UFC 281 Gambling Preview: Will Israel Adesanya get his redemption, and going all-in on Zhang Weili

UFC 281 Press Conference

UFC 281 is upon us and buddy, it’s a doozy. Israel Adesanya will be taking on the Alex Pereira in the main event. Pereira is the last man to knock him out. The co-main event sees Carla Esparza put her strawweight title up against former champion Zhang Weili .. On top of that we’ve got 12 more fights, all of them relevant, so let’s hop right into the betting break downs.

As always, all odds are courtesy of our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.

UFC 281 Press Conference

Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Straight Bets

Zhang Weili, -330

Let’s discuss value. I almost never recommend bets at odds over -250, because I tend to put them in parlays instead, because the juice doesn’t feel worth the squeeze at such prices. But with Zhang, I’m going to make an exception, because I am still flabbergasted at how low this line is. -330 suggests that Zhang has a 76. 7 percent chance of winning this fight, which cannot possibly be true. Zhang is better than Carla Esparza at just about every aspect of MMA, on top of being possibly the most physically imposing fighter at 115 pounds. Esparza, meanwhile, a small even for strawweight, and barring the Yan Xiaonan fight, her performances on her current winning streak are far from impressive. Zhang wins this fight 9 out of 10 times, and it boggles me that this line is only this big. I expected Zhang to be a -700 favorite or more.

Given all that, I’ve made an “all-in” bet on Zhang. This is an objectively stupid and irresponsible bet, and I actively discourage anyone from following suit, because it is exactly the wrong way to go about betting on MMA, but I’ve done it nonetheless. Zhang has my entire gambling bankroll, which isn’t tied to any other bets on the card. If things go sour, you can find me in the soup kitchen.

Michael Chandler, +185

Anyone who knows me knows I’m not a big fan of Michael Chandler, but I can’t help seeing value in him here. Poirier is the better boxer, and much better defensively. Chandler’s explosiveness means he is very dangerous on his feet. Add into that mix that Chandler is a very good wrestler and that has long been an exploitable weakness for Poirier, and I think Chandler has a better shot of taking this one home than the odds suggest. Sure, this could end up looking like Chandler’s fight with Justin Gaethje (we should be so lucky), but Chandler had his moments in that one, and with Poirier coming off a tough performance, an upset might be brewing.

Ryan Spann, +185

This is undoubtedly a significant step down for Dominick Reyes, and a major step up for Spann. But I am very concerned about Reyes. Although he’s making all the right statements going into this fight “The Devastator”, hasn’t won a fight for over three years and his recent run has been as destructive mentally as anyone can imagine. He got robbed of the belt, and then he got upset in his next fight when everyone expected him to win the title. He then hit JiriProchazka with a kitchen sink, but couldn’t free him. His troubles were only highlighted.

Reyes is still young, athletic, and talented, so maybe he can come back from all that. But Spann is also young, powerful, and he’s stayed active. This fight feels closer to 50-50, or at least 60-40, and so I like a value bet on Spann.

UFC 269: Miranda Maverick v Erin Blanchfield

Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Prop Bets

Zhang Weili by KO/TKO, Submission, or DQ, +100

We’re already way too exposed on Zhang so why add more? Honestly, the odds on this one are probably even better than on Zhang straight, but the fear is preventing me from making an “all-in” shove on a prop bet. She hits hard and is very dominant. If her performance against Joanna Jedrzejczyk, it’s clear that she is still learning. I think a KO is by far the most likely outcome for here, but this one covers all the bases in case Zhang goes for a choke or something.

Dan Hooker by KO/TKO/DQ, +225

As I explained on No Bets Barred this week, I have no real explanation for this one. It’s not something I can do technical analysis or to predict, but it is what I believe will happen. Hooker’s career has taken some strange turns, but I still think he’s pretty good, and he’s working with one of the best teams in the sport. This is a winnable matchup for him, and it feels like he’s going avoid grappling exchanges and pile up strikes on the feet that eventually put Claudio Puelles out of there.

Erin Blanchfield by KO/TKO, Submission, or DQ, +200

Erin Blanchfield is arguably the best prospect in all of women’s MMA, and here fight with Molly McCann looks an awful lot like a showcase. Blanchfield is a strong wrestler and a great grappler, with a BJJ black belt she puts to good use on the mat. McCann is extremely popular but her wrestling career has not been without its problems. Blanchfield, however, is an even better wrestler than McCann. Based on what we’ve seen in their careers, the most likely outcome for this fight is a Blanchfield decision win, but fighting at Madison Square Garden, and now truly coming into her own as a fighter, I think Blanchfield has a real chance to simply dominate McCann from pillar to post, finding a submission or a finish with ground-and-pound.

City Kickboxing Team
Israel Adesanya Twitter

Parlay of the Week

Israel Adesanya (-205), Dan Hooker (-145), Brad Riddell (+100), Carlos Ulberg (-130)

Could there be any other parlay?

I do actually think that each of these individual bets has value, and while this parlay breaks a number of my rules (never parlay underdogs, keep parlays to two or three legs), the City Kickboxing parlay is simply too much fun to pass up.

I have already flip-flopped 20 times on the main event, but if Adesanya fights smart, I do think he will win. After winning most of the kickboxing fights, he lost in bad decisions and was caught up in a fight that he had won easily. Hooker should win if his legs don’t get entangled in Claudio Puelles. Riddell is a a better striker than Moicano, it’s just a question of whether he can keep it standing or not, and Ulberg is in the same boat against Nicolae Negumereanu.

A more responsible CKB-parlay is to simply pair the four together into two separate paralays. But where is the fun? Gambling is all about having fun. This is undeniably fun with juicy payouts.

Parlay these four bets together for +789 odds.

MMA: JUL 02 UFC 276

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Long Shot of the Week

Israel Adesanya by Submission, +1400

This is the type of long shot I like! Some of you might be saying to yourself, “Israel Adesanya is 0-3 in career takedown attempts and he’s attempted one submission. It’s ridiculous!” However, Adesanya’s ground skills are still superior to Pereira. There are two legitimately possible ways this bet cashes.

1) Adesanya comes in and tries to mix things up, gets a takedown, and then finds a submission. That’s not a crazy possibility given that he’s shown some flashes of in his few moments on the ground, and the ground does seem to provide the safest possibility of success.

2) Adesanya hurts Pereira on the feet and then follows him to the floor, submitting him to send a message. Adesanya dropped Pereira previously, so if this happens again, it will be a close fight. At long odds I am willing to bet on either way.

Wrap Up

Well, we didn’t have high hopes for last week, but things went about as poorly as possible, including that shadiness with Darrick Miner. We’re now on a losing streak. Fortunately, I think this is just the week to get things back on track.

Until next week, enjoy the fights, good luck, and gamble responsibly!

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Source: https://www.mmafighting.com/2022/11/11/23451832/ufc-281-gambling-preview-will-israel-adesanya-get-his-redemption-and-going-all-in-on-zhang-weili?rand=96749