With the Ultimate Fighting Championships coming through with a slew of shows in 2020 that afforded us plenty of betting opportunities, you can 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 258 is headlined by an interesting welterweight title fight between two former training partners in Kamaru Usman (-275) and Gilbert Burns (+235).
Considering the obvious intangible of familiarity at play, betting too confidently on a side or angle can be a bit dangerous in this spot. Usman is the deserved favorite for his dominant, pressure-based wrestling style; but Burns is arguably the more potent fighter both on the feet and the floor.
Against Tyron Woodley, the smaller octagon assisted the more action-oriented fighter in Burns. However, in this matchup, there’s a solid argument that the small cage could assist the wrestling stylings of Usman by bringing about more clinching opportunities.
So, between the stylistic pairing and the psychology of prior information at play, I suspect that this fight will end up going long. The “over 4.5 rounds” prop (which opened at +100) has been bet all the way up to -150 should you be looking for a more affordable angle to match the analysis in my forecast.
But if you believe there will be a finish or are looking to hedge in case of a Burns win, then the “under 4.5 rounds” prop at +130 is looking awfully tempting (especially considering that it opened at -117). That said, I don’t blame anyone who is kicking for coverage and taking a shot on the Burns money line, as this may end up being a dog or pass position after all.
The co-main event in Las Vegas features a potential flyweight war between Alexa Grasso (-120) and Maycee Barber (+100).
Every card has at least one contentious matchup that MMA bettors and passionate fans alike will fight tooth and nail for, as this battle certainly fits the bill.
Despite opening as the underdog at +110, Grasso now finds herself the favorite over Barber (who initially opened at -130). Although the line shift didn’t surprise me as a Grasso supporter, there is still a good amount of money trickling back in on Barber, as many believe her to be the deserved favorite.
Like many female fighters who receive premature pushes from the betting public, Barber took a hard fall last year when she lost her first professional fight to Roxanne Modafferi after suffering a knee injury during the contest. I suspect that she’s had enough time to repair and prepare properly, but coming back in this pandemic era after a year-plus layoff is worrisome in my book.
Barber also doesn’t sound like she took much of a lesson from her last outing, as I have questions regarding everything from her mindset to her change of coaches and corner. Nevertheless, Barber will be the bigger athlete on fight night and will carry a left hand from the southpaw stance that will be live early and often.
However, if Barber can’t produce a finish against the durable Grasso in the first half of the fight, I suspect that the more experienced Mexican fighter can pull away with her high-volume offense down the stretch. Despite my official prediction, I suggest sticking to plus-money sides and angles if you’re looking to play this fight.
Either kick for coverage with a Barber play at dog money or take a look at “Grasso by decision” at +125 if you’re still looking for a sexy angle on the other side.
Straight play: Phil Rowe +120
Despite the plentiful amount of live dogs that UFC 258 is affording us, I chose to back a Contender Series product in Rowe, who faces the tough Gabe Green (-140).
Despite coming off of a loss, I’m guessing that the toughness and grit Green displayed in his short-notice debut against Daniel Rodriguez was enough to earn him the favorite spot here. However, even though I do believe that Green is an overachiever, he’s still a relatively unproven commodity who has only fought once in the past three years (not to mention he’s spent the majority of his career at lightweight).
Rowe may be coming off of a year-plus layoff in his own right, but the prospect brings in the same height and reach of Jon Jones into the welterweight division.
The 30-year-old from South Florida also appears to be more than just a long striker, as Rowe gives off some solid Neil Magny vibes when working through adversity or turning things around in the clinch. Rowe, who is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt, is also rumored to have a very legitimate ground game, as he’s spent this camp training with names like Jacare Souza, Lyoto Machida, and the Lima brothers (Douglas and Dhiego).
For those reasons, I took a shot on Rowe to get another win inside of the UFC Apex at plus money.
Straight play: Miranda Maverick -135
Despite initially coming in looking to bet Gillian Robertson at +115, I ended up siding with Maverick after further tape study.
Robertson holds the higher rank as a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and has more creative entries that could serve her well in the small cage, but Maverick – who is a legit Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt in her own right – appears to be very well-schooled from multiple positions.
Maverick also looks to be the more athletic and physical party, which both accounts for a lot in these divisions and seems to be a theme that Robertson has struggled with in the past. Add in the fact that Maverick should have a solid striking edge to boot, and I believe that anything under -150 is a solid discount to take a shot on (especially when you consider that Maverick originally opened at -225).
Regardless of what you’re betting, bet responsibly, my friends!
Check out our other MMA content for UFC 258
- Parlay Pieces from Dan Levi