Here comes the big one.
The coronavirus pandemic has pushed sports fans to the fringes, shifting attention to Esports, games of HORSE and other pursuits like table tennis and darts.
But one of the mainstream events – UFC 249 – returns on Saturday. And it’s poised to be bigger than ever.
In this week’s installment of Penn Sportsbooks‘ Pick Play, we’ll head toward the octagon and cover all the odds and prop bets at PA sportsbooks, along with some of the daily fantasy contests involving the UFC’s big return.
UFC action starts at 6 p.m. Saturday on ESPN
After a failed attempt to host UFC 249 on Native American tribal lands in California, the event will take place Saturday, May 9 in Jacksonville, Florida.
There will be no fans in VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, but the action will be broadcast on ESPN, with the undercard starting on ESPN+ at 6 p.m. and the main card shifting to ESPN Pay-Per-View at 10 p.m.
Tony Ferguson is the clear favorite in the main event
According to BetRivers, Tony Ferguson (-177) is the favorite in his main event bout with Justin Gaethje (+150). Betting lines on the Ferguson/Gaethje fight for the interim light heavyweight championship have not moved much since they were posted.
However, there has been robust action throughout the UFC 249 card, including some prop bets that account for more than 20% of the handle on some matches.
“This may be the most significant sporting event taking place since the quarantine began in March,” said Mattias Stetz, the C.O.O of Rush Street Interactive, which operates BetRivers.com and PlaySugarHouse.com. “…UFC is already a powerful draw for our players and I think they are even more delighted this time because the card generated a lot of attention.”
Numerous betting options available for each bout
Bettors can find wagering options far beyond simply selecting the winner of each fight in UFC 249.
For example, in the Ferguson-Gaethje bout, bets are available on whether the fight will go the distance, the number of rounds, a win by finish (KO, TKO, DQ, submission, or another stoppage), specific winning method and type of decision.
Bettors who like Ferguson can find much better odds on him winning by finish (-106) than a straight moneyline bet. Conversely, Gaethje’s odds (-175) to win by finish are much closer to his moneyline.
FanDuel favors Cejudo in bantamweight title match
In a co-main event bout for the bantamweight title, Henry Cejudo takes on Dominick Cruz. Cejudo is -225 at FanDuel Sportsbook, while Cruz is +185. Cruz hasn’t fought since 2016, so the nearly four-year layoff helps to explain Cejudo’s installment as a heavy favorite.
FanDuel is also offering a number of different wagering options for the Cejudo/Cruz bout, so bettors will have plenty of choices in the bantamweight match.
There are also daily fantasy contests available from FanDuel, including a $300k contest that pays out $100,000 to first place.
FOX Bet boosting odds for round bets in UFC 249
Over at FOX Bet, bettors can get a greater return if they place a wager on a fighter to win in Rounds 1-3. There are also some other boosted bets on the co-main events. The complete lineup for the 12-fight UFC 249 card and the corresponding odds at FOX Bet are as follows:
- Ryan Spann (-400) vs. Sam Alvey (+320)
- Bryce Mitchell (-150) vs. Charles Rosa (+130)
- Vincente Luque (-275) vs. Niko Price (+230)
- Ronaldo Souza (-120) vs. Uriah Hall (+100)
- Carla Esparza (-143) vs. Michelle Waterson (+120)
- Aleksei Oleinik (+250) vs. Fabricio Werdum (-300)
- Donald Cerrone (+115) vs. Anthony Pettis (-133)
- Greg Hardy (-188) vs. Yorgan De Castro (+133)
- Jeremy Stephens (+210) vs. Calvin Kattar (-250)
- Francis Ngannou (-275) vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik (+230)
- Henry Cejudo (-188) vs. Dominick Cruz (+163)
- Tony Ferguson (-175) vs. Justin Gaethje (+150)
DraftKings featuring million-dollar UFC contest
For the first-time ever, DraftKings is offering a daily fantasy contest with a prize pool of a million dollars for the UFC. The MMA Million has a $20 entry and pays out $200k to first, $100k to second and $50k to third.
If you’re new to UFC daily fantasy, this article from DraftKings MMA analyst Greg Ehrenberg might be a good place to start.
DraftKings Sportsbook also has a full menu of props and wagers posted for those seeking more traditional bets. Some of their offerings are even boosted for UFC 249.
Bets are also available for UFC events next week
Saturday’s action is just the beginning of what will be a busy month for the UFC.
UFC Fight Nights are also scheduled for Wednesday, May 13th (Anthony Smith vs. Glover Teixeira) and Saturday, May 16th (Alistair Overeem vs. Walt Harris), also in Jacksonville. Both events start at 6 p.m. and carry an assortment of wagering options at our region’s sportsbooks.
But Saturday night is the big one. After a brief hiatus, the UFC is thundering back to the octagon, with a 12-fight card and too many betting options to count.
The action is about to begin.
And it might be bigger than ever.