UFC 258 Odds, Picks & Projections: Betting Analysis for Saturday’s 11 Bouts (Feb. 13)

Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: An overhead view of Tyron Woodley and Kamaru Usman of Nigeria in the octagon.

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The UFC continues its run at APEX in Las Vegas on Saturday with the Welterweight title on the line, as Kamaru Usman hopes to defend UFC gold for the third time, against No. 1 contender Gilbert Burns.

UFC 258 features seven preliminary bouts beginning on ESPN+ at 7 p.m. ET, then switching to ESPN at 8 p.m., before moving to a five-fight main card on ESPN PPV at 10 p.m.

The cage at APEX (25-foot diameter) is about 30% smaller in terms of square footage than a regular UFC octagon (30-foot diameter), and consequently, the finish rate is roughly 10% higher. 

Over the three UFC shows to start the year on Fight Island (30-foot cage), 21 of the 35 fights (60%) went the distance. However, for the first card back at APEX last weekend, we saw a similarly low finish rate (seven of 12 fights or 58.3% went the distance).

Based upon the listed odds for Saturday’s card, nine of the 12 fights (75%) are expected to reach a decision, and despite the smaller cage, it would be relatively surprising to see more than half of these fights end inside the distance.

If you are new to this piece, or this sport, note that in addition to moneylines and over/unders, there are numerous ways to bet on an MMA fight — including exact winning methods, winning round props, and whether or not the match will go to a decision or finish inside the distance.

As a result, after examining all of the betting options, your typical UFC card can offer a substantial amount of actionable value.

UFC 258 Moneyline Projections and Picks

Below, you can find my fair odds moneyline projection for each of Saturday’s 12 bouts. In the next section, you’ll discover forecasts for those fights to finish inside the distance or for each fighter to win by decision, knockout, or submission.

Odds as of Friday evening and via DraftKings

UFC 258 Prop Projections and Picks

In addition to creating a crowdsourced projection for moneyline plays, I also collect data on each fighter to win by decision, knockout, or submission, enabling us to determine fair odds for each fight to go the distance or for each fighter to win inside of the distance.

[Click to Skip to Main Card]

UFC 258 Odds & Picks

Early Preliminary Card

  • ESPN+
  • 7 p.m. ET

Women’s Flyweight fight: Gillian Robertson vs. Miranda Maverick

Odds
Robertson odds +115
Maverick odds +115
Over/Under 2.5 rounds -177/+130

Crowdsourced Projections: (Maverick 57%)

Maverick opened as a much more significant favorite at -225 odds (implied 69.2%) for her second UFC bout, following a first-round stoppage (as a -400 favorite) over Liana Jojua at UFC 254. Still, the line for this fight has been steadily moving towards the more seasoned Canadian — for her 10th trip to the octagon.

Aggressive strikers like Maverick have posed a problem for Robertson, whose own standup game has improved (though not as fast as some fans would have hoped) to complement her potent ground game.

Robertson needs to get this fight to the mat (2.64 takedowns per 15 minutes, 46% accuracy) and either find a submission (six of nine wins) or grind out a decision with top control (2-3 on the scorecards) to hit her win condition.

While Maverick’s takedown defense is one of the weaker parts of her own game, she’s still just 23-years-old, making significant improvements from one fight to the next, and is arguably the prospect with a higher ceiling of the two.

The problem with Robertson is that we haven’t seen her make those improvements on the feet (8/33, 24.2% from range vs. Cortney Casey on June 20, 2020) over three years in the UFC, and if she can’t get the takedowns, she will likely wilt under Maverick’s pressure.

I don’t show any betting value on this fight from any angle, but it’s still a fun stylistic matchup between two young prospects, and I think either one could find an early opportunity to finish.

Bets: 

  • Pass

Welterweight fight: Gabe Green vs. Phillip Rowe

Odds
Green odds -137
Rowe odds +110
Over/Under 2.5 rounds +100/-134

Crowdsourced Projections: (Rowe 51%)

The discussion with Phillip Rowe at welterweight will always start with his size. Standing 6-foot-3 with an 80-inch reach makes him a Neil Magny clone in terms of specs. He’s holds a 5-inch height and 7-inch reach advantage over Green, but (like another fighter on this card, Andre Ewell) he still hasn’t figured out how to fully maximize that reach advantage.

Rowe is coming off of a significant layoff following a comeback contender series win in August 2019 and is making his UFC debut against a more experienced fighter who should have more left for Rowe in the later rounds than either Shahbazyan brother can offer:

Despite his power edge, Green is pretty irresponsible on defense and will still need to duck his way into range, where he’s exposed to counters and takedowns against a man who also holds the grappling edge.

I’m not sold on Rowe yet, but he has the potential to turn into a solid UFC fighter if he can figure out how to best deploy his size and skillset against the high level of competition. He has a more multi-faceted path to victory here if he can avoid getting caught.

With Rowe on the underdog side of the coin, there’s value on his moneyline down to +108 (implied 48%), at a 3% edge compared to my projection. To be clear, I still think you’re going to lose this bet 49 out of 100 times, and you obviously don’t get to keep flipping that coin in a single cage fight.

If you’re looking for one bet on Saturday – this might not be it. But if you’re in this for the long haul, going 51-49 at +110 odds, risking a unit each time is +7.1 units, so it’s just part of the process. 

Bets: 

  • Phillip Rowe +110 (1 unit)
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Preliminary Card

  • ESPN
  • 8 p.m. ET

Catchweight fight: Andre Ewell vs. Chris Gutierrez

Odds
Ewell odds +120
Gutierrez odds -157
Over/Under 2.5 rounds -215/+160

Crowdsourced Projections: (Gutierrez 60%)

Ewell has a significant reach advantage (8 inches) over Gutierrez. Still, as I teased earlier during the Rowe breakdown, “Mr. Highlight” probably won’t make the most out of it, typically turning his scraps into close brawls (three split decisions in six UFC fights).

Gutierrez has lost to superior grapplers, but proven very efficient from range (+2.12 significant strike differential per minute) and statistically superior to his opponent (58% to 41% striking accuracy, 62% to 54% striking defense), particularly in terms of efficiency.

Most worrying for Ewell backers is a high susceptibility to leg kicks (Irwin Rivera landed all 18 in his last fight), one of Gutierrez’s best weapons (landed 29-of-35 leg kicks in his draw with Cody Durden in August).

Like the Simon fight above, I’d jump in on a half unit play on the chalk moneyline if Gutierrez dips to -130, but I also show value on the Gutierrez decision prop down to +155 (projected +138).

Furthermore, the distance prop offers some value to -202 (projected -257), but I’m also OK with playing the over 2.5 rounds at the same price to avoid the late beat.

Bets: 

  • Ewell/Gutierrez, Over 2.5 Rounds (-200, 0.5u)
  • Chris Gutierrez wins by Decision (+165, 0.5u)

Women’s Strawweight fight: Polyana Viana vs. Mallory Martin

Odds
Viana odds +118
Martin odds -148
Over/Under 2.5 rounds -235/+170

Crowdsourced Projections: (Martin 54%)

This bout offers slight value on the favorite, Martin, to win by decision and for the fight to go the distance. But I think those results are naturally correlated; Viana has finished all 11 of her wins (four KO/TKO, seven submissions). If she does win this fight, I have Viana stopping Martin exactly 50% of the time; an extremely high percentage in a division with a UFC-low 31.3% finish rate.

Viana carries more power, and the fact that Hannah Cifers dropped Martin in her debut before switching tactics is a concerning sign for her durability.

If she decides to wrestle, Martin will probably cruise here unless Viana catches a submission from the bottom, and I would consider a bet on Martin’s decision prop at +130 (implied 46.5%) or better, at a three percent edge against my projection (+115, or 43.5%).

Given Viana’s volatility, I’d skip any wagers on the total or distance props for this fight.

Bets: 

  • Pass

Welterweight fight: Belal Muhammad vs. Dhiego Lima

Odds
Muhammad odds -455
Lima odds +325
Over/Under 2.5 rounds -265/+188

Crowdsourced Projections: (Muhammad 85%)

Muhammad has Lima covered everywhere in this matchup except for height and reach, and I think he’s the safest bet of the night while still showing a 3.2% betting edge at listed odds of -450 (implied 81.8%).

However, that’s still pretty steep, even for a parlay piece, but Muhammad to win by decision (listed -150, projected -204) offers value to about -164 at a five percent edge and is my preferred bet here.

Muhammad keeps a considerable pace on the feet (+1.64 strikes landed per minute, +0.51 to -0.12 strike differential) and constantly changes levels (2.13 takedowns per 15 minutes, 30% accuracy vs. 66% defense for Lima) at the right moments to secure rounds.

While we’ve yet to see him defeat a high-caliber opponent, he should continue to dominate the unranked competition, and he’s far too technical for Lima.

Bets: 

  • Belal Muhammad wins by Decision (-150, Risk 1u)
  • Parlay: Belal Muhammad / Kamaru Usman (-150, 0.5u)

Middleweight fight: Rodolfo Vieira vs. Anthony Hernandez

Odds
Vieira odds -400
Hernandez odds +300
Over/Under 1.5 rounds +125/-167

Crowdsourced Projections: (Vieira 90%)

I’m incredibly intrigued by Vieira’s transition to MMA, as one of the most decorated and prolific jiu-jitsu practitioners on the planet, which earned him the moniker “The Black Belt Hunter.”

Vieira’s striking is still very much a work in progress, and Hernandez can win this fight if he survives on the mat, but that’s a big if; Vieira has some of the most high-level BJJ we have seen in the octagon in a long time, and he pairs it with some pretty decent wrestling, which is a bit of a rarity.

This is the most likely bout on Saturday to end inside the distance, both according to my projections and the listed odds,

I show value on Vieira’s moneyline, his odds to win by submission (projected -426, listed -180), his odds to win inside the distance (projected -550, listed -240), and for the fight to end inside the distance.

Considering all of those factors, I’m also intrigued by the Under 1.5 Rounds (-155) and/or Vieira to win in Round 1 (+100).

There are many ways to play this fight, but I might be least interested in Vieira’s moneyline — his win condition seems highly predicated on a stoppage.

Bets: 

  • Rodolfo Vieira wins Inside the Distance (-240, 0.5u)
  • Rodolfo Vieira wins in Round 1 (+105, 0.25u)

_BookPromo=822


Main Card

  • PPV
  • 10 p.m. ET

Middleweight fight: Maki Pitolo vs. Julian Marquez

Odds
Pitolo odds +145
Marquez odds -117
Over/Under 1.5 rounds -117/+130

Crowdsourced Projections: (Marquez 55%)

If you choose your fighters based on nicknames, you might have a hard time picking between “Coconut Bombz” Pitolo and “The Cuban Missle Crisis” Marquez.

If you pick based off of activity, I can assure you that Marquez’s 31-month layoff resulting from a torn back muscle and two subsequent surgeries, is not the best spot to come back to as a favorite. I actually couldn’t imagine betting on someone in a one-on-one cage fight who potentially has a bad back. Moreover, I would certainly be happy to fade such a serious liability in a fighter who already had bad cardio.

Pitolo is far from UFC PPV material in terms of talent, but he’s reliable to live up to his nickname, move forward and throw heat. Whether Marquez can exploit Pitolo’s porous takedown defense (50%) and take advantage of his grappling edge depends upon his conditioning. Still, Pitolo — who fought three times in 2020 — should be sharper from the jump.

I have Maki’s moneyline projected at 45% or +122, and I would bet that down to +138 (implied 42%) at a three percent edge.

I also show value on the fight to end inside the distance (projected -232, listed -170), which I would play to about -184 at a five percent edge.

I’m not high on Pitolo’s long term future with the UFC — he could even get cut after a loss here — but this is an excellent spot to bet against someone coming back from a pretty terrible injury.

Bets: 

  • Maki Pitolo +145 (1 unit)
  • Marquez/Pitolo, Fight ends Inside the Distance (-170, 0.5u)

Featherweight fight: Ricky Simon vs. Brian Kelleher

Odds
Simon odds -250
Kelleher odds +195
Over/Under 2.5 rounds -250/+181

Crowdsourced Projections: (Simon 72%)

Simon scored a submission win against an overmatched debutant in Abu Dhabi on Jan. 20 and is making a quick turnaround at 145 pounds against Brian Kelleher, who finished three opponents last year (two by guillotine).

I think bettors are overestimating Kelleher’s ability to snatch the guillotine against Simon in particular when he shoots for legs (7.07 takedowns landed per 15 minutes, 53% accuracy vs. 72% defense for Kelleher) given his propensity for that choke in particular, which account for eight of his 22 career wins.

The guillotine won’t be his primary gameplan, rather an aggressive form of defense designed specifically for the type of fighter he is facing. Kelleher is still more likely to win if he can keep this fight standing and either outpace Simon on volume or clip him.

Simon should control the majority of minutes here with pressure wrestling, and I would consider a half unit play on the chalk moneyline at -220 if his odds take a dip. Still, I prefer Simon’s decision prop at -125 or better (projected -139) – which is my read on pretty much any one of his fights.

Bets: 

  • Ricky Simon wins by Decision (-125, Risk 1u)

Middleweight fight: Kelvin Gastelum vs. Ian Heinisch

Odds
Gastelum odds -225
Heinisch odds +175
Over/Under 2.5 rounds -250/+180

Crowdsourced Projections: (Gastelum 68%)

Heinisch hasn’t been able to break through quite yet against a ranked contender — falling at the hands of Derek Brunson and Omari Akhmedov — but Gastelum’s interest and motivation will likely dictate the outcome of this bout more than anything.

April 13, 2019, wasn’t that long ago and Gastelum was just one round away from claiming Israel Adesanya’s UFC middleweight belt that evening. But a subsequent split-decision loss to Darren Till and a pretty embarrassing heel hook loss to Jack Hermansson last July leaves Gastelum on a three-fight losing streak and in dire need of a bounce back win.

The striking and grappling metrics on these two fighters are actually pretty similar, but Gastelum has faced the far more challenging slate of fighters and should be able to show that this is a step up in class for “The Hurricane.”

I don’t see any projected value in this fight, and I’m happy to stay away.

Bets: 

  • Pass

Women’s Flyweight fight: Maycee Barber vs. Alexa Grasso

Odds
Barber odds +105
Grasso odds -127
Over/Under 2.5 rounds -250/+180

Crowdsourced Projections: (Barber 53%)

Barber suffered a torn ACL in the first round of her decision loss to Roxanne Modafferi last January and recorded her first professional defeat.

She returns for what amounts to an intriguing, striking matchup against Alexa Grasso, who has only lost to superior grapplers in her career to date.

The striking metrics (60% accuracy, 49% defense for Barber; 42% accuracy, 63% defense for Grasso) speak to their respective styles. Barber is an incredibly aggressive power puncher (6.02 strikes landed per minute) who has the physical tools to be a major problem at flyweight, while Grasso is much more measured, and responsible defensively.

I expect these two fighters’ output to be relatively close, but Barber should have a significant power edge, and I think that ultimately gets her the nod from the judges.

I have Barber projected at 53% and would bet her moneyline down to even money (+100) at a three percent edge.

Furthermore, I see value on Barber’s decision prop down to +285 at a similar edge. Coming off of that knee injury, I’ll keep the stakes here relatively small.

Bets: 

  • Maycee Barber (+100, 0.5u)
  • Maycee Barber wins by Decision (+315, 0.25u)

Welterweight fight: Kamaru Usman vs. Gilbert Burns

Odds
Usman odds -278
Burns odds +220
Over/Under 4.5 rounds -152/+115

Crowdsourced Projections: (Usman 76%)

For additional information on Saturday’s Main Event, you should check out my early bet for UFC 258.

In short, Usman is on one of the more dominant runs in UFC history — losing just one round on all three judges’ scorecards over the course of 12 fights with the promotion.

I generally find that the market undervalues Usman due to what some people perceive as a boring style. But what others see as boring, I see as utter dominance over his opponents, and I’m happy to continue to find betting value on “The Nigerian Nightmare.”

My early bet was on Usman’s decision prop, which I prefer at +100 or better, but would play down to -122. My word of caution is that his pressure may eventually exhaust Burns and lead to a late finish, and Usman in Round 5 (+2500) isn’t the worst insurance policy.

I also took a half unit share of his moneyline, which I would play at -270 or better, and I think he’s a sufficient anchor to close out any moneyline parlays on the evening. Personally, I’m pairing him with Belal Muhammad to bring both of their prices down.

On Saturday night, if Usman’s moneyline is still hanging in that -270 range, I might even be tempted to add more.

Bets: 

  • Kamaru Usman (-270, 0.5u)
  • Kamaru Usman wins by Decision (+105, 1u)
  • Parlay: Belal Muhammad / Kamaru Usman (-150, 0.5u)

_BookPromo=156

Zerillo’s UFC 258 Bets

Distance or Decision Props and Overs

  • Ricky Simon wins by Decision (-125, Risk 1 unit)
  • Ewell/Gutierrez, Over 2.5 Rounds (-200, 0.5u)
  • Chris Gutierrez wins by Decision (TBD, 0.5u)
  • Belal Muhammad wins by Decision (-150, Risk 1u)
  • Kamaru Usman wins by Decision (+105, 1u)
  • Maycee Barber wins by Decision (+350, 0.25u)

Inside the Distance Props and Unders

  • Rodolfo Vieira wins Inside the Distance (-240, 0.5u)
  • Rodolfo Vieira wins in Round 1 (+105, 0.25u)
  • Marquez/Pitolo, Fight ends Inside the Distance (-170, 0.5u)

Moneylines

  • Phillip Rowe +110 (1 unit)
  • Maki Pitolo +145 (1 unit)
  • Maycee Barber (+100, 0.5u)
  • Kamaru Usman (-270, 0.5u)

Parlays

  • Parlay: Belal Muhammad / Kamaru Usman (-150, 0.5u)

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