The UFC has staged five fight cards in 2021. Favorites are running 30-13-2, or 66.5%. Over the last several years, favorites have won about 64% of the time in the UFC.
This year’s Insight the Octagon profitability stands 4-4, showing a .10-unit profit.
Last week we took a loss with Maycee Barber + 115. She was one of two losses sustained in an overall set of wagers that realized a 4-2 record and 3.35-unit profit.
Insight the Octagon columns are published early in the week, and developments in today’s COVID-19 world can force changes, so my handicapping of each week’s card gets more focused, precise and refined as the week transpires.
Taking in midweek fighter interviews and weigh-ins about 30 hours before the card are foundational aspects of gaining advantages in UFC betting, besides fighter data and match-up projections. While I always try to release a sound wager each week, on occasion a release might not be available until later in the week. For that reason, my final releases are published Saturdays on VSiN.
This week UFC Vegas 19 features a whopping 15 fights. Most of the athletes are from the U.S., with a few shipping in to advance their careers. While last week’s slate was rife with obscure combatants, this card includes athletes that even the most hard-core fight enthusiasts have to study on film.
Curtis Blaydes -350 vs. Derrick Lewis + 280
heavyweights (265 pounds), main event
Blaydes is the second-ranked heavyweight and Lewis No. 4. However, my judgment is that the division consists of four fighters at the absolute pinnacle: current champion Stipe Miocic, Francis Ngannou, Blaydes and the new entry on the list, Jon Jones.
After these four are several capable, competent heavyweights, such as up-and-coming combatants Cyril Gane, Tanner Boser and Jair Rozenstruik. Each has the opportunity to overtake the droves of heavyweight gatekeepers to compete effectively with the division’s four elite talents.
Lewis possesses tremendous natural power and incredible strength for a man his size. He’s explosive and destructive for up to six or seven minutes, but after that he seems limited to launching telegraphed shots to try to topple opponents with one big bang.
Lewis has struggled to make the 265-pound weight limit in the past and has mentioned the need to improve his conditioning. Weigh-ins Friday become very important for this fight, as it’s time for Lewis to prove he has indeed put down the fork and picked up some improved training habits, which should manifest itself in Lewis weighing less than 260 pounds.
Blaydes will be the taller fighter in the closed confines of the 25-foot octagon. He’s also younger by seven years and arrives with a world-class wrestling foundation, powerful hands, improved striking and the ability to fight five full rounds without issue.
This fight is priced accurately. The one way Lewis can win is to blister Blaydes on the beak, and his best opportunity for that comes early in the fight.
If Lewis is unable to knock out Blaydes, this will be up to a 25-minute domination, with Blaydes riding on top of Lewis and dropping a destructive ground-and-pound effort until Lewis succumbs. I can’t believe Lewis will last five rounds.
Blaydes opened -320.
Total for this fight: 1.5 Over -175.
Blaydes Inside the Distance is -180, which is where I would land if forced to take a position on this bout today. Pass for now.
Charles Rosa -190 vs. Darrick Minner + 165
featherweights (145 pounds)
This fight features two grizzled veterans.
Rosa has battled injury as well as inconsistent results, and Minner toiled eight years spanning 34 professional fights before getting his debut opportunity in the UFC.
Rosa is the taller, larger athlete, but he’s also older, with perhaps less agility and foot speed than his opponent. While Rosa sports an experience advantage, he’s coming off a highly emotional win in which his greatest weapon was the desperation he carried into the bout.
Knowing his career was on the line was hugely motivating for Rosa, but I wonder how a fighter of this caliber will get up for this bout after one so emotionally important to him.
Minner’s last fight was his first UFC win in two tries. His UFC foes surpass in fighting acumen and ability the last several opponents Rosa has faced. Minner himself carries a substantial chip on his shoulder entering this his third UFC bout, as he believes at 30 that his time is now after it took him so long to earn his way here.
Minner’s speed, athleticism and focus force me to regard this fight more as a pick-’em than Rosa being favored. In a very close, ultra-competitive bout, I’ll take a look at the “mangy mutt.”
Minner + 165, pending weigh-ins.
Total for this fight: 2.5 Under -180.