vs. Mackenzie Dern
Betting Analyst, The Action Network
I’m a fan of any high-level jiu-jitsu practitioners who can ply their trade successfully in MMA, but Mackenzie Dern offers little ability to force her fights to the mat (1-for-18 on takedowns attempts) outside of either pulling guard or allowing her opponents to put her on her back (0-for3 on takedowns defended).
Dern probably should have lost her last fight against Virna Jandiroba. I scored the fight 29-28 Dern, but Jandiroba — who very clearly lost Round 1 and won Round 2 — merely had to stay in top position and go to work in the third round. Surprisingly, Jandiroba decided to stand up and lost a narrow striking battle (82-63 on significant strikes, even control time).
Four media scorecards and 26% of fan scorecards still gave the fight to Jandiroba anyway. Still, she would have flipped those percentages if she had maintained top control for the final few minutes. Nina Nunes offers strong takedown defense (77%) and will be a potential problem for Dern on the feet if (+1.26 to -0.07 in significant strike margin) if Dern hasn’t made improvements with her offensive wrestling, trips, or clinch throws.
Nunes hasn’t competed since June 8, 2019 (maternity). Still, she’s a high-level jiu-jitsu practitioner herself, who outpointed Angela Hill (146-108 on strikes) in a kickboxing-style UFC match — and it’s hard to imagine Dern keeping up in terms of striking volume over 15 minutes.
I projected Nunes’ decision prop at +112 (implied 47.7%), and I would bet that prop down to +135 at just around a five percent edge.
The Pick: Nina Nunes wins by Decision (+190)
Erich Richter: Mike Perry vs. Daniel Rodriguez
Contributor at The Action Network
The enigmatic “Platinum” Mike Perry is back and appears prepared as ever to take on Daniel Rodriguez. Up until this fight camp, Perry had fired his coaches and was self-training with his girlfriend in his corner between rounds.
Since then, Perry has become a father, looks to be in fantastic shape, and has brought in real coaches to help him improve his game. He is training in Miami, Florida with MMA Masters who had proven championship-level athletes like Anderson Silva, Alistair Overeem, and Ricardo Limas.
Rodriguez is 13-2 and 4-1 inside the octagon. He is a scrappy fighter that isn’t the most technical but utilizes his reach quite well. This matchup has fight of the night potential as both guys inflict and absorb damage — neither side will come in shy in this fight.
Rodriguez likes to throw at high volume, but I see his defense as his biggest problem. He absorbs 6.12 significant strikes per minute and defends at just a 57% clip.
Perry has made plenty of mistakes both inside and outside the octagon. At one point, he was looked at as a future star in the promotion. He narrowly lost a split decision to title contender Vicente Luque and had tons of drama in his former gym Jackson-Wink MMA.
Perry has competed with some of the best fighters that the 170-pound division has to offer, but the same can’t be said for Rodriguez.
Perry being listed as an underdog against Rodriguez who coming off of a loss to the uninspiring Nicolas Dalby surprises me. Dalby has a similar build to Perry and he is arguably a better striker and grappler.
It appears that Perry has even expanded his game a bit to include takedowns, which I think is wise. If his new gym can help him hone those skills and add that to his striking, we could see a totally new fighter.
Plenty of money has been flying in on Perry. The betting lines opened around +165 on most books and have come down to +140. FanDuel is offering Perry at +140, which feels about right. I would bet him down to +125 in this spot but no lower than that.
The Pick: Mike Perry Moneyline (+140)
Billy Ward: Da-Un Jung vs. William Knight
Contributor at The Action Network
Barring anything further going wrong, William Knight will finally make his second appearance in the UFC Saturday, against fellow unbeaten (in the UFC) prospect Da-Un Jung (2-0-1 UFC record).
Knight was originally scheduled to face Alonzo Menifield on Feb. 27 (postponed due to Menifield testing positive for Covid) then again March 27 (Knight’s cornerman tested positive), while Jung was originally slated to fight Shamil Gamzatov on this card. With all the uncertainty surrounding this bout, preparation and focus will be a big factor in determining the winner here.
Fight camps and weight cuts are usually designed to have fighters peak at certain times. For Knight, this will be a far bigger challenge than preparing for a new opponent (Menifield and Jung fight in a roughly similar fashion, although Jung is far more measured, as well as having a 6-inch height and 5-inch reach advantage). Jung is still fighting on his original date, so has been peaking and preparing to be at his best since the fight was booked.
Besides the physical and mental preparation element, I think Jung is the slightly better fighter. He is significantly bigger than Knight, which should make it difficult for Knight to get in close enough to work for takedowns and control against the fence.
He’s also a very capable wrestler if need be, fending off 5-of-6 takedowns from Khadis Ibragimov in his UFC debut. This will be a challenge for Knight, who attempted five takedowns in his debut, and based on his record, seems to be a ground-and-pound fighter.
Factoring all this together, I like Jung a lot in this one. I think Menifield was a far better fight for Knight and I hope they eventually make that fight happen.
The Pick: Da-Un Jung Moneyline (-136)
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