UFC Fight Night Betting Picks, Odds & Projections: Analysis for All 11 Fights (Saturday, Dec. 5)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – NOVEMBER 21: A general view of the Octagon prior to the UFC 255 event at UFC APEX on November 21, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
- Looking for some UFC bets? Our MMA expert duo of Sean Zerillo and Reed Wallach have you covered.
- They detail two moneyline wagers they're making on some up-and-coming prospects on Saturday's card.
- Read their analysis on those fights below.
The UFC continues its run at APEX Saturday in Las Vegas with an 11-fight card, beginning with five preliminary bouts on ESPN2 at 7:00 p.m. ET. The main card starts at 10:00 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and concludes with the main event between No. 4 middleweight contender Jack Hermansson, and No. 13 Marvin Vettori – the first Italian to headline a UFC card.
If you are new to this piece, or this sport, note that 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 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 for each fight below:
UFC Fight Night Moneyline Projections and Picks
Below, you can find my fair odds moneyline projection for each of Saturday’s 11 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.
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 enables us to determine fair odds for each fight to go the distance or for each fighter to win inside of the distance.
UFC Fight Night Picks
Jake Collier vs. Gian Villante
Officially this is a Heavyweight bout, but neither Collier – a former middleweight – or Villante – a former Light Heavyweight – has a long term future in this division.
Collier returned from a 2.5-year layoff in July having gained nearly 80 pounds, tipping the scales at 264 pounds, right near the Heavyweight limit. He looked completely overwhelmed, and never had a chance against top Heavyweight prospect Tom Aspinall:
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) July 25, 2020
Betting the Englishman to win inside the distance (-115) and in Round 1 (+250) was absolutely stealing money that night – and Collier showed up in similar shape (264.5 pounds) for Friday’s weigh-in.
Villante looked incredibly bloated for his own Heavyweight debut, a third-round submission loss to Maurice Greene in June – but he was extremely game in that fight (72-63 advantage in significant strikes landed) despite dropping the first two rounds – nearly recording his own finish in the final frame before Greene secured an arm-triangle.
Unlike Collier, Villante appears to be in slightly better shape for his second attempt at Heavyweight (shaving off 12 pounds since his last weigh-in), and though “The Prototype” is technically the superior martial artist, it remains to be seen whether any of his old skillset has translated to his new body type.
The projection shows slight on the fight to end inside the distance (projected -213, listed -230), and for Villante to be that fighter (projected +117, listed +130), but I prefer Villante’s odds to win in Round 1 at +300 or better.
Villante isn’t a murderous power puncher by any means – his last knockout win came in 2016 – but he has scored 10 of his 17 career victories by KO/TKO, and there’s a chance – based upon his body language in his last fight – that Collier doesn’t want to do this anymore.
You’ll know the answer after Collier takes a few clean shots to the face – and I would keep this prop bet small.
If the fight extends past Round 1, it could turn into the slowest and sloppiest professional sporting event that you have ever seen.
- Villante wins in Round 1 (+330, 0.25 units)
Damon Jackson vs. Ilia Topuria
Topuria was one of the more impressive UFC debutants so far in 2020, recording a clean 29-28 decision over Youssef Zalal on Oct. 10, spoiling the Moroccan’s four-fight UFC winning streak in the process.
Topuria faded late in the Zalal fight, but he also took the bout on short notice, and I’ll shelve any potential cardio concerns for the Georgian, coming in off of a full camp for this fight – training with UFC competitors at MMA Masters.
He loads up for big power shots on the feet, but Topuria is also an incredibly slick grappler who chains his submission attempts:
— Cage Warriors (@CageWarriors) October 10, 2020
Jackson is an opportunistic grappler in his own right (14-of-18 wins by submission) and recorded a late stoppage in his UFC debut against Misrad Bektic, but Topuria is the better athlete, the far superior wrestler, and a much more powerful man.
Jackson doesn’t have the tools to take advantage of the height (+4 inches) and reach (+2 inches) advantages he possesses in this matchup, and I see his only true path to victory via submission.
The 23-year-old Topuria looks like a special prospect, and based solely upon the nine year-age gap against Jackson, Topuria has a 63% win expectancy as the younger man in the fight.
My projections have him at 77% (implied -334), and I would bet Topuria’s moneyline up to -285 (implied 74%).
- Ilia Topuria (-250, 1u)
Cody Durden vs. Jimmy Flick
This is the official UFC Debut for Contender Series alum Flick – who has recorded 13 of his 15 professional wins, including each of his past 12 victories by submission.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) September 2, 2020
Durden has been submitted once – by rear-naked choke in 2018 – and notched a draw in his own UFC debut in August – losing the final 10 minutes to Chris Gutierrez after recording a dominant 10-8 first round.
Durden has finished 10 of his 11 career victories (5 KO/TKO, 5 submissions), and four of Flick’s five losses have come by way of knockout.
As a result, I’m going to disregard two potential value selections: (1) fight to go the distance; (2) Durden to win by decision.
That said, I do see this bout as closer to 50/50 than the odds otherwise suggest and I would bet Durden’s moneyline small down to +122 (implied 45%), a three percent edge compared to my projection at +108 (implied 48%).
Durden is the superior athlete and striker, but I don’t necessarily trust him to execute an ideal game plan and solely use his wrestling defensively. If Durden tries to initiate grappling exchanges with Flick, it’s likely a -EV decision.
- Cody Durden (+140, 0.5u)
Jordan Leavitt vs. Matt Wiman
This is a wild matchup from a variety of angles.
Earlier, I mentioned the 63% win rate when there is a nine-year age gap between UFC combatants. If you expand the age gap to 12 years – relevant for this fight- the younger man has won 67% of the time (55-27) at average odds of -156 (implied 61%), six percent more frequently than expected.
Leavitt, another contender series alum, is also making his octagon debut against a UFC veteran (historic 43% win rate) as a significant favorite, against a fighter who has been off for more than a year (less than 40% win rate after a one-year layoff).
Wiman already looked washed after returning from a 4.5-year layoff last June, and he might have declined further physically in the past year, but he has also never been submitted in 25 professional bouts, which is Leavitt’s likeliest path to victory.
It’s likely that Wiman flounders below Leavitt for nearly the entire fight, as he did against Joe Solecki (12:29 of control time) and logic dictates that Leavitt by Decision (+150) or Over 2.5 Rounds (+100) are the correct plays, but I don’t see actionable value on any wagers for this fight.
Louis Smolka vs. Jose Quinonez
This fight was rescheduled from Nov. 14 after Smolka’s weight cut proved too difficult. That’s concerning for a man who used to do his best work at Flyweight, and now at 135, the Hawaiian no longer has the size advantage to overpower opponents.
Quinonez should be the more physical of these two fighters. His boxing is sharper and more powerful, and his defensive wrestling (50% takedown defense) should be enough to keep the fight standing for the majority of three rounds.
Smolka doesn’t need more than one takedown to gain top control and finish fights but he’s not particularly accurate (1.61 takedowns per 15 minutes, 34% accuracy) and Quinonez will punish him upon entry. Furthermore, “Teco” could potentially look to shoot himself to finish off rounds (2.58 takedowns per 15 minutes, 45% accuracy).
There is some value on this bout to go the distance at -132 (projected-163), but Smolka is just 2-4 lifetime on the scorecards, while Quinonez is 5-1, and I’m not laying juice on a distance prop, since Smolka has become much more aggressive inside the cage (last decision in 2017) after initially getting cut by the UFC.
I’ll stick with my initial read from November and play the Quinonez distance prop to +200, right where I have it projected.
- Quinonez wins by Decision (+200, 0.5u)
Movsar Evloev vs. Nate Landwehr
It was kind of shocking to find Landwehr, who closed as a favorite (-130, -120) in his first two UFC fights (1-1 record) as such a massive underdog against Evloev (closed -190, -200, -500, 3-0 record in three UFC fights).
Landwehr is the natural Featherweight (Evloev previously fought at Bantamweight) more physical, and taller man, and Evloev is far from a potent finisher. Each of the Russian’s three UFC wins have gone the distance, and his last finish came in the fifth round of a Bantamweight title fight in 2018:
— Fight Network (@fightnet) July 25, 2020
As a result, Landwehr seems likely to have some opportunities to cash as a significant underdog in this spot, even though Evloev is a much more well-rounded martial artist.
The favorite will look to efficiently pick away from the outside (+1.68 significant strike differential) and shoot for takedowns when Landwehr rushes forward (3.00 takedowns per 15 minutes, 33% accuracy). The key will be to break the American’s momentum (80% takedown defense) and keep him on his back, where Evloev can stay out of danger.
I projected Evloev to win by decision at -171 (implied 63%) and would bet that prop to -150 (implied 60%).
Playing the fight to go the distance at -175 (implied 63.6%) seems redundant, even compared to a projection of 74%, given the sizable nature of the underdog moneyline.
Landwehr’s moneyline is worth a small stab at +500 (implied 16.6%) or better, more than a two percent edge relative to my projection. I don’t necessarily see him finishing the fight as opposed to eeking out a close decision after stuffing a ton of takedowns – but crazier things have happened in MMA.
- Evloev wins by Decision (-135, 0.5u)
John Allan vs. Roman Dolidze
Like Evloev, Leavitt, and Topuria, Dolidze is yet another fighter on this card who is looking to defend their undefeated record, but Allan should prove a much tougher test than his first UFC opponent, the hyper-disappointing Khadis Ibragimov.
Dolidze has seven finishes in seven fights, including five wins in the first round. He switches stances, fires heavy kicks, and cranks big overhand and spinning punches:
— John Martian MMA (@UFO_UFC) July 17, 2020
But his power and wild striking overshadow Dolidze’s true advantage in the UFC’s Light Heavyweight division – his grappling. The Georgian is likely reckless because he is hyper-confident if his fights hit the mat and Allan, who is returning from a 17-month layoff following a USADA suspension, has four submission losses.
Dolidze secured all three of his submission wins in the first round, but I do expect a measured start against a Chute Box stylist, as Dolidze tries to land a big counter.
I show value on Roman’s moneyline (projected 74%) but I could see him getting out-paced and out-pointed on the feet given his highlight-reel style. I projected Dolidze’s odds to win Inside the Distance at -203 (implied 67.3%), and I would bet that prop to -180 (implied 64.3%).
His odds to win by submission are also actionable, projected at +544, and available as high as +800.
- Dolidze wins Inside the Distance (-125, 0.5u)
- Dolidze wins by Submission (+800, 0.25u)
Gabriel Benitez vs. Justin Jaynes
Anyone fighting against Jaynes needs to take the same first-round approach: survive and counter.
“Guitar Hero” made a splash as a late-notice replacement in his UFC debut, stopping -338 favorite Frank Camacho in 40 seconds, before knocking down the very durable Gavin Tucker in the first round of their Aug. 8 encounter.
Jaynes ultimately fell by a rear-naked choke to Tucker in the third round – the first time Jaynes has been finished in his career. Only nine of his 21 professional fights have gone past the first round, and the American is just 1-4 on the scorecards.
The Mexican-born Benitez is 4-4 when his fights go the distance and looking to get back on track after consecutive defeats, but he is exactly the type of fighter who should stay out of early trouble and wear on Jaynes the longer this fight goes.
Benitez has excellent stamina, and after exploding back to his feet a couple of times in Round 1, he should be able to gas out his opponent and dominate with his kickboxing in Rounds 2 and 3. As a result, I would look to bet Benitez live after Round 1 as the most optimal way to bet this fight.
If you’re looking for a pre-fight wager, Benitez to win by decision offers value down to +160 (implied 38.5%) relative to my projection at +141 (implied 41.5%).
- Benitez wins by Decision (+180, 0.5u)
- Live bet Benitez after Round 1
Montana de La Rosa vs. Talia Santos
This is the most likely fight on Saturday to go the distance, projected at 82% (implied odds of -454). As a result, I’m happy to bet the distance prop up to -376 (implied 79%), though you can find a substantially better number in the market.
Given the gap between my projected odds for this fight to go the distance, and the market line, both fighters offer value to win by decision – but I prefer the Santos side.
After initial skepticism about her level, from a number of wins over non-factor talents on the Brazilian regional scene, Santos has proven her versatility in the octagon, and her physicality alone presents a challenge for most fighters in her division.
de La Rosa is a former state champion wrestler whose striking has continually improved from one fight to the next, but Santos has made similar improvements with her grappling (landed five of seven takedowns vs. Molly McCann) and her efficiency on the feet (+1.33 significant strike differential, 60% defense) should be enough to win minutes here.
- Fight goes the Distance (-200, 0.5u)
- Santos wins by Decision (+100, 0.5u)
Jamahal Hill vs. Ovince St. Preux
St. Preux (“OSP”) was the only fighter to miss weight on Friday, coming in 1.5 pounds over the Light Heavyweight limit – but I generally remain unconcerned when a fighter misses weight.
With a 48% win rate, at average odds of +102, fighters who miss weight still win just as often as their odds imply.
This matchup comes down to the speed and volume of Hill against the experience and versatility of OSP.
This is a massive step up in competition for the undefeated Hill (two no contests) and facing another athletic southpaw with the same reach, it’s going to be difficult to keep OSP from closing distance unless he’s constantly moving.
Surely, OSP will look to test Hill’s subpar takedown defense (53%) at some point, but both of these men are hittable, and I suspect that we see a rangy standup battle for the majority of the first round.
It may take OSP some time to find his opening for a takedown, but he should have a more significant edge on the mat than Hill has on the feet.
Despite the age gap stats that I mentioned earlier, I show projected value on OSP’s moneyline (play to +138), his odds to win inside the distance (projected +192, play to +220), and for the fight to end inside the distance (play to -212).
I see Hill as more of a point fighter at this level, and OSP’s last knockout loss came in 2016. If anyone gets the finish here, I’m siding with the underdog.
I only have a play on the OSP moneyline, for now, but I may add the OSP ITD prop.
- Ovince St. Preux (+155, 1u)
Jack Hermansson vs. Marvin Vettori
Hermansson was originally scheduled to face Kevin Holland in Saturday’s main event, and “The Joker” was initially bet from -185 to -270 across the market for that fight.
Vettori now replaces Holland on short notice, and “The Italian Dream’s” significantly more potent and responsible ground game has flipped the outlook of this fight.
Hermansson now has a significant reach advantage (+3 inches) over Vettori relative to his discrepancy in the Holland fight but will have to adjust to a southpaw who has excellent takedown defense (80%) and is one of just a few men to have taken a round from Israel Adesanya.
Hermansson has been five rounds before, and though his output slowed, the familiarity with those final 10 minutes is an advantage over Vettori in and of itself. Marvin has a high-intensity, high-pressure style, so his own ability to sustain for 25 minutes is a complete mystery.
That pressure style presents problems for Hermansson – who won’t be able to find his range or time his shots with ease. His jab is neutralized by Vettori’s stance, and I question his ability to fight off of the back foot against constant forward pressure.
Similarly, Hermansson is far less effective with his defensive grappling as compared with his dominant top control – and if Vettori decides to change levels and initiate the grappling exchanges, he may end up looking like the better fighter in all areas of this matchup.
Vettori has never been stopped, while Hermansson has been finished four times, and I get the sneaking suspicion that Vettori’s underrated power puts the Swede away late.
However, the projection value lies in Hermansson by submission (projected +264), or Vettori by decision (+250), and I would play those bets down to +308 and +291 respectively.
Ultimately, I think Vettori has the right tools to score the biggest win of his career.
- Vettori wins by Decision (+350, 0.5u)
Zerillo’s UFC Fight Night Bets
Distance or Decision Props and Totals
- Jose Quinonez wins by Decision (+200, 0.5 units)
- Movsar Evloev wins by Decision (-135, 0.5u)
- Gabriel Benitez wins by Decision (+180, 0.5u)
- de La Rosa / Santos, Fight goes the Distance (-200, 0.5u)
- Talia Santos wins by Decision (+100, 0.5u)
- Marvin Vettori wins by Decision (+350, 0.5u)
Inside the Distance Props
- Gian Villante wins in Round 1 (+330, 0.25u)
- Roman Dolidze wins Inside the Distance (-125, 0.5u)
- Romans Dolidze wins by Submission (+800, 0.25u)
- Ilia Topuria (-255, 1u)
- Cody Durden (+140, 0.5u)
- Ovince St. Preux (+155, 1u)
Live Betting Notes
- Gabriel Benitez after Round 1
Don’t forget to follow my picks in the Action Network App.