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Popular favorites drive UFC 248 betting

Updated March 5, 2020 - 7:42 pm

Two popular favorites. Two well-known veteran underdogs. Plenty of action for UFC 248.

William Hill sportsbook director Nick Bogdanovich and Westgate sportsbook director John Murray reported high volume already on the co-main events Saturday at T-Mobile Arena.

Zhang Weili will defend her women’s strawweight belt against Joanna Jedrzejczyk, then undefeated middleweight champion Israel Adesanya faces Yoel Romero. Adesanya was a -310 favorite Thursday at the Westgate (Romero +250), and Zhang was a -190 favorite (Jedrzejczyk +160).

“There’s a lot of interest in the two title fights and not a lot of interest in everything else (on the card),” Murray said. “We’re pleasantly surprised. We’re definitely going to need one of those two underdogs.”

The Westgate has taken multiple five-figure wagers on Adesanya, Murray said, and one bettor placed a $15,000 parlay on Adesanya with Tony Ferguson (against Khabib Nurmagomedov on April 18) that would pay $49,385.

When Bogdanovich pulled up his numbers Thursday, he said, “I didn’t realize we had this kind of volume on it. The early returns are very positive.”

He and Murray agreed an Adesanya-Zhang parlay would be popular, with Murray noting that 80 percent or more of the action on the card would come Friday and Saturday.

Handicapper Brian Edwards (@vegasbedwards, MajorWager.com) makes the case for Romero at +250.

“He’s the best wrestler that Adesanya’s faced, and Romero can definitely hang with him standing,” Edwards said. “It’s the biggest challenge of Adesanya’s career.”

Handicapper Lou Finocchiaro (@GambLou) called the fight a “tremendous clash of almost everything.”

“You have a short, explosive 42-year-old anvil against a matrix-moving, modern kickboxing striker,” he said.

The fight probably will be decided by its style, Finocchiaro said. Romero has a significant strike rate of 79 percent on the ground and 71 percent in a clinch, while Adesanya has a significant strike rate of 87 percent from distance, Finocchiaro said.

He said he couldn’t pull the trigger on Romero and would instead look to bet the fight over 3½ rounds at -120.

Both handicappers like Zhang to handle Jedrzejczyk. Zhang is the hungrier fighter, and Jedrzejczyk, who has lost three of her last five fights, might not have that same desire anymore, Finocchiaro said.

Instead of laying the price with Zhang, Edwards said he would play under 4½ rounds at +125.

“Zhang has 17 finishes in 20 wins,” Edwards said. “I think Joanna’s lost a step. If it goes the distance, then that means Joanna has a great chance to win.”

Finocchiaro said his best bet was Gerald Meerschaert (+120) to defeat Deron Winn in a middleweight bout.

“I think the wrong man may be favored,” he said.

Edwards likes Meerschaert-Winn to go under 2½ rounds (+125), noting that only five of Meerschaert’s 42 career bouts have gone the distance and that Winn has stopped four of his seven opponents in the first round.

Contact Jim Barnes at jbarnes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0277. Follow @JimBarnesLV on Twitter.

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