With the Ultimate Fighting Championships coming through with a slew of shows in 2020 that afforded us plenty of betting opportunities, you expect another solid year of content from everyone here at the Line Movement family, as I’ll be providing you with everything from technical analysis to my favorite lines for upcoming UFC offerings.
UFC Vegas 18 is headlined by an important heavyweight matchup between Alistair Overeem (+170) and Alexander Volkov (-200).
Despite the oddsmakers setting Overeem as a slight favorite (-125), incoming public money has flipped the betting line in Volkov’s favor. Although dramatic swings like this may surprise some, you have to keep in mind that MMA gamblers have a strong propensity to fade aging fighters and support “sexier” strikers.
Don’t get it twisted: Volkov and his accurate shot selection could certainly come through if Overeem elects to get too lackadaisical with his rope-a-dope approach along the fence (as “The Reem” has been dropped or stopped in 10 of his last 18 fights). However, I suspect that the size of the smaller cage will act as stylistic kryptonite to the tall striker in Volkov, who will likely be stuck fighting in close quarters with the best active clinch fighter at heavyweight.
Regardless of whether or not you’re feeling my analysis here, I do warn anyone leaning too heavily on any props or totals given each fighter’s cardio and finishing abilities. For that reason, I suggest sticking to the money line regardless of who you’re backing.
The co-main event in Las Vegas features a potential bantamweight war between Cory Sandhagen (-400) and Frankie Edgar (+325).
Akin to the matchup prior, we have another aging veteran looking to hold the door against a younger, oncoming force.
Sandhagen is definitely the deserved favorite and one of my favorite fighters from a personal standpoint, but I believe that this is another case where the stylistic pairing and the small cage make this a matchup that’s closer than the betting lines lead on. Not only is Edgar 4-0 when fighting inside of the UFC’s smaller octagon, but the New Jersey native tends to shine in these sorts of fights (especially if he has a decent edge in the wrestling and submission department).
Sure, Sandhagen is a legitimate Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt whose skills are much better than he showed opposite Aljamain Sterling, I’m just not sure that I like the confidence that he has in his scrambling style for this matchup.
Similar to the reason why I sided with Sterling at UFC 250, Sandhagen tends to tripod when returning to his base in scrambles, which can expose a fighter to a la carte options when facing wrestlers at lower weight classes who can either take backs or work from a front-headlock position. For that reason, I don’t blame anyone for sprinkling on “Edgar by submission” at +1735, but I’ll be playing the former lightweight champion’s money line for the coverage and plus number attached.
If you’re not feeling my perspective and are still looking to support Sandhagen, then I suggest looking at his “inside the distance” line at +185. Despite the betting lines and fighters alike feeling that this fight goes long, I still believe that Sandhagen’s most likely path to victory involves stopping Edgar with his anti-wrestling shot selection.
Prop play: Devonte Smith/Justin Jaynes under 1.5 rounds (-160)
Although I always have to state my bias when it comes to Jaynes, I’m also a big fan of Smith, as both men have been good to the Line Movement family.
Jaynes is taking this fight on short notice (replacing Alex da Silva), but was training prior in preparation for a fight and will not have to kill himself to get down to featherweight, either. That said, Smith, who opened as a -345 favorite, is as dangerous as a wild card gets.
We have not seen Smith since he got knocked out by Khama Worthy in August of 2019 – one of the biggest upsets in UFC history (from an odds perspective). Although Smith could certainly score another knockout here, I’ll be siding with Jaynes at +250, as he’s been way more active and seems to shine in these spots.
Regardless of which side you’re feeling, I suggest looking at the under 1.5 rounds at -160. Sure, the line may have opened at -115, but I still believe that there’s value in one of the more logical angles on this fight. Only 7 of Jaynes’ 22 fights have gone over the 1.5 mark, while Smith has only seen the over in 3 of his 12 pro appearances. Take that for what you will.
Fight to avoid: Michael Johnson (-225) vs. Clay Guida (+185)
I usually don’t take up space with a fight to avoid, but – as is custom with cards that don’t have your normal betting appeal – action tends to trend toward the more familiar faces.
Although I’ve been a big fan of Johnson since he cashed for me as an underdog against names like Gleison Tibau or Edson Barboza, he’s not exactly the fighter you want to trust at the betting window as a 2-1 favorite. As we’ve seen throughout Johnson’s career, it is not uncommon for the 34-year-old to give up silly submissions in fights that he’s otherwise dominating.
However, despite Guida fitting the bill of a grinding spoiler at first glance, the 39-year-old veteran hasn’t scored a submission win in well over a decade. Couple that with the overall miles that the 18-year pro has accrued, and I’m not sure you can trust the underdog in this spot either.
For that reason, I suggest staying away from one of the more clear traps on this card. But regardless of what you’re betting, bet responsibly, my friends!
Check out our other UFC Vegas 18 content
- Select fight betting preview from TJ Calkins
- Parlay Pieces from Dan Levi