UFC on ESPN 42 Odds, Picks, Projections: Our Best Bets for Tuivasa vs. Pavlovich, Price vs. Rowe (December 3)

UFC on ESPN 42 Odds, Picks, Projections: Our Best Bets for Tuivasa vs. Pavlovich, Price vs. Rowe (December 3) article feature image

Carmen Mandato/Getty Images. Pictured: UFC heavyweight Tai Tuivasa

  • UFC Orlando features 14 fights with a 7 p.m. ET start time on ESPN and ESPN+.
  • Our MMA crew has combed the fight card for our favorite UFC betting opportunities.
  • Below, Dann Stupp shares his time-prop bet while Sean Zerillo and Billy Ward are both going with an underdog.

One of the deeper non-PPV cards of the year takes place Saturday with UFC on ESPN 42 at Amway Center in Orlando, Florida (7 p.m. ET, ESPN).

The 14-bout lineup features an interesting mix or contenders, prospects and veterans – all presenting ample wagering opportunities.

So where should you be looking to place your bets? Our crew has pinpointed two fights and two picks on Saturday’s stacked 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.

Moneyline Projections

Prop Projections

Billy Ward: Niko Price vs. Philip Rowe

Staff Writer at The Action Network

Given all the controversy surrounding MMA betting lately – with drastic line movement on what appears to be insider information – the line movement on the Phillip Rowe vs. Niko Price bout caught my eye this week.

Rowe opened as a moderate favorite of -120 or so depending on the book. Since then, enough money has come in on Price to move the line on Rowe all the way to +120, though it’s also dropped a bit in some places.

Which creates a bit of a conundrum for bettors. On the one hand, fading the public on fights in which the favorite and underdog switch has been a profitable long-term betting strategy. On the other hand, did the line move based on something we don’t know?

The fact that the line changed direction slightly makes me think the former is in play – books got this one right the first time, but public money pushed it the wrong way. Outside of that, I’d make Rowe the favorite if I were setting the line myself.

He’s much bigger, and he should be able to use his range to stay away from Price. Rowe has consecutive knockout wins while Price’s only victory in the past three years was against the now-cut Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira.

While they're roughly the same age, Price has been around long enough that we know who he is: a fighter just good enough to stay on the UFC roster. Rowe has the potential to rise through the UFC ranks here, and he seems to be the far more physically gifted fighter.

With all of that said, this is mostly a play on the betting line. We’re getting +120 odds on a fighter whom bookmakers thought should be favored. I’d rather be on their side than the betting public’s.

The Pick: Philip Rowe (+118 at BetRivers)

Sean Zerillo: Niko Price vs. Philip Rowe

Senior Writer at The Action Network

I agree with Billy's assessment that Philip Rowe is the best underdog on Saturday's card, if not the best bet overall.

I project Rowe as a very slight favorite over Niko Price and am equally surprised by the line movement of around 7-8% in implied probability toward Price.

Still, I'll happily take a shot on a rangy striker in Rowe with significant height (3") and reach (4") advantages against a brawler in Price who has proven highly hittable (47%) and will have to eat punches to get into range.

Price has faced a far higher level of competition. Still, he also tends to fight to his level of competition for good or bad – and is certainly on the downside of his career after absorbing a ton of damage over several brutal fights since 2018.

Price may possess the grappling upside too, but Rowe has excellent defensive jiu-jitsu. His worst tendency – at times – is to play guard instead of attempting to scramble back to his feet.

He showed far more urgency to get off his back in his last fight against Jason Witt, and he seems to be improving from one fight to the next – just 12 bouts into his professional career.

Rowe is a massive welterweight. He has the physical and technical attributes to look like a favorite in this matchup against a fighter with far more name recognition.

And Rowe also worth a potential live investment after Round 1 at a better price since he tends to start his fights slowly.

Pre-fight, back Rowe on the moneyline down to +105.

The Pick: Philip Rowe (+118 at BetRivers)

Dann Stupp: Tai Tuivasa vs. Sergei Pavlovich

Senior Editor at The Action Network

Here's what it comes down to: I'm willing to bet on Tai Tuivasa's chin for one round against anyone.

Granted, on Saturday, he's facing one of the scariest heavyweight fighters on the planet. Sergei Pavlovich has won four straight fights via first-round knockout, and he's just a mass of a man with ridiculously heavy hands.

Again, though, I'm willing to put my money where Tuivasa's mouth is. Even if he gets cracked – and let's be honest, he will at some point – I think the iron-headed Australian can survive for at least five minutes.

That's why I really like a bet offered by FanDuel – that Tuivasa vs. Pavlovich will start Round 2. With a solid plus-money payoff (+142), we need to get out of the first round just about 42% of the time to make this bet a profitable one. That seems quite probable (>50%), so I'm in. ("Over 1.5 rounds" at +180 could also work if you agree with this rationale.)

Knowing I might need some more ammo to finalize the pick, though, my colleague Billy Ward reminded me that Tuivasa has never truly been knocked out with a headshot. His lone KO losses came to Junior Dos Santos (stuck in the mount and unable to protect himself) and recently Cyril Gane (set up by brutal body shots). You could argue that Tuivasa's chin remains undefeated (to some extent, anyway).

Plus, as Billy pointed out, Pavlovich hasn't landed a body shot in his past four fights – and he landed only one in his bout before that one – so that concern of Tuivasa again eating body shots is a bit tempered. In fact, my only other real concern is that Tuivasa took a lot of damage in that fight with Gane just three months ago, but at +142, I'm willing to eat that risk.

If all goes to plan, we'll all be enjoying a shoey sometime after Round 1.

Pick: Tuivasa vs. Pavlovich starts Round 2 (+142)

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