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UFC 249 undercard betting preview

This is it. The moment we’ve been waiting for – live sports!

WrestleMania was fun, the NFL Draft was cool, and Korean baseball is… well, it’s baseball. But the big news this weekend is that the UFC is returning to pay-per-view, and I’m here to give you a betting primer on five (!) live fights this weekend. In this column, I’ll focus on the two undercards.

Ryan Spann (-420) vs. Sam Alvey (+325)

This fight is the main event of the UFC Fight Pass prelims, which features up-and-comer Ryan Spann and wily veteran Sam Alvey. Spann won his way into the UFC by way of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series back in 2018 and has won all three of his fights: once by knockout, once by submission and once by decision. Alvey, on the other hand, has been in the UFC since 2014 and has lost his last three fights – his last win was a split decision victory over Gian Villante in June 2018.

In a fight like this, I’d lean toward the veteran. With his back against the wall likely facing the reality of being cut by the promotion with a loss, Alvey needs this win more than Spann. Give me Smilin’ Sam Alvey’s moneyline at +325. If you think he’s cooked after three straight losses (two by knockout), and want to throw some money on Spann, but don’t like his moneyline: Spann by KO, submission or DQ is sitting at -160, the fight to go under 1.5 rounds is at +116 or Spann by decision at +240.

Uriah Hall (+106) vs. Jacare Souza (-125)

Time for me to get real – the name recognition here is more appealing than the actual fight. Hall won five out of six fights from 2013 to 2015, then went on to lose four of his next five before winning his last two fights back-to-back. Souza, much like Hall, won five of six from 2013 to 2015, then went 4-3 in his next seven fights before losing two fights straight.

I’ve always been a fan of Jacare and though Hall is an experienced striker (6 KOs), I like Souza’s ability to stand and grapple. He’s won four times by KO and four times by submission. Though he’s getting up there in age – he’s 40 – I’d bet on him finding a way to submit Hall. Souza at KO, submission and DQ is going off at +160. Other odds to look at: Hall by submission, KO or DQ is +310, under 2.5 rounds -106.

UPDATE 5/8/20: This fight is OFF because Souza has tested positive for COVID-19.

Carla Esparza (-150) vs. Michelle Waterson (+125)

Don’t let the cool nicknames fool you – “Cookie Monster” and “The Karate Hottie” respectively – these girls can throw down.

Esparza, the inaugural Strawweight champion of the UFC, is riding a two-fight win streak into Saturday’s clash with Waterson who is coming off a loss to former champion Joanna Jedrzejczrk. Both fighters are known to go the distance – 12 times to the judge’s scorecard between the two which bodes well for betting on the fight. Esparza to win by decision sits at -106 while Waterson by a decision is at +165. It’s worth noting Esparza’s last win by finish came in 2012 and Waterson’s came in 2016.

Watergun to my head I lean Waterson, she’s been hot lately before running into JJ who needed a big win after dropping three of four fights to Rose Namajunas twice and Valentina Shevchenko. I lean toward the moneyline at +125 but I see a big upside to Waterson by decision at +165.

Aleksei Oleinik (+250) vs. Fabricio Werdum (-335)

In the battle of 42-year-old men who are past their prime who will come out victorious?

Will it be Oleinik who is coming off a win over Maurice Green earlier this year? Or former champion Werdum who last fought in 2018 – a loss to Alexander Volkov?

The lines on this fight are weird – they all point toward the fight not going the distance. Betting the fight to not go the distance is -305; Werdum by KO, submission, or DQ is -125. Oleinik by KO, submission, or DQ sits at +323, under 1.5 rounds at +105.

In a fight where everything points to the fight ending in a finish it usually gets dragged out to a painful decision – that’s where I think this fight goes. Give me Werdum by decision at +300.

Donald Cerrone (+118) vs. Anthony Pettis (-143)

The first time these two fought back in 2013, Pettis won by TKO in the first round. Seven years later, Cerrone is looking for revenge.

Cerrone has lost his last three fights by TKO, while Pettis has only won one fight of his last three.

All I can say for this fight is I’m excited to see it go down. I don’t want to pick a winner – luckily there are good odds for that. Betting the fight to go the distance sits at +125, which is where I see this fight going.

I’ve rarely seen Cerrone or Pettis in boring fights, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the fight end in a stoppage, but I do have visions of this fight going to the scorecard. If you agree, Cerrone by decision is going off at +333, Pettis by decision at +300. If you disagree, Cerrone by KO, submission, or DQ is at +260, Pettis by KO, submission, or DQ is at +162.

My inner safe bettor is saying bet the fight to go the distance at +125… Nevermind, scared money don’t make money; give me the Cerrone revenge tour by decision at +333.

Be sure to check later this week for the main card betting preview.

You can follow Anthony Mazziotti on Twitter (@AntMazziotti) and e-mail him at [email protected].

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