UFC Vegas 76 Luck Ratings: The Undervalued Fighters to Bet Now (Saturday, July 1)

UFC Vegas 76 Luck Ratings: The Undervalued Fighters to Bet Now (Saturday, July 1) article feature image

Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC welterweight Rinat Fakhretdinov of Russia

Let’s look into some mispriced betting lines for Saturday's UFC Vegas 76 event on ESPN and see which fighters are overvalued and undervalued heading into the 12-bout card.

UFC Vegas 76 is also dubbed UFC on ESPN: Strickland vs. Magomedov. The event takes place at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.

The full UFC Vegas 76 fight card airs on ESPN beginning today at 4 p.m. ET (1 p.m. PT) with the prelims, and the main-card action kicks off at 7 p.m. ET. The full event, including the Sean Strickland vs. Abus Magomedov main event, is also available via ESPN+ simulcast.

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 in which 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 Monday and via FanDuel

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Sean Strickland (-192) vs. Abusupiyan Magomedov (+148)

This one is hard to break down from a luck standpoint due to the drastically different levels of competition both men have faced. Sean Strickland has fought some of the top competitors at both middleweight and welterweight during his UFC career while Magomedov is just 1-0 in the promotion – against an opponent with a 1-4 UFC record.

With that said, Magomedov looked about as good as one could in that fight, picking up a knockout in just 19 seconds. He also went 3-1 in the PFL and 1-0 in KSW before signing with the UFC, so he's fought reasonably challenging opponents in the past.

Strickland is 13-5 in the UFC with a 9-3 record in decisions. Of those, he's gone 3-1 in splits. Given that the bulk of his wins have needed the judges and the split-decision record, there's an arguable case that he's been a bit on the luckier side. Of course, his high volume low damage striking style is generally pleasing to the judges, so it's not all "luck."

Given the experience gap, the overall line feels about right here. However, Magomedov is certainly the more dangerous finisher, and Strickland has been known to stand and trade even when it's not in his best interests. For that reason, I'll be looking to play Magomedov inside the distance and/or "finish only" when those lines go up.

Verdict: Fairly valued

Michael Morales (-250) vs. Max Griffin (+190)

Like the main event, the biggest factor at play here is high-level experience. Michael Morales has just two fights in the UFC proper – and one on the Contender Series – while Max Griffin will be making his 15th UFC octagon walk on Saturday.

Morales finished both of his UFC fights with knockouts, and he looked very impressive in the process. While his Contender Series bout went to a decision, it was also a fairly dominant performance that saw him show off his grappling skills.

Griffin has seen the scorecards in 10 of his 14 bouts with a 4-6 record in decisions. Five of those have been split or majority decisions, with a 2-3 record. One could argue he's been slightly unlucky, especially since he's 3-1 in fights that end inside the distance.

On the other hand, Griffin is 37, and this is pretty clearly a showcase fight for the 24-year-old Morales. There are slightly better lines available on him than the -250 at FanDuel, but I'll be looking to lower the juice even further with some variety of time or winning-method-based play later in the week.

Verdict: Fairly valued

Rinat Fakhretdinov (-225) vs. Kevin Lee (+172)

Stop me if you've heard this before, but we have two fighters with wildly different experience levels against top competition in this one. Kevin Lee is an 18-fight UFC veteran who briefly left the promotion for Eagle FC before re-signing earlier this year.

Rinat Fakhretdinov is another one of the seemingly endless stream of Russian grapplers taking over the sport. He has a 2-0 UFC record (both very dominant submissions) and a 21-2 pro record overall. He hasn't lost a fight since 2014, putting him on a 16-fight winning streak coming into this one – though his pre-UFC competition is relatively low.

Lee was just 1-4 in his last five UFC fights before departing the promotion, and all were clear losses. While he picked up a win in the Eagle FC promotion, it was a rather uninspiring one against 40-year-old Diego Sanchez. That doesn't make me feel great about his chances against a young, hungry fighter.

Fakhretdinov is as low as -190 at BetMGM, but I don't expect that line to last long.

Verdict: Fakhretdinov undervalued at BetMGM

Alexandr Romanov (-146) vs. Blagoy Ivanov (+114)

As far as "obligatory heavyweight" fights go, this is a reasonably solid one between Alexandr Romanov and Blagoy Ivanov.

Romanov looked like the next big thing in the division after winning his first five UFC fights (four by stoppage), but he has since dropped two in a row. One of those was a majority decision loss to Marcin Tybura in which Romanov nearly finished the fight in Round 1 before gassing out down the stretch. Even so, there's a case to be made that he was the rightful winner of that bout.

Ivanov is 3-4 in the UFC with all seven of his fights remarkably making it to the judges. That's a rarity in the heavyweight division. He's lost both split decisions in that time, though it's a dangerous game to rely on the judges in the first place –and neither one was a robbery by any stretch.

Especially with heavyweights, we always want to bet on the fighter with finishing upside, though, and that's clearly Romanov.  This line is already started to creep his way, and I'm expecting it to end up even further by fight time. The best line currently available is -130 at Caesars.

Verdict: Romanov undervalued

Guram Kutateladze (-590) vs. Elves Brenner (+390)

This one is included more because of a curiosity than a strong betting lean: These two fighters have just three UFC fights between them, and each one ended via split decision. Kutateladze is 1-1 for the promotion with Brenner at 1-0.

With that said, Brenner's win was by far the worst decision of the three, and he should almost certainly be 0-1. Both of Kutateladze's UFC appearances were extremely close, but there's a case to be made that he should be 2-0. He also fought top competition from the moment he made it into the promotion, with his two bouts coming against Damir Ismagulov and Mateusz Gamrot.

The Ismagulov fight was especially interesting. It appeared that Ismagulov took an eye poke early in the fight that the ref missed, which could've made Kutateladze look better than he should've. On the other hand, a knee to the body of a grounded Ismagulov was dubbed illegal, costing Kutateladze top position in the waning seconds of Round 3. With that round being extremely close (2-1 for Ismagulov), it's possible that sequence cost Kutateladze the fight.

All things considered, we'll call those a wash in an extremely tight fight.

Given the above factors, I'd be tempted to say that "The Georgian Viking" is undervalued even at the wide line. However, Kutateladze's long layoffs are slightly concerning. His UFC debut was in October 2021 with the follow-up – also his most recent fight – in June 2022. That usually implies some injuries have kept the fighter out of competition, though I can't say for sure he's less than 100%.

It's not enough of a concern that I'd be betting on Brenner – but it might keep me from laying nearly -600 odds on the favorite. As is often the case with heavy favorites, I do expect Kutateladze to close at an even longer line, though.

Verdict: Fairly valued

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