Ultimate Fight Night 98 has all the potential of being an action packed event, while some might sit this one out to prepare for UFC 205, there are two fight that carry some interesting betting value.
With all the hype surrounding UFC 205, it's easy to overlook what could be an action-packed Ultimate Fight Night 98 on Saturday night. Headlined by an excellent showdown between former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos against the surging Tony Ferguson and anchored by several intriguing matchups including the UFC debut of Alexa Grasso vs. Heather Clart, Beneil Dariush vs. Rashid Magamedov and Ricardo Lamas taking on Charles Oliveira.
But we're not here to sell you the fight, it's about finding the best value for your weekend warrior wagering.
The main event is one that carries a ton of intrigue as dos Anjos will look to shake off his shocking first round knockout loss to Eddie Alvarez and jump back to the front of the line to reclaim his lightweight title. Standing in his way will be El Cucuy himself, Tony Ferguson, who hasn't lost since dropping a decision to Michael Johnson back in 2012.
The line here isn't all that enticing at +120 for Ferguson and -140 for RDA, but that doesn't mean there isn't value elsewhere. This is clearly the definition of a toss up fight as both have proven themselves to be worthy enough to take home the victory. Ferguson's remarkable roll of eight straight victories is impressive, but he hasn't taken on someone with the talent of dos Anjos. This will be his true litmus test to find out whether or not he is ready for title contention.
As for dos Anjos, his lightweight title run was ground to a screeching halt by Alvarez, but could it be chalked up to an aberration considering how he steamrolled the likes of Anthony Pettis, Donald Cerrone and Benson Henderson before that? It's too close to call and their respective skill levels are top notch. But where you will find value is in the fight ending within the distance.
Between Ferguson and dos Anjos' last sixteen fights; ten have ended by knockout or submission (four for RDA and six for Ferguson). While that could suggest a heavy level of respect between the two, the environment will play a huge role in why this fight will likely not make it to the judges.
The elevation of Mexico City, Mexico has already proven to take a toll on the conditioning of a fighter. For proof, ask Cain Velasquez how his heavyweight title fight with Fabricio Werdum went. The altitude, which lends a lower amount of oxygen to the lungs and muscles, will certainly take the winds out of both fighters sails for a 25-minute fight. Combine that with a high finish rate for both fighters and you have the perfect recipe for a wagering on a finish before the fifth round.
Stay away from a straight bet for either fighter, but throw your money at this one ending by knockout or submission.
Elsewhere on the card, the most bang for your buck comes in the form of the Ricardo Lamas and Charles Oliveira fight.
It's almost mindblowing to me that Oliveira is the favorite here at -120. He has lost his last two out of three, with a victory over Myles Jury sandwiched between Max Holloway and Anthony Pettis losses. Meanwhile, Lamas has also lost his last two out of three. However, his losses came to higher caliber opponents (Chad Mendes and Max Halloway). It's still a close fight but I'd give the edge to Lamas here considering the altitude issues mentioned before and how Oliveira has looked in his last few fights. Granted, Oliveira still possesses a high-level ground game, but his occasional struggles with weight could be problematic against a workhorse like Lamas. I like Ricardo Lamas in this one.
Aside from these two fights, I'd stay away from wagering on the rest of the card. That is, of course, if you are betting for finishes. They should come fast and furious on Saturday night.