UFC 279 may not look like much from the standpoint of a pay-per-view slate, but we still have 12 fights to sink our teeth into, including a Juicy KO/TKO line on a hittable opponent, and a strong grappler who will look to overcome the odds against a rising star in the women's bantamweight division. Our betting line was taken from William Hill online sportsbook and is accurate as of the post date of this article.
Plays to Consider on DraftKings
Khamzat Chimaev ($9,600)
Chimaev showed a strong aversion to the jiu-jitsu of Gilbert Burns, which may represent a small path to victory for Nate Diaz, but "Borz" has steamrolled opponents bigger and stronger than "Stockton's Own" and Nate has always struggled to fend off wrestling-based attacks. While the cardio of Chimaev may be an issue down the stretch, he should be able to get this fight where he wants it often enough to avoid expending massive amounts of energy.
Ion Cutelaba ($8,600)
Johnny Walker hasn't fought many committed grapplers in the Octagon, but it must be noted that Nikita Krylov was able to ground the Brazilian fighter for a whopping 11:50 en route to his victory in 2020. The recklessness that Cutelaba displayed chasing takedowns against Dustin Jacoby and Ryan Spann should actually work to his advantage here, as Walker hasn't shown any desire or proficiency when it comes to submissions, and I trust "The Hulk" to be the more composed fighter if both men get tired. The move to SBG Ireland seems to have robbed Walker of much of his explosiveness in favor of more cautious, technical fighting, which should limit the danger Cutelaba will be in on the feet.
Macy Chiasson ($7,400)
Irene Aldana's assent up the rankings at women's bantamweight has been noticeably stalled by strong opponents who engage in grappling. This can be seen in fights against Holly Holm and Raquel Pennington, who controlled her in clinch positions for 5:16 and 5:28, respectively. Chiasson will enter this bout with advantages in height and reach and should be able to get a hold of her boxing-heavy opponent as she looks to close the distance. It may not look pretty, but Chiasson should garner enough control time and strikes to at least be a cash option, with potential upside depending on how often she can take the fight to the ground.
Darian Weeks ($8,200)
Yohan Lainesse showcased big power in his UFC debut against Gabriel Green, but "Gifted" was able to apply pressure and melt "White Lion" down the stretch. Weeks may not be as active as Green, but he will bear down on the opponent while constantly looking to bring the fight to the floor. This should work to tax Lainsse's gas tank even quicker, which could result in a hefty point total for Weeks if he is able to avoid the big shot.
Jailton Almeida ($TBD)
Rather than vie for the biggest win of his career against Shamil Abdurakhimov, Almeida will take on newcomer Anton Turkalj. While Turkalj represents a different challenge from the lumbering, slow-footed Russian fighter, it is a test that "Maladinho" should pass. "The Pleasure Man" will likely come out like a house on fire, employing spinning techniques and looking for takedowns. The problem is that Turkalj is incredibly hittable, and Almeida is too powerful to stand and trade with in the pocket. He should also be the physically stronger man, which will likely result in the familiar sight of the Brazilian ragdolling his opponent.
Plays to Consider on Prize Picks
Norma Dumont OVER 1.5 Takedowns and Heili Alateng UNDER 2.0 Takedowns
Dumont is one of the bigger fighters in the weight class, and it stands to reason she would want to work her grappling against Danyelle Wolf, who is a boxer with just one professional MMA fight to her credit. She may not be efficient in her attempts to get the fight to the ground, but size and strength should be enough against a fighter who is so new to the sport.
Alateng used his wrestling as a weapon in his first two fights with the promotion but has shot just twice in his last three fights, opting instead to lean on his big power as a counter puncher. This should pay dividends against Chad Anheliger, who likes to pressure his opponents into the cage, but often walks forward with his hands down. The wrestling should be there if he needs it, but "The Mongolian Knight" will likely be comfortable in the exact kind of fight that sees him thrive.
Kevin Holland OVER 12.5 Minutes of Fight Time and Li Jingliang UNDER 12.5 Minutes of Fight Time
Holland versus Daniel Rodriguez may be a fight between the two toughest men in the division, as "The Trailblazer's" two submission losses represent the only time either man has been finished in 48 professional fights. These two action fighters will likely stand on a napkin in the center of the cage for the better part of 15 minutes, which makes this total feel a bit trickier than it actually is, but there is a large body of work between these two to help us make a decision.
It wasn't so long ago that Tony Ferguson was a destroyer of worlds, battering his opponent before making them quit in the second round. This line seems to be focusing too heavily on grapple-heavy fights with Charles Oliveira and Beneil Dariush, as "The Leech" will likely stand in the pocket looking to throw hands with "El Cucuy" for as long as the fight lasts. Li could opt to lean on his wrestling, but with just a 40 percent takedown accuracy rate, it seems more likely that the Chinese fighter will opt to test the chin of the fading superstar.
Plays to Consider on Monkey Knife Fight
Jake Collier OVER 90.5 Strikes and Chris Barnett OVER 42.5 Strikes
It's not often we see such a wide gulf between strike totals, but Collier has been an output machine in the cage, while Chris Barnett often opts for big, single strikes. It stands to reason that "The Prototype" has cleared his mark in three of his last four fights, while "Beastboy" has just barely gotten over the 42-strike hurdle in two of his three fights. While Barnett will never be a high-volume fighter, I expect Collier to push a pace that will force his opponent to throw back, and Barnett is tough enough to get deep into the fight.
Denis Tiuliulin UNDER 64.5 Strikes and Jamie Pickett OVER 52.5 Strikes
Much like in his UFC debut against Aliaskhab Khizriev, Pickett should be able to stifle Tiuliulin's offense by using his forward pressure to hit reactive takedowns. This is one of the most forgiving matchups "The Nightwolf" has had in the Octagon to this point, as Tiuliulin does not have the athleticism or technique to scramble out of control situations, and hasn't shown himself to be much of a submission threat. This should allow Pickett to pad his totals with short shots from the clinch and in top position.
Bets to Consider
Hakeem Dawodu wins via KO/TKO (+240)
I consider this line something of a gift, bestowed upon us because Dawodu hasn't been much of a finisher in the organization to this point. While this may make some hesitate, he also hasn't faced Julian Erosa, who absorbs a stunning 6.51 strikes per minute in the cage. Dawodu is hittable in his own right, but he is going to have a significant speed and power advantage against an opponent who has been knocked out in five of his nine losses. As long as he can avoid the grappling, "Mean's" explosiveness should be too much for Erosa here.
For more UFC betting picks, check out our UFC 279 Best Bets for this weekend. For the latest in UFC odds, head to the RotoWire Sports Betting section.
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