UFC 254 Betting Pick: Magomed Ankalaev vs Ion Cutelaba

You know how the old saying goes “The umpteenth time is a charm”.

These two men have been slated to fight several times in the past.

It has been the strangest saga but it has built some anticipation.

These two fought back on February 29th, one of the last fight cards before lockdown.

It appeared that Ankalaev caught his Moldovan foe with a decent shot early in the first round. This was about the time that Ion Cutelaba started doing the chicken dance but it was hard to tell at the time if he was faking it or not.

Ion is quite the animated character in and outside of the Octagon so it makes sense that he would fake wobble to mock and possibly surprise his opponent with a heavy strike.

The ref bought it hook line and stinker, though, because he jumped in and that’s when you saw Cutelaba’s expression change sharply and immediately.

That told us that he was indeed faking being hurt at least somewhat but that’s the thing with lies, man.

Sometimes you become too good for your own good.

Okay, so Magomed won but he was the sizable favorite who wasn’t losing the fight. An immediate rematch was set.

April…no go.

August…no go.

August again two weeks later…nope.

That virus tried to cut down Cutelaba but I think the trained killer probably scared it away as quickly as he was infected.

If this fight doesn’t happen at UFC 254, I think both men should move on because there is clearly a higher power at play who doesn’t want this rematch to happen.

Let’s take a look at the measurables for these two killers and note any major differences.

Magomed Ankalaev Ion Cutelaba
Fight Record: 13-1 Fight Record: 15-5
Age: 28 Age: 26
Height: 6’3” Height: 6’1”
Reach: 75” Reach: 75”
Stance: Orthodox Stance: Southpaw
Average Fight Time: 8:51 Average Fight Time: 7:15
From: Makhachkala, Russia From: Chisinau, Moldova
Camp: Gorets FT in Dagestan, Russia Camp: CSA Moldova

Ion Cutelaba is an absolute animal. At 6’1”, he isn’t the tallest guy in the UFC’s Light Heavyweight Division but very thick and he goes for it.

The man has no problem going out on his sword and if you choose to bet on him, he will fight for your money until the end.

He is game with a lot of power in his hands but his technique isn’t that sharp and he isn’t always defensively sound.

His opponent, Magomed Ankalaev, is longer, leaner, and rangier.

Magomed makes much better use of the rest of his limbs than his Moldovan foe who primarily takes only a hands-on approach to his fights.

Just check out this gnarly front kick finish he got over Dalcha Lungiambula.

Magomed Ankalaev is the real deal, guys.

I like Cutelaba as well and I promise I’m not fading him because he finished my friend Khalil Rountree so badly.

If anything, I would favor him more for doing so because of the lasting impression he made.

He is a dangerous guy.

This isn’t a slam dunk pick if you’re thinking of putting your money on the Dagestani.

Let’s take a look at the betting odds.

BetOnline.AG is back up and running.

Cheers to that.

If you guys didn’t hear, they were hacked with a 20 million dollar ransom!

Crazy stuff. I’m not sure what happened so I don’t want to comment but I was pretty bummed when I couldn’t make any bets on the fights this weekend.

I was going to put 10,000 bucks on Teofimo Lopez by decision too!

It appears that we are back to full strength at the major online sportsbook.

Let’s look at the betting lines for this fight and make our prediction on which fighter has the best value to make a solid play.


  • Magomed Ankalaev -270
  • Ion Cutelaba +130
Round Total

  • Over 1.5 (-120)
  • Under 1.5 (-110)
Decision Prop

  • Fight goes (+265)
  • Fight doesn’t go (-385)

Magomed Ankalaev is the better fighter here.

I think he could have possibly fought someone in the top 5 by now.

These two have been trying to rematch each other for a long time.

Want to feel old?

Their first fight was in late February of this year.

I know.

It seems like several years.

I have used this joke a few times now over the past couple weeks so I should probably stop but it’s true.

Been a long year…

These two were supposed to rematch in April and then again in August and then again in August…

It’s fight week.

I don’t think either fighter can get it again but I wouldn’t be surprised with this fight.

I don’t like the (-270) price tag for the Russian. I’m pretty sure nobody does. These are both 220-pound men.

It only takes one and Ion Cutelaba has more power in his hands than the average UFC Light Heavyweight but he lacks the ability to put it all together.

I don’t want to assume he is kind of a meathead and not a cerebral assassin type like his opponent, Ankalaev, but he does fight that way.

His nickname is The Hulk and he does smash but forgive me if I’m not picking up on the calculatory process.

These two got after one another in the first fight right out of the gate.

That’s why we are getting such a pretty price tag on the over 1.5 rounds. I can see the public pouring some more dough on the under so we could get a better payout if we wait a few days. I believe the sharp money is on the over, though.

These guys have had a lot of time to game plan for their rematch so it’s possible we see these two take their time before they try to kill each other.

We are in the big Octagon which helps the over 1.5 play.

With all of this build-up and then cancellation over and over, the nerves of the combatants will be up.

If I were the coach of either fighter, I would tell them to ease into this fight.

Ion started quickly the last time out and he got caught. I know he was pretending to be hurt but the initial shot was definitely one that he felt.

It was hard enough to feel and it didn’t knock him out.

Both fighters are quite durable so the over here is a good play, especially with such an inexpensive price tag of (-120).

Over 1.5 Rounds

In Conclusion

You can get the fight goes to a decision bet for (+265).

That might be pushing it a little, though.

These two are still hard-hitting light heavyweights with a bad history.

We have a good spot with the over 1.5 rounds play. (-120) denotes an implied probability of 55%.

I think this one goes over the 7:30 mark two out of three times.

Strong grapplers Glover Teixeira and Misha Circunov tapped Cutelaba and Magomed definitely can but I don’t rate his submission abilities alongside those two.

Ion should be able to keep this one standing with his superior center of gravity.

I think he is outmatched there as well, though.

Magomed starts slowly establishing his range with his jab and kicks.

Let’s hope that Ion is patient as well.

I think we have a solid 10% edge on the books with this play.

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.

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