UFC

Betting Guide for UFC Vegas 42

UFC veteran Yair Rodriguez returns to the octagon on Saturday night. What's the best way to bet his fight?

After back-to-back pay-per-view weeks, the UFC actually did a nice job cobbling together this weekend's 11-fight card.

UFC Vegas 42: Holloway 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?

Max Holloway and Yair Rodriguez Go the Distance (-124)

Primarily, my consumption of UFC is through the lens of daily fantasy, and the main event this weekend has one of the most predictable environments in UFC history.

That is because every Max Holloway (-650) fight roughly looks the same. Holloway's +2.68 striking success rate across 24 career fights is one of the most impressive marks in the sport with the context of his past opponents, and his 84% takedown defense generally keeps fights standing.

At just 0.90 takedowns per match, Yair Rodriguez (+440) is not going to test the grappling of the Hawaiian. It's a daunting prospect to defeat Holloway in a striking match, but Rodriguez is a decent challenger. His 57% striking defense is his best asset to avoid tremendous punishment in their exchanges.

With all due respect to the former champion Holloway, his power is his weakest asset, and that provides value on the odds for this fight to go the distance. Holloway has never been knocked down across 1,652 significant strikes absorbed in his career, but it has also been 1,455 significant strikes since his last knockdown -- a UFC record.

Even Calvin Kattar absorbed 445 significant strikes from Holloway (another UFC record) in January and saw all 25 minutes of that fight. The battle-tested veteran Rodriguez has gone to a decision in five of his nine fights, as well, so the pick is that these two have a great, back-and-forth fight, but it goes the distance.

Andrea Lee to Win (+110)

Andrea Lee (+110) might be one of the most underrated fighters on the UFC's roster.

Lee's 4-3 record seems underwhelming, but it has been tarnished by two split decisions and a "unanimous" decision in which Lee had a +37 striking differential over Roxanne Modafferi. Lee could easily be 7-0 in her UFC tenure, and her peripherals look like it.

Lee combines 5.48 significant strikes per minute on a +1.80 success rate with 1.95 takedowns per match. She's top five on this card in all three marks. Her stock is rising after four submission attempts in a win over Antonina Shevchenko because it's becoming apparent she's comfortable in all three primary domains of MMA.

Cynthia Calvillo is facing the opposite. In her last two fights at flyweight, she has seemed totally lost. Calvillo entered the division as a wrestler with great striking defense, but she has landed just one takedown in two fights, and she posted a terrible 45% striking defense in her last fight -- a first-round knockout loss. It's becoming hard to tell what she does well in her new weight class.

While Lee's 57% takedown defense would be concerning, Calvillo landed just one of four attempts on Katlyn Chookagian's 52% mark. Lee has a similar formula as Chookagian; she's a high-volume striker with a five-inch reach advantage. Calvillo landed just 30% of her strikes in that fight, and the bet is she fails to land much offense in a three-round loss to "KGB."

Dart Throw of the Week: Liana Jojua by Submission (+600)

Cortney Casey has a 13-fight UFC career dating back to 2015. She's not changing much at this stage.

Casey has taken a layoff to work on her takedown defense (38%) that totally crippled her attempts to win her past two fights in 2020. She was taken down at least three times and controlled for at least five minutes in both. While her efforts to reconcile these woes are commendable, it's been a story that's been told before.

Her final chance to stay in the UFC is likely against Liana Jojua (+194). Jojua was the sacrificial lamb to rising star Miranda Maverick last November, and her 1-2 UFC record isn't tremendous, but she has a key game plan that makes her more than a live underdog in this matchup.

The Georgian Jojua is a grappler. She averages 1.49 takedowns per match and 2.20 submission attempts per match. That scored her an armbar win over Diana Belbita -- another rising UFC prospect. Her ground game is an organic fit for a matchup with Casey, and this is an intentional matchup by the UFC for Casey to make her prove she can overcome this weakness.

Jojua won't provide any danger on the feet; her -2.33 striking success rate is the worst on the card because of the Maverick bludgeoning. But, the chances she can be the seventh fighter to take Casey down at least three times are pretty simple.

By either points or submission at +220 is a safer spot to back Jojua, but she has a realistic chance to finish Casey if she drags her to the canvas.