UFC Vegas 70 Odds, Picks, Projections: Our Best Bets for Sakai vs. Mayes, Martinez vs. Leavitt, More (Saturday, February 25)
Alejandro Salazar/PxImages/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: UFC heavyweight Don’Tale Mayes
- UFC Vegas 70 streams on ESPN+ on Saturday night with an 11-fight lineup.
- Our MMA experts have identified three fights and best bets for the card.
- Check out their picks, including a main-card underdog, below.
(Editor’s note: As the UFC Vegas 70 main card kicked off, UFC officials announced the cancellation of the scheduled headliner after Nikita Krylov suffered an undisclosed illness and was forced out of his bout with Ryan Spann.)
Check out our UFC Vegas 70 best bets ahead of Saturday’s event at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas.
The entire 11-bout lineup streams on ESPN+ beginning at 4 p.m. ET. Light heavyweights Nikita Krylov and Ryan Spann headline the card.
So where should you be looking to place your bets? Our crew has pinpointed three 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.
Dann Stupp: Ode’ Osbourne vs. Charles Johnson
Senior Editor at The Action Network
Fighter walkouts: Approx. 4:55 p.m. ET
This week, I’m banking on Charles Johnson being able to make this a drawn-out battle.
It’s one reason he’s the focus of my MMA Prop Squad pick for UFC Vegas 70, but he’s also my best bet for this week.
Full disclosure: I don’t love the betting card this week. And that may sound rich coming from a guy who still has some action on every matchup. But for a straight-up moneyline pick based on a strict win-or-lose verdict, this is a tricky card.
That includes the 130-pound catchweight fight between Johnson and opponent Ode’ Osbourne.
The market has favored Osbourne this week, pushing his underdog odds from a healthy +160 or so to a more reasonable +135 as of this writing.
Luckily for us, that just means we’re getting a better price on his opponent, Johnson, who’s gone from a sizable favorite to a more modest one, which means a better potential payout for our bet.
Osbourne is no doubt a live ‘dog early. But his knockout threat quickly wanes as the bout wears on and his gas tank empties. Additionally, Johnson has exactly zero stoppage losses in his career, so I like his ability to avoid that early trouble.
And if he can sidestep early fireworks, Johnson has the skills – notably wrestling and cardio – to swing and keep the fight in his favor.
That durability could also force Osbourne, who will surely look for counter-striking opportunities, to think twice if he’s facing a fresher foe who takes over later in the fight. That could force his offense to sputter even further.
At -160, I like Johnson, and I’d take him down to -190 or so. But I also like his inside-the-distance and late-fight-stoppage props (or you could take a nicely priced -120 on the under 2.5 rounds if you’re equally bullish on Osbourne to strike early).
But for me, I think Johnson’s toughness reigns supreme and allows him to get his hand raised, likely inside the distance.
The Pick: Charles Johnson (-160 at Caesars)
Sean Zerillo: Victor Martinez vs. Jordan Leavitt
Senior Writer at The Action Network
Fighter walkouts: Approx. 5:25 p.m. ET
The public consensus is all over Jordan Leavitt this week.
I compile public pick/projection data (not betting data from sportsbooks – picks from MMA fans) from multiple industry resources for each fight.
On average, the public datasets are picking Leavitt to win at a 70.3% rate in this matchup. The range is between 64% and 80%. If you turned that public sentiment into actual lines, they would have Leavitt between -177 (64%) and -400 (80%) in implied odds.
I have a formula for balancing this dataset against the line or betting market. Still, I don’t see this significant delta between the betting market and the public picks very often.
There is nearly a 20% difference between the dataset average (70.3%) and Leavitt’s actual odds (-110, 52.4% implied). I have Martinez as a 52% favorite after using my formula, but I’m not sure that my process even went far enough the other way.
Regardless of the math, I see a clear case for Martinez as the favorite in this matchup. He has a massive striking advantage, and while he may have a grappling deficiency – where Leavitt can capitalize and seize a submission – Martinez has improved the weakest part of his game.
Moreover, Leavitt struggles and tires against physical opponents; Martinez will make him work for the takedowns and expend energy to keep him on the bottom.
Leavitt prioritizes submission over position, and it’s hard to envision him winning a clean decision if he’s getting to the positions he wants to find.
That said, if he doesn’t dominate on the mat or snatch up an opportunistic submission, Leavitt will get beat up on the feet, losing a wide decision or getting knocked out.
The Pick: Victor Martinez (-105 at BetMGM)
Billy Ward: Augusto Sakai vs. Don’Tale Mayes
Staff Writer at The Action Network
Fighter walkouts: Approx. 7:55 p.m. ET
Don’Tale Mayes is another bet I discovered while researching my UFC Vegas 70 Luck Rankings.
The market has caught on a bit, with the best lines on Mayes moving from +115 earlier in the week down to +110 as of Friday afternoon.
Still, that’s a very good value on Mayes. He’s officially 2-2-1 in the UFC, though his no-contest was originally a loss. Still, that loss came to a fighter we later found out was a walking pharmacy, so I’ll give him a pass.
Mayes is a solid wrestler, but historically, he has struggled with submissions. Ciryl Gane submitted him in Mayes’ debut, and he suffered another submission loss to Rodrigo Nascimento, a high-level grappler. Going into the third round with Gane – and Gane needing a heel hook to put him away – both reflect very well on Mayes in retrospect.
Mayes matches up very well with Augusto Sakai, his opponent on Saturday.
Sakai has landed all of one takedown in his eight UFC fights, so Mayes doesn’t need to worry about the ground game. Sakai has also been knocked out in four consecutive fights. While Sakai may be the better technical striker, I prefer to bet on the tougher chin when it comes to heavyweights.
Mayes should be the better fighter here wherever it takes place, and he should be a better overall athlete
I’m honestly surprised these lines haven’t entirely flipped yet, though there’s still time. I’d take Mayes down to -110.
The Pick: Don’Tale Mayes (+115 at DraftKings)
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