This weekend in Houston, UFC 271 takes place and features a middleweight title rematch between Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker. Also on the card are 14 other fights showcasing some of the top MMA talent in the world. That’s a lot of fights, and a lot of opportunities to make some wagers. For those who are so inclined, and I’ll go over some of the bets I like for this weekend’s slate of fights.
All odds are courtesy of our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Derek Brunson over Jared Cannonier at +140
I was honestly surprised to see Cannonier as the favorite in this fight. Cannonier is a fine at defending takedowns, but he’s been outwrestled by worse wrestlers than Brunson, and Brunson is also probably the best control grappler Cannonier will have ever faced.
Brunson is going to try and wrestle Cannonier from the opening bell, and even if Cannonier can stave off the first few attempts, Brunson is not going to be deterred. I love Brunson’s chance to pull off the upset.
Nasrat Haqparast over Bobby Green at +115
In many ways, Green is Jorge Masvidal, if Masvidal never had his great epiphany. Green is a better fighter than his record indicates, and exceedingly skilled. But he has a terrible habit of fighting exactly to the level of his competition, and as a result, he loses a lot of close decisions. There’s a reason he’s been to five split decisions in his career, and so there’s value in Haqparast at plus money.
Jared Vanderaa over Andrei Arlovski at +125
Vanderaa is nobody’s idea of a world-beater, and at his peak, Arlovski would have rolled through Vanderaa. But those days are long gone. Arlovski is 43 years old and has been eking out wins on grit and guile. That just isn’t sustainable. “The Pitbull” shouldn’t be a favorite over any UFC heavyweight at this point, so Vanderaa is a value bet.
Alexander Hernandez over Renato Moicano at +140
This is a single-question fight: Can Renato Moicano score takedowns? If he can, he will win, but I don’t think he can. Hernandez has struggled when facing guys who can match his speed and athleticism, and that’s not Moicano. Hernandez’s movement will make it hard for Moicano to find takedown opportunities, and Hernandez’s physicality should prevent Moicano from finding clinch takedowns. The fast hands of Hernandez should take care of the rest.
Israel Adesanya - Robert Whittaker over 3.5 rounds at -165
For a full breakdown of this fight, read my Paths to Victory column from earlier this week. But the short version is this: It’s a terrible style matchup for Whittaker. That being said, I expect Whittaker to employ a much more disciplined approach to this rematch, which means a much more tentative affair from Bobby Knuckles. Adesanya isn’t one to force the issue, so this fight may ultimately look something like Adesanya’s bout with Yoel Romero. Either way, I think we make it well into the championship rounds.
Derrick Lewis over Tai Tuivasa by KO/TKO at -125
This is as straightforward of a fight as exists in MMA today. In a different world, Tuivasa could use leg kicks and distance to outpoint Lewis. But that’s simply not in the cards, both because it’s not who Tuivasa is and because his defense isn’t good enough to sustain such a plan. Lewis and Tuivasa are going to come out and swang and bang until one of them falls over, and you shouldn’t bet against “The Black Beast” in those sorts of fights.
Bobby Green - Nasrat Haqparast Goes to Decision at -190
Both Green and Haqparast are defense-first fighters, and neither is an especially potent finisher. In their combined 25 UFC fights, Green and Haqparast have gone to a decision 19 times. This one should make 20 fairly easily.
Parlay of the Week
Israel Adesanya at -290 + Alex Perez at -380 + Casey O’Neil at -380 parlayed together for +114 odds
Adesanya is technically superior and the more dangerous striker, and Whittaker doesn’t have many routes to consistently generate winning offense. With so much on the line, I expect Whittaker will do better this time, but Adesanya is either going to take a clear decision, or get a stoppage in the later rounds.
Similarly, Perez is a much more dangerous fighter than Matt Schnell in all areas. Perez is more active, packs more power, and is the better wrestler and grappler. Schell is game but outmatched and is going to lose a decision, unless he gives his neck up before the final bell.
Lastly, Roxanne Modafferi is a legitimate pioneer in MMA and a legend of the sport, but she’s also 39 years old and facing one of the brightest prospects in women’s MMA. Modafferi’s veteran savvy may keep her in it until the final bell, but she’s physically outmatched here.
Long Shot of the Week
Derek Brunson by Submission at +1400
As noted above, I think Brunson has a better chance of winning this fight than the oddsmakers are giving him. If Brunson can consistently score takedowns, Cannonier is going to have to sell out to stand back up. In doing so, that creates chances for Brunson to take the back and sink in a choke.
I don’t expect to have this many bets every week, but UFC 271 had a lot of interesting fights with some attackable betting lines. Not every straight bet will be an underdog either, but that’s just how things shook out this week. Good luck y’all, and gamble responsibly!
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