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UFC Fight Night 149: Moneyline Picks on the Top 3 Main Card Matches

Overeem vs Oleinik
UFC betting is not the easiest category of sports wagering to handicap.

The matches are so unpredictable that when a bettor earns a “winning parlay” on 3 or 4 matches at a time, it’s a matter of luck as much as anything else.

What’s more, while (as in all sports) it’s possible to not know enough about a prizefighter’s real chances to make a successful pick against the odds at MMA betting sites, it’s also possible for the gambling public to know too much about celebrity UFC contenders.

For instance, when Ronda Rousey fought Brazilian powerhouse Amanda Nunes in late 2016, handicappers felt like they could trust the American star to put her best foot forward. Nunes has always been a powerful grappler, but on 12/30/16 at T-Mobile Arena she was an underdog against Rousey…at least according to the Las Vegas odds.

“Rowdy” Ronda was clearly disturbed and distracted before the bout. She blocked Nunes on Instagram in an adolescent move that made some handicappers whisper to each other. But most fans still considered the California native to be a stronger martial artist than her hulking opponent. It’s as if having watched Rousey destroy a dozen other confident and talented fighters over the years, the state-side public just wasn’t ready to accept that her preparation might have slipped a notch.

Nunes won the fight with a smashing TKO just 48 seconds into the opening round.

Sounds like Joe Rogan agrees with my choice of adjective.

How can bettors get an upper hand on the bookmaker in a sport like MMA, where shocking and surprising results are actually the norm?

There’s no way to predict every KO, every submission and every decision. The answer instead lies in comparing the odds and finding the best sportsbook at which to wager on every pick.

Look Around the World – Or at Least Offshore

Everyone likes to bet on UFC Fight Night whether we know much about the athletes are not. Bars and restaurants wind up raking-in most of the winnings, unfortunately. That’s because the non-PPV/cable TV format is perfect for budget nightclubs to put on a big screen and draw business. “I won 50 bucks on Conor McGregor!” yells the happy winner…before spending $60 on 4 rounds of drinks.

That’s not a problem when an exotic location prompts a mid-day American broadcast, as it shall this Saturday. Unless you’re truly obsessed with drinking at bars while you watch the fights.

In our preview of Thursday night’s NBA playoff game between the Warriors and Clippers, I noted that even after a half day’s gambling action, Vegas sportsbooks and online betting sites were amazingly uniform in their lines. “Opening consensus” doesn’t mean that all bookmakers must follow the consensus. Sometimes in the biggest sports with such large handles at stake, they err on the side of caution.

UFC odds are a little more likely to differ from betting site to betting site. Rather than the time-honored tactic of “line forecasting” followed by comparing the Vegas lines to your own handicap, it can be wise to begin by looking at fight lines from various sportsbooks and finding the outliers.

If you want to gamble on the underdog in a bout, find the longest line on the underdog. If you think the favorite is likely to prevail, find the least-short moneyline on the internet and wager at that book.

Here’s a glance at the top 3 main-card matches for the upcoming UFC Fight Night 149 this Saturday at Yubileyny Sports Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia…along with odds-comparisons from 3 online sportsbooks in the purview.

Heavyweight Main Event: Alistair Overeem vs Aleksei Oleinik

You can’t say these 2 Heavyweight martial artists have had perfect careers. Overeem and Oleinik have lost 28 bouts between them – a big number for fighters in a highly-promoted main event.

But each man has also won his share, with a combined 101 victories over the years. That’s a whole lot of experience in the Octagon.

Overeem is the 7th-ranked Heavyweight in UFC and has beaten names like Frank Mir and Brock Lesnar. He is an extremely well-rounded fighter with tremendous grappling skills. Despite his advanced age (38) and having lost 3 of his last 6 fights, the English-American is the favorite to beat Oleinik, who is a replacement entry for a scratched Alexander Volkov.

The best favorite’s line on this bout comes from Bovada Sportsbook with a (-240) line on Overeem to win and maintain his reputation in his twilight competing years.

If the underdog is your fancy despite the reduced preparation/training time for Oleinik, look for his current (+210) odds at BetOnline instead.

Lightweight Co-Main Event: Islam Makhachev vs Arman Tsarukyan

A pair of much-younger Octagon combatants with only 2 combined losses between them will square-off in the co-main event in Russia.

Las Vegas handicappers seem to strongly prefer Islam Makhachev, a Russian dynamo with an unorthodox skill-set and a toolbox full of submission holds. Makhachev was tagged by a KO punch from Adriano Martins at UFC 192 in 2015, and hasn’t lost a bout since.

His opponent on Saturday, Arman Tsarukyan, is an exciting kickboxer who excels at spinning martial-arts blows and the old “foot to the face” as bouncers in Liverpool like to say.

Tsarukyan is my sleeper pick to prevail in the co-main event on Saturday…but watch where you place a wager on either fighter.

BetOnline is somewhat “Islam-aphobic” in its moneyline of (-306) for the favorite and (+256) for the Bruce Lee-influenced underdog.

MyBookie, while putting a confident line of (-345) on Makhachev, is offering a nice (+285) payoff on the ‘dog to win by KO, submission, or decision.

Heavyweights: Sergey Pavlovich vs Marcelo Golm

In my opinion, Sergey Pavlovich is a much stronger favorite than either of the aforementioned expected-winners.

A well-trained and nearly-unbeaten fighter in his prime at age 27, Pavlovich has scored 9 knockouts in 12 wins despite falling to Overeem in his most-recent bout.

His underdog opponent Marcelo Golm has lost 2 fights in a row and has only ever won once on a UFC-promoted card, scoring a submission win with a rear-naked choke on aging Danish fighter Christian Colombo.

Let’s play detective Colombo and find out where the best line is.

Again, certain bookmakers seem wary of the underdog. Pavlovich is a (-305) wager at Bovada, and a (-270) moneyline bet at MyBookie.

Gamble on the likely winner at BetOnline instead, which offers the highest payout at (-253).