UFC Vegas 61 Odds, Picks, Projections: Our Best Bets for Barcelos vs. Jones, Oleynik vs. Latifi, Stoliarenko vs. Chandler (Saturday, October 1)

UFC Vegas 61 Odds, Picks, Projections: Our Best Bets for Barcelos vs. Jones, Oleynik vs. Latifi, Stoliarenko vs. Chandler (Saturday, October 1) article feature image

Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC heavyweight Alexey Oleynik

  • Saturday's UFC Vegas 61 card isn't the deepest, but there's still betting value to be had.
  • Our experts have a play on Alexey Oleynik vs. Ilir Latifi and two other bouts from the ESPN+ card.
  • Check out that analysis and the best bets from Billy Ward, Sean Zerillo and Dann Stupp below.

The UFC returns on Saturday, and though it's not the deepest fight card, UFC Vegas 61 offers some solid MMA betting opportunities.

The event, also dubbed UFC on ESPN+ 69 and UFC Fight Night: Dern vs. Yan, takes place at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas. The entire card streams on ESPN+ (4 p.m. ET).

In the main event, Brazilian jiu-jitsu phenom Mackenzie Dern (12-2) meets fellow strawweight contender Yan Xiaonan (15-3). And in the co-main event, Randy Brown (15-4) looks to continue his ascent up the welterweight ranks when he takes on tough vet Francisco Trinaldo (28-8).

So where should you be looking to place your bets for UFC Vegas 61? Our crew has pinpointed three fights and picks on Saturday’s 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: Julija Stoliarenko vs. Chelsea Chandler

Staff Writer at The Action Network

Chelsea Chandler is making her UFC debut against Julija Stoliarenko on the preliminary card of UFC Vegas 61. She’s a 4-1 product of Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, home of the Diaz brothers and current UFC middleweight Nick Maximov, among others.

That tells me she should have very solid grappling, which will be a major factor in her fight against Stoliarenko.

Stoliarenko has 10 professional wins – nine of them by armbar, and all in the first round. Her fights look like something out of the early 90s, with a completely one-dimensional attack that either works immediately or not at all.

Chandler could have the jiu-jitsu skills to win this fight when it’s on the mat – or the overall grappling to keep it from getting there. This is a bet based on Chandler's camp having the wherewithal to avoid the extremely narrow strength of her opponent while winning the fight elsewhere.

I was hoping to catch this line at plus-money at some point, and it hasn’t quite gotten there as of Friday afternoon. Keep an eye on market moves, though, as it wouldn’t shock me if a book or two took enough action on the UFC veteran Stoliarenko to move the line in her favor.

We could also juice this one up a bit by taking a same game parlay on DraftKings. Chandler and over 4.5 minutes is +130, while Chandler and over 1.5 rounds is +145, both of which I like (though I prefer the former).

The Pick: Chelsea Chandler (-110 at Caesars)

Sean Zerillo: John Castaneda vs. Daniel Santos

Senior Writer at The Action Network

I cashed on John Casteneda as an underdog (opened +190, closed +145) against Miles Johns back in February. Typically, I would look to lay off a fighter who is now a decent favorite after an upset win.

However, Santos represents a step down in competition relative to Castaneda's previous opponents, and I expect "Sexy Mexi" to take over down the stretch of this matchup.

Castaneda is well-rounded and will possess a four-inch reach advantage in the striking exchanges. Santos likely has the faster hands when both men are fresh, and I anticipate a highly competitive first round if the fight stays standing, a frame that Santos may even win.

However, Castaneda puts attritional damage on his opponents and builds into his fights. And Santos hasn't shown the best cardio, so I expect Castaneda to win minutes in the second and third rounds at drastically increasing percentages. As a result, you can look for a better live price on Castaneda after Round 1.

Moreover, Castaneda should have the grappling upside throughout this fight, and he may mix in reactive takedowns against the wild spinning techniques deployed by Santos.

Santos is a highly dynamic fighter, but his explosive attacks will only serve to drain his gas tank – the longer the fight goes –against a durable opponent.

I projected Castaneda as a -214 favorite (68.2% implied odds) in this matchup, and I would lay the juice on his moneyline up to -196 (66.2% implied) at a 2% edge relative to my number.

Moreover, you can consider betting Castaneda by decision (projected +144, listed +165 at BetRivers) in the winning method market. However, I see a late finish as a distinct possibility if Santos slows down from his pressure.

The Pick: John Castaneda (-180 at DraftKings)

Dann Stupp: Alexey Oleynik vs. Ilir Latifi

Senior Editor at The Action Network

I'm going to fess up and let you know that this is actually probably my second-favorite bet of UFC Vegas 61.

But Billy pretty much covered my first-choice bet with his breakdown above this one. Using much of the same rationale that he used, I recently and happily bet that Julija Stoliarenko vs. Chelsea Chandler doesn't go to decision at healthy odds of +130 (you can also get under 2.5 rounds at +145 to +150).

So instead, let's focus on another fight I like: heavyweights Alexey Oleynik vs. Ilir Latifi, who meet in the night's featured prelim.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a pair of UFC heavyweights who look so diametrically opposed, with the short and stout Latifi meeting the long and lanky Oleynik.

Ultimately, Latifi will likely look for a knockout shot or takedown-initiated ground and pound to get the stoppage (he has 10 finishes in 15 career wins). Oleynik, meanwhile, is willing to stand and bang, but he'll likely look to close distance to awkwardly drag the fight to the mat for a submission (he's got 47 of them in 60 wins).

Exhaustion could be a problem for both men down the stretch, but with this particular stylistic matchup, I think it could further fuel a Latifi KO or – more likely – an Oleynik sub. Plus, throw in the wild cards – awkward scrambles with unprotected limbs, mid-fight injuries from two aged vets, the possibility of accidental head-clashes and nut shots because of the height difference – and I could see this fight turning into a train wreck with countless ways to finish early.

Rather than picking a side, though, I'm taking a totals prop. Under 2.5 rounds (-190) is a solid alternative option, even if it's a bit chalky. But because I think Round 2 will be a pivotal frame, I'm definitely shying away from under 1.5 rounds (+100).

Instead, I dove into DraftKings' lengthy round-props menu and got the one I really like: The fight won't start Round 3. I think Latifi or Oleynik ultimately gets a stoppage in the first 10 minutes of the fight.

The Pick: Alexey Oleynik vs. Ilir Latifi Won't Start Round 3 (-150 at DraftKings)

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