Following a rare off-week with the start of the NFL season dominating the sports headlines, the UFC returns this week to the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, NV for an appetizer of sorts before next week’s UFC 266 at T-Mobile Arena. While the night might be streamed for free, that doesn’t mean a lack of great fights as this one is filled top to bottom with potential.
Let’s take a look at Saturday’s main event and see where we can spot the value.
Betting Profile: Ryan Spann (19-6-0)
Last Five Fights
Coming into Saturday as the #11 ranked light heavyweight in the world, Ryan Spann still is in search of the much-coveted top 10 spot. Since participating in Dana White’s Contender Series back in 2017, Spann has parlayed a loss there to a three-fight LFA winning streak, earning a spot back on DWCS and ultimately a UFC contract in late 2018.
Since then, Spann has gone 6-1 inside the promotion, with Saturday’s main event culminating his work and first time in a five-round fight with the UFC. Spann has opened some eyes inside the division during that seven-fight run, landing 3.55 (vs. 2.94) strikes per minute while absorbing just 3.45 (vs. 4.38). However, his ground game is where he’s excelled the most, with 58% of his wins coming via submission.
Betting Profile: Anthony Smith (35-16-0)
Last Five Fights
For the #6 ranked Smith, the UFC journeyman gets another crack at the top five on Saturday as he looks to get back to a shot at the title. Since his first shot (vs. Jon Jones) in 2019, a decision loss, Smith is just 3-2 with a mixed bag of results. However, Smith has made light work of the lesser opponents over his last two fights, finishing both in the first round.
A closer look at the metrics shows a fighter in Smith who comes into this one doing everything just about average in this one. Not only are his strikes landed per minute (2.94) down from that of Spann’s, but his grappling has holes as well, averaging just .49 takedowns per minute (vs. 1.72) and a takedown accuracy of 28% (vs. 41%).
While Smith gets all the respect for the undoubtedly tougher list of opponents, I think this fight is much closer to even than the odds currently imply. Not only does Spann hold statistical advantages nearly across the board, but overall has taken way less damage in his fighting career. Of his last 13 professional fights, just three have gone beyond the first round, vs. a fighter in Smith who has seen (and felt) some of the best strikes the sport has to
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