Hopefully you won some bets on last week’s UFC card because that would have been about the only thing it delivered. A dud of a card with one-third of the main card fights stopped because of an illegal knee and an accidental eye poke leads into what we hope will be something better this weekend.
UFC on ESPN 21 is also known as UFC Vegas 22 or UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs. Holland as Derek Brunson takes on Kevin Holland in the middleweight main event. That is the capper to a 12-fight card that could become 13 if UFC finds a replacement for Anthony Birchak by Saturday’s start time.
On the surface, this looks to be another pretty lackluster card, but that is to be expected with the much anticipated heavyweight main event next week between Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou and then with the April 24 return of fans in Florida for UFC 261 with three more title fights.
There is only so much you can do to sweeten these in-between cards. Fortunately, one thing you can do to enhance the interest is to place some bets if you feel like you have some edges or good angles.
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Let’s look at the fights.
Bet Brunson or Hit Holland?
The main event at 185 pounds features Derek Brunson and Kevin Holland. Brunson comes in with seven losses, but the list of fighters that have beaten him is quite impressive. Jacare Souza did it twice, 7.5 years apart. Israel Adesanya, Anderson Silva, Robert Whittaker, and Kendall Grove are the others. Grove was a UFC fixture for five years before beating Brunson by split-decision in ShoFight in 2012.
Holland is 21-5 and there isn’t nearly as much fanfare to his defeats. He hasn’t had one in a while, as he fought five times in 2020 and won all five of them. His UFC losses are against Thiago Santos in his first official UFC fight and then to Brendan Allen at the end of 2019 in what was a rather surprising outcome.
Brunson is listed at +145 with Holland at -175 in this fight. The over/under is 2.5 with the over slightly juiced more at -118.
If you are interested in Holland by KO/TKO/DQ, that price is +115, with Holland at +400 by decision and +1200 by submission. He did win by sub just two fights ago.
The Brunson KO/TKO/DQ price is +350, with +350 by decision and +1800 by submission. There are a lot of creative ways to bet on fights these days, so don’t pigeonhole yourself into just picking a winner straight up.
For my money, I think Brunson is very live here. Holland has never been knocked out, but he also hasn’t faced a lot of guys with Brunson’s power. With the nine-year age difference, I do think Brunson’s best shot is to try to win early instead of looking to outlast Holland. That means an aggressive approach. Brunson by KO at +350 isn’t a bad look.
Holland probably does win the fight, as the line implies. The KO price at +115 isn’t great, but it does seem like the most appropriate ending here is a knockout. Brunson is not a submission guy and he prefers to keep fights upright.
Plus money on both sides with a smaller stab on Brunson by KO should have you in a freeroll here.
Let’s pick through the rest of the card, which is mediocre at best.
My favorite bet on the card is Kenan Song at +140 against Max Griffin. Griffin is the -177 favorite in that welterweight scrap. Griffin is just 2-3 over his last five fights and both wins have come against guys making their UFC debuts in Ramiz Brahimaj and Zelim Imadaev. Griffin has lost or struggled mightily with more experienced fighters. Song is giving up some size here, but he has been impressive with four wins in five fights at the UFC level.
The -200 price on Adrian Yanez looks a little bit cheap to me. His opponent, Gustavo Lopez, is +160. Two of the three losses for Yanez on his way up came against guys that are regulars in UFC now in Domingo Pilarte and Miles Johns. Lopez is only 6-4 over his last 10 fights.
If you don’t want to lay the -200 straight, money line parlays can be a good way to bet on UFC. You could pair the $2 favorite in Yanez with a -215 favorite in Macy Chiasson. Chiasson takes on Marion Reneau, who is 43, just recently battled COVID-19, and has lost three in a row. Reneau is at a crossroads with her career and she could very well be out of the UFC after this one.
Chiasson is the bigger fighter and she is the one with everything to lose here, as a loss to Reneau is a massive setback given where both fighters are in their careers.