UFC 260: Breaking Down the Best Value Picks for Gamblers
What better way to welcome spring than with a cage full of mayhem?
The second pay-per-view of the month and first of the new season arrives Saturday night with UFC 260, which features the sport's best-ever heavyweight defending his belt in the main event and a former champ trying once again to regain the mojo that once made him the top man at 170 pounds.
The card was sideswiped last weekend with the announcement that a featherweight title match between Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega had been scrapped due to COVID-19 protocols.
A women's flyweight bout pitting 15th-ranked Gillian Robertson against Miranda Maverick was promoted to the main card on Tuesday, returning it to five bouts alongside four on the prelim portion and two more among the early prelims.
Regardless of how it's packaged, it's sure to be a long and memorable night in the Nevada desert, and Bleacher Report is here to offer the best value picks for gamblers across the card.
Read through these betting tips and be sure to leave your own in the comments section.
Let's make one thing abundantly clear: We know Tyron Woodley is in a skid.
The former welterweight champ hasn't won a fight in better than two years, stretching back to his days as the top man at 170 when he submitted Darren Till in the headliner at UFC 228 in Dallas.
Since then, he has not only lost his title to current champ Kamaru Usman in 2019 but also dropped subsequent one-sided Fight Night main events in 2020 to Gilbert Burns (UD 5) and Colby Covington (TKO 5).
So his Saturday match with Vicente Luque is, as you might imagine, sort of important to his future.
Luque is certainly no joke. He's ranked 10th in the division for a reason and arrives with eight wins in his last nine fights, including two straight in 2020 against Niko Price (TKO 3) and Randy Brown (TKO 2).
But he's also a step down from the level of guys to whom Woodley has fallen, which means the ex-champ has a real chance—in his first scheduled three-rounder since 2015—to reverse the curse.
Get him at better than 2-to-1 and count the profits. Or wish him well if it doesn't work out.
Good Bet: Back Woodley at +210
The name Nurmagomedov carries a certain cache in MMA circles: Determined competitors with specific skill sets and otherworldly discipline and dedication.
Of course, the primary name value comes from the exploits of Khabib, who retired undefeated after a 29-bout career that included a pristine 13-fight UFC run and two-plus years as king of the lightweights.
Still, when the name Abubakar Nurmagomedov comes up on the UFC 260 lineup, the knee-jerk inclination is to push chips to the center of the table and go all-in backing the Russian and his family tree.
But we're here to suggest an alternate response.
Though the 31-year-old is a combat sambo ace with street cred in a career stretching back to 2011, he's by no means the sure thing that cousin Khabib was. In fact, he was submitted in a single round (triangle choke) in his own UFC debut 17 months ago and also tapped out via a rear-naked choke three fights earlier in the Professional Fighters League.
He'll appear in a mid-card prelim bout on Saturday against Jared Gooden, who's finished five previous opponents with chokes, has also ended fights via armbar, flying knee and Superman punch, and is eager to reverse the result of a narrow decision loss to Alan Jouban at UFC 255 in November.
It's an ominous prospect at best and could be an unmitigated disaster at worst for Nurmagomedov, which gives us all the impetus we'll need to plug in Gooden as a legit dark-horse moneymaker.
Better Bet: Back Gooden at +185
The general theme of the week is that Francis Ngannou is a monster.
And we're not here to suggest otherwise.
But Stipe Miocic is no joke himself.
The Cleveland-based heavyweight has taken the best shots the best big men have had to offer, and he'll enter the cage in Las Vegas with six wins—including four by KO—in seven title fights.
One of those six wins, incidentally, came against Ngannou himself three years ago at UFC 220.
Some suggest Ngannou wasn't yet ready. Others contend the intervening years have taken too much tread off the champion's tires. And still others are still not convinced Miocic is an all-time great.
Maybe that's why a fighter of his status is an underdog, even a narrow one, at this stage of the game.
A long-reigning heavyweight champion as an underdog?
Call us irresponsible, but that's all the impetus we need.
Best Bet: Back Miocic at +102
Bonus Big-Money Pick
Bonus big-money picks suggest a small portion of your portfolio be used to back an underdog.
Since the three value suggestions for UFC 260 are marginally plus picks, we thought we'd provide a case for backing a more prohibitive underdog over Sean O'Malley in a main card upset bid.
Toward that end, we give you Thomas Almeida.
OK, once you're done snickering take a look at the context.
While O'Malley is a consensus choice as one of the promotion's budding stars, he's also coming off the first loss of his career—which came in particularly painful fashion after he was injured in a UFC 252 main card slot against veteran Marlon Vera.
Vera arrived that night off a loss and was seen as a mere speed bump for O'Malley, which is similar to how Almeida is being perceived thanks to a recent combination of iffy results and inactivity.
But let's concentrate on positives. The Brazilian is a veteran. He was a champion in the Legacy FC promotion. And he's got 21 finishes in 22 career wins.
He's in the B-side position here for good reason and backing him sounds ridiculous, but O'Malley's got some things to prove, too, and getting Almeida at +240 could turn out to be one of the smartest moves on the board.
Bonus Big-Money Bet: Back Almeida at +240
Odds via DraftKings.
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