UFC

Betting Guide for UFC Vegas 39

As someone who religiously plays UFC daily fantasy, this is a much better card to bet on than play fantasy. There are a ton of fun outcomes to attack or parlays to build with the heavy favorites. Into the lab we go...

UFC Vegas 39: Dern vs. Rodriguez takes place Saturday from the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas. Where is the sharpest place to wager on Saturday's card using FanDuel Sportsbook?

Chris Gutierrez by Decision (-105)

One of the downsides of trafficking in the daily fantasy sphere of UFC is that decisions are rarely a positive outcome. Chris Gutierrez (-265) is in a fantastic spot on Saturday, and this is the way to get exposure to it.

Gutierrez is an excellent bantamweight striker who specializes in leg kicks. Gutierrez has a +1.85 striking success rate (significant strikes landed minus absorbed per minute), and he has three knockdowns in his last three fights -- all by leg kicks.

Leg kicks don't typically result in knockouts, but Gutierrez earned one three fights ago against Vince Morales. That is unlikely to happen against Felipe Colares as well.

The poor defensive habits of Colares should make Gutierrez fairly comfortable on Saturday. Colares has just a 38% striking defense, and, if Gutierrez wishes, he also has just a 38% takedown defense to wrestle. Colares has a -2.07 striking success rate in four UFC fights, but he has gone to a decision in all four as a fairly durable athlete.

Colares does not offer the volume (2.15 significant strikes per minute) to outpoint "El Guapo", and Gutierrez's 73% takedown defense should keep this fighting upright where he wants it. Assuming Colares's legs hold up, this fight seems destined for a comfortable Gutierrez decision.

Mackenzie Dern by Submission (+100)

I really do see the value in Marina Rodriguez as a generally underrated strawweight, but backing Rodriguez in this spot would be a terrifying watch.

Rodriguez is still having significant issues with grapplers. She ceded 3:39 in control time during the first round against Amanda Ribas, and she dropped the fourth round against Michelle Waterson by getting controlled for 3:20 of that round. Ribas and Waterson are not accomplished grapplers, yet still, Rodriguez was unable to return to her feet until the bell. If either had better submission skills, they could have likely finished Rodriguez.

Enter the best grappler in women's strawweight, Mackenzie Dern (-170).

Dern's issue is not closing the show. She averages 2.3 submission attempts per match, and she has 4 first-round submission wins in 7 UFC appearances. Dern's largest problem is getting opponents to the mat with just a 10% takedown efficiency. So, while Rodriguez's 62% takedown defense is exploitable, Dern has proved to have a hard time forcing the fight to the ground on her terms.

So why is Dern by submission is still a tremendous value? A takedown just needs to happen once, and Rodriguez has been taken down at least once in her past four fights. Dern has even been a cut above stronger grapplers like Randa Markos and Nina Nunes, which implies minimal resistance from the Muay Thai striker Rodriguez. Dern has also publicly acknowledged that grappling is her easiest path to winning this fight.

Backing Rodriguez would be praying her mediocre takedown defense keeps this fight stays standing for 25 minutes; she will easily have the advantage striking. I would rather not fear such danger for a half hour, and, instead, bet that Dern finds at least one opening fairly quickly.

Dart Throw of the Week: Charles Rosa by KO/TKO (+1000)

The battle between Charles Rosa (+160) and Damon Jackson of fleeting featherweights is interestingly handicapped.

A lot of that likely has to do with Jackson's bizarre recent sample since returning to UFC in 2020. Jackson was taken down by wrestler Mirsad Bektic seven times in his return fight -- grasping to empty submission attempts the entire time -- and amazingly finished Bektic on the seventh (and best) attempt. Then, Jackson was quickly starched by Ilia Topuria in a fight that never even made it to the mat.

Both of these fighters are primarily grapplers, but it still remains odd that Rosa is such a heavy underdog. His UFC sample is much more well-rounded than Jackson's, as Rosa has outstruck his opponent at distance four times in ten UFC fights. Jackson has never accomplished that in five appearances. Rosa has an admittedly poor -0.55 striking success rate historically against tougher competition, but Jackson's is -1.17 against weaker competition.

When two grapplers meet, occasionally, the fight turns into a striking match out of respect for one another's skills. Rosa is a far stronger striker, and while not as quick, his large frame is more powerful than Ilia Topuria's, and Topuria just finished Jackson.

Rosa at +160 by any method is a better bet to pay the bills, but there is stylistically an opportunity for the longest individual fight outcome to hit in this closer-than-advertised bout.