When we put together our betting breakdowns ahead of each UFC event, we always try to find the value picks that might offer you a chance of a decent win, but it’s not always possible. Sometimes the matches look pretty clear-cut and backing odds-on favourites is the only way to guarantee some sort of return.
This weekend at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi, the fight card features a host of fighters who are expected – both by the bookmakers and the fans – to pick up victories on fight night.
So we’ve changed things up this week and, instead of simply giving you our picks for the fights, we’ve picked out the fighters who look best placed to spring a shock result and cash in as underdog winners.
If you’re hunting a value pick or two for fight night that might give you a good run for your money, look no further than this trio of outsider selections:
Dustin Poirier to defeat Khabib Nurmagomedov
There. We said it. While Khabib Nurmagomedov is 27-0 and has looked nothing short than a one-man wrecking crew at 155 pounds, there’s a growing feeling that American Poirier might give him his toughest test yet.
“The Diamond” has solid defensive wrestling, outstanding cardio, a big-fight mentality and, crucially, heavy hands. I’s that combination that could upset Khabib on fight night.
When the pair weighed in, it was Poirier who looked a lot less drawn and a lot more comfortable, with the Russian world champion looking less than happy on the scale.
Could he have had a bad weight cut? If so, the last thing he’ll need is a fired-up American firing power punches at his head.
If all things are equal, this is Nurmagomedov’s fight. But Poirier has looked like a man inspired all week, while Khabib has seemed a little less so. Poirier’s a 3/1 shot to defeat Khabib, and 5/1 to stop him via KO/TKO.
If you’re looking for a value bet, that might not be a terrible pick.
Upset odds: Poirier to win via KO/TKO – 5/1
Paul Felder to defeat Edson Barboza
“The Irish Dragon” Paul Felder and Edson Barboza will meet for a second time in a co-main event scrap that guarantees fireworks from two of the most entertaining lightweight strikers in the UFC. Barboza won last time out and is the odds-on favourite to do so again, but I think Felder has been hugely underestimated by the oddsmakers here.
Felder is in solid form, having won six of his last eight, including an impressive win over James Vick in Phoenix back in February. Barboza, meanwhile, has lost three of his last four and is struggling for form following losses to Nurmagomedov, Kevin Lee and Justin Gaethje.
Everybody knows about Barboza’s spectacular striking, but Felder is next-level tough and has taken his game to a new level since they fought back in the summer of 2015.
Upset odds: Paul Felder to win – 5/4
Joanne Calderwood to defeat Andrea Lee
Andrea Lee is considered by some to be a future title challenger in the UFC’s women’s 125-pound division, but she hasn’t yet faced the top-level talent to solidify those claims.
Jojo Calderwood, however, has been mixing with some of the bigger names over the course of her career. She hasn’t won all of those matchups, but she’s been competitive in almost all of them.
Despite a loss to top-ranked challenger Katlyn Chookagian in her last fight, Calderwood seems to be in a great place, physically and mentally ahead of her fight this weekend. She should offer a significant test for Lee.
Calderwood’s priced at 7/4 to win the fight, which represents a decent outside bet for anyone looking to chance their arm with an underdog pick.
Upset odds: Joanne Calderwood to win – 7/4
* All odds correct at time of posting.