Let’s take a look at the opening odds, early betting pick, and breakdown of Saturday’s UFC Vegas 41 main event. UFC Vegas 41 takes place on Oct. 23. While the UFC goes on the road to Abu Dhabi and New York City in the upcoming weeks for PPV events, this card will go down in front of a small crowd at the UFC Apex Facility in Las Vegas. The main event this weekend is a top-5 middleweight clash between two former title challengers. Marvin Vettori is coming off a loss to Israel Adesanya at UFC 263 in June of 2021, while Paulo Costa is also coming off a loss to the current middleweight king in September of 2020.
Vettori enters this bout as a moderate favorite priced at -145, meaning you have to lay $145 to win $100 with a bet on “The Italian Dream” Marvin Vettori. Costa is entrenched as the underdog with a betting line of +125, meaning a $100 bet would profit $125 should “Borrachinha” be able to bounce back successfully under the bright lights in Vegas on Saturday.
Vettori vs. Costa fight breakdown
This is a fascinating matchup for a few reasons, but I think the most obvious is that we haven’t seen Vettori or Costa fight since they were granted a title opportunity against Israel Adesanya. That narrative makes for some very interesting conversation, as the most recent data point we have for both men is against a common opponent and in a fight in which they were largely outclassed. Vettori enters as a small favorite, and that makes sense considering he has won four fights since Costa was last victorious in the cage. Since debuting in 2016, Vettori has had a very successful UFC run. He’s gone 7-3-1 inside the octagon, including an impressive five-fight win streak prior to his unanimous decision loss to Adesanya.
Stylistically, Vettori doesn’t necessarily carry any skills that will blow you away, but he has a lot of strong attributes that he’s been able to combine with above-average skills. Essentially, Vettori is an above-average striker and one of the best grapplers in a division largely devoid of grappling talent. He is extremely durable (has never been finished) and is able to adapt his fighting style based on his opponent’s skill set.
On the flip side, Costa was undefeated leading up to his showdown with Adesanya and had shown very few weaknesses to that point in his career, yet his skill set was more narrow. Costa is primarily a striker who hits with a ton of power and has been able to land lots of volume in fights before, but also had some cardio concerns as well as defensive wrestling concerns. He was largely exposed as having no plan B against Adesanya when his normal gameplan of extreme aggression was successfully countered. With Costa being out for nearly 13 months at this point, it’s hard to gauge exactly what we’ll see on Saturday night from him. I have a strong feeling that his approach won’t be any different.
MMA betting picks — UFC 266
The UFC has not put on the most entertaining stretch of main events recently, but we have a really good one this weekend. The best part for me as a bettor is that I have a pretty strong opinion on the fight. To me, this can only be considered a “prove-it” spot for Costa. He needs to prove that he is the same dynamic striker who had four consecutive knockouts to begin his UFC career. He needs to prove that he is still able to channel the aggressive style that saw him have so much success against a guy like Yoel Romero, and he also may need to prove something that he’s never done before: win a fight if he cannot melt his opponent early due to pressure. If Costa is able to do those three things, he has a solid chance of winning.
However, Marvin Vettori is almost surely going to force Costa to face some adversity. Vettori is extremely durable and unlikely to be knocked out early like some of Costa’s most notable wins, and he also is willing to embrace the grind of a fight and turn it into a grueling, grappling-heavy affair that won’t allow Costa to move forward with reckless abandon. He might test the gas tank of the Brazilian. Of course, it’s possible that Costa gets a quick finish here, but his wins in the UFC have not aged especially well and he is coming off a long stretch of inactivity after the worst performance of his career. While Vettori is coming off a loss, he put together some of his best wins prior to the Adesanya fight and brings a style that I think Costa will struggle to adjust to. The bottom line here is that Vettori is going to force Costa to answer a lot of questions that were asked following the Adesanya performance, and I think Vettori is a large favorite to win the fight if he can avoid getting finished early.
Pick: Marvin Vettori by Knockout
Bet: Marvin Vettori -130 1.5x until -130, 1x until -145.
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!