UFC Fight Night Odds, Picks, Projections: Our Best Bets for McGee vs. Wells, Kutateladze vs. Ismagulov (June 18)
Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images. Pictured: UFC fighter Guram Kutateladze.
- Saturday's UFC's return to Austin features a deep 14-bout fight card on ESPN and ESPN2.
- Our MMA betting analysts have identified a main-card fight and a prelim with solid value.
- Check out their picks for McGee vs. Wells and Kutateladze vs. Ismagulov.
The UFC mosies into Texas for Saturday’s Fight Night event at Austin’s Moody Center. The main card airs on ESPN proper (7 p.m. ET) after a deep preliminary card on ESPN2 (4 p.m. ET).
Hard-hitting featherweights Calvin Kattar and Josh Emmett meet in the headliner. But the 14-bout lineup features a host of other can’t-miss attractions.
So where should you be looking to place your bets? Our crew has pinpointed two of those fights and picks for Saturday’s Fight Night 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.
Billy Ward: Court McGee vs. Jeremiah Wells
Contributor at Action Network
The 35-year-old Wells will be stepping into the Octagon for the third time when he takes on 19-fight UFC vet Court McGee in Saturday’s prelim action. Wells has finished both of his UFC fights thus far, with one in the first round and one lasting only 30 seconds into the second frame.
Wells is a product of Renzo Gracie Philly, a camp that has a combined record of 14-0 in the UFC, from Wells, Sean Brady, and Pat Sabatini. Brady actually defeated McGee in his UFC debut, which could be a slight edge to Wells.
More importantly though, Wells has almost all of the finishing upside in this one. McGee hasn’t finished a fight since 2010, before Wells even debuted as an amateur MMA fighter. The 37-year-old McGee is 3-5 in his past eight fights and seems to be well past his prime.
McGee is a solid grappler, but I give the edge to Wells in that department. McGee may be able to land a takedown or two, but he could find himself in deep waters against the dangerous submissions and ground and pound of Wells.
It’s likelier McGee tries to keep this standing, where he’ll need to win for 15 minutes. Wells, meanwhile, just needs to land one big shot. Wells is also the far more explosive athlete here, and he should be able to take McGee to the canvas if need be.
Wells – despite his age – is an up-and-coming UFC prospect who should continue to get better with each fight. He’s never been finished as a professional, but he’s shown an ability to end fights standing or on the ground. McGee is the better minute winner with his striking volume and defense, but judges have shied away from rewarding that as of late anyway.
There are questions about Wells’ cardio, though, so if McGee survives the opening frame without too much damage but has longer odds, hedging off with a live bet could make sense. I’ll likely let my Wells position ride, though, as he could finish this one at any point.
The Pick: Jeremiah Wells moneyline +105
Sean Zerillo: Guram Kutateladze vs. Damir Ismagulov
Senior Writer at Action Network
Kutateladze – a training partner of Khamzat Chimaev – spoiled the UFC debut and undefeated record of currently ranked lightweight Mateusz Gamrot, who is headlining next Saturday’s UFC Fight Night card against Arman Tsarukyan.
I’m incredibly high on Gamrot, whom I view as a future title challenger or champion at 155, and the “Georgian Viking” proved the most challenging test of Gamrot’s career, stealing a split decision as a short-notice replacement and a hefty underdog (closed +240).
I view Gamrot as a superior wrestler and grappler to Ismagulov, who can get opponents to the mat (1.75 takedowns per 15 minutes, 36% accuracy) but cannot keep them there for long.
Kutateladze scrambled back to his feet in that fight consistently, and even if Ismagulov can take him down, I doubt he’ll be able to do much with that top control.
As a result, I expect to see a striking battle between these two talented lightweights – both of whom I expect to see in the 155-pound rankings in the future.
And while Ismagulov is the more technical striker and better defensive fighter who keeps a higher pace, Kutateladze carries more power and seemingly has more finishing upside.
Moreover, judges have emphasized damage in recent decisions – the correct assessment based upon the scoring criteria. While Ismagulov may land more strikes, Kutateladze should do more damage to his opponent. As a result, I envision a likely scenario where judges have to weigh Damir’s volume against Guram’s power.
Based on the odds, this fight should reach a decision two-thirds of the time (listed -200), and I certainly want to be on the plus-money side of the moneyline in what likely amounts to a close and competitive affair.
On top of that, Guram’s superior finishing upside likely pushes this outcome closer to a coin flip in the aggregate.
I projected Kutateladze as a 42.4% underdog (+136 implied) in this fight and would snatch up the +145 out there at DraftKings. Still, you can continue to bet him down to +135.
The Pick: Guram Kutateladze ML (+145)
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