Welcome to my betting breakdown for UFC Vegas 42: Holloway vs Rodriguez. 

After back-to-back numbered events in Abu Dhabi and New York City the last two weekends, the UFC returns home to the fight capital of the world this weekend as they host a midday fight night event at their apex facility. In the main event, we have a matchup between former featherweight champion Max Holloway and the returning Yair Rodriguez. The winner of the striker's delight figures to go on to face Alexander Volkanovski in a title fight. Despite there being much less talent on this card than in the last two weeks, I actually think there are quite a few actionable spots. You can find all my plays for free in the FTN Bets Tracker. I’ll be writing this column weekly with extended breakdowns for up to three of my best bets, and occasionally some leans if I don’t have three plays. I will be in the FTNBets Discord for about two hours before the early prelims this weekend to answer any questions that readers might have. We'd love to continue building the community through Discord. 

If you’re interested in DFS and betting takes for every fight on this card, you can check out The Undisputed MMA Show with Jon Kelly and myself.

 

 

Thiago Moises vs. Joel Alvarez Betting Odds

Odds: Moises -255 vs.Alvarez +205, DraftKings Sportsbook

Moises is 4-3 inside the UFC but has faced an absolute murder’s row of opponents throughout his first seven bouts. Most recently, the Brazilian lost to Islam Makhachev in a main event spot this past July following a three-fight win streak for Moises that included victories over Michael Johnson, Bobby Green, and Alexander Hernandez. Stylistically, Moises is a very accomplished grappler outside of MMA and has used his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills to pull off opportunistic finishes in the UFC before, and he’s also a solid wrestler. On the feet, Moises’ kickboxing has greatly improved since his UFC debut against Beneil Dariush in 2018. His output is still relatively low and we’ve yet to see much power from Moises, but I do think beating Hernandez in a kickboxing match was an impressive performance last February. 

Alvarez dropped his UFC debut to Damir Ismagulov via unanimous decision in 2019 but has since ripped off a three-fight win streak. He beat Danilo Belluardo, Joseph Dufffy, and Alexander Yakovlev, all inside the distance. Physically, Alvarez is absolutely massive for 155 pounds (in fact he missed weight this week and his last fight) and uses his length decently well with his calf kicks. However, it’s Alvarez’s grappling off his back that has led to the majority of his UFC wins. His takedown defense is a whopping 0% but the Spaniard works well throwing up offense from the bottom position. 

I’ve tried to come up with an insightful writeup for this fight all week, but I think it simply boils down to one thing: Thiago Moises is a much better fighter than Joel Alvarez. I don’t necessarily think Alvarez is awful - he has great size and his BJJ has been impressive. But historically speaking it’s extremely tough to win fights when you make no effort to get off your back when taken down. I would be extremely surprised if Alvarez could make Moises submit, and beyond that it just feels like Moises is considerably better in every facet of MMA. Moises may never be a title contender. His volume isn’t great and I’m not sure he has the cardio to win a ton of five-round fights, but he’s been thrown to the wolves and had solid performances before. This is a big step down for the Brazilian and he should take care of business. 

Bet 

  • Thiago Moises 1x until -265 (Placed Wednesday on DraftKings)

Miguel Baeza vs. Khaos Williams Betting Odds

Odds: Baeza -140 vs. Williams +120, DraftKings Sportsbook

Baeza began his UFC career with three consecutive stoppage victories over Hector Aldana, Matt Brown, and Takashi Sato before losing a competitive decision to Santiago Ponzinibbio in June. Stylistically, Baeza is primarily a striker whose best strike is likely his calf kick. His volume is extremely solid, landing 5.3 strikes per minute inside the UFC, but his striking defense is sparse and he absorbs a lot of hits. Baeza has been able to take considerable amounts of damage against both Ponzinibbio and Brown, but he does get hit cleanly often. One wrinkle in Baeza’s game that I feel has gone unnoticed is his grappling ability. He has only landed two takedowns in the UFC, but Baeza was able to submit Sato relatively quickly once the fight hit the ground. He’s an underrated grappler, and that skill could serve him well here.

Williams started his UFC career with an absolute bang, winning his first two fights in the promotion in 57 seconds combined. Since then, Williams is 1-1 with a loss to Michel Pereira and, most recently, a win over Matthew Semelsberger. Stylistically, Williams is a power-oriented striker. He throws heavy blitzes at his opponents as he tries to overwhelm them with lots of power strikes, hoping that one finds the chin. I haven’t loved what I’ve seen from Williams defensively, both standing and on the ground, but he does not have a massive sample size to draw from. 

This is a spot where I actually have two plays: Baeza and the under. The moneyline is simply a little too short on Baeza, who is a flawed fighter but a legitimate prospect with strong technique and offensive abilities. Williams who strikes me as less of a well-rounded martial artist and more of a pure brawler. Williams has historically not checked leg kicks and I expect Baeza to be the much cleaner striker, especially at kicking range. The fight is likely close in the pocket, as Williams does hit extremely hard. Because of that, I’ve also fired a unit on the under 2.5 rounds. I am picking Baeza by way of finish, and favor both the moneyline and under to come through. There is some added insurance in making both plays because the floor outcome appears to be a 1-1 split, as I struggle to see Williams winning a decision against a much more technically sound fighter. 

Bets 

  • Miguel Baeza -137 1x until -150 (Placed Friday)
  • Miguel Baeza/Khaos Williams Under 2.5 Rounds -125 1x until -135 (Placed Friday)
 

 

Max Holloway vs. Yair Rodriguez Betting Odds

Odds: Holloway -720 vs Rodriguez +500, DraftKings Sportsbook

This matchup figures to be billed as a top contender matchup in the featherweight division. Holloway has dropped three of his last five fights, but two of those were to the current champion Alexander Volkanovski. Rodriguez is coming off a massive layoff, as his last fight took place in October of 2019, but he is ranked third in the division. A win this weekend would vault him into title contention immediately. 

Holloway is considered by many to be one of the best featherweights of all time, as he carries an 18-6 UFC record coming into the matchup - including a ludicrous 13-fight win streak and five successful defenses of his title. Holloway went through a rough stretch where he lost decisions to Dustin Poirier in an attempt to become a double champion at lightweight and then two losses to Volkanovski, the second one being very competitive. However, Holloway bounced back in incredible fashion earlier this year as he landed a UFC-record 445 significant strikes against Calvin Kattar in what will likely go down as one of the best performances in history. Stylistically, Holloway is one of the best strikers the promotion has ever seen. The Hawaiian lands upward of seven strikes per minute and carries a great gas tank that allows him to systematically break opponents as fights go on. If there’s one clear blemish on Holloway’s skill set, it’s that he’s such an offense-first fighter that he is very hittable at times, solely due to his tendencies to sacrifice defense for offense. However, Holloway is extremely durable and has never been knocked down throughout his entire UFC career. 

Rodriguez has had an interesting career in the UFC so far. He began in the promotion as just a 22-year-old and went 6-0, leading to a matchup against Frankie Edgar where Rodriguez simply got dominated. That remains his sole loss in the UFC. He followed it with a crazy comeback knockout against Chan Sung Jung, and then a decision victory over Jeremy Stephens in 2019. Stylistically, Rodriguez is primarily a striker whose arsenal is widely made up of an array of kicks. He has solid leg kicks, is able to strike to all three levels with his legs, and also has had success with wild elbow strikes in the past. One clear weakness in Rodriguez’s game has been his takedown defense, which sits at just 63%. He’s been taken down 12 times through nine UFC bouts (not including his 15 second no-contest against Jeremy Stephens prior to their rematch).

I wish I had some groundbreaking analysis to offer on this main event. But no matter how I look at this fight, Yair Rodriguez is facing an uphill battle. We have to give Rodriguez credit: He is a seasoned striker who has had the advantage on the feet in all of his UFC fights to date. Yet he is very much a one-dimensional fighter who needs fights to stay standing, and it just seems unlikely that he can compete with the pace and output of Holloway. If there’s one potential pathway for Rodriguez to have success, it would be landing a big shot that ended the fight, but he simply hasn’t been that kind of striker. Holloway has historically been incredibly durable, and his punching combinations figure to be much cleaner and faster than Rodriguez’s. Additionally, Rodriguez has only landed 0.90 takedowns per 15 minutes, and Holloway is one of the best anti-wrestlers in UFC history. It just feels as though Rodriguez is quite outgunned in this matchup. I don’t normally lay prices upwards of -250 in striking matches solely due to the variance of throwing punches in 4 oz. gloves, but Holloway being a massive favorite seems extremely justified this weekend. 

Originally, I had thought that this matchup was one where I wouldn’t have any action and thought it was a toss-up whether Holloway would win by late knockout or a dominant decision, but I found a line worth betting. Holloway to win in rounds 4, 5, or decision is currently priced at -132 on PointsBet and I think this number is simply too good to pass up. Holloway is deserving of his massive favorite status and relies on breaking down opponents gradually for finishes, or just going the decision in blowout fashion. This should be closer to -175ish and may end up closing higher than that.

Bets 

  • Max Holloway Wins in Rounds 4/5/DEC -132 1.5x until -135, 1x until -155. (Placed originally on Wednesday, added to position on Friday, both on PointsBet)