Welcome to my betting breakdown for UFC Vegas 34: Cannonier vs. Gastelum, which goes down this Saturday night in front of a small crowd at the Apex facility in Las Vegas! After a rare week off for the UFC last weekend, the promotion returns with a 12-fight offering headlined by a middleweight bout featuring former title challenger Kelvin Gastelum, who is priced as a small betting underdog to the hard-hitting Jared Cannonier. As with most fight night events, this card doesn’t necessarily have the same name values as Jose Aldo and Derrick Lewis like we saw two weeks ago in Houston, but there are some solid scraps lined up for this card from an entertainment perspective.
Additionally, I think there are some strong betting spots on this card. While it isn’t looking like a massive week in terms of volume for myself, I do have bets on four of the 12 scheduled bouts and have just under six units on the line at the time of this writeup.
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UFC Vegas 34
Roosevelt Roberts vs. Ignacio Bahamondes Betting Odds
Odds: Roberts -145 vs Bahamondes +125
I’ve been pretty high on Roberts as a prospect since his UFC debut in 2018, and although the relatively-green 27-year-old has a winning record in the UFC, he is just 4-3, and there have clearly been some worrisome trends within his career. Let’s start with the positives, though. Roberts is a long, athletic guy who has shown most of his upside coming via grappling. Roberts averages just under two takedowns per 15 minutes and is a capable submission grappler when the fights goes, as three of his last five victories have come via some form of choke. Now, the negatives. Roberts seems to have some quality about him that leads to moments in fights when he gets himself into bad positions and is susceptible to being hurt. A great example of this came in his last fight against Kevin Croom, who is a below-average 145-er who was moving up in weight to fight Roberts, and Roberts seemed so lackadaisical early on in the contest. He was rocked on the feet and then submitted in the opening minute of the fight.
Bahamondes impressed me in his UFC debut despite his losing effort against veteran John Makdessi. That was largely a kickboxing affair, which is where Bahamondes has historically had a lot of success on the regional scene. Bahamondes, like Roberts, is extremely tall for the division, standing at 6’3” with a 75” reach. Bahamondes has a wide variety of strikes in his arsenal ranging from kicks to punches, but he does a solid job attacking all three levels of his opponent and not solely headhunting. The knock against Bahamondes is not something that we’ve seen yet in the UFC, but if you go back and look at some of his regional fights pre-UFC you can see that he clearly struggles with his defensive grappling. Granted, the Chilean fighter is only 23 years old and likely still making large improvements fight-to-fight. But from the data we’ve seen, there are certainly holes in his game.
In terms of how these two match up, I think Roberts just has more ways to win the fight and the higher upside. What I mean by upside is that if these two stand and strike for 15 minutes, Bahamondes will likely look like a favorite, but I don’t expect it to be a blowout. However, if Roberts can get the fight to the ground with any sort of consistency, he has the chance to look like a -400 favorite in this spot. Maybe I’m clinging to my prior opinions on Roberts too much and should put more stock into his disappointing performances, but I still trust in the skill and raw talent that had him priced as nearly a -600 favorite his last time out. Maybe I get burned again, but I’m buying low on Roosevelt Roberts in this spot.
Bet: Roosevelt Roberts -133 1.5x until -135, 1x until -150 (Placed 8/14 at FoxBet)
Alexandre Pantoja vs. Brandon Royval Betting Odds
Odds: Pantoja -180 vs Royval +155
Pantoja enters this fight on an alternating loss/win pattern in his last four times out, most recently defeating Manel Kape in a decision. Pantoja has essentially fought everybody at 125 pounds during his UFC run, going 7-3 with a victory over the current champion Brandon Moreno and competitive fights with former champion Deiveson Figueiredo and the potential next title challenger at flyweight, Askar Askarov. Pantoja is a really solid fighter pretty much anywhere fights go, as he’s got solid striking metrics with a nice amount of power for the weight class, and very smooth transitions on the ground. The knock against Pantoja is that he doesn’t always use his skill set, as evidenced by him landing just under one takedown per fifteen minutes despite his submission skills. Additionally, he doesn’t have the best cardio in the world and is susceptible to slowing down late in fights.
Royval is one of the most exciting fighters on the roster, as he is the poster boy for the “kill or be killed” style fighters. From the opening bell, Royval is going to march forward and push a massive pace against his opponent. His offensive boxing is actually solid, and he mixes in some unconventional spinning attacks as well, but that also leads to defensive holes in Royval’s game, which has led to just a 47% striking defense in his UFC career. He is also very much a submission over position grappler, meaning that he often sacrifices dominant ground control positions in order to pursue a low-percentage submission while on the ground. I like Royval’s offense a lot more than most, but he certainly puts himself into danger a lot more than necessary.
Instead of taking a side in this matchup, I’m just going to back the violence angle in this fight with a stab on the under 2.5 at plus money. Royval is very reliable to come out swinging and do his best to find a finish whether that be on the feet or the ground. The drawback here, and the reason this bet is at plus-money, is that Pantoja is historically a very durable fighter who has never been finished. That said, not many fighters at flyweight have 90%+ finishing rates in their wins the way Royval does. Pantoja also sometimes ends up in slower-paced fights, but Royval is not going to sit back and let that happen here. I think both men are live for a knockout or submission, and we’re going to get plenty of action in the first 12.5 minutes of this fight to cash a ticket.
Bet: Pantoja/Royval Under 2.5 Rounds +127 1x until +120 (Placed 8/19)
Vinc Pichel vs. Austin Hubbard Betting Odds
Odds: Pichel -110 vs Hubbard -110
Pichel still appears to be in his fighting prime despite being 38 years of age, as he’s rattled off consecutive wins over Roosevelt Roberts and Jim Miller after falling to Gregor Gillespie in 2018. Pichel is oftentimes an underrated fighter, as he doesn’t wow you with any one specific element of his game, but he understands his strengths as a fighter and plays to them. That strength mostly lies in his ability to grind opponents up against the cage, make them uncomfortable and take them down. Pichel isn’t the best technical wrestler in the world, but he’s extremely strong and uses a variety of takedowns that have netted him well over one takedown landed per round throughout his UFC career. Pichel’s striking is certainly not amazing, but he does a good job limiting time spent at distance during his fights. His only two UFC losses are to outstanding wrestlers in Rustam Khabilov and Gillespie, so the blueprint to this point has been if you can’t out-wrestle Pichel, you’re likely going to spend some time on your back.
Speaking of spending time on your back, we have Hubbard, whose manager has done him no favors throughout his UFC run. Hubbard is a former LFA champion and a solid kickboxer with great cardio, but he’s historically struggled against grapplers in the past and has been lined up against Davi Ramos, Mark Madsen, and Joe Solecki. Hubbard has lost to those three grapplers, but he was able to outlast both Max Rohskopf and Dakota Bush after tough first rounds in his last two victories. As previously mentioned, Hubbard is a solid fighter, and I love how he utilizes leg kicks in his striking game, but he does have a glaring hole that has been exposed consistently over the last few years.
If you’ve read this far into the breakdown, it’s probably easy to see where I’m going next here, and that’s a nice-sized bet on Pichel. I just don’t understand this fight being a pick-em when one fighter (Hubbard) has shown a massive hole in his game that his opponent (Pichel) is likely to expose early and often. I do favor Hubbard in the standup, as he’s the younger, faster guy with solid kickboxing. But Pichel knows his strengths and is likely to force clinch scenarios here with success. I also took a stab at Pichel sub 19/1. I know he has zero professional submissions, but he did have two on The Ultimate Fighter and has attempted submissions in previous UFC fights. Hubbard has a solid get-up game, but he has a horrible tendency of giving his back to opponents while trying to stand up. There’s a chance that the youth and athleticism of Hubbard comes out on top here, but I’m siding with the old-man strength and grappling upside of Pichel.
Bets:Vinc Pichel -108 1.5x until -110, 1x until -125 (Placed 8/28 at FanDuel) Vinc Pichel by Submission +1900 0.38x until +1000 (Placed 8/28 at BetMGM)
A student at the University of Colorado and +EV bettor, Jonah will be contributing both MMA betting and DFS content at FTN. He’s studying journalism and sports media at CU, and this is his first job in the betting industry. Jonah is the MMA Dog of The Night Challenge champion amassing a 90% ROI in the contest and has been a profitable MMA bettor with tracked results. He is known for betting early lines and getting out ahead of the betting market, and looks forward to helping subscribers do the same!