UFC on ABC 3 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Brian Ortega vs. Yair Rodriguez: Expect a Finish in Long Island? (Saturday, July 16)
Credit: Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC featherweight Brian Ortega
Brian Ortega vs. Yair Rodriguez Odds
A future featherweight title challenger could emerge from Saturday's UFC main event between No. 2 ranked contender Brian Ortega and No. 3-ranked Yair Rodriguez.
Ortega's lone career losses are against current champion Alexander Volkanovski and former champ Max Holloway – in two of his past three bouts – and he may need a second win against a ranked contender to earn his third title shot. Rodriguez, however, will likely face Volkanovski if he can secure a win in the headliner of Saturday's UFC on ABC 3 event, which kicks off at 11 a.m. ET.
Below, I'll provide my analysis and projections for Saturday's matchup and utilize those factors to bet on the main event.
Tale of the Tape
|Avg. Fight Time||13:49||14:21|
|Weight (pounds)||145 lbs.||145 lbs.|
|Date of birth||2/21/1991||10/6/1992|
|Sig Strikes Per Min||4.15||4.65|
|SS Absorbed Per Min||6.69||4.09|
|Take Down Avg||0.87||0.86|
Rodriguez is the taller and longer fighter and the more technical and dynamic striker. The critical question from a handicapping perspective is whether that difference is significant enough to overcome Ortega's clear advantage in grappling and overall finishing upside.
Ortega has shown a propensity to lose minutes throughout his career. More recently, he absorbed a ton of damage in his pair of title challenges. But on his ascent to the top of the featherweight rankings, Ortega largely trailed his fights on the scorecards but found seven consecutive stoppages – and five in the second half of those fights – before challenging Holloway.
Ortega tends to stand in front of his opponents and brawl as a way to look for opportunities to clinch, grapple or wrestle his opponents.
Rodriguez represents his most lenient grappling assignment in some time. "El Pantera" has never been tough to take down or control, and he's been dominated on the mat by grappling heavy gameplans. Most recently, he ceded a full round of control time to Holloway – and gave up his back multiple times. Rodriguez also tends to overextend on his shots and fall to the canvas. And Ortega will certainly pounce and look to capitalize on those mistakes.
When Rodriguez has faced grappling-first opponents throughout his career (aside from an aged BJ Penn), he went to a pair of split decisions – and got washed out by Frankie Edgar. He prefers when opponents oblige a kickboxing match, but his overall game is far less effective if they try to grapple him.
And Rodriguez hasn't necessarily won minutes in all of his fights either, trailing against "The Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung before finishing the fight at the final horn in spectacular fashion:
Ortega's wrestling has been oft-maligned throughout his career. Still, it looked improved in his dominant five-round win over Jung. Ortega even managed to take Volkanovski down twice and put the champion into dangerous positions, but he was unable to secure the finish.
Considering Ortega's improvement and Rodriguez's tendency to end up on his back by accident, I expect this fight to hit the canvas at some point. And that may be enough for Ortega to find his way to a dominant position and secure a submission.
Moreover, his striking looked career-best in that fight with Jung, and while he'll lose most minutes on the feet with Rodriguez, I don't think the exchanges will be one-sided either. Additionally, Ortega likely also has cardio and durability advantages, and he may be able to win minutes more convincingly in the later rounds.
While Ortega has been an anomaly throughout his career, he's also improved. The enhancements to his striking game are likely enough to justify his favoritism in a fight where he possesses massive grappling upside.
While I give Ortega vastly more finishing upside, I still expect this fight to be a coin flip if it goes to the scorecards.
Ortega vs. Rodriguez Pick
I projected Ortega as roughly a 63% favorite (-173 implied) in this fight, and I expect the bout to end inside the distance around 59% of the time (-141 implied).
As a result, I see value in the Ortega moneyline to -158 and the fight to end inside the distance prop to -130. Either price target represents a two percent edge compared to my projected number.
Consequently, I also show value on Ortega to win by submission (projected +187, listed +230 at Fanduel) or his inside-the-distance prop (projected +125, listed +150), assigning a finish as 70% of his win condition (vs. 40% for Rodriguez).
While I could play the Ortega moneyline, I can only generate an edge of 1.2% at the best available price (-165). It's a similar story with the fight to end inside the distance prop, where I can only net a 2% edge at -130 odds.
By compounding those outcomes and essentially parlaying them together, I can find a more significant edge on the Ortega by submission (4.5%) or Ortega inside the distance (4.4%) props.
While you could bet Ortega on the moneyline, I'll reduce my exposure and search for a more substantial ROI on Ortega finish props.
The Pick: Brian Ortega wins Inside the Distance (+150, 0.5u at DraftKings) | Ortega wins by Submission (+230, 0.25u at Fanduel)