UFC Vegas 75 Luck Ratings: The Undervalued Fighters to Bet Now (Saturday, June 17)
Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC featherweight Pat Sabatini
- UFC Vegas 75 takes place Saturday night with a 12-bout fight card.
- Billy Ward looks at which fighters could be undervalued or overvalued based on recent results.
- Check out his UFC Vegas 75 picks and analysis for the Vettori vs. Cannonier fight card below.
Let’s look into some mispriced betting lines for Saturday night's UFC Vegas 75 event and see which fighters are overvalued and which are undervalued heading into the ESPN event.
UFC Vegas 75, also dubbed UFC Fight Night: Vettori vs. Cannonier, takes place at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas. Following prelims on ESPN2 (7 p.m. ET), the UFC Vegas 75 main card airs live on ESPN (10 p.m. ET). ESPN+ also simulcasts the entire fight card.
One of the first “aha!” moments I had in gambling (generally, not just MMA) was to start thinking about why markets might be wrong, rather than just trying to predict what I think will happen.
At its core, that’s what a betting line is: a market where we can “buy” or “sell” events happening. For the most part, these markets are efficient, with the “price” eventually reflecting the true odds of the event.
While this is less true in MMA – where there are far more information asymmetries than in major markets like the NFL or NBA – it’s still broadly (and increasingly) the case. Therefore, to beat the markets over the long term, we need to figure out spots where they’re wrong.
That’s the point of this piece. Inspired by our NFL “Luck Ratings,” I’ll be looking into spots where variance has favored one fighter more than another, causing the line to be inefficient. The biggest input will be split and/or controversial decisions, with short-notice fights, fights that are later overruled, fluke injuries, and out-of-weight-class fights considered, as well.
The focus will be on fights reasonably likely to see the scorecards here, or where one fighter holds most of the finishing upside.
Odds as of Tuesday and via FanDuel
Marvin Vettori (-120) vs. Jared Cannonier (-106)
Two of the middleweight division's most distinguished gatekeepers (in the most complimentary sense of the term) meet in the main event on Saturday. Since 2016, Martin Vettori is 8-3-1 in the UFC with his only losses coming to current champion Israel Adesanya and former champion Robert Whittaker. Cannonier is 6-2 over his last eight with his only losses coming against … Whittaker and Adesanya.
That makes this effectively a bronze medal match at middleweight as we're unlikely to see either man get another shot at the title anytime soon. However, they've cleared out almost everyone below them. In the time frame referenced above, they've collectively had only one split-decision fight – Cannonier's most recent against Sean Strickland.
There's a strong argument to be made that Strickland won that fight, though, landing more significant strikes and scoring the bout's only takedown. There's no shame in that – Strickland is an upper-tier middleweight – but it's not a great sign for Cannonier that his worst performance of the past few years is his most recent one. With Cannonier recently turning 39, we can anticipate some regression from the vet.
Had Cannonier lost that fight, we'd likely see this line shifted somewhere around 25 cents more toward Vettori's side. For that reason, Vettori is undervalued, especially at books where he's currently an underdog (DraftKings and BetMGM). I've already put my bet in on him.
Verdict: Cannonier overvalued
Christian Leroy Duncan (-150) vs. Armen Petrosyan (+118)
There's a second middleweight contest on the main card with the far-less-experienced pairing of Armen Petrosyan and Christian Leroy Duncan. They've combined for just four UFC fights to date, which generally would lead me to steer clear of discussing them in the Luck Ratings.
However, there's a factor I don't generally touch on that's playing a major role here: strength of schedule. Petrosyan is 2-1 in the UFC, but his first two fights came against Caio Borralho and Gregory Rodrigues. Both men are ranked in the top 25 Tapology's middleweight rankings (which includes non-UFC fighters), and Petrosyan went the full 15 minutes with both.
While he split the pair (and his win was a split decision), that's still a fairly impressive entrance into the UFC. Especially considering the stylistic difficulty of a former pro kickboxer fighting consecutive Brazilian grapplers.
Duncan is just 1-0 in the UFC with his win coming via a knee injury to his opponent, Dusko Todorovic. Todorovic is 3-4 in the UFC and ranks outside of the division's top 50 in the global rankings.
This line has already begun to creep toward Petrosyan, with the best currently available odds at +125 on BetMGM. I'd jump on that before it moves any further.
Verdict: Petrosyan undervalued
Pat Sabatini (-200) vs. Lucas Almeida (+154)
I debated including this one because Pat Sabatini's shocking upset loss in his last bout wasn't really "luck" in the truest sense of the word. He was a -200 or so favorite to Damon Jackson, but he got dropped with a front kick to the body before being finished with ground and pound.
At the same time, while it wasn't quite luck, it was arguably a fluke. I doubt we'll see Sabatini caught with something like that again, and he's a better fighter than he was able to show in that bout.
Additionally, Lucas Almeida was dropped in the first round of his UFC debut against Michael Trizano before rallying back to get a knockout of his own. That one was extremely close to going the other way, and there are certainly officials who would've stopped that fight.
If we were coming into this fight with Sabatini at 5-0 in the UFC and Almeida at 0-1, this line would be much wider. That could've easily been the case, and the line is starting to move Sabatini's way to reflect that. The best bet here might be on the round under given both men's defensive issues, but the Sabatini moneyline should be pricier as well.
He can be had for -180 on Caesars and DraftKings on Tuesday.
Verdict: Sabatini undervalued
Alessandro Costa (-265) vs. Jimmy Flick (+200)
Not a ton of UFC tape on either flyweight here, with Alessandro Costa coming in at 0-1 in the UFC and Jimmy Flick at 1-1. Costa's loss was against Amir Albazi, an extremely tough fight for a UFC debut. He was 12-2 as a pro before that, though he needed a split decision to pick up the win in his Contender Series bout.
Flick was last seen in January, when he suffered a first-round knockout loss to Charles Johnson. However, that was his first fight in more than two years, a period during which he "retired" from active competition. Ring rust certainly could've played a large factor in that fight.
Flick is a deserving underdog here as a fairly one-dimensional submission artist. Still, I expect him to be considerably better than he looked last time out, so consider a sprinkle on his moneyline. This one is less urgent as the line seems to be shifting towards Costa presently.
Verdict: Flick undervalued
Modestas Bukauskas (-200) vs. Zac Pauga (+154)
This is a light heavyweight fight despite Zac Pauga's appearance as a heavyweight on the most recent season of The Ultimate Fighter. Pauga was the runner-up of the season after getting knocked out by Mohammed Usman in the championship round.
All of his previous career fights were at 205 pounds, though, as was his follow-up UFC performance: a boring, but decisive, victory over Jordan Wright. Pauga's overall record at light heavyweight stands a perfect 6-0, with his lone career loss coming when he went up a weight class.
We frequently see fighters move up for a chance at a spot in the TUF house, with the added benefit of having to cut less (or no) weight during the show's frequent fights. Most of those fighters tend to do better when back home at their natural weight class.
I expect that to continue to be the case here, and I would make this line a bit closer than it currently is.