UFC 249: Breaking Down the Best Value Picks for Gamblers

Kelsey McCarsonFeatured ColumnistMay 6, 2020

UFC 249: Breaking Down the Best Value Picks for Gamblers

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    So you're itching to get back on to the live-sports gambling scene, but the UFC isn't really your thing. Or maybe you've been following MMA for years and you're looking for a little more information to consider before you throw your money behind UFC 249 fighters.

    Whatever is going on, be sure to step inside our world for a bit before placing any bets on UFC 249: Ferguson vs. Gaethje.

    Behold, the best value picks for gamblers heading into UFC 249.

Good Value

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    The most important aspect of any valuable betting strategy is having enough data at your disposal to competently justify your strategy. Whether it's MMA, boxing or StreetBeefs fights on YouTube, you should never bet on someone to win a fight if you've never actually seen them fight.

    So, a good start for UFC 249 is to decide where you stand on the main event. Tony Ferguson has won 12 straight UFC contests, is durable, dangerous and equally adept at both scoring knockouts and nabbing submissions.

    But Justin Gathje is one of the hardest punchers at 155, one who seems to have benefited greatly from his losses to the point that he no longer simply moves in a straight line toward his opponent and performs like a woodchipper.

    For me, Ferguson's all-around game, his absurd cardio and far greater resume all suggest that he's the fighter to back in the main event. Additionally, Ferguson is one of the most well-rounded and dangerous fighters on the roster. He lands 5.82 strikes per minute and enjoys a +2.05 striking differential.

    That I can back him at -175 (bet $100 to win $57.14) is some solid value for a fighter I'd pick to beat Gaethje eight or nine out of 10 possible times.

    Good bet: Back Ferguson by any method at -175

Better Value

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    Both Ferguson and Gaethje are elite fighters in arguably the deepest division in the company. While I'm not in love with Ferguson being 36 years old or that he needlessly cut down to the contact weight a few weeks back, what's wildly different about Ferguson is part of what makes him so unpredictably special.

    Gaethje's best chance at beating Ferguson at UFC 249 is by catching him with the knockout blow in the opening round. He almost always gives himself plenty of chances to do that.

    The 31-year-old lands an absurdly high 8.57 strikes per round, and his significant strike accuracy is 55.6 percent. Meanwhile, Ferguson's awkward style even seems awkward for its wielder sometimes, and he's been stunned early in other fights, including his last one against Anthony Pettis.

    But Ferguson's chin is like iron, and he's been hurt plenty in his career without getting stopped. He's often touted as one of the most relentless fighters in MMA (and it's true) but what seems more remarkable to me about Ferguson is that he always stays so calm in the fray.

    So this Zen Boogeyman's toughness and crazy cardio combined with Gaethje's more reserved approach to being The Human Highlight Reel over recent fights makes me believe betting the over on the 2.5 rounds market is the right way to go.

    There you'll find plus money on the fight going on for at least half the 25 scheduled minutes, and you'll get the added bonus of not having to rely on one fighter to win.

    Better bet: Over 2.5 rounds at +115 (bet $100 to win $115)

Best Value

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    But gambling is much more fun when you score big, so if you're looking for some plus money on the main event at +200 or higher, it would seem there's only a couple of serious options in play.

    Since I like Ferguson to beat Gaethje, it comes down to whether I think he'll score the knockout, nab the submission or win the decision. While both are tough as nails, both are also aggressive and powerful enough to make me think that this one isn't going the distance.

    That leaves me with two choices: Ferguson by submission at +250 or Ferguson by KO, TKO or DQ at the same price. In his 25 total wins across all MMA promotions, Ferguson has 12 KOs and eight submissions, but he's submitted six UFC opponents to five KOs, so it's just as likely to go either way.

    You can pick your poison either way. For me, I'm guessing Ferguson snags some kind of choke to get the job done late in the fight.

    Best bet: Bet Ferguson via submission at +250

Intriguing Undercard Options

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    Depending on how you feel about the career of Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone, backing Anthony "Showtime" Pettis by any method at -140 might make some sense. After all, Pettis already stopped Cerrone back in 2013 in the first round and Cerrone enters UFC 249 having lost three straight contests.

    Heck, Pettis by KO, TKO or DQ at +200 could be the best bet on the undercard. Cerrone hasn't made it to the end of a fight in over a year now, and the 37-year-old could be at the end of his rope as an elite professional.

    Finally, Dominick Cruz is arguably the best bantamweight of all-time. He's not fought in over three years, but if there's any big surprise at UFC 249—one that would seem like it should have been seen coming from a mile away in hindsight—it's probably Cruz shocking Cejudo for the UFC bantamweight title. After all, Cruz has come back to win after a long layoff before, and he's also the type to have studied Cejudo's every move for the perfect game plan.

    Backing Cruz with a limited stake at +200 in hopes of a big score isn't a bad play, but it might be sharper to just go for the gold by backing Cruz by decision at +280. The 35-year-old Cruz isn't a knockout artist, and the most likely outcome for him walking away the winner is by decision.


    Odds via Caesars Palace on 5/5/2020. Unless otherwise noted, all stats via UFC Record Book.