UFC 286 Best Bets
The juiciest lines from a crazy card!
Hey there again degenerates, we're back for another awesome week of action on a jam packed PPV card! First off, let's recap what went wrong last week:
Should've gone heavy on the Merab decision line. I saw it coming, and it had the better value, yet for some reason I decided to choose Yan ITD over that line… I'll be shaking my head eternally on that one
I didn't see Romanov completely gassing and/or reacting so poorly to the shots early and failing to make it even competitive by pushing the pace with grappling… it was quite telling with regards to where his ceiling stands. Volkov is top tier, and King Kong was out of shape, unprepared for that level of competition, and completely outclassed that night. Volk's still got it.
Tyson nam got caught looking, and Bruno is looking very sharp. Hard to tell if Silva can sustain this look as he’ll test the top 10, but credit where credit is due for the performance.
What went right? Krylov delivered. As expected…
Anyway, let's dive right into this juicy meatball sub of a card — it's a bit of a mixed bag in terms of value however, and lots of uncertainty abounds in these fights. I'm leaning towards some live dogs… but buyer beware.
Line Value Rating: C+ — lots of live dogs with basically the same paths to victory, and relatively similar odds based on my evaluation, but with solid underdog value for the money… So if you're playing it safe string together a minus (all favorite odds outcomes) parlay and then lay a few small two leg parlays on some of the juicier props you like.
Card Value Rating: A--
Ahead of our first Mixed Martial Musings editorial series we'll ignore the pressing issue behind this card and judge it on its own merit and for the price:
I'm disappointed with the inclusion of a number of the fights on a card of this magnitude, but they will all have a massive platform to prove me wrong, and win a world of fans… and the UFC keeps cashing in, because there are some absolute bangers on this card, many of which we'll cover below.
That said, the UFC has begrudgingly earned my money again, as Justin Gaethje always delivers the PPV value and is in a scintillating matchup with Rafael Fiziev, Rocky and Kamaru are prime big drama show material and Leon is back so try to cement his place on the throne by defeating Kamaru for a second consecutive time, Roman Dolidze and Marvin Vettori square off to kick off the PPV card in a pivotal matchup for 185 top contender status with an interesting test of Dolidze’s scrappiness and IQ vs the methodical vet Vettori. We also get a treat of a fight between Ludoveit Klein and Jai Herbert, should be a strikers delight unless Klein finds an easy way into Jai's hips. Spoiler alert: I’m only picking two of the fights mentioned above.
Let's get to it:
Justin Gaethje vs Rafael Fiziev
I'm probably a bit biased being a Gaethje fanboy but I'll try to be as impartial as possible: I see Gaethje likely needing a finish and probably getting touched up quite a bit en route to one if he can find the openings and batter Fizievs legs and body enough. He's got the best game suited to nullify Fizievs unique Muay Thai, as his upper body bending defense can leave his legs quite at risk. That said it will not be an easy path to victory for the Highlight, Fiziev likely will have a decent speed and timing advantage, and if he commits to maintaining distance and scoring while staying out of the pocket, Rafael has a clear path to a decision win. If he engages in the pocket however Justin is perfectly tailored to punish the defensive style if he's willing to eat counters after missing headshots and battering the legs. He also really needs to at least feint takedowns in this one to keep Rafael guessing so he's not just in the zone with his reactions and counters to all of Gaethje combos.
So Gaethje ITD (I'm leaning towards rd 2 maybe 3 but it's a Gaethje fight so who knows.) Because of last week with Merab I'm feeling like I have to recommend Fiziev by decision as the main line and Gaethje ITD / 2nd rd as the cover, (plus 3rd and 2nd on their own as straight props), but I'm personally laying it the other way around. I mean at these odds you're in the black if you lay it 50/50 so pick your preferred split.
Fiziev by decision B +250
Gaethje ITD C+ +285
Gaethje Rd 2 D +800
Gaethje Rd 3 D+ +1500
Marv Vettori vs Roman Dolidze
I see this fight very similarly to Gaethje vs Fiziev. Vettori's path to victory is staying at distance and scoring points with the leg kicks and jabs, and using his movement to stay elusive. If he leans too much on the wrestling Dolidze finds his chance to finish, he's just too opportunistic and too well versed in the grappling for Vettori to stay safe there too long. If Marvin gets into the pocket for extended exchanges, he also risks eating a big explosive strike. If he stays on his bike for 15 he can get a wide decision and show his veteran mettle. While he's usually one of the most gameplan focused fighters out there I'm leaning towards him engaging in areas he shouldn't be due to Roman Dolidze's uncanny ability to make fighters feel uncomfortable everywhere and force transitions and scrambles and brawls. Cover on Vettori by Decision, lean on Dolidze to finish, have fun picking rds because Dolidze is a wildcard but I'm leaning towards the mid to late round action purely for value, a submission prop, and even maybe him straight up as a dog. Lots of value in a dangerous fighter that while flawed in many ways is always looking to end things, and is facing the perennial top gatekeeper at 185. I fancy Dolidze to pass the test and earn a title shot later this year.
Wildcard bet for the true degens: Dolidze batters Vettori to a 10-8 Rd late after losing the first two. Draw.
Dolidze ITD +285 B+
Vettori by decision -135 C-
Dolidze by submission +550 D
Dolidze Rd 2 +1000 D+
Dolidze Rd 3 +2500 D++
Draw +6600 F
Gunnar Nelson vs Bryan Barbarena
Bryan ends up wearing Gunny as a backpack extensively and gives up the neck (or a random leg?!).
This is a bit of a wildcard but the path is clear for the karate-styling jits specialist. Bam bam has a tendency to leave himself open, but batters opponents for poor shots or in 50-50 positions. Play that 50-50 titter tatter game with Gunny and lose a limb… On the other hand Nelson gets cute with the grappling sometimes, but he seems focused and that leads me to believe he'll be working to safely collect the back and then work for the sub from there, potentially transitioning to mount or pounding him out when flattened but I lean towards the sub opening up due to Bam Bam's relentless drive to get up and better his position, and fight from everywhere. You'd think I'm writing the reasons why he's gonna clearly pull the upset… oh well, go with Gunny by sub (even though the line is even which is ridiculous and a C- in my book, so don't anchor parlays on this. Just slide it in for extra value on a fraction of them.
Gunnar Nelson by Submission +100
That's all for this week folks! Get your bets in and tune in early today to win big this week as Rocky, the Highlight, and Marty from Nebraska bring the heat to London!
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