Bet of the Card II: (2u) Over 2.5 Rounds @ -150 (to Return 3.333 Units)
(0.5u) Aljamain Sterling via Decision @ +500 (to Return 3 Units)
Petr Yan vs. Aljamain Sterling
Main Card Men’s Bantamweight (135lbs) Championship Bout – Approx. Start Time: 11:15 p.m. EST.
- 7 of Aljamain Sterling’s last 10 fights have gone the distance, and he’s won all of his last 5 decisions.
- Aljamain Sterling ranks amongst active UFC Bantamweights: Joint-2nd for Decision Wins (5), 5th for Significant Strike Defense (65.6%), 2nd for Strikes Absorbed per Min. (2.01), and 7th for Takedowns Landed (20) (per Statleaders.UFC.com).
There’s always an inherent risk of betting overs on a bout between such high-calibre fighters, but with the defensive work-rate and distance management of Aljamain Sterling, there’s just so much value built into the over 2.5 rounds prop. Petr Yan is of course, a very dangerous and aggressive fighter, but he’s not a one-hitter quitter, he beats people down by winning a war of attrition. Sterling on the other hand, seeks to maintain distance, circle out, and out-land his opponents at range. Watching this play out should be fascinating, but I tend to lean towards Sterling’s ability to keep distance as his key to winning minutes and dragging the fight into the latter half.
My biggest concern for this fight going under, would be if Sterling looks to grapple and chase a submission on the mat. We don’t know a ton about Yan’s ground game, but we do know that Sterling is tricky enough to submit even the savviest grapplers. This being said, he doesn’t pursue takedowns at a ridiculous rate, and I would back Yan’s ability to hold defensively, if not scramble back to his feet.
Everything taken into account, this is a pick’em fight for a reason, but Sterling has the keys to punctuate rounds, should he use his range and/or utilize his wrestling. Whichever way the fight swings though, at -150 (60% implied odds), the over is absolutely value considering Sterling has only ever been finished once in his career, and Yan has never been put away in his pro career. As an additional play, I also like taking a small stab on Sterling to win via decision at +500, a couple of books are still offering this outlandish line, and I expect it to come into +350 with the rest of the market very soon.
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(2u) Amanda Nunes via Submission @ +210 (to Return 6.2 Units)
Amanda Nunes vs. Megan Anderson
Co-Main Event Women’s Featherweight (145lbs) Championship Bout – Approx. Start Time: 11:45 p.m. EST.
- Amanda Nunes averages 2.53 takedowns and 0.7 submission attempts per 15 minutes (per UFCStats.com)
- 2 of Megan Anderson’s 4 career losses have come via submission, and in the UFC she’s posted a takedown defense of just 53% (per Tapology.com & UFCStats.com).
Amanda “The Lioness” Nunes is unquestionably the female “G.O.A.T.”, and as a -1100 favorite (best odds), the books are certainly giving her all the credit she deserves. She’s as well rounded as they come in the sport, yet she’s got her unmatched speed, power, and ground game, that put her on a tier of her own. No disrespect to Megan Anderson, but outside of her long frame, and her wild rangy kicks, I don’t see her offering up any problems for The Lioness. Sure, this is MMA, and anything can happen, but beyond a freak KO, she should be dominated wherever the fight takes place.
Should Nunes want to strike, she’ll be the much sharper and dangerous fighter, and should she look to grapple, it could bring about a swift end to Anderson’s night. Realistically, Nunes can win this anyway she wants to, but undoubtably, her path of least resistance is from taking the fight to the mat and working for a finish. Anderson has shown that she is pretty awful off her back, and she puts herself in disadvantageous positions incredibly quickly (pictured above: Megan Anderson getting ground-and-pounded by Holly Holm). From there, Nunes can soften her up with strikes until Anderson offers her the opportunity to finish the fight with a submission, and I think The Lioness will oblige, instead of raining down punches until the ref calls the fight off. Of course, this could swing either way, but at over 2-to-1, I really like the submission prop considering what we know about Anderson’s defensive grappling.
(1.5u) Over 1.5 Rounds @ -150 (to Return 2.5 Units)
(0.5u) Carlos Ulberg via Decision @ +275 (to Return 1.875 Units)
Kennedy Nzechukwu vs. Carlos Ulberg
Early Preliminary Card Light Heavyweight (205lbs) Bout - Approx. Start Time: 7:15 p.m. EST.
- Both Carlos Ulberg and Kennedy Nzechukwu are yet to be stopped via strikes in their young combat sports careers (per Tapology.com).
These guys have a bit in common, they’re both tall and rangy strikers, who throw with low volume, and who we’ve never seen hurt by strikes. Carlos Ulberg is one of the rare fighters to make it into the UFC with so few MMA bouts that you can count them on one hand, and Nzechukwu is yet to break double digits himself. Often, inexperience can create more volatile fights, but on this occasion, I lean towards it producing a tepid and tentative affair.
Nzechukwu is entering this fight off the back of a dismal and fortunate decision victory against Darko Stošić over a year and a half ago, and although we could see improvements from him, we could also see his same nervous energy personified. Ulberg will be making the walk for just his fourth pro fight, and despite him also having some kickboxing bouts under his belt, I’d still expect to see UFC jitters for the newcomer.
Looking beyond the cautious narrative, neither guy appears to have deadly one-shot knockout power, and neither throws strikes at a high clip, which means that unless someone does something crazy, there should be limited early chances for there to be a fight-ending blow. For this reason, I see some value on the over 1.5 rounds prop, which is modestly priced at -150 right now. I’ve also taken a small half unit play on Carlos Ulberg by decision, I think his moneyline is a little wide, but this seems like nice value seeing that I favor him to land more shots, and Nzechukwu to be able to withstand them for 15 minutes.
Click here to read the rest of Christian’s picks for UFC 259: Blachowicz vs. Adesanya!
Scroll down to view event details, odds & Christian’s full card predictions.
Event: UFC 259: Błachowicz vs. Adesanya / UFC 259 Nunes vs. Anderson / #UFC259
Location & Venue: UFC Apex, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Date: Saturday, March 6th, 2021
Start time: Main Card: 10 p.m. EST, Prelims 8 p.m. EST, Early Prelims 6 p.m. EST
Where to watch: Main Card on PPV, Prelims on ESPN/ESPN+, Early Prelims on ESPN+
UFC 259: Blachowicz vs. Adesanya Full Fight Card Predictions:
UFC 259: Blachowicz vs. Adesanya Main Event Prediction:
Light Heavyweight (205lbs): Jan Błachowicz vs. Israel Adesanya – Jan via Decision
UFC 259: Blachowicz vs. Adesanya Main Card Predictions:
(W) Featherweight (145lbs): Amanda Nunes vs. Megan Anderson – Nunes via Submission
Bantamweight (135lbs): Petr Yan vs. Aljamain Sterling – Sterling via Decision
Lightweight (155lbs): Islam Makhachev vs. Drew Dober – Makhachev via Decision
Light Heavyweight (205lbs): Thiago Santos vs. Aleksandar Rakić – Rakic via KO/TKO
UFC 259: Blachowicz vs. Adesanya Prelim Card Predictions:
Bantamweight (135lbs): Dominick Cruz vs. Casey Kenney – Cruz via Decision
Bantamweight (135lbs): Yadong Song vs. Kyler Phillips – Phillips via Decision
Flyweight (125lbs): Joseph Benavidez vs. Askar Askarov – Benavidez via Decision
Flyweight (125lbs): Kai Kara-France vs. Rogério Bontorin – Bontorin via Submission
UFC 259: Blachowicz vs. Adesanya Early Prelim Card Predictions:
Flyweight (125lbs): Tim Elliott vs. Jordan Espinosa – Elliott via Submission
Light Heavyweight (205lbs): Kennedy Nzechukwu vs. Carlos Ulberg – Ulberg via Decision
Welterweight (170lbs): Jake Matthews vs. Sean Brady – Brady via Decision
(W) Strawweight (115lbs): Livinha Souza vs. Amanda Lemos – Lemos via Decision
Lightweight (155lbs): Aalon Cruz vs. Uros Medic – Cruz via Decision
Bantamweight (135lbs): Mario Bautista vs. Trevin Jones – Bautista via Decision
*Fight card, bout order and number of fights subject to change.