With MMA in full swing since this summer, you can expect to see weekly betting articles from us here at Line Movement, as I’ll be providing you with everything from fight analysis to the potential plays I like for the UFC’s offering this weekend.
UFC 256 is headlined by a flyweight title fight between Deiveson Figueiredo (-300) and Brandon Moreno (+250).
Although a wide line in a flyweight fight can always be tempting, I’m a bit hesitant when it comes to betting against a guy like Figueiredo. The reigning champion continues to prove himself as a hard out and dangerous opportunist, as Moreno will likely have his work cut out for him on Saturday night.
Taking a side confidently in this matchup can also be a tricky proposition given the turnaround intangibles at hand. Both men will be having to peak twice within one month’s time, as well as successfully make the weight once again.
Couple those x-factors with the fact that both men are insanely durable and hard to control – and I suspect that this battle goes over the set total of 2.5 rounds (which is currently sitting at a playable -105). It’s one of many totals I like on this card, as I believe it offers some solid coverage and middle ground on paper.
The co-main event in Las Vegas features a fun lightweight affair between Tony Ferguson (-160) and Charles Oliveira (+140).
If this matchup were made a few years prior, then the betting line above would certainly be wider. However, given the recent trends and trajectories of each fighter, we are seeing some deserved respect being sent Oliveira’s way.
A 12-year pro who has been fighting under the UFC banner for over a decade, we have seen the 31-year-old Oliveira grow up and mature right before our eyes. Now, riding a 7-fight winning streak in the original weight class in which he made his debut, the Brazilian has a real chance at upsetting his way into the top 5 of the division. And though I don’t blame anyone for playing Oliveira at plus odds here, I can’t bet against Ferguson in a fight that I feel he should still win (even at this point of his career).
Don’t get me wrong: Ferguson is far from a prime fighter, as he’s offered plenty of red flags for those in search of signs for things to come. Still, unless Ferguson has fully fallen off the cliff overnight, then his pace, submission savvy, and durability should more than enough to get him through Saturday evening.
As impressive as Oliveira’s late renaissance has been, he still shows to tire come the second round, win or lose. So if the blonde-haired Brazilian can’t find his patent submissions early, then I suspect that Ferguson turns up the heat in round 2 and takes Oliveira out.
If the line gets any tighter then I may play Ferguson outright, but believe that the under 2.5 rounds at -160 is probably your safest bet in a bout that will undoubtedly be bloody before we get answers.
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.
Prop play: Jacare Souza by submission +225
With all of my official picks either being favorites or underdogs who’ve been bet to favorites, I ended up looking toward the prop department to find my plus-money spots.
In this case, I couldn’t help take a stab a Souza by submission, as he faces Kevin Holland this Saturday.
Holland, who is currently riding a nice four-fighting winning streak amid this pandemic, got a lot of respect from the oddsmakers – who set the Texas native as a -175 favorite. However, everyone from hardcore fans to self-proclaimed sharps immediately jumped on the side of Souza, as we now have a hotly-contested matchup at pick’em odds.
Both sides are playable from money line perspectives, but the hunt for that sexy plus sign will likely keep this line tight until fight time. For that reason, I feel like the value on Souza’s side of the equation involves a submission angle.
Yes, Holland is a respectable brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under Travis Lutter, but we’ve seen him falter to black belts with legitimate pressure games before. Not only is Souza one of the most accoladed and respected Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belts to fight in MMA, but the 17-year pro has stated his intentions in regards to getting back to his grappling roots.
Souza was not able to follow through on that promise in his last outing, but it was also up at 205 pounds against now-champion Jan Blachowicz. And when going back to re-watch the slow burn that took place between the two, I was somewhat surprised to see Souza in better form than I initially remembered.
Sure, Souza has had his fair share of bad performances and fights as of late, but I don’t think that the 41-year-old is completely shot.
Should my assumptions be correct, then I believe that Souza’s superior wrestling and grappling will be assisted by the small cage in the UFC Apex. But if you’re on the other side of me and are supporting Holland, then I suggest you wait till fight day for your best chance at underdog odds.
Totals: Junior Dos Santos-Ciryl Gane over. 1.5 rounds (-130)
Seldom will you see heavyweight offerings on this section of the betting sheet, but I just couldn’t help myself here.
With this being one of the widest lines on the entire card, you’re almost forced to find an angle to get some decent action on this fight. Gane at -425 is way too wide for both the sample sizes and the weight class, and Dos Santos – for as much as I love him – is a fighter I can’t currently trust opposite another young gun.
Gane may only have 6 MMA fights, but the Frenchman comes from a kickboxing base, earning multiple accolades in muay Thai. The 30-year-old also moves incredibly well for a big man, showing smart shifts and slick checks that may rival his current counterpart’s patent hooks.
That said, Gane doesn’t appear to have the one-punch power possessed by previous Dos Santos opponents, as I suspect that this battle goes over the set total of 1.5 rounds at -130 (which was originally opened at -103).
Even an incredibly hard hitter like Jairzinho Rozenstruik needed to land 8-10 hard shots prior to flurrying the former champion, as I suspect Dos Santos can survive past the halfway point here. Given all the meat at play, this one should be a sweat no matter the outcome.
Regardless of what you’re betting, bet responsibly, my friends!