Two former teammates will square off Saturday night in a welterweight championship fight in Las Vegas.
Current belt-holder Kamaru Usman (17-1) faces title challenger Gilbert Burns (19-3) for the UFC strap. It is an intriguing match-up for the nascent sportsbooks in Michigan. Usman is the consensus favorite, but many see Burns as a very live underdog. It will not produce huge handle, as neither man is considered a big draw for the sport, but they are two of the top fighters in the whole of the promotion — not just the division — so savvy UFC fans might be looking for a spot for a bet.
At FanDuel Sportsbook, Usman is a -290 favorite, compared to +225 for Burns. One is hard-pressed to find either option super appealing, but if you can find Burns at closer to +250 at any of the various sportsbooks as the fight approaches that could be a value bet. His current odds peg him as a winner just over 30% of the time. Getting Burns at closer to 25% implied probability seems attractive.
Then again, no one would be too shocked if Usman could win nine out of every 10 times they fight. It is called gambling for a reason. Anything can happen, especially in MMA.
It is a hard fight to bet, and that applies to the prop markets as well.
|Method of victory||Usman||Burns|
If you put a gun to the head of the author of this article and made him bet $100 on one of these outcomes, he would go with Burns by decision at +800. Even though he is a world-class submission grappler, against an elite wrestler like Usman, it seems more likely Burns method of victory would come via points than by tap out. Usman also has a great chin, making the +600 by KO/TKO a challenging offer.
Usman by points does appear to be the most likely outcome out of all the options, but +130 is not a fun price. Usman by submission appears far less likely than 17/1, making that probably the worst bet of all the method of victory wagers. Usman by KO/TKO at +210 is not a bet that comes anywhere close to screaming value, though that is a very possible outcome.
The best bet of the entire menu, as long as you are willing to root for a sluggish fight, is probably -115 on the fight going to the judges. It is basically a pick’em bet, but one that could have slight value as most MMA fights overall go to the scorecards, and Usman vs. Burns is the kind of match up that looks like a five-round grinding war. They are also good friends, and perhaps that boosts the odds of a longer fight.
It does not seem too surprising that the best value bet could be on the most boring of outcomes. Casual bettors typically bet the over, for example, in other sports because they want to root for an exciting game. Here, the best odds appear to be on a decision outcome, but as MMA fans are well aware of, sometimes the most mind-boggling fights don’t feature a stoppage.
Be sure to check out promotional offers at FanDuel and other online/mobile sportsbooks that could make some of these wagers better in terms of value. Many books have deposit bonuses.