The UFC keeps rolling on, but unlike UFC Vegas 78, this week’s card is as good as things get. Headlined by the bantamweight title fight between Aljamain Sterling and Sean O’Malley, with the co-main event strawweight title fight between Zhang Weili and Amanda Lemos, UFC 292 also features a pair of key top 15 matchups, two Ultimate Fighter 31 finales, and the return of future UFC Hall of Famer Chris Weidman. It’s a big card, so let’s lay some big bets.
As always, all odds are courtesy of our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Chris Weidman, +210
I understand all the reasons to avoid betting Weidman here. He’s 39 years old, is coming off a catastrophic leg injury, hasn’t fought in two years, and hasn’t looked good in six (arguably longer, depending on how you feel about the Kelvin Gastelum fight). That’s a lot of red flags. Here’s the thing, though: Brad Tavares isn’t exactly a world-beater. Tavares has been a fringe top 15 fighter for his entire career, and lately, it seems like he’s falling off. Even though Weidman certainly won’t be his best, it should still be enough to make him a coin flip against Tavares. Weidman is the better striker and the better grappler! This is a big buy low spot for the former middleweight champ.
Pedro Munhoz, +164
Munhoz has a good shot to upset Marlon Vera on Saturday. “Chito” is undeniably the more dynamic and dangerous striker, but Munhoz is insanely durable and the busier fighter. Vera has been winning fights lately with big spurts of offense that damage opponents and against someone as durable as Munhoz, that’s less likely to happen. Instead, Munhoz is going to make Vera work, chop away with leg kicks, and maybe mix in a takedown or two. This is an extremely even fight, so you’re getting value on Munhoz at underdog odds.
Given Vera’s durability and Munhoz’s propensity to go to decision, I would normally suggest the Munhoz by decision prop instead. But it’s only a +220, so there’s no reason not to just take the straight action and cover all bases.
Aljamain Sterling by KO/TKO/DQ or Submission, +110
I don’t love this, because the vibes this week have felt like O’Malley is going to do something wild. But every rational thought in my head thinks Sterling should win this fight. He simply has too many advantages, and he’s smart enough to deploy them. O’Malley is probably a better fighter than MMA hipsters give him credit for, but this is a nightmare style matchup. Sterling will get takedowns, and then it’s a question of submission or TKO.
Zhang Weili by Submission, +400
Oddsmakers seem to think that Zhang is going to win this fight, installing her as a -310 favorite. That’s substantial and given Lemos’ finishing skills, a little dangerous. That being said, Zhang has looked excellent lately and I think she’s getting the W here. Lemos is a great athlete and dangerous fighter, but she lacks technical refinement, and the last time Zhang fought someone who relies heavily on athleticism, she stomped all over Jessica Andrade (who just last year stomped all over Lemos). Zhang can win this on the feet if necessary, but she’s been a committed wrestler lately, and I expect that will continue, and as Lemos gasses, a finish should present itself. This is a pretty wide line for a very possible outcome.
Ian Machado Garry by KO/TKO/DQ, +100
The last time Machado Garry fought, he told everyone he was going to knock out Daniel Rodriguez with a head kick. He did it. This time, Machado Garry faces a dude he has been trying to fight for awhile, and who less than two months ago had a nip-tuck fight with Phil Rowe. Neil Magny has been a staple of the welterweight division for a decade now, but he’s past his prime and when he gets beat, he tends to get finished (eight of 10 career losses have been by stoppage). Granted, most of those are submission, but that’s not really Garry’s bag. If you want to play it safest, Garry by KO or submission is currently sitting at -135.
Chris Weidman by Decision, +500
It’s always a danger to double up on one fighter like this, but I like both of these lines. Though he’s been knocked out twice in his past five fights, Tavares is very durable, and with Weidman knocking the rust off, a finish doesn’t seem as likely. This fight feels like it’s going to be a tentative boxing match for parts of it, and Weidman is going to score takedowns to win rounds, but won’t be able to put Tavares away on the mat.
Parlay of the Week
While I personally also have a “Silva Parlay” with the two Silva’s on the prelims, that’s more for the gimmick than as a confident bet, and Maryna Moroz scares me a bit against Karine Silva. So instead, we’re putting together the chalkiest parlay that ever there was.
Zhang Weili, -310
I’ll be pretty surprised if Zhang doesn’t win this one. She’s the more technical fighter and the better athlete. Assuming she doesn’t get wild in there, she should have pretty clear advantages.
Ian Machado Garry, -520
Machado Garry is the biggest betting favorite on the card for a reason. Magny’s style of clinch wrestling and volume shouldn’t even work on Garry, who is committed to keeping distance and landing his sharp strikes.
Marlon Vera/Pedro Munhoz Over 1.5 Rounds, -650
In their combined 40 UFC fights, Vera and Munhoz have gone over 1.5 rounds 28 times, and in all 12 of the times they hit the under, it’s because they won. In fact, the last time either man hit the under was three years ago when Chito spiked Sean O’Malley in the first round at UFC 252. Both men are outrageously durable, this should be the easiest leg of the whole bet.
Parlay these three bets together for -126 odds.
Longshot of the Week
Pedro Munhoz to Win by Split or Majority Decision, +900
As mentioned above, I think Munhoz is being undervalued in this fight, and I really think this line is off. Some books had it at +450, which felt insane but also, I understood. This fight is going to be exceedingly close and will likely come down to Vera’s power shots vs. Munhoz’s leg kicks and volume striking. Who will win out? Depends on the judges and the day of the fight. But when the final horn sounds, I think I’m going to want to be holding a +900 ticket on something that feels like a coin flip at that moment.
Until next week, enjoy the fights, good luck, and gamble responsibly!
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