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UFC 279 Gambling Preview: Can Nate Diaz and Kevin Holland pull off short-notice upsets?

UFC 279 Press Conference Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

So, that was insane.

UFC 279 is going to go down as one of the craziest fight weeks in history and suddenly, less than 24 hours from the event, everything has been shaken up which makes betting on this card a different beast entirely. Fortunately, from a gambling perspective things are probably better than they were before, as the top three bouts are now closer in the odds, and I like a couple of underdog plays as a result. Unfortunately, given how last-minute everything is, there still aren’t prop lines down for the top three fights, and a number of bets I had, including the parlay for this week, are in shambles. As a result, things will be a little wonkier this week, with no Long Shot of the Week and only a small parlay. Still, there are a lot of bets I feel good about so let’s get to the betting breakdown.

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

UFC 279 Ceremonial Weigh-in Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Straight Bets

Nate Diaz, +105

There is every possibility that betting either Nate Diaz or Tony Ferguson is a fool’s endeavor. These men were preparing for completely different opponents and styles, both are past their primes, and really, we just have no idea what is going to happen here. That being said, I do think Nate has several small advantages in this one. Nate was the one preparing for a five-round fight, which figures to be a big advantage since this fight is very likely to go into the later rounds. Also, Nate is a more natural welterweight, having competed in the division for some time now, while Tony is moving up. Lastly, I think the style matchup simply favors Nate. Unless Tony wants to play the lay-and-pray game, he’s likely going to spend much of the bout chucking hands with Nate, and while early on he can succeed, Ferguson is not defensively sound enough to play that game forever. I think Nate can outlast Tony over 25 minutes, and perhaps score a late stoppage win, if not take down a decision.

Kevin Holland, +430

This could definitely be a galaxy brain pick, and it’s coming out of left field considering how high I have been on Khamzat Chimaev, but it really feels like this is about to happen. Yes, Chimaev is a superior wrestler and Holland has a noted weakness to that area of MMA. But this fight week from Chimaev has been nothing short of disaster and I have substantial questions about where his head is. Missing weight by nearly a full weight class is really bad, and could easily show a total lack of dedication to his preparation this camp. Against Nate that probably wouldn’t have hurt him, but with the change? Holland has the power to hurt him with one shot. Not to mention that this is now five rounds. Holland is really durable so if he survives the opening salvo, and Chimaev really did half-ass his camp, the later rounds can get bad in a hurry for “Borz”.

Then there’s the whole issue of how Chimaev responds to everything. Instead of being beloved, he’s now the heel, how does that play? When he fought Gilbert Burns, Chimaev got sucked into a brawl he almost lost because his ego got the better of him, and now he’s about to fight a man who he has an issue with and who will absolutely not stop talking trash to him in the cage. It’s entirely possible, even likely, that Chimaev slugs it out with Holland, and in that fight, “Big Mouth” has a really good chance to ice him. Plus, doesn’t it just feel like that’s the inevitable end to this entire fiasco?

Daniel Rodriguez, -150

I’m genuinely surprised that Rodriguez is only this big of a favorite over Li Jingliang. Under normal circumstances, with a full training camp, I would pick Rodriguez to win this fight comfortably as he is the much better boxer. Now though, Rodriguez comes into this fight with a nearly 10-pound advantage. Even stylistically going from Holland to Li is probably closer than going from Ferguson to Rodriguez. I love this bet.

Chris Barnett, +330

Let’s be clear: I don’t necessarily believe Barnett will beat Jake Collier, but this price is ridiculous. Collier should not be a -410 favorite against any game heavyweight, and Barnett is certainly that.

Collier has significant physical advantages that cannot be discounted here, but Barnett is the more dangerous one-shot striker and the better athlete, and if you look at Collier’s resume, he’s mostly lost when he’s faced better athletes. Granted, Barnett has lost to worse athletes and just overall worse competition, but we’re still talking about bad heavyweight MMA. There is just no reason for Collier to be this big a favorite over anyone currently in the UFC.

UFC 274 Ceremonial Weigh-in Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Prop Bets

Tony Ferguson/Nate Diaz Over 4.5 Rounds, -130

As mentioned above, I think this is a back-and-forth war and given how generally durable both men are, a finish seems unlikely. Maybe if Nate gets cut, or Tony really starts to fade down the stretch because he wasn’t ready for 25 minutes, then gets finished, but I still think there’s value in betting this line.

Norma Dumont To Win By Submission, +275

I have a lot of thoughts about this fight and almost none of them are good. Danyelle Wolf simply should not be in the UFC. She’s 38 years old with one professional MMA fight to her name, her Contender Series win, which was far from impressive. Yes, she has a background in pro boxing but she wasn’t even a great boxer... and this isn’t boxing! Dumont is not a world-beater but she’s an extremely competent fighter, far more experienced, and she’s a BJJ brown belt with two submissions to her name already. I think she has a great chance to score a takedown and tap out overmatched Wolf, and I’m not entirely sure why this line is this high.

UFC Fight Night: Almeida v Porter Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Parlay of the Week

Jailton Almeida, -600

Almeida is one of the most interesting prospects in MMA for the simple fact that he continues to compete at heavyweight despite being a more natural fight for 205 pounds. You can’t knock the results as he has dominated his two opponents in the UFC, but now he faces another natural light heavyweight and one with a decent wrestling pedigree. It shouldn’t matter though as Almeida is a good enough athlete to get this to the ground and from there, he’s an absolute killer.

Norma Dumont, -380

As detailed above, this fight is Dumont’s to lose. Honestly, she can probably even win a kickboxing match against Wolf as Wolf seemed wholly uncomfortable with leg kicks in her Contender Series fight, but I doubt that will be necessary as Dumont has a massive edge in grappling.

Parlay these two bets together for -213 odds.

Wrap Up

While we missed both of our straight plays last week, we hit all the rest of our bets, including yet another Long Shot of the Week at a tasty +787 payout. Vive la France! That’s about as good of a bounce back week as you can ask for and now we’ll try to keep it rolling with UFC 279.

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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