UFC Nashville Odds, Picks, Projections: Our Best Bets for Sandhagen vs. Font, Bahamondes vs. Klein, More (Saturday, August 5)
Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images. Pictured: UFC lightweight Ignacio Bahamondes of Chile
Check out our UFC Nashville best bets for Saturday's event at Bridgestone Arena in Tennessee, which features a Cory Sandhagen vs. Rob Font main event.
UFC Nashville airs entirely on ESPN beginning at 6 p.m. ET (3 p.m. ET) with main-card action kicking off at 9 p.m. ET. A full simulcast is also available on ESPN+.
The 12-bout card features many lighter-weight fighters, including two ranked bantamweights in the night's five-round main event.
So where should be looking to place your UFC Nashville bets? Our MMA experts have pinpointed four fights and picks on Saturday’s Music City fight card that present betting value.
You can find their analysis and picks on those matches plus Sean Zerillo's projections below using odds from BetMGM.
Dann Stupp: Ode' Osbourne vs. Asu Almabayev
Senior Editor at The Action Network
Fighter walkouts: Approx. 5:55 p.m. ET
What better way to kick off a UFC fight night than a curtain-jerkin' flyweight "under"?
For years, many casual MMA bettors have swarmed to betting "overs" and "goes to decision" for the UFC's lightest weight class.
The theory seems sound: Lighter fighters should pack less of a punch and should generate far fewer finishes. However, we have enough data to know that's not really the case when it comes to 125-pounders. Flyweight fights finish 48% of the time. That's the lowest among all male weight classes – but just a few ticks below bantamweight (50%), featherweight (50%) and even lightweight (54%).
However, you'll often find some of that "they-don't-finish-fights" bias built into flyweight odds, and sharper bettors have learned to pounce.
Follow their lead and always keep an eye out for possibly mispriced flyweight lines – which is what I think we're getting with Ode' Osbourne vs. Asu Almabayev in UFC Nashville's first fight.
It's not the most egregious line when it comes to a flyweight fight – the over/under of 2.5 rounds is basically a pick'em (-118 over, -108 under) rather than being juiced to the over – but I still think oddsmakers and bettors are sleeping on the likelihood of this fight ending early.
UFC newcomer Almabaev has the tools to get finishes – but he's also got the holes to be finished.
He now meets Osbourne, a fighter with explosive KO-geared offense – but also with a suspect gas tank and the type of durability concerns that have led to stoppages in his four most recent pro losses.
Underdog Osbourne (+175) is live early in this fight, especially if he blitzes from the opening bell. But if Osbourne can't get the finish, I think Almabaev will eventually find his opening for a submission of his own on the mat.
Bet365 and Betway are both offering -120 odds that this fight ends early and doesn't go to decision. You can get under 2.5 rounds at -108 (FanDuel), but I'm OK paying a little extra juice as insurance against a late-third-round stoppage and taking the DNGTD instead of u2.5.
I'd take it down to -135.
The Pick: Ode' Osbourne vs. Asu Almabayev doesn't go to decision (-120 at bet365)
Billy Ward: Jeremiah Wells vs. Carlston Harris
Staff Writer at The Action Network
Fighter walkouts: Approx. 7:25 p.m. ET
I missed big on this one early in the week, expecting the opening line of -165 or so to move further toward Wells. And I couldn’t be happier to be wrong.
Wells is undefeated in the UFC with a perfect 4-0 record since signing with the promotion. While he has two career losses, he’s never been finished as a professional, and both losses were in five-round fights.
He nearly snapped that streak in his last fight, being hurt at the start of Rounds 1 and 2 by Matthew Semelsberger, but Wells managed to secure takedowns and even win the rounds (on some scorecards) despite being dropped.
I think this line reflects a public perception that Wells was lucky to win that fight despite a suspect chin. I disagree, and I would argue that he showed remarkable recovery ability and durability against a potent power puncher.
While Wells is hittable, Harris doesn’t bring the kind of power Semelsberger does – and Harris is equally defensively deficient. This fight is roughly a coin-flip on the feet in my book – with Wells’ having a big power edge.
Where he really shines is in the grappling, though. Wells is an elite jiu-jitsu player with a rare combination of explosive takedowns to match his submission ability. The violent nature of his takedowns helps him score points with the judges, as well.
Harris is a competent grappler with a unique style that matches his physical tools; he uses his long limbs to secure front chokes, which he uses for finishes and occasionally to take the back.
Wells has the grappling chops to avoid those pitfalls, though. That gives him an easy outlet if the striking isn’t working out whereas Harris needs to win the striking and avoid engaging on the ground.
That’s a huge ask, and I don’t see him living up to it.
I’m grabbing Wells at -115 at Caesars, and I'd take it down to -140.
The Pick: Jeremiah Wells (-115 at Caesars)
Sean Zerillo: Ignacio Bahamondes vs. L'udovit Klein
Senior Writer at The Action Network
Fighter walkouts: Approx. 8:55 p.m. ET
I projected Saturday's lightweight bout between Chilean prospect Ignacio Bahamondes and the Slovakian L'udovit Klein to reach a decision 60% of the time – implied odds of -150.
Bet that prop up to around -138 (58% implied), at a 2% edge compared to my number.
Bahamondes is a taller and longer kickboxer (eight inches taller, three-inch reach advantage), something Klein struggled with in his recent draw against Jai Herbert (five inches taller, five-inch reach advantage).
Klein has the better hands – and a likely grappling advantage but may have trouble getting inside – in a normal-sized octagon as opposed to the smaller APEX cage, with Bahamondes' length to move on the outside and kick him from range.
Klein needs grappling success to win this matchup. His best striking technique is a head kick that may have difficulty landing against such a tall opponent. And Bahamondes throws much more volume to appease judges.
On the feet, I forsee a moderate-tempo kickboxing matchup in which Bahamondes plays the outside game, Klein struggles to close the distance, and both ultimately trade leg kicks. Bahamondes likely will land more to the body to pull away.
Otherwise, I expect Klein to force the grappling. And even if he does have success in that realm, there could be a lot of clock-killing opportunities – as opposed to fight-ending threats – in those exchanges.
Tony Sartori: Cory Sandhagen vs. Rob Font
Staff Writer at The Action Network
Fighter walkouts: Approx. 11:25 p.m. ET
In the UFC Nashville main event, we have a catchweight bout between No. 4-ranked UFC bantamweight contender Cory Sandhagen and No. 7 Rob Font.
While these two are both attempting to climb the 135-pound ladder, this matchup will take place at a 140-pound catchweight since Font is stepping in on short notice for the injured Umar Nurmagomedov.
Despite Font's higher ranking, this fight is going to be much easier for Sandhagen by comparison, considering that everyone at 135 has been (smartly) dodging Khabib's cousin.
With all due respect to Font, he is not an elite 135-pounder, which is why the market has priced Sandhagen as a heavy -350ish favorite. There is not really an avenue that Font has to win this fight other than a puncher's chance.
Sandhagen is younger, longer, a better striker and a stronger wrestler. In fact, it is that last aspect of his game that has truly developed over the past two years, which we saw on full display in his latest decision victory over Marlon "Chito" Vera (a fight that was also a five-round main event).
Avoiding Vera's power, Sandhagen landed three of 12 takedowns and amassed more than seven minutes of control time. Sandhagen also outstruck Chito both standing and on the mat, and he would have likely won the bout by decision regardless of the dominant control time.
And for those who have not seen that bout and see a "split decision" win, I implore you to go watch the fight on UFC Fight Pass or YouTube, it was not even remotely close to being a competitive scrap. Sandhagen rarely ever attempts a submission, instead opting for damage in the striking department and control in the wrestling.
So, can Font survive the striking for five rounds? Considering he went the distance in his losses to Jose Aldo and Vera, I certainly believe so.