On Saturday, July 29th, the UFC will be live from Salt Lake City, Utah, for UFC 291: Poirier vs Gaethje 2. This event is headlined by a rematch between two of the best lightweights in Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje.
These octagon warriors first battled in April 2018, where Poirier won via fourth-round TKO in what was a Fight of the Year candidate.
As of this writing, UFC 291 featured 12 exciting fights. The UFC 291 odds are close, with only three favorites breaking -300 or better. It’s a competitive card ripe with value bets, and a clear opportunity for high paying fight parlays at our select online betting sites,
- Parlay some combination of Jan Blachowicz, Jake Matthews and Gabriel Bonfim
- Michael Chiesa and Michel Pereira both fantastic upset bets
- The Dustin Poirier moneyline is an excellent value bet
The main event is a rematch to a one-sided fight when Poirier knocked Gaethje out in the fourth round of their main event matchup back in 2018. He landed 174 punches to Gaethje’s 115, with little grappling in 15:33 of fight time.
Gaethje has improved less than Poirier over the last five years and we expect a similar outcome this weekend as in their first encounter.
|Bet at Bovada
|UFC 291 Odds
|Ferguson vs Green: Over 2.5 Rounds
|Lewis vs De Lima: Under 1.5 Rounds
Upsets for Michel Pereira and Michael Chiesa may come as a surprise. They’re both facing fan favorites in Kevin Holland and Stephan Thompson.
Thompson’s time away will affect him negatively. Now 40, his win over Holland shouldn’t be a boon to his moneyline, but rather a sign that he should stick to fighters who aren’t on a five-fight winning streak.
Gabriel Bonfim stands alone as the top bet on the card. He’s undefeated at 14-0, 2-0 in the UFC. His UFC 291 odds over Trevin Giles seem to forget that Giles is a sucker for submission attempts and Bonfim is a master of catching the front headlock.
The following odds are courtesy of Bovada:
Let’s look at some key stats for Poirier vs Gaethje. The differences in their style can be seen on paper, with Gaethje throwing caution to the wind and exchanging with fighters while hoping he arrives on top. Poirier is more calculated than he was in his early career, and it’s earning him more finishes.
|Strikes landed per minute
|Strikes absorbed per minute
|Record in Last five
|Finishes in last five
Poirier and Gaethje both have their last two losses to the same fighters, Charles Oliveira and Khabib Nurmagomedov. Gaethje’s aggression will be met with defensive striking and superior finishing mechanics.
We’d bet the Over 2.5 rounds at -120 if we weren’t confident in the Poirier win, looking at a finish in the 4th or 5th round.
You’ll see prop bets for the Poirier finish get posted around Wednesday at the top UFC betting sites, and it’s a good bet considering Gaethje has never lost by decision.
Contrary to popular belief, former light-heavyweight champion Blachowicz isn’t a fool. When you look at his career, he makes a point of threatening the takedown against superior strikers. He took Israel Adesanya down three times, and it was enough to absolutely dominate him in a decision win at 205 pounds (Adesanya moved up in weight for this fight). He did the same thing to powerhouse Jared Cannonier, who everyone said would knock him senseless.
If you’re thinking of betting the Under, you could be in for a boring loss. Pereira beat Bruno Silva, but spent one entire round on his back. Now he’ll be fighting a larger, better grappler with aggressive ground striking. It’s a recipe for Pereira to spend the night on his back in a definitive five-rounder.
Bet the Blachowicz moneyline and consider it a two-fight parlay addition with Jake Matthews or Bonfim for a +140 or better return on the UFC 291 odds.
In our first upset pick of the night, Thompson returns after seven months off to face a fighter with plenty of momentum. Pereira is on a five-fight winning streak, outstriking everyone and lowering his significant strikes absorbed to 3.78 per minute. This is notably lower than Thompson’s 4.2 per minute average.
Michel Pereira has some of the most insane striking. 🤯🩸 pic.twitter.com/p6KCORzg6M
— Anthony Francese (@uppercutztv) July 22, 2023
The key here will be gas tank and takedowns. Pereira has more cardio than Thompson did in his prime. At 30 years old, Pereira gets a decade of youth on his side and an average 1.58 takedowns per 15 minutes pitted against Thompson’s 64% takedown defense.
Belal Muhammad gave us a clear game plan to follow when facing off against his Thompson’s Karate stance, and if Pereira can implement even a small piece of it, he’s one of the top value bets of UFC 291.
Ferguson shows up as a +349 underdog after a five-fight losing streak. We know that there will be fans ready to jump on the Ferguson train, betting big on their favorite fighter from 2019.
Green is on a similar run, and has been knocked out twice in his last three. He hasn’t seen a win since his masterwork upset of Nasrat Haqparast. The -419 moneyline just doesn’t offer a serious enough return to bet on an aging fighter entering on a losing streak.
Instead, we’ve opted for the Over prop bet. Both men are accumulation strikers, and both are aging out of their ability to finish fights. Ferguson’s last loss was in round four and he’s seen two decisions against quality athletes like Beneil Dariush and Charles Oliveira. Expect a long and bloody three-rounder.
Chiesa has struggled against top welterweights, losing to Sean Brady and Vicente Luque in his last two. These losses snapped a four-fight winning streak from 2018 to 2021. Holland’s return to 170 pounds, showed us a gigantic fighter capable of using his range to destroy Santiago Ponzinibbio in three rounds.
When you look at the larger career of Holland, you see he’s done well at welterweight. However, Chiesa possesses some specific threats that make it tough to bet on Holland. His only losses via finish are both by submission, and Chiesa’s submission attempts and takedowns make him a terror for Holland’s 50% takedown defense.
Expect Chiesa to take damage, and if you’re a fan of Holland, think about wagering on the UFC 291 odds for Holland vs Chiesa Under 2.5 rounds at -170.
The undefeated Bonfim is our top bet of the night in this welterweight bout. He’s less experienced in the UFC, which could make some bettors skittish. Giles is now 7-4 at the UFC level, but he’s shown that his ability starts and ends at knockout power. In his last two fights, he had close decision wins after consecutive knockout losses to Michael Morales and Dricus du Plessis.
Giles may have reached the level in his career where other fighters have similar knockout power and, with his historically poor submission defense, he’s less able to launch a wrestling assault. Bet on Bonfim to secure another submission win and maintain his 100% takedown accuracy while doing it.
It’s stunning to see that Lewis has maintained a +150 status despite being finished three fights in a row. At 1-4 in his last five bouts, Lewis has either lost by knockout or submission his entire career. With that said, Lima is a serious step down in competition.
We think the Lewis upset is a decent bet, but we’re not confident enough to throw money at it. The Under 1.5 rounds prop bet matches about half of Lima’s wins inside his last ten, along with two of his three losses.
Lewis rarely sees the third round, and has a combined 10 minutes and 40 seconds of fight time in his last three fights. We expect this bout to end quickly. UFC 291 odds for each fighter’s moneyline feels accurate, but Lewis is a slightly better value in this heavyweight tussle.
Now 2-2 in the UFC, Kopylov faces a fellow knockout artist in fellow middleweight Ribeiro. Both men have two TKO finishes in the UFC, and both have been finished in the UFC. The Under is listed at +135 because Kopylov tends to be a slow starter and Ribeiro has a fantastic striking absorption rate at 2.39 per minute.
However, Ribeiro will win this fight only by pressing the action. He needs to move forward and stop Kopylov from building up momentum, while developing takedowns when applicable as he did against Joseph Holmes. This forward moving strategy will result in a shorter fight, making the under a good bet.
If Ribeiro comes out tentative, Kopylov will be happy to carry him to the third round. Play this fight as a value bet.
We have word that Darrius Flowers (+250) vs Jake Matthews (-300) was scratched completely. Baeza is a last-minute replacement. Welterweight Matthews should hold close to -300, and he’s still our top bet.
Not only does Baeza have the disadvantage of a short-notice fight, he’s lost his last three bouts in a row, with two coming via knockout. Matthews even recently knocked out Andre Fialho, one of the fighters that beat Miguel Baeza with ease. This feels like a no-brainer bet for Matthews, and a possible parlay addition alongside Bonfim or even a two-fight, medium-confidence parlay with Miranda Maverick.
Vergara is 3-2 in the UFC, losing to grapplers in both of his octagon defeats. He had an unfortunate run-in with Tasturo Taira that shouldn’t be counted against him. Salvador was a DWCS winner that had a lackluster debut.
Vergara is simply more proven against high level fighters. He had a tougher DWCS opponent and should wipe the mat with Salvador in every position in this flyweight match.
Now 3-1 in the UFC, Medic takes a step up in competition to face a very active Semelsberger at welterweight. Since his debut in 2020, Semelsberger has fought eight times in the UFC, going 5-3 overall. He’s yet to be finished, including in a tough fight with Alex Morono, but Medic is a headhunter.
— Mr.NiceGuy 𝙈𝙈𝘼 (@MrNiceGuysDude) July 23, 2023
Aside from the fight with a very complex Jalin Turner, Medic has an 8:3 strikes landed to absorbed ratio. Semelsberger is going to struggle to keep the pace.
We had Maverick defeating Jasmine Jasudavicius back in June at UFC 289, and it was a very close fight. Apparently, Maverick was unharmed, because she’s back in the ring 49 days later for another flyweight match.
Cachoeira has won her last two fights, including an upset over Ariane Lipski. She’s not very physical in the clinch, and somehow won a fight over Ji Yeon Kim where she was outstruck 170 to 102. Maverick is going to find inside control and get back to her consistent takedown-heavy fight against Cachoeira.
UFC 291: Value Bets and Two-Fight Parlays
There are plenty of close fights on this card, and if you’re feeling tentative, look at the prop bets. Poirier and Bonfim are easy wins, but plenty of fan favorites like Lewis and Ferguson have a high enough payout to be worth your time. Look for UFC 291 odds on prop bets like winner by decision or winner by TKO to be released later this week on Poirier, Bonfim and Pereira.