UFC 277: Odds, Predictions, and Free Picks
Location: American Airlines Arena, Dallas, TX
Early Prelims: 6:00 PM EST - UFC Fight Pass
Prelims: 8:00 PM EST - ESPN/ABC
Main Card: 10:00 PM EST - ESPN+ PPV
The second pay-per-view of the month isn’t getting as many headlines as the first, but a closer look has me more excited with a handful of mispriced fights, as I see them. At the top, Julianna Peña will make her first title defense against the legend she took the belt from (Amanda Nunes) in the main event, with the co-main event featuring an interim title bout between Brandon Moreno vs. Kai Kara-France.
To the lab, we go…
Ji Yeon Kim vs. Joselyne Edwards
This fight jumped off the page for me almost right away, checking a lot of boxes I like to look for. For one, Edwards holds metric advantages across the board, with her knockdown average per 15 minutes being a significant one.
She also checks the box of a 5+ year age gap; with 65% of fights between two fighters with a 5+ year difference in age going to the younger fighter.
Lastly, the sharp (pro bettor) steam here agrees, with this one quickly moving from its opening number that had Edwards as the underdog - and we know the public isn’t betting on this fight. She did just fight in June, but won a decision with little to no damage, with her opponent landing just 37% of her strikes.
Pick: Joselyn Edwards (-130 at Barstool Sportsbook) to risk 2 units
Drew Dober vs. Rafael Alves
With just two professional fights under the UFC banner, the verdict is still very much out on Alves.
This is in contrast to a fighter in Dober whose stand and swung with the best of them since joining the UFC nearly a decade ago, but has now lost two of three.
Alves’ sole loss since 2016 came in May 2021 vs. Damir Ismagulov, a lightweight that has now racked up 17 straight wins. A BJJ specialist, Alves has submitted three of his last five opponents which is where I see this one going.
For Dober, four of his past five losses have come on the ground, which if Alves is wise, is exactly where he’ll take it early here.
Pick: Rafael Alves (+190 at Fanduel) to risk .5 unit
Alex Morono vs. Matthew Semelsberger
This one opened a pick em’ and quickly steamed up in favor of the bigger Semelsberger - and I’m in agreement.
Holding 3x better metrics in striking and grappling, Semelsberger also has a 3” reach advantage which I think we see him take full advantage of here. Neither of these guys has any interest in anything but standing and swinging, and with Morono’s last TKO/KO win (vs. anyone not named Cowboy Cerrone) coming in 2019, that should favor Semelsberger in a big way.
Pick: Matthew Semelsberger (-155 at DraftKings) to risk 2 units
Derrick Lewis vs. Sergei Pavalovich
This one also fits our age criteria with Lewis seven years the elder, as well as the steam move with Pavlovich quickly becoming the favorite off of the opener.
Pavlovich also holds the nearly 3x edge in striking, with his last three wins coming via KO in the first round. His 5” reach advantage is another big edge here and should allow him to keep Lewis at distance from the start.
With a win here putting Pavalovich (#11) firmly inside the top 10, I think The Black Beast’s career peaked last summer with his title shot vs. Ciryl Gane, one he likely won’t get again. There’s always the one-punch threat in this class, but I’m not letting that deter me.
Pick: Sergei Pavlovich (-115 at BetMGM) to win 1 unit & Sergei Pavlovich - Inside the Distance (+125 at DraftKings) to risk 1 units
Julianna Peña vs. Amanda Nunes
The #2 and #3 pound-for-pound women in the world will go at it once again Saturday, as Nunes looks to get her bantamweight belt back from Peña who snatched it in December, giving Nunes her first loss since 2014. It was also one of the biggest upsets in MMA history, with Nunes losing as a -800 favorite (+500, Peña).
While there’s always an excuse, it came out after that Nunes was dealing with a knee injury and had missed a portion of camp with COVID, coming very close to pulling out of the fight altogether.
That’s all resolved now.
Prior to the win, Peña had lost two of four fights, and if the division wasn’t as shallow as it is, would never have been in that fight, to begin with.
Holding edges across the board, Nunes has a point to prove in this fight and I expect her to put on a show as her come-back tour begins.
Pick: Amanda Nunes - Inside the Distance (-135 at DraftKings) to win 1 unit
BMP of the Week (Beer Money Parlay)**
Brandon Moreno - Inside the Distance + Alex Perez + Joselyne Edwards + Sergei Pavlovich + Orion Cosce (+3642 at DraftKings Sportsbook)
Joselyn Edwards (-130 at Barstool Sportsbook) to risk 2 units
Rafael Alves (+190 at Fanduel) to risk .5 unit
Matthew Semelsberger (-155 at DraftKings) to risk 2 units
Sergei Pavlovich (-115 at BetMGM) to win 1 unit
Sergei Pavlovich - Inside the Distance (+125 at DraftKings) to risk 1 unit
Amanda Nunes - Inside the Distance (-135 at DraftKings) to win 1 unit
All current and historical picks are tracked here.
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*All odds as of the day of posting.
**Parlays are the fastest way to lose money in sports betting. That said there is nothing more fun. Have at it, but only with our weekly drinking (High Noons at JC HQ) money.
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