UFC on ESPN 39 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Rafael dos Anjos vs. Rafael Fiziev: Target These Plus-Money Bets (Saturday, July 9, 2022)

UFC on ESPN 39 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Rafael dos Anjos vs. Rafael Fiziev: Target These Plus-Money Bets (Saturday, July 9, 2022) article feature image

via Chris Unger/Getty Images. Pictured: (L-R) Rafael Dos Anjos of Brazil and Rafael Fiziev of Kazakstan face off during the UFC Fight Night weigh-in at UFC APEX on July 08, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

  • Rafael dos Anjos and Rafael Fiziev clash on ESPN on Saturday night.
  • Fiziev is favored and the more athletic fighter, but RDA has superior cardio.
  • Sean Zerillo breaks down the fight and shares his best bets below.

Editor’s Note: Nina Nunes has announced she's pulled out of her bout with Cynthia Calvillo due to an illness. 

Rafael dos Anjos vs. Rafael Fiziev Odds

dos Anjos Odds
Fiziev Odds
3.5 (-225 / +160)
UFC Apex
Approx. 11:30 p.m. ET
Odds as of Saturday and via BetMGM.

A future Lightweight title challenger could emerge from Saturday's main event between No. 7 ranked contender and former champion Rafael dos Anjos ("RDA") and No. 10 ranked Rafael Fiziev.

RDA will compete in his 12th five-round fight since 2015, while Fiziev enters his first main event and may experience the championship rounds for the first time in his MMA career.

The former enters off of a pair of wins against short-notice replacements, Renato Moicano and Paul Felder, while Fiziev is on a five-fight winning streak – including four performance bonuses – since losing his UFC debut to Magomed Mustafaev.

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

dos AnjosFiziev
Avg. Fight Time14:3710:29
Weight (pounds)155 lbs.155 lbs.
Reach (inches)70″71″
Date of birth10/26/19843/5/1993
Sig Strikes Per Min3.625.35
SS Accuracy46%52%
SS Absorbed Per Min3.245.57
SS Defense61%50%
Take Down Avg1.990.48
TD Acc37%50%
TD Def58%95%
Submission Avg0.60.0

RDA is a former lightweight champion and experienced five-round veteran with possibly the most challenging slate of opponents in UFC history (Eddie Alvarez, Benson Henderson, Donald Cerrone, Colby Covington, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Anthony Pettis, Tony Ferguson, Kamaru Usman, and Nate Diaz, to name a few) across stints at both 155 and 170 pounds.

Additionally, RDA has superior cardio to Fiziev – who has never been past the 15-minute mark in MMA while consistently slowing down or losing the third round of his fights.

Fiziev lost the third round on five of the nine scorecards in his three UFC decisions because his effectiveness tends to wane after 10 to 12 minutes. The mystery surrounding his cardio for a five-round fight makes the RDA side all the more appealing.

The smaller cage in this format also favors RDA as the Brazilian can look to grind Fiziev up against the fence – as he did with Paul Felder – and wear him down for long stretches.

This fight was initially scheduled for five rounds on the UFC 272 Main Card – where the larger cage would have provided Fiziev with additional room to maneuver on the outside. However, the smaller cage at the UFC Apex plays to RDA's advantage.

Fiziev is a dynamic striker, and he'll possess both the speed and athleticism advantages on Saturday. Moreover, Fiziev has shown excellent takedown defense (95%) at the UFC level – and when he's fresh, it seems dubious that RDA will be able to drag him to the mat (1.99 takedowns per 15 minutes, 37% accuracy) – or keep him there – consistently.

Whenever this fight is at kickboxing range or in the pocket, I expect Fiziev to be the far superior striker and likely the bigger hitter. While RDA is exceptionally well-rounded, Fiziev is one of the most dangerous technical strikers at the UFC level – and RDA has looked more hittable over the years (absorbed 77 of 158, or 48% of head strikes in his last fight against Renato Moicano). I wouldn't be surprised if Fiziev put him away early.

That said, RDA excels at turning his fights into a grind. He'll look to limit space with his grappling, even if that means turning the fight into a slog and putting Fiziev's back up against the cage for decent periods.

I'm not particularly confident that RDA will land takedowns early in the fight while Fiziev is fresh. As a result, I expect the favorite to win the early rounds – or to potentially find a finish – before he eventually tires and RDA starts to take over the proceedings.

If RDA can survive the early rounds and use that time to wear on Fiziev with some takedowns or clinch positions, I suspect he'll find his way to dominant grappling positions in the final 15 minutes of the fight.

While I could see Fiziev capturing the first three rounds en route to a decision, I would give more decision equity to dos Anjos – with Fiziev possessing the higher finishing upside throughout.

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dos Anjos vs. Fiziev Pick

I projected Rafael dos Anjos as a 38.8% underdog (+157 implied odds) in this matchup, and I would bet the underdog side at +172 or better, at a two percent edge compared to that projection.

That said, while RDA might have immediate success by grappling in this fight, I would expect Fiziev to win the early rounds and to find a superior live price on RDA after Round 2 and/or Round 3. As a result, look to bet RDA in the live market, mainly if he's doing attritional work with takedowns or the cage push.

I also projected this fight to end inside the distance 52% of the time (-110 implied), and I would bet the finish prop at +100 (50% implied) or better. Currently, you can find that prop at plus-money and as high as +120 (45.5% implied).

However, I would take that prop instead of the Under 4.5 Rounds – at a slightly higher price – since I could see RDA recording an extremely late stoppage.

While Fiziev's speed advantage will be the most considerable discrepancy early in the fight, RDA's superior cardio should prove the most noticeable difference in the championship rounds.

To that end, as longshot dart throws, I also bet RDA to win in Round 4 (+3300) and Round 5 (+3500).

The Pick: 

  • Fight Ends Inside the Distance (+120, 0.5u at BetMGM)
  • Rafael dos Anjos (+190, 0.5u at BetMGM)
  • Rafael dos Anjos Wins in Round 4 (0.05u, +2800 at DraftKings)
  • Rafael dos Anjos Wins in Round 5 (0.05u, +3500 at DraftKings)
  • Rafael dos Anjos Live after Round 2 and/or Round 3

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