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UFC 282 Gambling Preview: Will Magomed Ankalaev usher in new era of light heavyweight division?

Magomed Ankalaev
Magomed Ankalaev
Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

The final pay-per-view event of the year goes down Saturday when UFC 282 takes place in Las Vegas. Headlined by a light heavyweight title fight between Jan Blachowicz and Magomed Ankalaev, there are also 12 other fights on the card, meaning we’ve got a lot of chances to cash tickets before the end of the year. So let’s take a look at my favorite bets available this weekend.

As always, all odds are courtesy of our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.

UFC 278: Santos v Gordon Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC

Straight Bets

Jared Gordon, +210

Maybe it’s because he came at one of ours (and missed), or maybe it’s because I will simply never learn, but I’m once again fading Paddy Pimblett.

Look, Pimblett is probably a better fighter than I give him credit for, and I recognize that this is a tailor-made matchup to get him a win with a step up in competition. But I cannot help it: I refuse to believe in Pimblett. He’s a good grappler and he’s got some power in his hands, but he’s not a spectacular athlete, and his defense is very lacking, which allows guys like Luigi Vendramini to have moments against him. Gordon is not going to blow your doors off with his game, but he’s incredibly solid all around, and he’s faced much stiffer competition than Pimblett (albeit, losing to those guys). Maybe if Pimblett looks good here, I start to believe in him, but I think Gordon is going to make things very tough on “The Baddy” come Saturday.

Dricus Du Plessis, -175

Speaking of people I refuse to believe in, enter Darren Till. Here is a fact: Till has not clearly won a fight since 2017, when he knocked out Donald Cerrone, who was already on the well-done side of cooked. Till has a questionable decision win over Stephen Thompson, and a questionable split decision win over Kelvin Gastelum (whom I also have many thoughts on). Other than that, it’s losses all the way down. And you can come at me with “he looked good against Whittaker” — that’s still an L. The man has not definitively won a fight in half a decade and has never done so against legitimately elite competition, AND he’s coming in after a 15-month layoff and is facing a whirling dervish of activity and aggression that is DDP. There is no world in which I believe he will win this fight. Du Plessis is not the best defensive fighter in the world, but he is going to put a pace on Till and Till isn’t a defensive genius either. My guess is Till hangs on to see the scorecards, but DDP has broken better fighters than Till before.

Chris Curtis, +140

Last week I said there were two lines I was confused about, and I happened to miss on both of those bets. Well, fair warning in case I make it three-for-three, because I have no idea why Chris Curtis is an underdog to Joaquin Buckley. Curtis is the better technical striker, fights at a much higher pace, and is better defensively than Buckley is. Sure, Buckley has the power advantage, but Curtis has only been knocked out once in his career, and that was when he fought twice in one night. Not to mention, Curtis has never surrendered a takedown in the UFC, meaning Buckley is likely forced into a pure kickboxing match here, and I truly don’t understand why Curtis isn’t the favorite. From a value perspective, this is one of my favorite bets on the card.

MMA: JUL 30 UFC 277 Photo by Alejandro Salazar/PxImages/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Prop Bets

Magomed Ankalaev by KO/TKO, +120

I did an in-depth breakdown of the main event that you can read here, so I won’t rehash too much of that now. The short version is that this fight will likely be very competitive, up until it isn’t. Blachowicz should find success early with his kicks, but Ankalaev’s speed and timing will give him big problems, and when Blachowicz inevitably slips up defensively, Ankalaev will catch him.

Ilia Topuria by Decision, +275

Simply put, I’m a huge Ilia Topuria guy. That’s not knock on Bryce Mitchell as a fighter, I just think Topuria has all the makings of a legitimate title threat. At only 25, the guy is a very, very good grappler, and he has nasty power and speed in the hands. Mitchell is a heck of a grappler in his own right, but I think he’s going to struggle to land takedowns, and on the feet, I think Topuria is just better. That being said, Mitchell is tough as nails (or drill bits?), and I don’t think Topuria gets him out of there. Instead, this feels like a back-and-forth scrap where Topuria edges out a decision.

Edmen Shahbazyan to win by KO/TKO or Submission, -110

In a battle where both men are coming in on three-fight losing streaks, I still feel really good about Shahbazyan’s chances to get Dalcha Lungiambula out of there. For starters, 10 of Shahbazyan’s 11 career wins have come by finish, and four of Lungiambula’s five losses have gone the same way. Moreover, Shahbazyan is simply better in almost every metric. He’s younger, bigger, faster, and has much better wins than Lungiambula. Add in that Shahbazyan finally left Glendale Fight Club to start working with a legitimately top-shelf gym, and I think we’re about to see the 25-year-old finally start to fulfill some of his potential, starting with a dominant showing this weekend.

UFC Fight Night: Crowder v Rozenstruik Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Parlay of the Week

Jan Blachowicz vs. Magomed Ankalaev Over 1.5 Rounds, -300

As mentioned above, I think this will be a highly competitive and somewhat slow fight early on. The short-notice change to five rounds will have both men be cautious early, before the fireworks begin. Also, Ankalaev has gone over 1.5 in seven of 10 UFC fights, while Blachowicz has done it in 15 of his 18 UFC bouts.

Bryce Mitchell vs. Ilia Topuria Over 1.5 Rounds, -255

Also as mentioned above, I suspect this fight will be really high-paced, but both men have proven to be quite durable.

Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs. Chris Daukaus Does Not Got The Distance, -550

Possibly the easiest bet on the entire card. Fourteen of their 16 combined UFC fights have ended in a finish, with nine of those coming in the very first round. Barring something crazy happening, these two are going to meet in the middle and chuck mitts until one of them gets bagged up.

UFC Fighter Portraits Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC

Long Shot of the Week

Steven Koslow by to win by Submission in Round 1, +1400

This week’s Long Shot comes courtesy of my No Bets Barred co-host Conner Burks, who crunched the tape and determined that despite his gaudy record, Cameron Saaiman has shown some suspect grappling in his past performances. When faced against a man who has secured first-round submissions in all six of his professional fights (and four of his amateur bouts), there are worse things you can do than take a stab on that guy.

Wrap Up

It was a mixed bag last week for us, as we lost more bets than we cashed. But thanks to some good lines, we still ended up ahead. Nobody ever went broke making a profit, so let’s try and continue to good run.

Until next week, enjoy the fights, good luck, and gamble responsibly!

All information in this article is provided to readers of MMA Fighting for entertainment, news, and amusement purposes only. It is the responsibility of the reader to learn and abide by online gambling laws in their region before placing any online sports betting wagers.

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