Betting Guide for UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs. Holland
Favorites seem to be the name of the game for UFC on ESPN: Brunson vs. Holland (UFC on ESPN 21 or UFC Vegas 22, if you prefer).
Out of the 12 fights scheduled, we see three favorites listed at -375 or heavier on FanDuel Sportsbook. Another five are at least -200. That gives us 9 of 12 fights with a pretty clear favorite in the betting market.
Although we don't have that with the main event between Derek Brunson (+144) and Kevin Holland (-172), it's the only main card fight (of the six) where the favorite is listed below -200.
So it's that kind of a card.
But does that mean we have to lay a lot to win our bets? Or might there be some better props to target with our selected fights?
Let's break it down.
Brad Riddell (+198) vs. Gregor Gillespie (-240)
Although Gregor Gillespie hasn't fought since getting knocked out in the first round (by Kevin Lee, the 13th-ranked contender in the lightweight division, in November 2019), he finds himself the 15th-ranked contender in the lightweight division.
That loss was his first professional loss, which brought his record to 13-1-0. Of his 13 wins, he has finished 11 of them: 6 by knockout and 5 by submission.
His opponent, Brad Riddell, also has just one loss as a pro and sports a 9-1-0 record. That record includes a 3-0 streak in the UFC with wins over Jamie Mullarkey, Magomed Mustafaev, and Alex da Silva Coelho. All three wins were by decision, and the Mustafaev win was a split decision.
Though Riddell has an advantage with his significant strikes per minute (4.36 to 3.58, per UFCStats), Gillespie averages a robust 7.02 takedowns per 15 minutes and has nabbed at least four takedowns in four of his seven UFC fights (with only one getting into the third round, mind you).
That could be the differentiator, as Riddell has been taken down 3, 8, and 3 times over his three 15-minute fights in the UFC.
Gillespie at -240 is definitely the side I want, but as far as props go, given the likelihood of takedown attempts for Gillespie, we can also peep Gillespie by submission at +220.
Song Kenan (+168) vs. Max Griffin (-200)
You probably wouldn't know it by the recent records who the favorite is in this fight.
Song Kenan is 4-1-0 over his past five fights (his five UFC bouts) and has won two straight, one a unanimous decision over Derrick Krantz in August 2019 and one a first-round knockout of Callan Potter last February.
Griffin, meanwhile, is 2-5-0 over his past seven fights (all in the UFC) since 2017. He did, however, earn a TKO over Ramiz Brahimaj in November, and some of his losses were quite close. Griffin suffered two split-decision losses over his past five fights (despite the vast majority of media outlets scoring his loss to Thiago Alves in Griffin's favor). So: the record may not be fully indicative, and that's what we're seeing in the betting odds.
For as close as the striking data is (4.30 significant strikes landed per minute for Kenan and 4.08 for Griffin with similar accuracy numbers [45% to 48%, respectively] and similar defense numbers [56% apiece]), Griffin projects to have the grappling advantage with 1.73 takedowns per 15 minutes on a 53% success rate.
Kenan has stuffed just 45% of takedown attempts against him in the UFC and has been taken down multiple times in two of his past three fights. The fight in that sample where he wasn't taken down came against Alex Morono, who has just 4 takedowns in 12 UFC fights.
So siding with the favorite, Griffin, looks like the right call here, and he's one of the lightest favorites on the card, too.
Although half of his 16 professional wins have come by knockout, 13 of his 24 pro fights have gone the distance. We could simply bet that this fight ends by points (-165) and get access to a Griffin win that goes the distance at odds shorter than -200, but if you're feeling confident, then I'd probably be looking at Griffin to win in round one or two (+440).
Bruno Silva (+130) vs. JP Buys (-154)
Another of the tighter favorites, JP Buys is getting some buzz for fighting on the same card as his wife, Cheyanne Buys. There's more to like than just that story, though.
JP Buys is a perfect 5-0-0 over the past three years in smaller organizations and most recently won in Dana White's Contender Series with a first-round guillotine choke over Jacob Silva. Buys lost in the Contender Series in 2017 due to what he described as "a bad weight cut."
Silva has three UFC fights under his black belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu but has not won a single bout. A third-round arm-triangle choke loss to Khalid Taha got overturned after Taha failed his drug test. Silva then went on to lose consecutive unanimous decisions to David Dvorak and Tagir Ulanbekov in 2020.
We're looking at small statistical samples for each of these fighters (though it's far larger for Silva over 43 minutes in the octagon and around 12.5 for Buys), but Buys has secured three takedowns in that span with multiple submission attempts (both coming in his submission win in November). Silva has had multiple takedowns in each fight and an average of three across his bouts. They each rank top-five on the card in takedowns per 15 minutes.
Removing disqualifications, no contests, and draws, 8 of Silva's 15 pro fights have ended early (4 each by submission and knockout). Buys has yet to go the distance in his 10 pro fights without a disqualification.
The overall success rate and finishing potential should get us to back Buys (-154), whose record is still more impressive even adjusted for competition. The fight not to go the distance either way is +114, and Buys to win by submission (6 of his 10 pro fights were submission wins) is +420.