UFC 254 Market Report: Bettors Continue To Take Khabib Over Justin Gaethje

Posted By Dave Bontempo on October 24, 2020
UFC 254 odds moneyline Khabib Justin Gaethje Robert Whittaker Walt

All Khabib, all the time.

That is the sentiment of UFC 254 bettors for Khabib Nurmagomedov heading into Saturday’s lightweight championship bout Saturday at Fight Island. The UFC’s No. 2 pound-for-pound fighter opened at -225 more than two months ago at FanDuel Sportsbook for his fight against Justin Gaethje. Khabib surged to -286 at the beginning of this week and exceeded -300 at FanDuel and DraftKings Sportsbook as fight time approached. It’ an unusual number for two top-level fighters, especially because Gaethje is the interim champion.

DraftKings’ Bet $1, Win $100 offer

New DraftKings Sportsbook users can bet $1 and win $100 on the Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Justin Gaethje main event on Saturday. This offer is good for new DK users in Colorado, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Iowa, New Jersey, Illinois and West Virginia.

To get started at DraftKings Sportsbook, go here.

UFC 254 odds

Here is a glance at UFC 254 odds from DraftKings Sportsbook:

  • Khabib Nurmagomedov -315 vs. Justin Gaethje +250
  • Jared Cannonier -110 vs. Robert Whittaker -110
  • Alexander Volkov -190 vs. Walt Harris +150
  • Magomed Ankalaev -335 vs. Ion Cutelaba +250
  • Tai Tuivasa -124 vs. Stefan Struve +100
  • Phil Hawes -250 vs. Jacob Malkoun +195
  • Da Un Jung -345 vs Sam Alvey +260
  • Shavkat Rakhmonov -124vs. Alex Oliveira -100

Avello analysis

Khabib was around -285 and Gaethje was at or near +225 at this time last week at most sportsbooks. Now, Khabib is -315 and Gaethje +250 at DraftKings.

“The numbers have been drifting up, which is impressive for Nurmagomedov,” Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings told TheLines. “He’s made quite a move. The bettors like the favorite, but I am sure we will grab some dog money as it gets close. There’s a nice price on Justin Gaethje and he is no slouch.”

No, he is not. The 22-2 Gaethje comes off an upset victory in May over Tony Ferguson and now battles the 28-0 Nurmagomedov, one of UFC’s all-time fan favorites. That translates into betting dollars spent.

Each fighter has looked better than the other against one of their two most prominent common opponents. Gaethje stopped Edson Barboza, whom Khabib decisioned, and Khabib halted Dustin Poirier, who stopped Gaethje.

Biggest line movers

  • As mentioned above, Khabib has been rising all week
  • Harris has been fluctuating between +180 and +150 for his fight against Volkov
  • Ankalaev has moved from -278 to -335 for his fight against Cutelaba

UFC 254 wagering angles

Shop for the prop

Method of victory is an enticing play for Khabib backers. FanDuel has recognized this with a timely odds boost on two significant wagers.

FanDuel has hiked the Gaethje KO/TKO win from +360 to +440 with a maximum $50 bet.

FD has also boosted Nurmagomedov to win by submission from +195 to +240. This is an intriguing consideration. Khabib’s last two victories have occurred by submission. It can be a coin flip whether he wins by KO/TKO or submission.

  • Khabib is relentless. His timing has been impeccable, as he finds the perfect moment to launch takedowns. On the ground, he may be peerless in the UFC.
  • Gaethje is a strong stand-up fighter and must do something with his power to slow Khabib while they are both in that style.
  • Intangible: Khabib, because of COVID-19 restrictions, has not fought in more than a year.

Spread the bread, take less

PointsBet has a nice $50 max bet prop too. It boosts Nurmagomedov from -110 to +150 for a KO/TKO or by a decision. This bet leaves the submission angle uncovered.

Playing two of the three winning methods here provides an extra chance to turn a smaller profit.

Put both fighters on your ticket

DraftKings has round props for when the fight ends. They range from between +425 to +800 from rounds 1-5. Does not matter who wins. Pick the right round and you cash. A range of rounds is sensible too. One can take rounds 3 and 4 and get +225.

Good value in other fights

The co-main battle between Robert Whittaker and Jared Cannonier is excellent, and bettable.

  • Cannonier’s last four victories have been TKO punches and that’s +162 at DraftKings. Whittaker has fought tougher opponents and his last three triumphs have been by decision. DraftKings has that method at +210.
  • Intangible: Cannonier has been away more than a year while Whittaker notched a victory in July.
  • Rakhmonov and Oliveira also represents an excellent moneyline opportunity. So does Struve and Tuivasa. If you don’t want to spend the whole budget chasing props or playing prohibitive favorites, these matchups are enticing.
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Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo, who writes extensively on the emergence of legalized sports betting, is a recipient of the Sam Taub Award for Broadcast Excellence by the Boxing Writers Association of America. He has broadcast boxing for all the major networks over the last four decades and is a member of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame as well as the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame. His work also can be seen at the Press of Atlantic City and iGamingPlayer.

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