The UFC returns this weekend with its 238th PPV event. The card, one of the most stacked of the year so far, will take place this Saturday at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.
The sports world is still buzzing from last weekend’s boxing upset, which saw 11/1 underdog Andy Ruiz Jr. shock previously undefeated heavyweight Anthony Joshua. That fight is a great example of how exciting betting on combat sports can be, especially when the odds move further and further away from a pick’em.
UFC 238 has two title fights grabbing most of the attention, but there are plenty of intriguing bouts that should appeal to fans of sports in general. In this article, NJ Online Gambling will give you some sports betting options for five of the more heavily anticipated bouts. There are 13 in total for the card.
Henry Cejudo v. Marlon Moraes
The intriguing 135-pound bout features Olympic wrestling gold medalist Henry Cejudo (14-2) moving up a weight class to fight for the vacant bantamweight title against kickboxer Marlon Moraes (22-5-1). Both Cejudo and Moraes are riding four-fight win streaks. Moraes’ only loss in his last 18 fights came via split decision two years ago. Moraes is a slightly bigger man as well, so it’s no surprise that the books and the betting public are leaning toward Moraes, a resident of the Garden State.
- FanDuel: Cejudo +114, Moraes -138
- PointsBet: Cejudo +111, Moraes -139
- Caesars: Cejudo +115, Moraes -145
- BetStars: Cejudo +105, Moraes -125
Despite the advantages Moraes has on paper, many MMA observers anticipate a competitive fight thanks to Cejudo’s storied wrestling background, so there might not be much value on Moraes in the ballpark of -140. Same goes for Cejudo in the neighborhood of +110. If you think Moraes is just too experienced in MMA for Cejudo, then BetStars’ -125 line is something to consider for some skin in the game on this fight. Overall, this is a relatively tough fight to bet on considering how narrow the lines are, especially for those on the nitty side of the gambling spectrum (author raises hand).
Valentina Shevchenko v. Jessica Eye
It doesn’t get much more lopsided than this bout between 125-pound champion Valentina Shevchenko (16-3) and challenger Jessica Eye (14-6). Shevchenko is widely considered to be among the best pound-for-pound fighters in the organization. The betting odds for this bout are the widest they’ve been for any of Shevchenko’s fights, which is appropriate considering her track record and Eye’s up-and-down fight resume. She has just four wins in her last 10 fights.
For those who missed out on an opportunity to bet on Ruiz Jr. at long odds to beat former heavyweight king Joshua last Saturday, you probably should not look at this fight as a second chance to have a bet on a huge underdog pay off. But, it is the fight game, and an injury to Shevchenko or Eye pulling off a sneaky submission are, while very improbable, not impossible.
- FanDuel: Shevchenko -1200, Eye +740
- PointsBet: Shevchenko -1429, Eye +731
- Caesars: Shevchenko -1400, Eye +800
- BetStars: Shevchenko -1600, Eye +900
If you do want to take a flier on Eye and have extra reason to cheer for the heavy underdog, BetStars currently has the best price. As for betting on the heavy favorite, FanDuel is your best option, and there’s probably some value on Shevchenko at -1200. The upset of Joshua is still the talk of the combat sports world, with a gambler reportedly losing $100k on Joshua at -2000. That kind of wager should serve as a cautionary tale when betting on huge favorites in the fight game, but Shevchenko v. Eye is a 125-pound bout. In other words, the striking power just isn’t there for Eye to really have the “puncher’s chance” of knocking out Shevchenko. You can feel alright about betting on Shevchenko to win.
Tony Ferguson v. Donald Cerrone
The so-called “people’s main event” is a three-round bout between all-time greats Tony Ferguson (24-3) and Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone (36-11). Ferguson is riding an 11-fight UFC win streak, one of the longest in the history of the sport. Cerrone, the all-time leader in UFC wins, is on a three-fight tear. The two 155-pound fighters are squaring off for what could very well be a title-eliminator fight, with the winner possibly facing the undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov later this year (assuming he wins his September fight).
Many MMA observers have pointed out that Ferguson represents a tough stylistic matchup for Cerrone, a famous slow starter in his fights. Ferguson hasn’t fought since October and reportedly has been battling some mental health issues, which probably hasn’t helped him in the eyes of the betting public. Factor in Cerrone being a fan favorite, and the lines appear narrower than they should be.
- FanDuel: Ferguson -152, Cerrone +126
- PointsBet: Ferguson -154, Cerrone +125
- Caesars: Ferguson -160, Cerrone +130
- BetStars: Ferguson -150, Cerrone +130
Ferguson in the -150 range probably has some value, so FanDuel, PointsBet, and BetStars are solid options for placing a wager on Ferguson. Ferguson opened at closer to -200, so bettors do seem to be fond of Cerrone in this matchup. However, don’t let the popularity of Cerrone fool you into thinking Ferguson isn’t a solid favorite for this bout.
This is one fight on the card with very intriguing method-of -victory prop bets. A third of Ferguson’s MMA wins have come by submission (including five of his last eight), and he’s a prominent black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Cerrone also has strong BJJ, but the consensus in the MMA community appears to be that Ferguson is levels above his rivals in submission grappling. A very plausible scenario is that he wears Cerrone out and then submits him. It’s probably not far off from the chances of Ferguson by TKO/KO.
With that outcome in mind, check out the following Ferguson by submission props:
- FanDuel: +600
- PointsBet: +625
- Caesars: +450
- BetStars: N/A
If you agree with the notion that Ferguson by submission has a legitimate chance of coming to fruition, and you also agree that it could very well come after Ferguson wears him out over the course of three rounds, then these Ferguson by submission in round 3 odds could be attractive for your bankroll:
- FanDuel: +2600
- PointsBet: +3000
- Caesars: N/A
- BetStars: N/A
It is worth mentioning that Cerrone hasn’t been submitted since 2010, but if there’s any man to break that streak in the lightweight division, it’s Ferguson.
Tatiana Suarez v. Nina Ansaroff
The surging Tatiana Suarez (7-0) squares off in a lopsided betting matchup against Nina Ansaroff (10-5) for a 115-pound bout with title shot implications. Suarez, a world-class wrestler, is riding the hype train, and deservedly so, but it has probably widened the line against Ansaroff too far. Ansaroff is considered to be the superior striker and is riding a four-fight win streak. For those looking for value on a straight moneyline bet, Ansaroff could be your fighter for UFC 238.
- FanDuel: Suarez -950, Ansaroff +600
- PointsBet: Suarez -910, Ansaroff +550
- Caesars: Suarez -800, Ansaroff +525
- BetStars: Suarez -900, Ansaroff +600
As a result of the lopsided moneyline, there are plenty of intriguing betting options for method of victory. In what was without a doubt a glitch, BetStars had Ansaroff listed as +500000 to win the fight in round three. The sportsbook pulled the bet shortly after it appeared on the menu and then reposted it at +3300.
Jimmie Rivera v. Petr Yan
This 135-pound bout between Jimmie Rivera (22-3) and Petr Yan (12-1) is isn’t quite as lopsided as two of the aforementioned fights, but the line is probably wider than it should be. Some MMA observers actually see Rivera as the favorite, given his experience. It’s worth noting that both Rivera and Yan beat the same opponent (John Dodson) by decision within the last year. If that’s a good indicator of where the two fighters are relative to each other, then this bout should be much closer to a pick’em.
The Rivera line is attractive at all the books. This might be the best value wager on the main card.
- FanDuel: Rivera +260, Yan -340
- PointsBet: Rivera +250, Yan -334
- Caesars: Rivera +260, Yan -330
- BetStars: Rivera +270, Yan -333
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