If the main event of Saturday night’s UFC card was a movie script, there’d be no doubt as to the outcome. Thiago Santos, 38 and closer to the end of his career than the beginning, would easily dispatch Magomed Ankalaev. Their light heavyweight matchup, however, is taking place at UFC Apex in Las Vegas. It’s not a script unfolding on a Hollywood set – and the sports betting market sees that as bad news for Santos, a large underdog according to UFC Vegas 50 odds.
As of Thursday, the heavily favored Ankalaev was -650 on the moneyline at FanDuel and -600 at DraftKings. FanDuel was offering Santos +440, while DraftKings had Santos at +435.
Santos, a Brazilian, is sure to have the crowd on his side against his Russian opponent.
UFC · Sat (3/12) @ 7:00 pm ET
|UFC Apex, Las Vegas, NV|
Santos vs. Ankalaev Odds and Props
ESPN’s light heavyweight rankings suggest a much tougher contest than the betting odds indicate, with Ankalaev ranked No. 8 and Santos right behind at No. 9. Santos is coming off a win in October but had dropped his previous three bouts, albeit to Jon Jones, Glover Teixeira, and Aleksandar Rakic.
Ankalaev, who is making his first main-event appearance, has won seven straight fights after dropping his first UFC bout.
In a preview on UFC’s website, Ankalaev is mentioned as a fighter who could be “short-listed for a title shot” if he prevails Saturday. A win by Santos would be an indication he’s still got what it takes to handle young fighters seemingly on the way to levels he’d hoped to reach earlier in his career.
Bettors looking to play Ankalaev at plus-money odds have these among their prop options at FanDuel:
- Ankalaev by KO/TKO +130
- Ankalaev by points +160
- Ankalaev by submission +1000
Song Favored Over Moraes In Co-Main Event
The co-main event featuring bantamweights Marlon Moraes and Song Yadong has a similar storyline to the main event.
Moraes, 33, has lost in his last three trips into the Octagon. Worse yet, he’s lost four of his last five and needs a win to remain in the mix for marquee bouts. Beating Song, who has won two straight and three of his last four bouts, would go a long way in boosting Moraes’ future prospects.
Song is 18-5-1 (7-1-1 UFC) in his career, and the 24-year-old is ranked No. 1 on ESPN’s list of the top 25 MMA fighters under age 25. A win on Saturday will be another step toward a title shot for Song, while a loss would be, at the least, a surprising speedbump.
FanDuel has Song at -245, while he’s -250 on DraftKings. Moraes is +194 at FanDuel and +200 at DraftKings.
Featherweight Yusuff Favored Over Caceres
Sodiq Yusuff is 11-2-0 for his career but hasn’t fought since losing a unanimous decision to Arnold Allen nearly a year ago. Yusuff, 28, had won six straight fights and will be looking to return to his winning ways Saturday.
Caceres, 33, carries a five-bout winning streak into UFC Vegas 50 and will try to prove he can handle an opponent who is both highly touted and has a five-year age advantage.
Oddsmakers expect Yusuff to rebound, as he’s -230 on the moneyline at FanDuel and -235 at DraftKings. Caceres is +184 at FanDuel and +190 at DraftKings.
Roberson Lays Money Vs. Roundtree
After two years in the middleweight division, Karl Roberson returns to the light heavyweight class. Oddsmakers view the move as a sound move, as Roberson is -130 on the moneyline at FanDuel and -125 at DraftKings.
Roundtree is coming off a win in September and would love another victory Saturday. The betting market gives him a chance, pricing him at +106 at FanDuel and +105 at DraftKings.
More UFC Vegas 50 Odds
In the remaining two bouts on the main card (ESPN+, 7 p.m. ET), Drew Dober is favored over Terrance McKinney, and Alex Pereira is favored over Bruno Silva.
Dober is -188 at FanDuel and -170 over McKinney in their lightweight matchup. McKinney is +152 at FanDuel and +150 at DraftKings.
In a middleweight matchup, Pereira is -178 at FanDuel and -170 at DraftKings. Silva is currently +144 at FanDuel and +150 at DraftKings.
The undercard begins at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN+.