UFC betting: How to play this week's fight card in Austin
As the NBA and NHL wind down, this weekend is a good reminder for bettors that it's always fighting season. UFC Fight Night in Austin blesses us with a 14-fight card that starts at 4 p.m. ET Saturday. It's headlined by featherweight contenders Calvin Kattar and Josh Emmett, who are expected to touch gloves around 10 p.m. for the main event. They might not be able to measure up to Glover Teixeira's and Jiri Prochazka's historic performance last weekend, but rest assured, they will meet in the center of the Octagon to deliver fireworks. However, two fighters unwilling to back down doesn't always lead to an exciting knockout. I will be betting the big favorite in Kattar but leveraging the prop market to get more favorable odds. So let's get into this week's betting breakdown, including the two biggest fights of the night and a juicy +250 parlay for the preliminary card.
Calvin Kattar (-250) vs. Josh Emmett (+195)
In its most simplistic form, this fight is volume versus power. Kattar, 7-3 in the UFC, lands 5.19 significant strikes per minute and is 5-0 when he out-lands his opponent. Emmett has three finishes in his last five victories. But even when Emmett's fights go the distance, it's not without his opponent feeling his power. Per Richard Mann, Emmett averages 1.3 knockdowns per 15 minutes, and it's been over five years since he failed to drop an opponent during a fight.
Kattar is a fighter who isn't afraid to exchange in the pocket and has proven his durability time and time again. For example, in his loss to Max Holloway last year at Fight Island, Kattar withstood a record 445 significant strikes without hitting the canvas. In fact, Kattar hasn't been knocked down once in his 10-fight UFC career. So even if Emmett is the first, it seems like an improbable outcome that he can finish Kattar. In addition, Kattar understands how to use his length as a striker and holds a slight reach advantage that I expect to appear more significant during the fight. It's also Kattar's fourth consecutive main event, while Emmett will be experiencing five-rounds for the first time in the promotion. I'm betting on Kattar's durability to absorb Emmett's best shots and pile on the points as they get deeper into the fight. I see him surviving all five rounds and winning on the scorecards with higher output. Playing the method of victory prop allows us to get off the -250 odds and play the big favorite by the most likely outcome at +125.
The bet: Calvin Kattar by decision (+125)
Joe Lauzon (+135) vs. Donald Cerrone (-165)
This is a fun fight between two UFC legends. It's tough to handicap what to expect because neither man resembles the fighter we all fell in love with as fans. But they both still have one thing in common: Their last victory was in 2019. Lauzon hasn't stepped into the Octagon since ending a three-fight losing streak with a TKO win over Jonathan Pearce.
Cerrone has been more active in the last three years, but he hasn't been winning. It's also a red flag that four of his losses during his current six-fight winless streak were by TKO. There is no shame in getting cracked by the likes of Justin Gaejthe and Conor McGregor, but the accumulation of recent damage makes him hard to back in this spot. Considering the situation for both fighters, I hold Lauzon's time out of the cage as more of a positive than the results of Cerrone's activity.
I contend the wrong fighter is favored, and Lauzon holds value at +135 in what is a coin flip fight at best for Cerrone. I like that the fight takes place at Lauzon's natural weight class, which is a challenging cut for Cerrone. After the original fight was canceled due to Cerrone falling ill the day of the fight, Lauzon didn't seem confident in Cowboy committing to go through the weight cut again to make the bout happen in the future. I think that's very telling, and I will be interested to see Cerrone on the scales, but it's not something I need to see before placing my bets. Given Cerrone's recent history, I think there is also excellent value on Lauzon by KO/TKO at +500. Play the moneyline with a small bet on the prop to boost your return.
The bet: Joe Lauzon (+135)
This week's parlay: Court McGee, Gloria DePaula & Jasmine Jasudavicius (+250)
*Stats provided by ufcstats.com.