UFC Vegas 66 Props: Battle via KO (+850) Among MMA Prop Squad’s 5 Top Bets
Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC welterweight Bryan Battle
- Saturday's year-end UFC Vegas 66 event offers a variety of prop-betting opportunities.
- Our MMA analysts have identified five prop bets with long odds for the ESPN+ card.
- Check out their picks, with odds from +420 to +1600, and their full analysis below.
Welcome to the latest edition of MMA Prop Squad, in which we offer an array of UFC Vegas 66 prop bets with oversized odds for Saturday’s event.
In this weekly feature, Action Network’s MMA team welcomes in a revolving cast of outside contributors and fellow combat-sports analysts.
Each Prop Squad installment will feature a handful of picks from our squad of prop-betting enthusiasts, who have tallied a 25.3% ROI to date.
This week marks the return of contributors Liam Heslin, Bryan Fonseca, Billy Ward, Tony Sartori and Clint MacLean.
Check out their picks for Saturday’s event, which streams on ESPN+ (4 p.m. ET) from Las Vegas, below.
As with all betting, always wager within your means. That guidance is especially important when dealing with prop bets. Although the props often offer tantalizing odds, they also cash far less frequently than standard bet types.
Liam Heslin: Jake Matthews by Submission (+420)
Contributor at The Action Network and host of Liam Picks Fights
Full disclosure: I bet two props on this fight that are now off market prices, but it is worth mentioning given the significant line movement we have seen on this fight across all markets.
I bet Matthews to win inside the distance at the +285 (~26%) opener, and the same sharp books are now booking the ITD prop at +130 (~43.5%), a shift in implied probability of more than 17%.
Matthews scored a flashy knockout over a primary standup fighter in Andre Fialho in his last bout, but historically his finishes have materialized on the mat. with four of six UFC finishes via submission.
Sharp books opened the Matthews to win by sub prop at +600 (~14.3%), and it is now being booked at +300 (25%) or worse on most sharp markets – another sharp line correction of more than 10% implied probability.
Aside from the market strength, Matthews has wrestling and knockdown upside to facilitate advantageous grappling positions, and the 16-fight UFC vet and Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt has an expected edge over purple belt Matthew Semeslberger, who has been finished in two of his four pro losses, including to 3-4 Darren Costa on the regional scene. Semelsberger was also finished in two amateur losses.
I expect Matthews to try to apply pressure and close distance against a rangier foe in Semelsberger, and based on the A.J. Fletcher fight and other regional grappling footage from Semelsberger, Matthews should have a massive advantage if he tries to do so.
I bet the +800 (11.1%) that was hanging on Caesars, which made absolutely no sense, and the book is currently offering the same bet at +380. I believe any number above +400 (20%) represents clear value because Matthews to win inside the distance is +130 (43.5%) and a conservative estimate of his expected submission win rate would be ~58.3% career (7/12 wins ITD are by submission) or 25% of his implied win equity.
A more realistic expected submission rate would be his ~66.7% (4/6 wins ITD are by submission in the UFC), which implies 29% of his win equity is via submission if the true odds are correct for Matthews to win ITD. Semelsberger is game and he is tough, but his ground game is waiting to be exposed at the UFC level, and his takedown defense is a work in progress at best.
Matthews should show his well-rounded game and veteran savvy to secure his fifth UFC win via submission.
Bryan Fonseca: Jared Cannonier by Rounds 1-2 KO (+550)
Contributor at The Action Network and combat sports host and on-air talent
You heard Sean Strickland: “Jared Cannonier is a scary motherf…”
In any event, Cannonier and Strickland are embarking on a near 50-50 fight, according to oddsmakers, in what should be a middleweight thriller to send 2022 into the UFC history books.
The last we saw of these two contenders was on the same night: July 2, 2022, at UFC 276. On the third bout of the main card, Strickland was knocked out by current middleweight champion Alex Pereira just two minutes and 36 seconds into Round 1.
Two bouts later during the main event, Cannonier was unanimously decisioned by then-champion Israel Adesanya, whom Pereira subsequently knocked out to win the title last month in the arguable upset of the year. We’re anticipating a rematch of Pereira and Adesanya to take place, and the winner of Strickland vs. Cannonier could launch himself into a title shot in the near future.
So, why Cannonier?
Strickland was knocked out in each of his last two losses, the first of which was against Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos at UFC 224 in May 2018, back when Strickland was a welterweight. Like the Pereira KO, Stickland was stopped in Round 1 with just over a minute to spare.
Cannonier has also been stopped twice, but he’s remained upright since May 2018, the last time he lost by TKO, which was against Dominick Reyes (one week after Strickland, at that). He’s also gotten immensely better since. Of Cannonier’s 15 victories, 10 have arrived by KO. His two losses over the last five years have come to Adesanya and Robert Whittaker, both by decision. Four of his last five wins have come by knockout, all of which occurred in Round 1 or 2.
If you’re there to be caught, Cannonier will find you, and Strickland’s chin has been tagged more often than you’d like in certain fights.
Billy Ward: Cody Brundage by Submission +650
Staff Writer at The Action Network
Cody Brundage is one of the bigger underdogs on Saturday’s fight card, with moneyline odds north of +200 for his bout against Michal Oleksiejczuk.
This fight is also the likeliest to end inside the distance, with -280 odds.
Given the way these two line up, it’s pretty clear how that could happen. Oleksiejczuk is a powerful striker with knockout victories in four of his five UFC wins. On the flip side, two of his three losses have been submissions.
And that sets up perfectly for Brundage, who’s a strong grappler but has limited skills on the feet. He was getting dominated by Dalcha Lungiambula before jumping guard for a guillotine, and his two most recent non-UFC wins were via submission.
It’s likely to be ugly for Brundage as long as it stays standing, but he has a clear grappling edge here.
His submission line should be a far greater proportion of his win condition than the roughly one-third it currently is, making the +650 a reasonable long shot.
The Pick: Cody Brundage To Win By Submission (+650 at DraftKings)
Tony Sartori: Bryan Battle via KO (+850)
Contributor at The Action Network
We have a very exciting welterweight bout set to take place during the prelims as Bryan Battle meets Rinat Fakhretdinov. Many of you likely know Battle as the middleweight winner of The Ultimate Fighter 28, and this will be just his second fight in the welterweight division.
A change in division was not planned for Battle entering this past summer; he looked incredibly sharp at 185 pounds. However, following his unanimous decision victory over Tresean Gore, Battle wanted to focus his training on becoming more athletic and possessing better endurance.
This change in training led to his surprise decision to drop a weight class after he found it easy to make weight at 170. With the weight he puts back on between weigh-ins and fight night, Battle carries the power of a 185er in the 170-pound weight class.
We saw this power on full display in his first fight in the welterweight division, which resulted in a first-round knockout of Takashi Sato when Battle landed a devastating kick to the jaw. That powerful kick put Sato into the third stage of his REM cycle, and Battle could pull it off once again in this fight against Fakhretdinov.
Battle is going to be the larger man in this fight, boasting a 1-inch height and three-inch reach advantage, and that is not even factoring in that he will be larger in terms of mass as well. He has developed a strong reputation for his submission offense, but Battle also throws accurately at an insanely high volume.
Through his first three official UFC fights, Battle boasts a 56% striking accuracy while landing 7.2 strikes per minute. Combining these stats with his size advantage, Battle’s striking could be overwhelming for Fakhretdinov, a guy who will look to wrestle in this fight.
Assuming Battle has a clean weight cut, It only will take one shot to flatline Fakhretdinov in this scrap.
Clint MacLean: Saidyokub Kakhramonov in Round 3 (+1600)
Contributor at The Action Network and host of the Die Hard MMA Podcast
I will keep this simple: I believe that Saidyokub Kakhramonov is special. This man stepped into the UFC and took out two of the division’s dark horses in his first two UFC fights.
Facing an extremely stiff test in Trevin Jones and finishing him in your first fight in the organization speaks mountains as to the kind of potential this man has. Then he followed up that performance with a short-notice opportunity against Ronnie Lawrence, who is one of the few fighters Dana White raves about.
We have seen the kind of pressure and pace Lawrence puts on his opponents, and he seems practically unstoppable. But Kakhramonov beat him at his own game – on short notice.
Kakhramonov has gas for days and a relentless pace. On top of that, he has power in his hands. The damage he put on the face of Lawrence was impressive, and Kakhramonov apologized after that 10/10 performance, saying he could do better and that with a little more prep time, he would have finished Lawrence.
I believe him. Opponents can take down Nurmagomedov and get his back. He doesn’t have the best gas tank in the division, and he is more striker than grappler. I believe that Kakhramonov breaks Nurmagomedov over the course of the fight and puts him away in the third round when he is the fresher and hungrier fighter while looking to make a statement and fast-track himself with a statement win.
My pick is Kakhramonov to win in the final round – and if you feel like sprinkling, you can also get +3500 odds for Kakhramonov to win via Round 3 submission at DraftKings.