UFC 235 – Best Bets and DFS Plays

Fighter prop lines are out and it’s the time of the week to formulate an attack from both betting and DFS standpoints.

A previous article covered each fight and fighter with what you need to know and where I lean on straight bets. This piece covers the best prop values and where to hedge for profit.

If you’re following line movement, the only fighter that’s truly getting a move is Kamaru Usman. The trend is that he will be roughly even money by fight time.

Let’s get to the bets.

**betting prices updated at 1AM EST on 3/3**

Best Betting Value and Hedges

  • Polyana Viana to win inside the distance (ITD) at -112(Price update: +102). This is a great way to get cheaper exposure. I believe her size and grappling technique will be too much to survive for a full fifteen minutes.
  • Edmen Shahbazyan by KO at +180 (price update: +254). This isn’t quite the value I hoped for, but I am projecting immediate pressure and swinging for the fences against a fighter whose chin gave out last fight. You can optionally hedge on Charles Byrd either by KO at +455 (price update: +800) or ITD at +210 (price update: +231).
  • Hedge Alert. I’d assign at least a 95 percent probability that Johnny Walker vs Misha Cirkunov ends one of two ways: Walker by KO (-110) or Cirkunov by sub (+225). You can try to insulate a Walker KO bet with a smaller Cirkunov sub wager or try to profit on a Cirkunov sub by wagering the same amount on each.
  • Jeremy Stephens by KO at +335 (price update: +364). This feels like a spot where Stephens’ only path to victory is via finish and this will be by far the largest test of Zabit Magomedsharipov’s chin to date. Getting over 3:1 is nice value, albeit it on a nonprobable outcome.
  • Hedge Alert. Cody Garbrandt has just one fight reaching decision in his last six, and just two of eight in the UFC. I see it as highly unlikely both fighters survive fifteen minutes with the level of power being thrown, combined with Pedro Munhoz’ submissions. Assuming this is ending ITD, Garbrandt by KO at +160 (price update: +199) is his only path to winning. This can be hedged conservatively with Munhoz ITD at +205 or more aggressively with Munhoz by sub at +425.
  • Anthony Smith by KO at +950 (price update: +1285). This is the heaviest-handed fighter Jon Jones has fought in at least the last five years. KO is Smith’s lone path to victory and is a value punt.

Underdogs Ranked

Underdogs ranked by my view of their win probability:

  1. Munhoz
  2. Usman
  3. Torres
  4. Byrd
  5. Stephens
  6. Cirkunov
  7. Perez
  8. Lawler
  9. Sanchez
  10. Smith
  11. Mazany
  12. Cifers

Underdogs ranked by my view of DFS scoring ceiling:

  1. Munhoz
  2. Usman
  3. Byrd
  4. Cirkunov
  5. Smith
  6. Lawler
  7. Stephens
  8. Sanchez
  9. Torres
  10. Perez
  11. Mazany
  12. Cifers

As we know (or are learning), it’s key to have a winning underdog or two on most fight cards. For cash games, ceiling isn’t quite as important as floor for your lower-salaried fighters. Even in losses, it is important to have some level of scoring output, so fights going to a decision can be your friend in that regard.

For tournaments, winning probability still needs to be considered, but scoring ceiling is needed to be successful. When looking for ceiling, you want to identify fighters who can finish a fight quickly or have large amounts of grappling exchanges. The latter is buoyed in five round fights.

Cash Looks

With the nature of this card having a plethora of fights where either fighter is capable of finishing the other, cash is not the most ideal plan of attack, but still viable.

  • Polyana Viana offers a salary savings over the similarly project Jon Jones and Macy Chiasson. She brings an elite grappling skill set for scoring and can easily find a first round finish without being in any danger.
  • Tecia Torres is one of the higher priced underdogs but is likely to get a full 15 minutes of striking output and brings a level of floor, win or lose. She lacks ceiling but that’s not a problem for cash.
  • Both Ben Askren and Pedro Munhoz are in spots where they just have to fade eating the wrong power shot as high floor and high ceiling plays and are attractive for cash.
  • Stacking the Usman/Woodley fight brings grappling ceiling and five round floor in a fight that’s just over even money to reach the 25 minute distance.
  • Fighters to also consider in cash for ownership purposes:  Jon Jones and Johnny Walker

Fights and Fighters for Tourneys

Both the Jones/Smith and Walker/Cirkunov fights are at -600 or more to end inside the distance and are ones to attack, but they will be popular. Less popular will be the winners of the Shahbazyan/Bird, Gall/Sanchez and Garbrandt/Munhoz fights, but they will all offer the same ceilings. Underdogs with ceiling value on finishing ability are Robbie Lawler and Jeremy Stephens. Ben Askren and Polyana Viana remain high-ceiling favorites, and I’ve mentioned the Usman/Woodley fight’s ceiling due to the five-round likelihood (update: there’s a wide range of potential scoring pace in this fight and not one to be overexposed on in tournaments).

Good luck! You can hit me with questions on twitter @tjcalkins, and if you don’t yet have a Draft Kings account, you can sign up here.