UFC

Betting Guide for UFC 268

A second straight week with a two-title-fight pay-per-view. It's not even Christmas yet! This time, 14 fights are on tap at "The Mecca." Both title matches are repeat ones, as well.

UFC 268: Usman vs. Covington 2 takes place Saturday from Madison Square Garden in New York City. Where is the sharpest place to wager on Saturday's card using FanDuel Sportsbook?

Kamaru Usman to Win by Knockout (+155)

There are some folks who live in a different world that believe Kamaru Usman (-310) would have lost a decision to Colby Covington in 2019 had Covington just lasted 50 more seconds before the referee waived off their first fight.

We can take advantage of that in betting.

Usman handily outstruck Covington in all but the fourth round, in which Covington just outlanded Usman 36-35. That led to a +32 striking differential in all, and unfortunately for "Chaos," Usman's striking has gotten better.

"The Nigerian Nightmare" has a +2.14 striking success rate in his last five fights. His overall striking accuracy (54%) and striking defense (57%) both blow Covington's marks out of the water. He's also never been taken down in the UFC. Usman has knocked out three of his last four opponents -- including Covington.

His jab and his mechanics are anecdotally much sharper than the initial fight between these two welterweights in 2019, and Covington has shown no such improvement. He landed just 43% of his strike attempts in his only fight since 2019 against Tyron Woodley. Usman, Gilbert Burns, and Vicente Luque all landed at least 60% of their punches against Woodley -- the former champion turned YouTube stunt.

It's absurd +155 odds are attached to simply replicating -- if not bettering -- his 2019 performance. The only possible danger would be a submission win instead, but Usman (0.10 submission attempts per match) has not demonstrated any ability or tendency to use his jiu-jitsu even if it lurks in his skillset.

Zhang Weili to Win in the 4th Round, 5th Round, or By Decision (+185)

FanDuel Sportsbook has offered plenty of special, unique props for UFC 268 this weekend. This is one I found particularly interesting.

This fight between Zhang Weili (-116) and Rose Namajunas is a close one, but I find some unique value on this prop to back Zhang given that, if she has a successful night at the office, this captures most of the likeliest outcomes.

Zhang by points (+260) is the individual most likely fight outcome on FanDuel Sportsbook to start. The fight is also -144 to start Round 4, but curiously, it is only -118 to start Round 5. A specific Round 4 finish by either fighter is implied to hold a 4.9% probability in those odds -- strangely high for such a specific, unlikely outcome. Both possibilities -- plus a late finish -- are encapsulated in this special line.

I prefer Zhang's side of this fight. In a long-term sample, Zhang's 6.36 significant strikes per minute at 45% accuracy tower over Namajunas' marks in both categories. Namajunas landed a show-stopping head kick in their first matchup, but with the oddsmakers implying some length to the rematch, that only favors the busier, more efficient striker.

At nearly two-to-one odds, this is a better way to access Zhang's decision prop without ignoring the face-shifting power she demonstrated on Joanna Jędrzejczyk that could melt "Thug Rose."

Dart Throw of the Week: John Allan by Submission (+2600)

26-to-1 odds might as well be a lottery ticket, so I was shocked to find this specific outcome so high given that, if John Allan (+225) takes the correct analytical game plan, this outcome is more than reasonable.

Allan is facing last-minute replacement Dustin Jacoby. Jacoby is a world-class kickboxer, and he has four UFC wins to prove it. However, as many kickboxers do, Jacoby has shown vulnerabilities grappling. He's been taken down 11 times in the last two fights, and he defends takedowns at just a 58% rate overall.

At 1.91 takedowns per match, Allan has shown he can do that. He took down Mike Rodriguez four times -- and added three submission attempts -- in his only UFC win. Allan was preparing for striker Aleksa Camur, who's also shown grappling issues, so he should enter with that primary focus again.

Given that Allan's never been knocked out in 19 pro fights, it's a fair assumption his chin allows for some length to this fight. Assuming he doesn't get quickly finished, that should lead to some time on the mat with Jacoby's takedown woes.

Allan's 1.20 submission attempts per match are fifth on this card, so he tries far too often for this line to just give him a 3.7% implied chance to close the show on one single attempt.