UFC on ESPN 1 Opening Odds Reactions

UFC on ESPN 1, UFC on ESPN 1 odds, Cain Velasquez, Francis Ngannou, Aljamain Sterling, Jimmie Rivera

UFC on ESPN 1 takes place Sunday, February 17 at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. The offshore sportsbooks recently opened up the full odds for the card, and here they are.

UFC on ESPN 1 Opening Odds

Cain Velasquez -170
Francis Ngannou +130

Jimmie Rivera -265
Aljamain Sterling +185

Paul Felder -175
James Vick +135

Jessica Penne -185
Jodie Esquibel +145

Luke Sanders -140
Renan Barao +100

Kron Gracie -285
Alex Caceres +205

Cynthia Calvillo -285
Cortney Casey +205

Myles Jury -195
Andre Fili +155

Alexandra Albu -195
Emily Whitmire +155

Scott Holtzman -175
Nik Lentz +135

Manny Bermudez -305
Benito Lopez +225

Vicente Luque -385
Bryan Barberena +265

Andrea Lee -215
Ashlee Evans-Smith +165

And here are my initial reactions to the UFC on ESPN 1 opening odds:

  • The main event is a very intriguing heavyweight bout between the former champ Velasquez and one of the hardest punchers in Ngannou. Velasquez has amazing wrestling and we saw Ngannou’s takedown defense get badly exposed when he lost to Stipe Miocic last year. But here’s the thing — Velasquez hasn’t fought since July 2016, while Ngannou has at least remained active. Velasquez is the more complete mixed martial artist, and on paper he should beat Ngannou, but given the layoff it seems risky to lay that sort of juice on him. I still think Velasquez wins, but not sure if playing him at a chalk price after three years out of the cage is worth it.
  • Another great fight is Sterling vs. Rivera, but the opening line appears to be too high on Rivera. He’s a great fighter, but Sterling has looked really good lately. It was probably a dog-or-pass situation based on the opening line, though the odds have tightened up since then.
  • The Vick vs. Felder fight should be exciting but I like Felder in this one. I just really don’t trust Vick’s chin and Felder is a very technical striker. At open there wasn’t much value on Felder but right now the line is a Pick ’em and I like him quite a bit at that price.
  • It’s funny seeing Barao as an underdog against a guy like Sanders, but there’s no way you can confidently put your hard-earned money on a guy like Barao right now. I don’t think Sanders is worth betting at that price either, though, so in my opinion that one looks like a total pass altogether.
  • One dog who I do think has a good chance to win is Lentz against Holtzman. I think the odds should be flipped here, with Lentz as the favorite. I know Holtzman looked really good against Alan Patrick, but otherwise I haven’t been impressed by him in the UFC. Lentz is one of the most underrated fighters in the lightweight division and has been for years. I would take him here at dog money in a heartbeat.
  • And finally, it’s hard not to like Luque against Barberena, though I believe this could be a fight where the props will provide more value than the moneyline. Most will likely think Luque knocks Barberena out, but I think this one is going the distance. Keep your eye on the Luque by decision prop.


Written by Adam Martin.

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