UFC 255 – Betting Plays and Predictions
20 November 2020
On the heels of a UFC Fight Night card that was underwhelming from my vantage point, this pay per view is certainly a step up, but it is certainly not the most must see event of 2020.
We do have two title fights, but both are at 125 lbs and the significantly less lop sided betting line is still greater than a -300 favorite. What’s more, the best fight on the card in Moreno vs Royval is not even on the pay per view portion.
We still have plenty of gambling opportunities and UFC predictions on the card, but my suspicion is, from a viewing perspective, this is not a card we will be reminiscing about years later. Let’s get to where to aim our plays for this week.
Deiveson Figueiredo -305 vs Alex Perez
Fight is five rounds at 125 lbs and is -485 to end inside the distance.
For the men’s flyweight championship.
While many thought Brandon Moreno should have been the one getting the first crack at Figueiredo’s title, the promotion lined up Alex Perez. While Perez is quite a sound fighter in his own right, he will have to do many things differently than he is accustomed to if he is going to survive this fight and have any chance on the scorecards.
He will likely need to have a repeat of his last fight where he was able to finish Jussier Formiga with leg kicks in the first round. That is not to say he will need a finish via leg kicks, but he will need to land a bunch, stifling the movement of the champ and dragging the fight into deeper waters, where he may be able to get his grappling game going.
Now, that path seems highly unlikely to me, as Perez is a fighter that has long been unafraid to exchange in the pocket, and it seems he prefers it. Doing so with Figueiredo is as dangerous as it gets in the flyweight division, as he packs strength and power that translates much like fighters in the upper weight classes, and is absolutely a one shot killer.
I suspect the first round or two will quickly have the look of Perez simply trying to survive once he feels the power coming at him, and that very much feels like an unlikely scenario. Perez has had one shot against elite competition previously, and he was famously stopped twice (egregious refereeing) by Joe Benavidez in the first round, and will be facing far scarier power in this fight.
I feel the line is not quite wide enough, and also feel the ITD line on the champ should essentially be the same as his flat line. We are going to play Figueiredo ITD in this one, and get a discount from the flat line at -215.
Betting Play: Figueiredo ITD -215
Valentina Shevchenko -1625 vs Jennifer Maia
Fight is at 125 lbs and is -235 to end inside the distance.
For the women’s flyweight championship.
That betting line is not a typo, and I really don’t think it’s wide enough, as the -1625 implies only a 94.2% chance of winning for the favored champion. That percentage feels very low as it is not just difficult, but borders on impossible to project a path to victory for Jennifer Maia.
As Maia waits to get her counter strikes off, she will be touched and hurt often by Shevchenko, and there are just many levels between them in the striking. Shevchenko may opt to take the fight to the floor, which may be the only place she may be in any danger, if in the full guard of Maia, but even that seems wildly unlikely.
Maia is a solid enough fighter, but she is nowhere near the level of the champ, and we will see more of the same that we have seen recently from Shevchenko. Maia will not have the movement to be able to survive Shevchenko’s striking for 25 minutes, and that’s where a betting opportunity comes into play.
Despite the unplayable -1625 flat line, Shevchenko is just -175 to win ITD, and that is the true value in this fight, and our avenue of attack. “And still” is a foregone conclusion, we will just be playing her to get it done via finish.
Betting Play: Shevchenko ITD -175
Mike Perry -155 vs Tim Means
Fight is at 170 lbs and is -155 to end inside the distance.
Mike Perry is quickly becoming the easiest fighter to root against the UFC, but fortunately for us, he should not be favored in this fight and he is an easy fighter to bet against in this spot as well.
For someone that developed a reputation as a finisher, it has been nearly four years since he won inside the distance and is just 3-5 since the last finish. He will not be the leader in volume in this fight with Tim Means and will be at a significant height and reach disadvantage, which may well be a puzzle he is unable to solve.
When looking at the Perry flat line of -155 vs his ITD line of +125, the oddsmakers project little path to victory for Perry outside of a finish, and I am very inclined to agree. While Means head movement has been subpar of late, he will make it difficult for Perry to work his way inside, and he will keep Perry at the end of his strikes.
If we are looking for a decision path to victory on Perry, it would be via wrestling, as Means can be taken down, but that again would require Perry successfully closing the distance, and I think he will have real trouble doing so in this fight. Also add in that Means still has sting on his strikes, and Perry will likely be wearing damage throughout, it will make the judges decision a bit easier to side with Means if this fight ends up a close call. We have quite a live underdog here and one that should be favored, take Means flat to cover all avenues of victory.
Betting Play: Means +135
Cynthia Calvillo -270 vs Katlyn Chookagian
Fight is at 125 lbs and is +245 to end inside the distance.
I have long been on record of not being a fan of Katlyn Chookagian’s fighting style, but let’s be clear here, this line is significantly too wide for Cynthia Calvillo. It was probably a fair line at the time of opening at roughly -150, but this steaming upwards makes little sense, and is likely the result of Chookagian’s performance against Jessica Andrade.
Spoiler: Calvillo is not nearly Andrade. I have often poked fun at Chookagian for the amount of strikes she throws at thin air, but that style will very much work to her advantage in this fight. She is much taller and longer than Calvillo, she will have 5” of height and 4” of reach, and is also the better striker of the two. Calvillo’s game is heavily reliant on her high end grappling, but I do see her having real problems closing the distance in this one and being able to get the fight to the floor.
Jessica Eye was unable to play the range game with Calvillo in her initial move up to flyweight, but that is a style that Chookagian is far more comfortable with. Chookagian is also quite a competent BJJ player and will certainly not be a fish out of water on the floor, and should dbe able to return to her feet and attack submissions from her back if taken down.
All in all, I think this line is an absolute mistake and I think pickem would be much more fair than what we are looking at now. While I think the fight is something of a coin flip, the value on Chookagian on the flat line simply can’t be understated, and it is certainly a point of attack for us.
Betting Play: Chookagian +225
Daniel Rodriguez -315 vs Nicolas Dalby
Fight is at 170 lbs and is -165 to end inside the distance.
This is a fight that makes very little sense for Dalby to take, so we have to assume it is literally the only one offered from the promotion. It is something of a stylistic nightmare for Dalby, as everything he does will inch him closer to being finished, aside from leg kicks. If he can damage the leg of Rodriguez and ultimately get to wrestling and top control, that would be his path to victory, but it is an extremely unlikely one.
Rodriguez will be pushing forward and is just world’s better in the striking, and will be bringing the volume and power to put on Dalby, and I think he will be able to land at a very high clip. I also think Rodriguez is the better wrestler bot offensively and defensively and wouldn’t be taken down unless his leg was compromised or he made a mistake in a scramble.
Also going for Rodriguez is know how for a front choke if Dalby takes an ill advised shot. With all these things working for Rodriguez, the boxing is what I believe will be most likely to win this fight. I mentioned the volume and power and think he puts Dalby down, and that outcome brings quite a favorable price. DRod is just -110 to win ITD, fire him up.
Betting Play: Rodriguez ITD -110
Louis Cosce -460 vs Sasha Palatnikov
Fight is at 170 lbs and is -365 to end inside the distance.
This matchup between a pair of promotional debutants is lined properly, and gives us insight as to what to expect. Louis Cosce is a significantly better striker than Palatnikov, and I’m not sure I can understate that gap.
Cosce has been an absolute killer in every fight in his career thus far. He sits at 7-0 with seven first round finishes. He brings the heat in the striking, knows how to cinch in a choke as needed and will likely be far too much for Palatnikov to handle. Palatnikov is a wrestler that will try to ground the fight, but if he isn’t able to almost immediately, it will be quite apparent that he is at a disadvantage in every aspect of the striking, particularly the power.
With Cosce so young in his career, there are questions we simply don’t know the answers to. How will his cardio respond if he is forced deeper into a fight? How well can his defensive wrestling hold up? These are questions that will be answered as his career progresses, just not on Saturday.
He has shown us he is a first round killer, he gets a matchup with a fighter that will have no answer for his striking, and despite all of this, the -460 favorite is actually a plus figure to win in Round 1. While playing Cosce ITD at -195 is the safer route, I think the best play is Cosce in Round 1 at +110.
Betting Play: Cosce Round 1 +110