Gamblers prepare to pause, reflect and bet as the unprecedented three-card whirlwind continues this week with the UFC.
Cards occur Wednesday and Saturday from Jacksonville, FL, the site of Saturday’s first leg in the trilogy. It’s an eight-day, three-event, once-in-a-lifetime marathon, making up for COVID 19-driven postponements.
UFC pulls out all the stops
- On Wednesday, Anthony Smith is a -165 favorite against Glover Teixeira, +135, in the main event at DraftKings Sportsbook.
- On Saturday, Walt Harris is -155 against Alistair Overeem, +130, in the headliner, according to FanDuel.
Each main event has a multi-fight supporting card.
Here are the top 10 bouts by wagering handle post-UFC 249, according to DraftKings, at the beginning of this week.
All fights are Wednesday unless noted. Odds and bouts are subject to change.
Top bout handle, in order
- Drew Dober -125 vs. Alexander Hernandez +100
- Ovince St Preux -167 vs. Ben Rothwell +138
- Anthony Smith -165 vs. Glover Teixeira +135
- Phillipe Lins – 152 vs. Andrei Arlovski +125
- Amanda Nunes -500 vs. Felicia Spencer +375 (June 6)
- Sijara Eubanks -360 vs. Sarah Moras +275
- Thiago Moises -125 vs. Michael Johnson +100
- Mike Davis -225 vs. Giga Chikadze, 175 (Saturday)
- Rickey Simon -165 vs. Ray Borg +130
- Krzysztof Jotko -143 vs. Eryk Anders +115 (Saturday)
UFC total bets
The St. Preux versus Rothwell fight has taken the most number of tickets.
Most of the top wagered fights appear on both lists. But there are a couple of instances of bouts that have simply attracted a lot of wagers.
They include Marvin Vettori, -165, versus Karl Roberson, +135; and Hunter Azure, -182, versus Brian Kelleher, +145, on Wednesday.
Darren Elkins -118, and Nate Landwehr -106, have garnered significant attention for their Saturday battle. Both, ironically, are slight favorites.
Prop bets will be updated throughout the week by the sportsbooks.
There are no title fights on these cards. This is the second tier of top UFC performers, clawing for the next rung on the outfit’s rankings ladder. Fortunately for UFC fans, the organization is deep enough to supply 30 fights in just more than a week.
Other sports will copy this model. NASCAR is unfurling seven events in 11 days to make up for lost events starting Saturday.
What’s unique about the Wednesday and Saturday cards is the parity in the matchups.
More of these are attractive to gamblers straight on the moneyline. If you take the favorite, you are not laying prohibitive odds. Almost all of them are less than 2-1, and many are in the -100 to -150 range. Giving odds that translate to 7-5 or 3-2 may not be too much to ask for backers of the chalk.
If you take the dog, odds suggest a reasonable chance to win.
Let’s look at some of the bigger matchups
- On Wednesday, Smith is 33-14 and ranked third in the UFC light-heavyweight division.
- His last fight was a June 2019 victory over Alexander Gustafsson by submission via rear-naked choke.
Smith’s previous fight was a decision loss to division champion Jon Jones in March 2019.
- Teixeira is 30-7 and has won three consecutive fights since a 2018 setback to Corey Anderson. He is ranked eighth in the division.
Harris defeated Aleksei Oleinik by first-round knockout in his previous fight, last July. It took all of 12 seconds. He is ninth in the heavyweight division rankings.
Overeem was beaten by Jairzinho Rozenstsruik by knockout last December. He stands eighth in the division ratings.
Several fighters are changing weight division on Saturday, including Edson Barboza moving to the featherweight division to oppose Dan Ige.
- Barboza is the No. 11 lightweight, according to UFC rankings.
- He has lost four of the last five, including setbacks to Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje.
Ige is the No. 15 featherweight.
This is intriguing because the matchup pits ranked fighters. And one is coming down a division, which is often a disadvantage. But the betting line reveals faith in both fighters.
Dober and Hernandez have gained significant wagering attention. Dober has won his last two since a submission setback to Beneil Dariush in 2019.
Hernandez scored a July 2019 decision victory over Francisco Trinaldo after being stopped by Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone earlier in the year.
St. Preux is favored at 146 at FanDuel despite moving up in weight. He has lost three of the last five.
Rothwell, +124, snapped a three-fight losing streak in his last bout.
Given the unique scheduling situation, action has come flying in on both cards.
Bet MGM has a loaded lineup of fights, with some slight differences for those who want to odds shop before the props arrive.
Kelleher is +145 and Azure is -182.
Johnson, -115, and Moises are both minus bets, a rare situation of two fighters being favored.
Wednesday features the same scenario, with Darren Elkins at -115 and Nate Landwehr at -106.
UFC: The new normal
It was back Saturday, with participants embracing the new flow of an event without spectators.
Sam Alvey did an air high-five to the imaginary crowd as he walked out for the opening bout against Ryan Spann.
Punches and kicks could be heard, not merely seen.
Fighters communicated with their trainers and actually made some adjustments during the bouts. They were not drowned out by the crowd.
Alvey and Spann locked in a really good one. Alvey won a split decision, which usually draws a mixed, vocal crowd reaction. But not this time.
The absence of spectators also dulled a significant announcement. After Henry Cejudo dismantled Dominick Cruz in the co-main event, he abruptly retired. There was no crowd to give him a standing ovation and no audience for him to share a few words.
But on it went.
Random tweets from viewers popped across the screen as the announce team got some graphic support.
Corner men wore masks. Post-fight selfies involved the fighter who did not don one flanked by two of his assistants who did. Participants adjusted to the situation.
Favorites did well, by and large, but this was not a “Chalkover.”
Underdog Justin Gaethje is +150 at most books, throttled by Tony Ferguson to win the interim lightweight title.
He tossed the belt aside afterward, saying he wants the real one and he’ll get that chance with an expected fall showdown against reigning titleholder Nurmagomedov.
Aleksei Oleinik tabbed a big score for dog bettors, snaring a split decision from Fabricio Werdum at +265. Werdum was -355.
There was just enough for everyone. The main event was exciting and packed a surprise. Oleinik provided a second significant upset and otherwise, the favorites thrived as expected.