1. #1
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    How to bet UFC 231: Max Holloway vs. Brian Ortega

    How to bet UFC 231: Max Holloway vs. Brian Ortega

    Reed Kuhn

    The featherweight division that birthed the sensation of Conor McGregor now appears to be wholly owned by young Hawaiian champion Max Holloway. McGregor has moved on from 145 pounds, and Holloway has methodically amassed a 12-fight win streak since his last loss (to McGregor), capped by back-to-back knockouts of the formerly dominant champion Jose Aldo.

    Featherweight is clearly Holloway's division now, and yet the market pegs this weekend's title fight against relative newcomer Brian Ortega as nearly a pick 'em. That's because Ortega's rise to the marquee has been similarly impressive. He's undefeated in his seven UFC appearances, finishing each and every opponent inside three rounds. That run included four performance bonuses in just his past three fights.

    It's a matchup that has fans and betting windows split, and that's partly due to the contrasting strengths of each man. Let's take a closer look at the main event to decide if the odds are accurate, and also consider some justifiable favorites and value picks elsewhere on the card.

    Max Holloway (-130) vs. Brian Ortega (+110)

    Stylistically, the numbers reveal a sharper contrast than we might expect. Though Ortega stunned the MMA world by being the first to knock out former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, his hands aren't best in class. Though his power is greater than Holloway's, his technical striking allows opponents to out-land him in the long run. He offers only slightly above-average accuracy on a mediocre pace, combined with poor head strike defense.

    For Holloway, that offers a clear opportunity to work his bread-and-butter game plan: winning exchanges and piling up damage to set up a late flurry of a finish. The trickiest risk for him will be Ortega's submission threats.

    It's interesting to note that Ortega's offensive wrestling is actually poor (on paper at least), with few takedowns attempted and far fewer actually converted. He doesn't establish top control often but instead prefers to use his grappling opportunistically in transition or from the clinch. His submission attempt rate is high, with four finishes by various chokes in his seven UFC appearances, but they appear to come when opponents make mistakes or get too aggressive -- often later in fights.

    Holloway, however, has made a career of staying out of harm's way on the ground and forcing opponents into a striking war they can't keep up with for long.

    Pick: The numbers lean Holloway and support him as a small play even at mild favorite odds. If he implements a sound execution of pressure striking with escalating pace, he should win rounds and amass damage on Ortega. The wild-card factor is Holloway's enigmatic health issues and long layoff, which prevent us from supporting him too heavily. Given the buzz around Ortega, we could see some line movement in his favor, making a Holloway play at nearly even money possible and even more reasonable to play.

    Odds and ends

    Justifiable favorites: There are plenty of close odds matchups at UFC 231, making the card far more palatable from a betting perspective than the last pay-per-view card. Among the clear favorites who might make worthy parlay fodder, consider a women's pairing of Claudia Gadelha and Valentina Shevchenko. Both are highly favored, and for good reason. Both are competent on their feet and will also have a ground advantage over their opponents.

    Value picks: Meanwhile, a few fighters with upset potential are currently returning plus money, though that could change come fight night. Tops among them is welterweight Alex Oliveira, a dangerous hybrid fighter with a win over former champion Carlos Condit. Though his opponent, Gunnar Nelson, is famously looking to be in great shape, the numbers like the underdog. Among the affordable fighters at near pick 'em odds, consider Eryk Anders and Olivier Aubin-Mercier.

  2. #2
    Have Some Asthma
    gauchojake's Avatar SBR PRO
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    Sooooo flip a coin. Thanks ESPN. lol.