With a bad beat and positive COVID-19 test canceling our chances for success last week, we’re hoping to bounce back with some better luck on this week’s betting sheet. Pandemic-era intangibles aside, Saturday’s card – which is headlined by Anthony Smith and Aleksandar Rakic – is pretty chalky from a betting perspective, as I see the current line width forcing a lot of parlay and prop action.
With that in mind, I suspect that we’ll see the prices go up on fan favorites like Alexa Grasso (-290) or Ricardo Lamas (-290) given that their points of entry are slightly more reasonable than names like Sean Brady (-400) or Magomed Ankalaev (-325), who I believe are overpriced after the public has clearly piled on.
Even though I won’t be officially offering any parlays or straight plays this week, I don’t blame anyone for siding with or sprinkling on underdogs like Robbie Lawler (+210) in the co-main event, especially considering where the line opened. Lawler’s opponent, Neil Magny (-250), is my pick to win the fight outright, but this matchup offers a bevy of betting opportunities.
With the money line value obviously being on Lawler, this particular style matchup also invites potent live-betting possibilities, should you belong to a house that provides those. Lawler, even on a full camp (which he will not have here given that he took this fight on short notice), will have his best chances to score a knockout in the first round given his freshness and Magny’s propensity for slow burns.
If Lawler is able to hurt Magny early but fails to get him out of there, then I suggest fading the former champ and sprinkling on the live line. Or, if you’re a fan of round 3 props like me, then feel free to get ahead of it by taking a small sprinkle on Magny to finish in the third, which is surprisingly priced a bit nicer than usual at +1650.
Sure, Lawler carries underrated cardio despite traditionally taking rounds off, but him coming in on short notice in this pandemic era raises all kinds of flags for me. Furthermore, Magny, who is 4-2 against UFC-level southpaws, was already preparing for a more prime and powerful southpaw striker in Geoff Neal, as I believe the stars are aligning for the Elevation Fight Team product here.
Good luck if you decide to take a dip on that matchup, but my official offerings will come in the form of prop plays within the light heavyweight division.
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.
Prop play: Anthony Smith/Aleksandar Rakic over 1.5 rounds (-165)
With everyone arguing underdog value versus heavy chalk in the main event between Anthony Smith and Aleksandar Rakic, perhaps putting your money in the middle is the safest bet when looking for action.
Again, I don’t hate anyone taking a shot on an underdog like Smith at +200 odds or higher, but I’m officially siding with Rakic to outpoint the dogged veteran in a three-round affair. Smith is incredibly durable at 205 pounds but, despite having the experience edge, the 12-year pro has only seen the scorecards 4 times in 47 fights.
More importantly, Rakic seems to have surprisingly good wrestling considering his striking base and regional background, which means he should (in theory) be the one dictating the when’s and where’s of ground fighting. Smith will certainly have the submission advantages, but Rakic – when briefly taken down by Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Francimar Borroso in the past – demonstrated solid guard retentions and utilizations of the cage to stand, which is a good sign for supporters of the Austrian fighter.
Ultimately, if Rakic is able to avoid getting his back taken in this fight, I suspect this battle will hit the scorecards.
If you’re like me and think that Rakic wins by decision, then you can still grab that prop for roughly in the neighborhood of +245 (which seems like a great deal in comparison to the “inside the distance” line at -105). However, if you’re looking for the safest angle to either take straight up or help hedge others, then I suggest looking at the slightly chalky over (1.5 rounds) at -165 to get things done.
Prop play: Ion Cutelaba/Magomed Anakalaev under 1.5 rounds +125
Although I initially had no interest in betting this fight given the inflated prices and (what seems like) a foregone conclusion… but then I looked at the round totals.
Despite officially siding with Magomed Ankalaev (-325) to win by first-round knockout, I can admit that the price is a bit steep for a fight with almost heavyweight intangibles attached to it. And though I usually wouldn’t fault someone for taking a shot on an underdog like Cutelaba (+265) for anything over +250, I can’t help but see the Moldovian fighter’s do-or-die nature biting him in the ass here.
Both men have Greco-Roman wrestling and combat sambo accolades, but Ankalaev clearly operates at a higher level on the mat, utilizing his wrestling a whole lot more than Cutelaba. And in addition to his heavy-handed ground striking, Ankalaev also offers a fully-fledged southpaw arsenal (for light heavyweight standards, anyway).
Whether Ankalaev is looking to land hard counter punches or crushing high kicks and teeps, the Dagestani fighter will be, once again, giving Cutelaba a lot to think about (as he’s struggled with southpaws before). Sure, Ankalaev can fight at a slower, low-output pace if allowed to, but I don’t think that Cutelaba’s inherent aggression and anger (especially after what happened in the first fight) will let the slow side of Ankalaev out to play.
Instead, I see these two looking to prove their points early, as I suspect this gets settled in the first frame. For that reason, seeing plus money for this fight to end before the mid-point of round 2 constitutes a play for me.
Regardless of what you’re betting, bet responsibly, my friends!