The UFC action continues from the promotion’s multi-million-dollar UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, with a packed card of fights set to produce a fun night of action on Saturday night/Sunday morning. The matchmaking for this show has been as tight as a drum, with some superbly-matched bouts on the card.
It makes finding the value a little tricky, but we’ve scoured Paddy’s fight night markets and extracted a trio of bets that represent outstanding value ahead of this weekend’s scraps.
So, without further ado, here are our best three value selections for fight night in Vegas this weekend…
Curtis Blaydes is the undeniable favourite for this fight. His combination of size and wrestling prowess has seen him rise to the top level of the UFC’s heavyweight division. But he has been stopped before – by power-punching Francis Ngannou, who twice finished the American in devastating fashion.
It means Alexander Volkov has a puncher’s chance, but with the Russian more of a volume striker than a home-run hitter, it’s looking like an uphill battle for the man known as “Drago”.
That means we have to side with Blaydes when looking for a viable bet for the fight, but where can we extract the value? He’s a 2/9 favourite to get the win, and a 4/6 shot to finish Volkov via KO/TKO. However, the odds on a Blaydes win by decision look very tempting, at 4/1.
Blaydes can certainly bang – just ask former champion Junior Dos Santos – but the chances are he won’t want to get into a kickboxing match with the slicker striker in Volkov, so I’d expect him to take things to the mat as often as possible.
Volkov is a pretty sturdy contender, however, and has only been knocked out twice – once by the insanely powerful Derrick Lewis in 2018 at the end of a fight the Russian was winning with ease, and once seven years ago against his fellow countryman and current Bellator heavyweight contender Vitaly Minakov, who might just be the best heavyweight outside of the UFC right now.
It means that we’re betting on Blaydes not being able to land that fight-ending shot, either standing up or on the deck, against a man who has only lost once in the UFC. With odds of 4/1 in our favour, that’s a bet that’s well worth a look if you’re hunting for a value pick for the main event.
If you want a solid route to profit when betting on MMA, backing women’s bantamweight fights to go the distance should stand you in good stead. And with perennial bantamweight contender and decision-win specialist Raquel Pennington set for action, there’s a pretty solid bet sitting waiting for us this weekend.
Pennington takes on Marion Reneau on Saturday night in a fight that, on paper at least, she should win. Reneau is 42 years of age and hasn’t won a fight in the UFC since February 2018. Her two outings since then saw her come up short on the scorecards against Cat Zingano and Yana Kunitskaya.
Contrast that with Pennington’s record. Yes, she’s lost three of her last four, but in MMA it’s not always about the wins and losses, it’s the quality of the opposition that matters. Two of Pennington’s three defeats came against former bantamweight champion Holly Holm and former featherweight champ Germaine de Randamie after taking both former belt-holders the distance. Prior to those losses, she was stopped by all-conquering Amanda Nunes in the final round of a fight that showed Pennington’s ridiculous level of toughness.
Equally valid is her most recent win, a split-decision victory over Mexico’s Irene Aldana, who is considered by some to be the next challenger to face Nunes later this year. It means Pennington remains there or thereabouts at the sharp end of the UFC’s bantamweight division and, with her operating a level above Reneau, she looks a solid bet to win. And when Pennington wins, she tends to do it on the scorecards – her last four wins in the UFC came via decision, and the even money on offer for her to make it five seems too straightforward to pass up.
First things first. Roosevelt Roberts is a hot prospect and a fighter who could develop into a future contender in the UFC lightweight division. That’s probably the view of the UFC’s matchmakers, who have pitched him in with one of the most seasoned, experienced fighters on the entire roster – Jim Miller. But there are no guarantees in this game, and while Roberts is certainly on the up, Miller is far from finished as a top-level fighter, and this might prove to be a little too much, too soon, for Roberts.
Roberts is the betting favourite for this fight. He’s in better form, and there’s some hype starting to follow him around after some solid early displays. But he hasn’t been perfect, and lost to Vinc Pichel last July. He’s won twice since then, but against prospect-level opposition. Miller is a good few levels above that.
Miller will equal Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone’s record when he makes the walk to the octagon for the 35th time on Saturday night, and he’s faced a who’s who of top-drawer lightweights over the course of his career. Yes, he’s suffered his fair share of losses during that time, but in most of those fights he was very competitive. And, incredibly, he fought some of them while suffering from the effects of lyme disease.
Miller looked back to his best in 2019, however, as he registered submission finishes of Jason Gonzalez and fellow veteran Clay Guida (who is also in action on Saturday night) before eventually dropping a decision to rising contender Scott Holtzman earlier this year.
It means Miller is far from done, and he’ll present a very dangerous challenge to Roberts, who likes to grapple almost as much as Miller. It should make for one of the most interesting fights of the night. If Roberts wins, then expect him to be swiftly promoted from “prospect” to “contender” status. But the enormous 6/1 on offer for Miller to be a little too savvy for him over the three-round duration looks like outstanding value.
Best bets for Saturday night’s UFC action
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- Tyson fury vs Anthony Joshua: let’s get it on! Maybe? Possibly… we’re not sure when, or where, though