For the first time in two months, bettors were able to wager on a major American sporting event Saturday in UFC 249.
Only four days later, gamblers can place their bets on another MMA event Wednesday in UFC Fight Night, headlined by a light heavyweight bout between Anthony Smith and Glover Teixeira.
“I’m happier than a pig in a mud hole,” said veteran UFC handicapper Lou Finocchiaro (@GambLou).
Finocchiaro, who called Justin Gaethje’s upset of Tony Ferguson at UFC 249, shared two best bets and another play on Wednesday’s card in Jacksonville, Florida, which will be streamed on ESPN Plus.
Drew Dober (-115) over Alexander Hernandez
“This is going to be an absolute war. These guys really mirror one another. It’s the style of each fighter to be a very aggressive and pressuring striker,” Finocchiaro said. “Dober has got vastly more experience, he’s been in there against much more capable fighters, and in his last two fights, he’s looked absolutely awesome.
“Dober is an ascending fighter who’s reaching his peak right now. He trains in Denver at elevation with Justin Gaethje, and I think Gaethje’s win creates all kinds of momentum with Dober. For that reason, I look at Dober, who opened at -140 and has all kinds of value at -115.”
Thiago Moises (-110) over Michael Johnson
“Moises opened at -140 but has been bet down to pick’em, I believe, based on the fact that Michael Johnson is the much more recognizable fighter. But (Johnson has) had a very uneven and inconsistent career,” Finocchiaro said. “He beats guys he shouldn’t even be in the ring with and gets beat by guys who shouldn’t be in the ring with him.
“Moises’ last loss was to Russian Damir Ismagulov. But Ismagulov is going to be a champion, and there’s absolutely no shame in that loss. In fact, it’s the reason I’m taking Moises, besides the fact that Moises is eight years younger. Moises has too much explosion and too much power. It’s a very good bounce-back spot for Moises off a loss.”
Hunter Azure (-185) over Brian Kelleher
An underdog player, Finocchiaro joked that he’s usually allergic to taking favorites. But he recommends putting Azure in a parlay.
“This favorite is in a really good position,” he said. “These two fighters fight at 135, but this fight is sanctioned at 145. The reason for that is short notice. They don’t want these guys killing themselves losing an extra 10 pounds.
“Kelleher needs a fight. But this is not in his best interest to fight a larger man at a weight class he’s never competed in. He’s giving two inches in height to Azure, five inches in reach, one inch in leg reach, and Azure is four years younger. It’s a terrible spot for Kelleher.”
The Westgate will post method-of-victory props and exact-round props on every fight on Wednesday’s card, according to sportsbook director John Murray.
The Westgate also has posted odds on Saturday’s UFC Fight Night, which will be headlined by a heavyweight bout between Alistair Overeem and Walt Harris and shown on ESPN.
Odds also are up at the Westgate on four fights on the May 23 UFC Fight Night card and on several potential future bouts, including a lightweight unification fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Gaethje that UFC president Dana White expects to take place on Fight Island this summer.
Nurmagomedov is a -200 favorite over Gaethje (+175).