Welterweights: Mike Perry -150 vs. Tim Means + 130
The last non-title fight on the UFC 255 card Saturday in Las Vegas will feature two welterweights outside the rankings but hoping to break in. Mike Perry and Tim Means are finishers, and neither prefers to wrestle. Their lack of takedown attempts and minimal submission attempts prompts us to focus primarily on their stand-up metrics.
Both tend to fight aggressively on their feet. They have good offensive accuracy but slightly below-average takedown defense. Those are yet more reasons to expect a slobberknocker. The key differences are Perry’s clear power advantage and Means’ superior accuracy and range. And when it comes to slinging heat, Perry uses a greater mix of power strikes compared to jabs, and he knocks down opponents more often on a per-strike basis. Perry has almost as many knockdowns scored despite Means having more than a full hour more of octagon time.
Yes, Means has a sizable range advantage, but the youth edge favoring Perry by over seven years is more significant. Means has crossed the 35-year-old threshold, where we normally see a decline in performance in the mid-sized weight classes. The 457 cumulative head strikes he has received, more than any fighter on the card, are a red flag.
If somehow the fight does go to the ground, Perry gets some important statistical edges. He has been in control on the mat for most of his time there, and he has held opponents in his control for extended periods. That could help nudge an otherwise close round to his favor.
The last X factor is preparation. Perry was preparing to face former welterweight champion Robbie Lawler in what should have been an ultra-violent stand-up striking war. He now faces a striking war against a rangier but less powerful or dangerous opponent.
Assuming Perry can close the distance, something he has been forced to do in the past, he should eventually do enough damage to win rounds and possibly end the fight.
Pick: Mike Perry, as a fairly affordable favorite.
Two title bouts round out the card, and both champions are heavy favorites. But it doesn’t get much heavier than Valentina Shevchenko, who should close as one of the biggest betting favorites in UFC history.
Since the modern era of the UFC — roughly since The Ultimate Fighter 1 Finale — only 51 UFC fighters have closed as -1,000 betting favorites or more, per Fight Metric records. Shevchenko is currently at -1,400 and could enter the top 10 of that metric. Is she a lock? Well, perhaps there’s no such thing in sports, but especially in MMA, where fighters have been known to hide all sorts of injuries or bad weight cuts. Yet on paper, with performance metrics and by fighting experience and credentials, Shevchenko is likely to dominate the matchup against Jennifer Maia. She becomes a parlay anchor and could make a play on Perry close to even money.
The other title fight features Deiveson Figueiredo defending his flyweight title against Alex Perez. The champ is running -300, up slightly from his opening odds. This matchup is more dangerous than the women’s title fight. At current market prices, it looks like a pass. Bettors may be tempted to parlay the two defending champs, but that will only inflate Figueiredo’s price beyond consideration.