With MMA back in full swing, you can expect to see weekly betting articles from us here at Line Movement, as I’ll be providing you with a sample of plays I like for UFC Vegas 6 this weekend.
Coming off of three-straight winning weeks, we’re looking to keep the positive moment going, as we follow the UFC back to the Apex for a crazy card of action headlined by Derrick Lewis and Aleksei Oleinik. The UFC Apex, of course, is notable for its use of the smaller, 25-foot cage, which traditionally encourages more action, as the average finishing rate saw an uptick of 8 percent during its recent month of use in comparison to the results that the 30-foot cage at Yas Island yielded.
With that in mind, angles like unders (something I seldom play in MMA) may inherently be more potent during this stretch of smaller octagon shows. And despite none of the unders catching my attention at their current lines, I still believe that there are some attractive underdog shots and angles on this card.
As per usual with my content, I’ll offer my honest analysis as I try to explain my angles and attempt to add to your insight when it comes to both breaking down and betting on fights.
This article is for entertainment purposes only, as I stress to anyone that gambles to do so legally and responsibly.
Editor’s note: As Dan Tom is the birthday boy today, let’s hope that we get some of that birthday luck going into this weekend!
Straight play: Maki Pitolo +125
In a fight that opened at a near pick’em, money has steadily come in opposite of Maki Pitolo, as the pubic appears to be backing the bigger man in Darren Stewart.
Stewart, who made me money in his recent run of UFC wins, deserves credit for his hard work and improvements to his overall game. That said, with Stewart himself accrediting his recent success to his focus on cardio, I wonder how much the short-notice booking and travel could hinder the English fighter’s conditioning.
A big middleweight who used to compete at 205 pounds, Stewart (at least according to his social media history) has traditionally needed a full camp to monitor his cardio and make the weight comfortably. Sure, Pitolo may appear to on the smaller side of 185 pounds, but in this pandemic era of short-notice opportunities – I feel a lot more comfortable having my money on the man cutting less weight.
I would also argue that Pitolo, who has a deceptive amount of experience himself (already fighting and winning twice in the UFC Apex), was fighting in the wrong weight class for a lot of his career.
As a thick Hawaiian who hovers around the same weight and height, I can tell you firsthand that genetics aren’t fair. And if you go back on watch any of Pitolo’s welterweight fights on UFC Fight Pass (particularly in his losses), you’ll see a diminished fighter who is averaging 20-21 pounds of weight differential on fight night.
Does this mean Pitolo – who is undefeated at middleweight – can’t be knocked out in this division? Of course not.
However, if Stewart does fail to score a knockout within the first five minutes, I see Pitolo waking up from his sometimes-slow starts and pulling away with bodywork down the stretch. I generally favor fighters who work the body to beat bigger fighters who cut a lot of weight anyways, but Pitolo’s quiet wrestling edge and grappling chops seal the deal for me.
I’m not sitting here saying that Pitolo is gonna become champion or that you should go bet your house on him or anything like that, I just believe that this could be another perfect storm in regards to a playable underdog spot.
Straight play: Omari Akhmedov +120
Between being an admitted contrarian and fan of MMA’s golden era, I typically hate taking the betting angle of fading an older fighter.
However, when the opening line – which I thought was fair – takes off in the complete opposite direction, I feel like I have to fade the public out of principle (something that’s been very profitable in this recent stretch of pandemic fights, if you’ve been paying attention).
Despite opening as a -150 favorite, Omari Akhmedov now finds himself as the underdog in the neighborhood of +120.
I’m guessing this line movement from the public is largely due to name recognition, as Chris Weidman still has a lot of name-value for his Championship run post knocking out Anderson Silva. I’m a big fan of Weidman and the fights he’s given us over the years, but his latest stretch of being knocked out in 5 of his last 6 fights inspires very little confidence.
Furthermore, this fight fits one of the betting angles that I’m targetting in the previous middleweight matchup in regards to fading fighters who traditionally cut a lot of weight. With shortened camps and limited training facilities in full effect, I’m a bit more comfortable backing the fighter who is a more natural fit for the weight class.
Akhmedov, akin to Pitolo when he suffered his stoppage losses, was cutting way too much weight to compete at 170 pounds – a place where the Russian never needed to be. Since moving up the middleweight, Akhmedov has shifted his camp over to American Top Team (a place that’s been a notable force for fighter’s strength and conditioning), as the 32-year-old has shown to keep consistent, round-winning paces in his last three affairs.
As much my heart would love to see Weidman finally get back on track here, my head sees the course of this contest changing unfavorably for the American after tasting a couple of hard Akhmedov counters.
If you’re not feeling either of the suggested underdogs above, then I’ll also just quickly and biasedly suggest a look in Justin Jaynes’ direction, before the public pushes him to even money. Good luck regardless, my friends!