The UFC is back with an action-packed pay-per-view this Saturday, September 25th, 2021. UFC 266 has two title fights listed at the top of the bill with a returning superstar, Nick Diaz rematching Robbie Lawler after a 5-year hiatus from the sport. In the co-main, we have Valentina Schevchenko defending her women’s flyweight belt for the 6th time against the #3 ranked Lauren Murphy. To top the card, we have Alexander Volkanovski in his second featherweight title defense against Brian Ortega. This card is absolutely stacked and littered with opportunities to win big. Before we bet, let’s look at the insights on what the public is betting.
We will start with the Diaz vs Lawler fight and work our way up the card. When the lines first opened, Robbie Lawler was a -125 favorite. Since then, the line has jumped to -145 after 42% of the public bet 53% of the total money on Lawler. On the other side, Nick Diaz opened at a +105 underdog and has since moved to a +120 underdog. Diaz has 58% of the betting public backing him with only 47% of the total money bet.
In the co-main, the dominant champion Schevchenko opened at a -750 favorite. The line has skyrocketed to -1600 after 38% of the public bet 87% of the money bet on Schevchenko. Lauren Murphy opened at a +550 underdog and now is at +850. 62% of the public have bet Murphy but they have only placed 13% of the total money bet, on Murphy.
The main event between Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega has had some interesting line movement, The Champ, Volkanovski, opened as a -200 favorite and has since dropped to -175. Volkanovski has only received 32% of the public’s bets covering 39% of the total money bet. Brian Ortega opened as a +160 underdog and now sits as a +145 underdog. 68% of the betting public have bet Ortega and these bettors have placed 61% of the total money bet on the fight.
What Does This Mean?
Diaz vs Lawler II
We’ll start with Diaz vs Lawler II. The backstory to this fight is key. The two first fought each other at UFC 47 back in 2005. Both were up-and-coming fighters with Lawler being the betting favorite. Nick Diaz has always been the “bad boy” of MMA and throughout his career was discredited because of it. The naysayers were proven wrong in a marvelous way as Nick Diaz ended up knocking out Robbie Lawler with a jab creating a highlight that would play over and over for years to come. 17 years later, Nick Diaz has been retired since 2015 and Robbie Lawler has had an up and down career. Lawler was the welterweight champion of the UFC from 2016-2018 having 3 absolute wars during his title run. Since then, Lawler has appeared timid in his fights. His strike count is down significantly since his title run losing to top contenders in the current welterweight division.
Nick Diaz on the other hand has had a bit of fun during his retirement. It was common to see Instagram stories of Nick Diaz in nightclubs night after night for about 3-4 years of his retirement. His antics outside of the cage have caused concern, which has been reflected in the betting numbers. Nick Diaz’s biggest strength was his durability and cardio. Having not seen him actively compete in over 5 years, it is a reasonable concern to have.
When looking at this fight from a gambling perspective, seeing the public action can help ease concerns on either end. The betting minority is on Lawler yet the odds are moving in his favor. Diaz is a cult icon in the world of MMA and always ends up getting most of the action placed on him because of it. The amount of money on the Diaz side sticks out to me. 58% of the public have only bet 47% of the total money. This isn’t a big enough gap to think reverse line movement is occurring, but it does show that the casual bettor is backing Diaz while the serious bettor is backing Lawler.
My Bet: Robbie Lawler -145 on the moneyline
Schevchenko vs Murphy
This fight is a bit easier to read as the numbers are very drastic. Everyone is betting Schevchenko and it is for good reason. It can be argued that she or Amanda Nunes, The women’s 135 and 145 champ, are the two best fighters in women’s MMA. After that, the distance between them and the rest of the women MMA fighters is drastic. Lauren Murphy would not even be considered a pound-for-pound top ten fighter in women’s MMA which is why the odds are so drastic. The 62% of bettors that wagered on Murphy have bet so much less than Schevchenko bettors, it’s hard to believe there is any value in that pick.
My Bet: Valentina Schevchenko -1600 on the moneyline
Volkanovski vs Ortega
This fight, to me, is the most interesting fight to bet on out of all of the UFC 266 fights. Ortega has fought for the title once before, getting absolutely walloped by the former champion, Max Holloway. Volkanovski in that time has won the bet from Holloway, beat him in the rematch, and now looks to continue his championship reign against Ortega. On the other side, Ortega took over a year off after losing to Max Holloway and recently fought Chan Zung Jung, known as The Korean Zombie. Fans had a very positive response to Ortega’s fight with TKZ as he put on a dominant performance winning by decision. That fight is why I believe the public has bet the way they have. Ortega is another fan favorite, often getting more credit than deserved for his performances. TKZ was a perfect opponent. He met Ortega in the middle and fell right into the gameplan Ortega set that night. Volkanovski is not that kind of fighter. You fight his fight when you fight Volkanovski. The Champion has a very impressive kickboxing style where he utilizes feints to systematically dismantle his opponents on the feet. Ortega is known as a jiu-jitsu fighter and although he showed better standup skills against TKZ, he is far from reaching Volkanovski’s level. I am quite happy seeing the odds dip on Volkanovski as the betting public once again underestimates his talents.
My Bet: Alexander Volkanovski -175 on the moneyline.
Those are the betting insights for UFC 266. For more insider information, check back in our blogs section for more info on all of your favorite sporting events. Have fun this weekend and remember, bet responibily. If the fun stops, you should stop.