UFC Vegas Odds, Pick & Prediction for Petr Yan vs. Merab Dvalishvili: Don’t Get Fooled by Round 1 (Saturday, March 11)

UFC Vegas Odds, Pick & Prediction for Petr Yan vs. Merab Dvalishvili: Don’t Get Fooled by Round 1 (Saturday, March 11) article feature image

Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images. Pictured: UFC bantamweights Petr Yan and Merab Dvalishvili

  • Top bantamweight contenders Petr Yan and Merab Dvalishvili meet in Saturday's UFC Vegas headliner.
  • Former champ Yan is a substantial favorite despite Dvalishvili's eight-fight UFC winning streak.
  • Below, Sean Zerillo breaks down the ESPN+ main event while detailing the importance of the first round.

Petr Yan vs. Merab Dvalishvili Odds

Yan Odds
Dvalishvili Odds
4.5 (-195 / +160)
The Theater at Virgin Hotels (Las Vegas)
8:30 p.m. ET
Odds as of Saturday and via DraftKings.

The UFC will host its first-ever event at The Theater at Virgin Hotels in Las Vegas on Saturday with a bantamweight showdown between former champion and No. 2-ranked contender Petr Yan and No. 3-ranked Merab Dvalishvili.

Yan is 1-3 in his past four bouts, including a pair of controversial split-decision losses and his disqualification (for an illegal knee) in his title defense against Aljamain Sterling.

Dvalishvili, an American-trained native of Georgia – and Sterling's teammate – enters on a nine-fight winning streak after dropping the first two bouts of his UFC tenure.

Below, I’ll provide my analysis and projections and utilize those factors to bet on the main event for UFC Las Vegas: Yan vs. Dvalishvili, which streams entirely on ESPN+ (3 p.m. ET).

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Tale of the Tape

Avg. Fight Time16:0614:27
Weight (pounds)135 lbs.135 lbs.
Reach (inches)67"68"
Date of birth2/11/19931/10/1991
Sig Strikes Per Min5.314.21
SS Accuracy53%40%
SS Absorbed Per Min4.032.31
SS Defense59%58%
Take Down Avg1.866.54
TD Acc56%40%
TD Def90%78%
Submission Avg0.20.3

Dvalishvili typically wrestles opponents like his life depends on it. Throughout his UFC career, he has attempted more than one takedown per minute (16.4 per 15 minutes) while landing those attempts at a high clip.

While he excels at getting opponents to the mat, Dvalishvili isn't nearly as adept at maintaining top position or controlling his opponents on the ground for extended stretches; oftentimes, they are able to scramble back to their feet, where he looks to control them in the clinch against the cage or change levels again and complete a mat return.

His style is highly reliable and proof positive for winning minutes in the MMA. And I have consistently bet on Dvalishvili throughout his nine-fight winning streak.

Still, Yan may be one of the more difficult tests – if not the most difficult – for Dvalishvili in the division.

For starters, Yan would be the favorite against any 135-pound fighter on the planet. He was unlucky to lose both of his past two fights. Yes, both matchups played out closer than the betting odds suggested; however, 25 of 26 media scorecards and more than 65% of fan scorecards had the Sean O'Malley fight for Yan while 59.3% of fans had Yan winning against or drawing with Sterling.

From a technical perspective, Yan is a good counter grappler who is excellent in scrambles, and he has a clear striking edge in this matchup, particularly in the pocket.

He may have difficulty winning cleanly against a fighter with Dvalishvili's style; however, I do expect him to figure out the grappler eventually.

Yan's hand-fighting should serve him well to deny clinch positions, and even if he does get taken down, I don't expect Dvalishvili to keep him there for long. Sterling defeated Yan by locking in a body triangle for extended stretches.  Merab doesn't have the same length to employ that strategy, and we haven't seen holes anywhere else in Yan's game that can be exploited.

The primary concern is Yan's tendency to start slow. The ex-champ typically drops the first round to his opponents and looks to build as his fights wear on. Ultimately, that cost him against both O'Malley and Sterling (two of three judges in each fight gave the first round to Yan's opponent).

While it shouldn't matter as much in a five-round fight, Yan's moneyline price may move in after the opening frame. And as always, I would look to live bet Yan after Round 1 at a better price. Until Yan changes his fighting style, that will remain the best way to bet him.

Still, there are other ways for you to wager on this fight.

Yan vs. Dvalishvili Pick

I projected Petr Yan as a 72.2% favorite in this matchup (-223 implied). As a result, I don't see value on either side of the moneyline.

Moreover, I projected the bout to reach a decision 59% of the time (-146 implied), and I don't see any value with respect to the total.

However, given the stylistic nature of the matchup – and Yan's tendency to leave his motor in neutral until about the five-minute mark – I would place a same game parlay (SGP) at DraftKings either with Yan and the Over 1.5 Rounds (-155) or Over 2.5 Rounds (-120).

While I show value on Yan to win inside the distance (projected +190, listed +220 at FanDuel) or by KO/TKO (projected +222, listed +260), I do prefer the SGP, given Yan's style.

He doesn't carry massive one-punch power or necessarily go out of his way – at any point – to pursue the finish. Rather, Yan wears opponents down with attritional damage and is able to put them away late by beating them up and outlasting them down the stretch.

As a result, I'd rather not sweat the ITD bet for a fighter desperate to get back in the win column; rather, I would prefer to play into his win condition, as Yan typically comes alive after a slow start.

The Picks: SGP: Yan & Over 1.5 Rounds (-155, 0.5u at DraftKings) | Yan Live after Round 1

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