UFC 290 Betting Trends & Action Report

UFC 290 betting trends are taking shape, with a big Saturday night on the Vegas Strip coming up. The featherweight title bout between champion Alexander Volkanovski and Yair Rodriguez tops the 14-fight card at T-Mobile Arena.

And the five-bout main card is full of strong favorites, Volkanovski among them on the UFC 290 odds board.

Oddsmakers for The SuperBook and BetMGM, along with UFC betting analyst Nick Kalikas, provide their insights on UFC 290 betting odds, trends and action. Check back through fight night for updates.

UFC 290 Odds

Volkanovski vs Rodriguez Betting

Yair Rodriguez hopes to pull an upset against Alexander Volkanovski. (Getty)

UPDATE 11 P.M. ET SATURDAY: With the main event approaching, BetMGM Nevada has the fight priced at Volkanovski -350/Rodriguez +275. That's down significantly from the opener of Volkanovski -450/Rodriguez +340.

"It's steadily come down," BetMGM's Scott Shelton said while speaking to action specifically in the company's Las Vegas market. "It's overwhelmingly Rodriguez money and tickets, 5/1 tickets and 3/1 money. It's another six-figure loser on the 'dog on straight bets.

"But if the next two favorites – Whittaker and Moreno – win going into that fight, we'll need that 'dog for parlays, and we'll take the straight-bet loss."

UPDATE 1:30 P.M. ET SATURDAY: Several hours before the main event gets underway, Volkanovski is a -375 favorite and Rodriguez a +280 underdog at BetMGM. That's a notable shift from the opener of Volkanovski -450/Rodriguez +340.

Ticket count in BetMGM's digital market – mobile/online wagering – are running almost 4/1 on the underdog Rodriguez. But money is almost dead even, with just a slight lean to the favorite Volkanovski.

That said, bettors are looking at props on this main event, as well.

"Our biggest liability at the moment is actually Rodriguez to win in the first 60 seconds of the fight, at 75/1," BetMGM UFC trader Alex Rella said. "Volkanovski is the GOAT at 145 pounds, but aging in the UFC isn’t kind to fighters in the lighter weight classes. The last fighter 35 or older to win a title fight at welterweight or below in the UFC was Tyron Woodley back in 2018, at UFC 228.

"Volkanovski turns 35 in September, and he is coming off a war against Islam Makhachev."

Rella said bettors are also leaning into either fighter winning by knockout/technical knockout or submission.

"In general, the book does well if a UFC title fight goes the distance," he said.

Whether it's in the main event, elsewhere on the main card or in the prelims, BetMGM is rooting for at least one underdog to score an upset tonight.

"This is a dream event for anyone who likes to bet chalky parlays, as UFC 290 is full of massive favorites. The closest fight of the night is Jimmy Crute vs. Alonzo Menifield, with Crute a -140 favorite," Rella said of a light heavyweight bout on the preliminary card. "A few upsets in the prelims will certainly help break up those parlays. But it will be a very rough night for the book if there isn’t at least one upset on the main card."

UPDATE 12:30 P.M. ET THURSDAY: On June 27, when The SuperBook first posted odds on UFC 290, Volkanovski was a stout -430 favorite and Rodriguez a +330 underdog.

Since then, the numbers have tightened a bit, at Volkanovski -400/Rodriguez +300.

"It's been all underdog action on Rodriguez so far, money and tickets," Degnon said. "When the main event has one of the fighters this big of a favorite, we kind of expect that. In terms of straight bets, I think we'll continue to see support for Rodriguez at 3/1.

"But as we get closer to fight night, I think Volkanovski will be involved in a ton of parlays."

Indeed, favorite moneyline parlays could become a theme in UFC 290 betting trends, with customers hoping Volkanovski provides the finishing touch on those wagers.

"We will definitely be rooting for at least one upset come Saturday night," Degnon said. "Of the five fights on the main card, all except one have the favorite at -270 or higher, as we stand right now. There are not a ton of parlays yet, but they will start to stack up as we get closer to fight night."

Degnon also noted early bettors are playing Under 4.5 rounds, with that round total currently priced at Under -140/Over +120.

As for the moneyline, Kalikas – also a well-respected MMA oddsmaker – isn't surprised that the 'dog is getting looks.

"There is sharper action hitting the market on Rodriguez in the last 48 hours, I'm sure of that," Kalikas said. "Rodriguez is on an extreme roll at this point. He's the real deal. It's not gonna be an easy fight for Volkanovski. There's a lot to like about Rodriguez. He's getting better all the time.

"You can't bet the favorite at this price. Rodriguez is too dangerous. There will be a price point where the value does show up on Volkanovski, and we will see sharps come in on that side."

And ultimately, Kalikas thinks that will be the right side.

"I think Volkanovski wins, and I think he finishes Rodriguez. I don't think it goes five rounds," he said. "People are sleeping on Volkanovski winning inside the distance."

Moreno vs Pantoja Betting

Brandon Moreno puts his flyweight title on the line vs. Alexandre Pantoja. (Getty)

UPDATE 10:45 P.M. ET SATURDAY: BetMGM Nevada has Brandon Moreno a -190 chalk, with Alexandre Pantoja a +160 'dog. Moreno opened -185 and got as high as -215 before winding down to the current price.

"Tickets are really close, 50/50, a handful more on the underdog. Money also super close, a little more on the favorite," BetMGM's Scott Shelton said of activity at the company's Las Vegas sportsbooks. "So it's basically a non-decision. That'd be a nice 'dog to get right there, to break up the parlays."

UPDATE 1:30 P.M. ET SATURDAY: BetMGM opened this flyweight title bout at Brandon Moreno -185/Alexandre Pantoja +150. It's now at Moreno -190/Pantoja +160.

"So far, we are seeing roughly split action on moneyline wagers," Rella said. "The most popular prop bets and biggest liabilities are for Moreno to win in Round 4 or Round 5. The logic is solid there, as Moreno has a near unlimited gas tank and Pantoja has never had a five-round fight before. Moreno has taken his game to the next level, but one thing to keep in mind is that Pantoja has defeated him twice already."

More on that below.

UPDATE 12:30 P.M. ET THURSDAY: In Saturday night's co-main, Brandon Moreno defends his flyweight title against Alexandre Pantoja. This is the closest fight on The SuperBook's UFC 290 odds board, with Moreno -185 to Pantoja's +155.

That's up from the opening price of Moreno -160/Pantoja +140, and the odds peaked at -200/+170.

"Action has been mostly on the favorite. More money so far, and ticket count is about 3/1 in favor of Moreno," Degnon said. "We did see some buyback on the 'dog once we got up to -200/+170. I think we'll end up rooting for Pantoja come fight night, based on parlays and the fact that at -185, we will still get straight bets on Moreno."

These two have a history, meeting twice in the Ultimate Fighter series a few years ago. And Pantoja went 2-0 in those fights.

"It's five years later, and Moreno has improved so much. And Pantoja is better, too. Both of them are legit," Kalikas said, before offering his analysis on the odds and action for this fight. "It got bet up by sharps to Moreno -200. But everybody I've talked to likes the 'dog, including other sharps who haven't bet it yet.

"The analytics are off the charts for Pantoja. I wouldn't be surprised if this line comes back down. I don't think you'll get much better than +180 on Pantoja."

Updated on 12/01/2023
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Whittaker vs du Plessis Betting

UPDATE 10:30 P.M. ET SATURDAY: Shortly before this middleweight bout, BetMGM Nevada is priced at Robert Whittaker -310/Dricus du Plessis +250. That's after opening at Whittaker -375/du Plessis +295 and seeing Whittaker peak at -400.

"Tickets are 5/1 in favor of du Plessis, and money is almost 5/1 as well," BetMGM's Scott Shelton said of action at the company's Vegas-based sportsbooks. "It's a six-figure decision, and we actually need the favorite on straight bets. But the parlays change everything. They're as long as my arm, with all the favorites. My whole screen is filled with $500 moneyline favorite parlays.

"We're gonna need a 'dog to win somewhere on the main card."

UPDATE 1:30 P.M. ET SATURDAY: Whittaker opened -375 at BetMGM, with du Plessis a +280 underdog. Now, the fight is at Whittaker -350/du Plessis +260.

"This might be the best fight of the night, and the action has been interesting," Rella said. "Early money was all over Whittaker, as he has become a modern-day Rich Franklin, only losing to Israel Adesanya at 185 pounds. But bettors have been liking du Plessis in recent days, as the South African fighter’s moneyline selection is the biggest liability.

"That being said, this fight will likely be a good result for the book either way. If du Plessis wins, we’ll lose on the fight itself, but it will break up so many parlays on the overall event. Reversely, we’ll profit from a Whittaker win by any method."

UPDATE 12:30 P.M. ET THURSDAY: In the middle of the five-bout main card, Robert Whittaker meets Dricus du Plessis in a middleweight matchup. The SuperBook opened at Whittaker -420/du Plessis +320, and the odds have shortened slightly to Whittaker -400/du Plessis +300.

"There's slightly more action on du Plessis at this point in the week," Degnon said. "I think that will stay the case in terms of straight bets, but I expect Whittaker to be tied to some favorite moneyline parlays. We've also seen some action on Under 2.5 rounds so far."

The Under is priced at -165, with the Over +142.

Kalikas said this is another fight in which the underdog merits consideration.

"There are a few live 'dogs on this card that people are sleeping on," Kalikas said. "The line on this fight is ridiculous. Du Plessis is an aggressive madman who nobody trusts. But he shouldn't be +300. He's a dangerous guy. There's some value on du Plessis."

More UFC 290 Betting Trends

Bo Nickal is a record-setting favorite on the UFC 290 odds board. (Getty)

UPDATE 1:30 P.M. ET SATURDAY: In a lightweight bout, Jalin Turner is yet another substantial favorite on the main card. Turner opened -200 to Dan Hooker's +165 at BetMGM, and the price is now out to Turner -300/Hooker +240.

"It's been very one-sided action on the Turner moneyline since the start," Rella said. "Hooker to win by any method would be a huge win for sportsbooks."

And in the opening fight on the five-bout main card, Bo Nickal remains a massive favorite, sitting at -1600 in BetMGM's UFC 290 betting market. On the flip side is Val Woodburn at +850 in this middleweight matchup.

But those prices are substantially shorter than the opener of Nickal -2500/Woodburn +1100. And practically nobody is laying the heavy lumber on the favorite.

"Our biggest liability of the night is actually a surprising one. We would get absolutely crushed if Val Woodburn picked up maybe the biggest upset in the history of combat sports," Rella said. "I’m not familiar with [Woodburn's] work, but he is coming into the UFC undefeated. It appears that since Nickal is such a massive favorite, bettors aren’t seeing value in this one."

UPDATE 12:30 P.M. ET THURSDAY: Degnon pointed to one more bout he finds intriguing, and it's the kickoff to the main card. Massive favorite Bo Nickal meets Val Woodburn in a middleweight match.

"The first fight on the main card features Nickal at -3000, which [makes him] the largest favorite in UFC history," Degnon said. "Nickal is a huge prospect for the sport, so it will be interesting to see if people fade him at that price, involve him in parlays, or stay away completely because it's not worth it."

Woodburn is a hefty +1200 underdog.

Degnon noted the three-round bout has a round total of 1.5, with the Under a stout -420.

"Oddsmakers are expecting Nickal to make quick work of Woodburn," he said.