UFC 249 Betting Pick: Calvin Kattar vs Jeremy Stephens

Going to be some hands flying in this fight!

You have to love Jeremy Stephens.

I know Conor McGregor hit him with the “Who the fluke is that guy?” bit at a press conference bringing his name to light for some but hardcore fans know their getting must-see tv whenever “Lil Heathen” steps inside the Octagon.

Some may think that Jeremy is on the decline in his career because he has been fighting professionally for over 15 years now and a loser in his last three bouts.

Jose Aldo, Zabit, and most recently Yair Rodriguez each defeated Stephens but I would argue that Calvin Kattar, who also lost to Zabit, wouldn’t be a big favorite over the other two.

Hmm, Yair and Kattar…

That’s an interesting one right there.

Calvin does have the cleaner boxing of the two and has a slightly larger frame.

He doesn’t bring the same heat as Jeremy but to beat him, he may not have to.

We are only a few days away now from the UFC returning from an 8-week hiatus.

BetOnline just added a lot of different props for the main card including this fight between Stephens and Kattar.

Let’s go ahead and break down this fight and make our predictions!

Calvin Kattar (-240) vs Jeremy Stephens (+205)

Let’s play the elimination game.

We usually just jump into what we think is going to happen but let’s work backward.

First off, Calvin at (-240) is just too expensive, in my opinion.

Ask yourself, what does this number mean to me?

You have to wager 240.00 dollars to win 100.00.

Is that a risk you’re willing to take?

I wouldn’t.

For me to make a smart wager, I need to have an edge and hopefully see the % you give a fighter to win have a 10+% higher than the implied probability the books are giving them.

(-240) denotes a 70% implied probability.

I would give Calvin a 65% chance to win.

That is not even close to the 80 or 85% I would need to make a smart play.

Sure, you can play loose if you want and have some exciting nights and winning streaks but be smart.

Aw, it won’t hurt. It’s close enough. I’ll win more of these than I lose…

Cool story, bro.

For Example:
Say you consistently take 2 out of 3 with this implied probability: You netted 200.00 on the first two bets combined but lost 240.00 on the last.

Are you starting to see why you need at least a 5-10% edge on the bookmakers?

Play the long game.

If you’re in it for the rush, that’s awesome. I don’t really enjoy the stress.

I love the research process, the writing, and I want to win.

So, no Kattar moneyline.


Stephens moneyline?

That is a little more inviting but remember we gave Calvin a 65% chance to win and, of course, Jeremy is at 35%.

His odds of (+205) have an implied probability of 33% giving us only a 2% edge over the bookies which is negligible at best.

Both men are pretty durable.

We know that.

If I don’t think there is any value on either fighter’s moneyline odds, my next step is to look at the over/under odds.

Sportsbooks have caught up to the game but betting the over was a well-kept secret in the MMA handicapping community.

When the over/under is set at 2.5, the over wins almost twice as much.

The only time the under “on average” beats the over is when it is set at 4.5 rounds and that isn’t often.

You will see plenty of over/under 1.5 rounds betting odds available but you almost always have to pay the juice for the over.

The ROI is still better with the over but it is definitely not as valuable as it once was.

Back to the fight, now.


I will tell you right now that the over is not worth it to me.

Jeremy Stephens is just too experienced and powerful to lay nearly 2 to 1 on this one going that late.

In Jeremy’s 39 fights in the UFC, wow that’s a lot, he has 19 decisions and 10 finishes.

Calvin, who has a much smaller sample size, has 1 decision win, 2 decision losses, and 3 finishes.

4-2 in the UFC with losses to Zabit and Renato Moicano who blistered the boxing heavy lead leg of Kalvin.

When I close my eyes, I see Kattar working off of his jab and Stephens countering with leg kicks and overhand rights.

I don’t think Kattar will win on the jab alone. He is going to have to exchange power punches with Stephens.

There is a 2-inch differential in height but only 1-inch in the reach department.

That lines the overhand right of Stephens up nicely and the leg reach is just an inch as well.

Lil Heathen has good takedowns too. We can’t ignore that.

He definitely has more tools and while most of them are sharper than Calvin, styles make fights and Kattar is a decent-sized favorite simply because he has sharper boxing and solid takedown defense.

I don’t like the over or the under enough to bet either one.

What’s left?

I like to look at all of the different props that may be available.

Picking the round is a crapshoot 90% of the time.

Fight goes the distance or fight doesn’t go the distance can each be solid plays, though.

Choosing the method of victory, though, has proven to be the more valuable play over the years.

Most of these “who and how” odds will be plus money.

I want to find the most likely of those odds for each combatant.

  • Kattar by decision: +140
  • Stephens by decision: +400

I don’t think we are going to see a submission from either guy so the other choice is win by TKO/KO.

The legendary Jose Aldo is the only fighter to TKO Jeremy Stephens in the past 8 years and his opponent, Kattar, has never been finished via strikes in his 24 professional fights.

  • Kattar by TKO: +255
  • Stephens by TKO: +550

Kattar by decision is a pretty good bet.

The (+140) odds have an implied probability of 33% and we gave him a 65% chance of winning.

I also think that Stephens by decision is a solid bet as well.

The (+400) denotes an IP of just 20% but if we are giving him 35% to win, this is pretty good.

Jeremy has better kicks and Kattar has shown susceptibility in his UFC career to them.

Stephens could also take Calvin down or at least threaten but not as much of a threat as the leg kick.

In my opinion, both of these betting odds hold enough value to make a wager even though they are split between the fighters.

Jeremy is a wily vet. He has fought smarter fights as his experience has grown.

I think we take a chance here on Stephens by decision.

My Picks
Jeremy Stephens By Decision

In Conclusion

There you go, guys.

It was a process!

Thank you for sticking with me.

I do this every time even though I don’t always take you guys step-by-step through the process.

I will not be mad at all if you want to take Kattar by decision at (+140).

It is a smart play as well.

Stephens has more experience, diversity in his striking, and wrestling ability on his side, though.

If you’re from Iowa, you can wrestle. Stephens has averaged more than 1 takedown per 15 minutes over those 39 UFC fights.

That’s pretty darn good.

Kattar is also very hittable. He absorbs over 6 strikes per 15 minutes compared to Jeremy who gets hit less than 3.

Calvin will probably win a decision. I can safely say that but the 4 to 1 odds we are getting on Stephens to out-point a guy who gets hit twice as much is too good to turn down also.

Mike Pruitt / Author

Mike has been covering sports professionally since 2017 but on the amateur scene for 25 years since when he was 12. Before the internet changed the world, he would keep detailed statistical box scores of NFL and NBA contests, write recaps, and voluntarily commentate games and fights alone in his room. Mike's military experience, Bachelors Degree, and employment thereafter were always rooted in engineering, science, and teaching. Now he enjoys being able to express himself through writing about football, golf, and car racing among other sports but most of all fighting as his life has been rooted in mixed martial arts including competing and teaching for the past 15 years.