The UFC returns to California tomorrow evening in what should be one of the most entertaining cards of the year in UFC 241. For new UFC partner ESPN, this should be their biggest draw to date with the fight card exclusively available on ESPN+ PPV (free trial).
The event is headlined by one of the most storied and accomplished fighters in the history of combat sports, Daniel Cormier, who is looking to defend his heavyweight title for the second time in 10 months. The co-main event of the evening, however, features a welterweight bout and a particular set of odds that I think bookmakers got wrong. Let’s take a deeper look at UFC 241 and see if we can find an edge.
Anthony Pettis (22-8-0) vs. Nate Diaz (19-11-0)
These odds were taken from FanDuel Sportsbook on August 16, 2019.
Nate Diaz (+110) makes his long-awaited return to the octagon after three years on hiatus following his majority decision loss at UFC 202 to Conor McGregor. In what was a rematch of a Diaz submission-win five months earlier, McGregor and Diaz went to war for five rounds in what was deemed the Fight of the Night. On the other side of this showdown, Anthony Pettis (-134) will step into the octagon for the second time this year. In his last time out, he made his return to welterweight and dominated Stephen Thompson early and often, ending the fight late in the second round in vicious KO fashion.
These guys have a history that goes back years and stems from Diaz not feeling as though Pettis did enough inside the octagon to get the clout he did early in his career. The fact that these two camps are on record to have ironed out the details of this fight, more so than the UFC was even involved in, is evidence to the real animosity that exists. If Diaz can pull off a win tomorrow night against Pettis, the UFC will be in the precarious position of what to do to the original bad boy of the company. A third fight against McGregor is the next logical option and would certainly be a massive draw, but other fighters would have to be overlooked for that to happen.
Breaking down this fight stylistically, both of these fighters are known for their striking and desire to keep fights standing up. While grappling is a strength of neither, Diaz has the edge with his length and ability to finish should the fight go to the ground (*Hi Conor). Bottom line from a betting standpoint, neither of these fighters has a clear edge over the other which I think is evident in the near-even line. If Diaz wasn’t coming off this three-year layoff, I think this fight is much closer to even and Diaz might actually be a slight favorite.
Given their styles and propensity towards violence over technique, I don’t see this fight going the distance as much as bookmakers do. If the self-proclaimed slow-starter in Diaz can weather the first-round barrage from Pettis, I even give him the slight edge the longer the fight goes on. The best bet in this fight the way I see it is it coming to an end before the final three-round bell. A two-tier bet with 20% of your total wagering amount going toward Fight End in KO/TKO and 80% going toward Will the fight go the distance? – NO is the best value play of the evening.