Khabib Nurmagomedov is a sizeable favorite but is plus money to win by submission at UFC 254. Photo from @BBCSport (Twitter).
- The biggest fight of the year goes down tomorrow (Oct. 24)
- Khabib Nurmagomedov is a -335 favorite against Justin Gaethje, but props can you get plus money
- See my favorite underdog picks on the card
The UFC holds its final event on Fight Island, and they are ending with a bang as Khabib Nurmagomedov looks to defend his lightweight belt against Justin Gaethje in the main event of UFC 254.
We’ve already broken down the UFC 254 odds for the main card and found some spots to bet. However, everyone loves a good underdog and some value props. So here’s what I like for UFC 254.
Best Underdog Bet
Da Un Jung should be the betting favorite but not this heavy of a favorite.
Da Un Jung vs Sam Alvey Odds
|Da Un Jung||-345|
*All odds from DraftKings taken Oct. 23
Sam Alvey is on a four-fight losing streak and is fighting for his UFC job, which makes him dangerous. Jung, meanwhile, is on a 12-fight winning streak and 2-0 inside the Octagon. However, you have to look at who Jung has fought and what he has done inside the UFC.
ICYMI: Sam Alvey, light heavyweight contender? #UFCOrlando pic.twitter.com/bwWREs0ena
— UFC (@ufc) February 25, 2018
There is a chance Jung goes in there and knocks Alvey out in the first round as he did to Mike Rodriguez last time out. However, Alvey has a solid chin and if he can survive the first round, he can have a ton of success. To me, this is similar to Alvey vs Ryan Spann at UFC 249, where Alvey survived the first round and nearly finished Spann in the third round, losing a very close split decision.
Against Jung, I do believe Alvey can survive the first round and once that happens you will see this live betting move right around a pick’em fight. So, at +260 it certainly is worth a shot.
Pick: Sam Alvey (+260)
Total Round Odds
|Matchup||Total Rounds||Over Odds||Under Odds|
|Nurmagomedov vs. Gaethje||4.5||+150||-200|
|Whittaker vs. Cannonier||2.5||-115||-115|
|Volkov vs. Harris||2.5||+100||-134|
|Hawes vs. Malkoun||1.5||-137||+100|
|Murphy vs. Shakirova||2.5||-455||+300|
|Ankalaev vs. Cutelaba||1.5||-134||+100|
When most people bet heavyweight fights, the majority think it will go the under. However, Alexander Volkov is a rare exception as more times than not, his fights either go the distance or late into the third round.
This fight stylistically is a very similar matchup to Volkov vs Greg Hardy we saw last November. There, Hardy, just like Walt Harris, needs to land the knockout punch early. However, the Russian has only been knocked out once in his UFC career and that came with 11 seconds left in the fight against Derrick Lewis. I don’t think Harris has the power to KO the Russian early.
Once the fight hits the second round, we will see Volkov use his size and reach advantage to pick apart Harris and earn a clear-cut decision win. The over 2.5 cashes for +100.
Pick: Volkov-Harris Over 2.5 (+100)
Fight Goes The Distance Odds
|Nurmagomedov vs Gaethje||+175||-240|
|Whittaker vs Cannonier||+120||-159|
|Volkov vs Harris||+135||-182|
|Hawes vs Malkoun||+175||-240|
|Murphy vs Shakirova||-360||+250|
|Ankalaev vs Cutelaba||+225||-335|
Just like Volkov-Harris, I’m in the minority but I like Robert Whittaker vs Jared Cannonier to go the distance.
In our earlier preview, I liked Robert Whittaker to win this fight, and I thought he would win by decision. Many have claimed Whittaker has a questionable chin due to Israel Adesanya knocking him out. However, we have seen what Adesanya has done in his career and his next fight against Darren Till, who is one of the hardest hitters at 185 pounds, couldn’t finish Whittaker in five rounds.
Seems to be a little disagreement between Robert Whittaker and Jared Cannonier over who’s going to be the aggressor at UFC 254. pic.twitter.com/UQIf2Lvver
— TheMacLife (@Maclifeofficial) October 20, 2020
I expect Cannonier to come out guns blazing and potentially even drop Whittaker in the first as Till did. However, I think Whittaker is a smart enough fighter to do what he needs to do to recover and then use his kicks and wrestling to grind out the final two rounds and win a decision. I also love the +120 line as this is a fight I expect to go the distance and thought the line would be flipped.
Pick: Whittaker-Cannonier goes the distance (+120)
Method of Victory Odds
|Results||KO / TKO / DQ||Submission||Decision|
|Nurmagomedov beats Gaethje||+375||+162||+275|
|Gaethje beats Nurmagomedov||+375||+2600||+800|
|Whittaker beats Cannonier||+300||+1600||+210|
|Cannonier beats Whittaker||+162||+1800||+500|
|Volkov beats Harris||+240||+750||+200|
|Harris beats Volkov||+210||+2500||+700|
|Hawes beats Malkoun||-106||+1000||+350|
|Malkoun beats Hawes||+500||+1400||+500|
|Murphy beats Shakirova||+600||+1000||-125|
|Shakirova beats Murphy||+1100||+1600||+240|
|Ankalaev beats Cutelaba||+100||+800||+325|
|Cutelaba beats Ankalaev||+325||+1600||+1000|
Khabib Nurmagomedov defends his lightweight title and will win his third fight in a row by submission.
The big question entering this fight: is Justin Gaethje’s wrestling good enough to keep the fight standing? Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening as Nurmagomedov simply mauls all his opponents and I don’t expect anything different against Gaethje.
In his last fight, Gaethje showed his cardio was there for five rounds. However, that was pure striking and it is a lot more tiring when you mix in wrestling with striking. I expect the interim champ to get tired by the third or fourth round and for Nurmagomedov to eventually take Gaethje’s back and sink in a rear-naked choke.
Pick: Khabib Nurmagomedov by submission (+162)
Cole graduated from Sheridan College in April of 2019 with a diploma in journalism. He now is a full-time freelance writer, focusing on MMA for sites like BJPENN and MMA News, while also covering the Toronto Blue Jays as a credentialed media member. At SBD, Cole covers the four major sports and MMA.