UFC Paris Odds, Picks, Projections: Our Best Bets for Charles Jourdain vs. Nathaniel Wood, Nassourdine Imavov vs. Joaquin Buckley (Saturday, September 3)
Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC middleweight Joaquin Buckley
- The Action Network's MMA crew offers best bets for UFC Paris (noon ET on ESPN+) on Saturday.
- In addition to a big underdog pick, our writers like a small favorite and a main-event prop bet.
- Check out all of their picks, as well as all of Sean Zerillo's projections, below.
The UFC makes its debut in France for a Saturday-afternoon event, UFC Paris, which kicks off at noon ET (9 a.m. PT) on ESPN+.
The UFC's first French event – also dubbed UFC on ESPN+ 67 and UFC Fight Night: Gane vs. Tuivasa – features a 12-bout lineup with heavyweights Cyril Gane and Tai Tuivasa in the main event, as well as a co-main event with middleweight contenders Robert Whittaker and Marvin Vettori.
So where should you be looking to place your bets? Our crew has pinpointed two fights and 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.
Billy Ward: Nassourdine Imavov vs. Joaquin Buckley
Staff Writer at The Action Network
Buckley burst into the consciousness of UFC fans with his 2020 Knockout of the Year: a jumping spinning back kick against Impa Kasanganay.
Buckley was arguably overvalued by betting markets after that, losing as a -295 favorite against Alessio Di Chirico two fights later.
Buckley was fairly raw early in his UFC career, winging wild heavy strikes – but without much of a plan if they failed to put away his opponents.
Still, he’s now 5-2 in the UFC, recently upsetting Albert Duraev in June.
The pendulum has swung too far toward the disrespect side for Buckley, who’s shown a ton of improvement in his last few fights. His once-questionable cardio held up well in a decision win over Abdul Razak Alhassan and a third-round finish of Christian Arroyo. He showed excellent takedown defense against Duraev, and he was able to immediately return to his feet when taken down.
That makes the heavy underdog line against Nassourdine Imavov stand out. Buckley clearly is the more powerful striker, and is probably the better offensive wrestler here too. Buckley also has a one-inch reach advantage despite being 5 inches shorter – which translates into Buckley being able to pack on more muscle and still make 185 pounds, without being vulnerable at range against Imavov.
While Imavov is probably better when the fight hits the mat, I’m not sure it will do so without Buckley’s consent. That’s not enough for me to see him as such a heavy favorite.
I love the value on Buckley here (though it’s diminished throughout the week) and would continue to bet him down to +180.
The Pick: Joaquin Buckley (+220 at Caesars)
Sean Zerillo: Charles Jourdain vs. Nathaniel Wood
Senior Writer at The Action Network
Saturday's main-card opener between Canadian Charles Jourdain and Englishman Nathaniel Wood is my favorite bout for UFC Paris and a potential Fight of the Night candidate.
Jourdain is one of the best action fighters on the UFC roster, striking at high volume (11.7 attempts per minute) with dynamic techniques.
Wood is more technical, but he can match the pace (13.1 attempts per minute) and mix in some takedowns too.
The Englishman looked impressive in his recent debut at 145 pounds, dominating Charles Rosa for 15 minutes. The change in weight class certainly helped his hand speed – which was fast even at 135. Still, I'm uncertain that Wood has the power or physicality to compete with top featherweights.
Jourdain is undoubtedly the bigger man. He's 3 inches taller and used to compete in the 155-pound lightweight division, while Wood has fought his entire career as a bantamweight at 135 pounds.
And Jourdain recently had an extremely competitive bout – one that he arguably drew or won as an underdog – against a massive featherweight in Shane Burgos. Despite a six-inch reach discrepancy, Jourdain led 113-42 on significant strikes.
I'm uncertain that Wood has the power to get Jourdain's respect, and I expect the Canadian to pressure the Englishman, walk him down, and put him away in the late stages of the fight.
Wood offers excellent combinations, but he's a much better hammer than a nail and is far less effective at putting strikes together on the back foot. If Wood can't break Jourdain's pressure, it could be a long night for him.
Wood should try to grapple as a release (1.24 takedowns per 15 minutes, 50% accuracy), and he should be able to get Jourdain (50% takedown defense) to the mat, especially early. Still, it's unlikely that Wood submits the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt – or keeps him on his back for very long.
Jourdain is a solid defensive grappler and an adept scrambler; he's merely open to reactive takedowns in space, and Wood needs to change levels to keep him honest.
I favor Jourdain on cardio, durability, and power. While the first round should be highly competitive – and Wood may end up securing the opening frame – I expect Jourdain to take over the second and third rounds at increasing percentages by inflicting more noticeable damage.
Moreover, I question Wood's chin and his ability to absorb sustained damage – or eat massive strikes – against top featherweights after spending his entire career in a different division.
I projected Jourdain at -184, or roughly 65% for this matchup, and I'm happy to lay the juice on his moneyline up to -170.
Additionally, I would look at Jourdain by KO/TKO (projected +243, listed +270) or inside the distance (projected +180, listed +200) in the prop market.
The Pick: Charles Jourdain (-150 at DraftKings)
Dann Stupp: Ciryl Gane vs. Tai Tuivasa
Senior Editor at The Action Network
Let's just say that my bankroll will benefit quite well if the judges aren't involved in Saturday's UFC Paris main event.
Although I won't be taking a side in this matchup – Cyril Gane as a -550 favorite seems mostly accurate, if not a tiny bit disrespectful to +400 underdog Tai Tuivasa – there's another angle to this fight that I absolutely love.
And sure, I traditionally shy away from chalky plays, but getting -250 odds on this five-round fight to end inside the distance is too good to pass up.
These big men's power is proven and remarkable. Ultimately, someone's chin is going to get checked and this one will be over.
With that said, I do think there will be a bit of a feeling-out process. I don't expect a blitzkrieg from either fighter in the opening minute or two. But I also don't think Gane is going to be able to sit back, display his more technical boxing, and simply win rounds. That might've worked against someone like Alexander Volkov or Jairzinho Rozenstruik, who took more measured approaches to their fights against Gane, but I just don't see Tuivasa giving him that opportunity.
Again, though I expect a bit of a slower start to this fight (and my MMA Prop Squad pick for this week will reflect that), Tuivasa is ultimately going to press the action and force Gane to return to his KO-hunting roots. Or his cardio is simply going to give out as the fight hits deep waters, and then the well-conditioned Gane can take over.
Tuivasa has gone past 1.5 rounds just three times in 17 pro fights. And he's never had the opportunity to fight in a fourth or fifth round. And honestly, I don't think he wants to in any way and will press the action before it gets there.
Simply put, expect Tuivasa – a bit of a showman who will surely feed into a raucous crowd – to eventually force Gane into the type of fight that's ultimately going to leave one man on the canvas.
As a result, I expect a stoppage 85% to 90% of the time in this fight, so even at the chalky -250 (71% implied win probability), I see some good value. I'd bet it down to -300. (And if you're the parlay-playing type, it's not a bad parlay piece to consider.)
The Pick: Ciryl Gane vs. Tai Tuivasa Does Not Go the Distance (-250 at DraftKings)