UFC 291 Betting Trends & Action Report

UFC 291 betting trends are taking shape for a big Saturday night at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City. Atop the 12-fight card is a rematch between Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje, the Nos. 2 and 3 lightweight contenders, respectively.

If UFC 291 odds are any indication, the five-bout main card should be quite competitive, including the Poirier-Gaethje main event.

Oddsmakers for The SuperBook and BetMGM, along with UFC betting analyst Nick Kalikas, provide their insights on UFC 291 betting odds, trends and action. Check back through fight night for updates.

UFC 291 Odds

Poirier vs Gaethje Betting

Dustin Poirier, left, won by TKO vs. Justin Gaethje, right, in a 2018 fight. (Getty)

UPDATE 11:15 P.M. ET SATURDAY: With the main event not too far off, BetMGM Nevada has the bout priced at Poirier -150/Gaethje +125. At one point earlier this evening, Poirier hit his high-water mark of -160.

"Tickets are almost dead even, like 10 more tickets on Poirier. Money, though, is exactly 2/1 on Poirier," BetMGM Nevada's Scott Shelton said of action at BetMGM's Vegas-based books

UPDATE 1:30 P.M. ET SATURDAY: Several hours before the main event, BetMGM has this showdown priced at Poirier -150/Gaethje +125. So Poirier has stretched out a bit as the favorite, as this fight opened at Poirier -125/Gaethje +105.

For BetMGM digital, which encompasses mobile/online betting, the underdog Gaethje is actually taking more tickets. But the bulk of money is on the favorite in what BetMGM trader Alex Rella expects to be a brutal bout.

"The UFC 291 main event is going to be pure violence," Rella said. "One thing every bettor seems to agree on: This one has no chance of going the distance. The book will clean up if this one somehow goes to the judges."

Regardless of the method of victory, will Poirier replicate his 2018 Fight of the Year win over Gaethje?

"The public seems to think so, as the action is about 2/1 on Poirier," Rella said. "That being said, there’s definite value for Gaethje supporters, as he has evolved so much since their first encounter. After his loss to Poirier, Gaethje’s brutality has beome much more cerebral and calculated.

"Gaethje just defeated the purest Muay-Thai striker in the UFC in Rafael Fiziev, and he permanently broke Tony Ferguson in a way nobody knew was possible."

Rella also had some advice for anyone engaging in live betting on UFC 291.

"Keep an eye on those leg kicks. Poirier’s leg was purple and battered after their first meeting," he said. "Also, watch how both men exit striking exchanges. Poirer has adopted a high elbow guard when he exits striking range. It’ll protect his head, but it leaves his body and legs open. Gaethje almost never goes to the body, but he could walk him down and get in more kicks."

UPDATE 8:30 P.M. ET FRIDAY: Poirier and Gaethje have history between them – as in, Fight of the Year history. In 2018, the two met in a brawl that lived up to the pre-fight hype. Poirier won by stoppage, 33 seconds into the fourth round.

On July 13, The SuperBook opened this fight at Poirier -135/Gaethje +115. By Wednesday, it was at Poirier -150/Gaethje +130, and it's now Poirier -140/Gaethje +120.

"There's more money on Poirier via straight bets and parlays so far, but [moneyline] ticket count is close to 50/50," Degnon said of developing UFC 291 betting trends. "I think we'll continue to see good two-way in terms of tickets, but I think we will end up with more liability on Poirier, putting us in a position to need the 'dog in the main event."

Moneyline parlays on favorites could also be an issue by the time the main event goes off.

"I do anticipate needing Gaethje to break up some parlays, and I wouldn't be surprised if we need him just based on straight bets, as well," Degnon said.

Expert Analysis

Though Poirier has stretched out slightly as a chalk, Kalikas – also a respected MMA oddsmaker – views this as a pretty even matchup.

"Sharp action flowed on Poirier early and drove the market up a little bit. I also think Poirier is going to be more of the public side," Kalikas said. "But it's such a competitive fight that I think it'll be the sharper market on the 'dog by fight day. I think the fight is much more of a coin flip.

"I feel like Gaethje is getting underestimated a little bit too much. And I think he can pull this off."

Kalikas also isn't so sure this scheduled five-round fight will go beyond the round total of 2.5.

"Early action bet Over 2.5 rounds because these two went deep in the first meeting. Now, we're seeing sharp buyback on the Under, and I feel like that's the side," he said. "I think we're probably gonna see this fight end in Under 2.5 rounds. These two have both been through so many wars that they're both vulnerable.

"And even though I like Gaethje, I wouldn't be surprised if Poirier finished this fight in the first round."

Updated on 07/13/2024
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Blachowicz vs Pereira Betting

Jan Blachowicz meets Alex Pereira in ostensibly a toss-up light heavyweight bout. (Getty)

UPDATE 11:15 P.M. ET SATURDAY: Alex Pereira is now a -115 favorite at BetMGM Nevada, in a fight that opened at Jan Blachowicz -160/Pereira +135.

"It's 2.5/1 tickets on Pereira, and money is 5/1 on Pereira," BetMGM Nevada's Scott Shelton said of action at BetMGM's Vegas-based books.

UPDATE 1:30 P.M. ET SATURDAY: BetMGM currently has this fight at -110 pick 'em, a significant shift from the opening odds of Jan Blachowicz -160/Alex Pereira +135.

"Early bettors were all over Pereira," Rella said. "But the action in the past couple days has been heavily in favor of Blachowicz, with over twice as much money on the Polish fighter. That being said, Pereira to win by KO/TKO in Round 3 is a popular prop bet."

Rella noted that Pereira moving up a weight class might not be the disadvantage that some think.

"Many have presumed that this fight will play out similar to when Israel Adesanya moved up to 205 pounds and Blachowicz came away with a clear victory. It could play out that way, but Pereira is a much more physically imposing fighter," Rella said.

UPDATE 8:30 P.M. ET FRIDAY: This light heavyweight clash also opened July 13, with Jan Blachowicz a -130 favorite and Alex Pereira a +110 'dog. On Wednesday, The SuperBook had the bout as a -110 pick 'em, and it's now at Blachowicz -120/Pereira even money.

"The ticket count is about even, but we've taken bigger bets on Pereira. The parlay liability is starting to build up on Pereira, as well," Degnon said. "We're not at the point where we have a huge decision yet, and I think both fighters will draw public interest. If I had to guess, I think we'll be rooting for Blachowicz, but this one is harder to call."

Expert Analysis

Kalikas understands why the early odds movement is toward Pereira.

"All the money has been rolling in toward Pereira in this spot," he said. "The guy is phenomenal and one of the biggest strikers on the planet. He has three wins over Israel Adesanya."

That said, Adesanya beat Pereira by knockout at UFC 287 in April, in a middleweight title fight.

"Pereira is moving up a weight class, but he's not gonna be undersized," Kalikas said. "A lot of sharp opinion is coming his way early on. But I know for a fact that a lot of bettors are waiting to see what kind of price we get on Blachowicz. Then they're gonna get down on Blachowicz.

"If he gets this match to the floor, Blachowicz could certainly finish."

Updated on 07/13/2024
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More UFC 291 Betting Trends

From left, Derrick Lewis and Marcos Rogerio de Lima are now on the main card. (Getty)

UPDATE 9:30 P.M. ET SATURDAY: In the middle bout on the five-bout main card, Marcos Rogerio de Lima is at -215 to Derrick Lewis' +175 at BetMGM Nevada. The fight opened with Lewis actually the favorite at -135 and Rogerio de Lima a +110 'dog. Rogerio de Lima peaked at -235, but has come down some over the past few hours.

"This one, too, tickets and money are on the 'dog," Shelton said of action solely at BetMGM's Vegas properties. "Almost 8/1 tickets and 4/1 money on Lewis."

In the second bout on the five-bout main card, BetMGM Nevada has Bobby Green a -375 chalk and Tony Ferguson a +295 underdog. That's up from the opener of Green -345/Ferguson +260.

But the underdog is plenty popular in BetMGM's Las Vegas market.

"All the tickets, all the money on the 'dog," BetMGM Nevada's Scott Shelton said. "It's 12/1 tickets, and the money is also just over 12/1. We'll take the favorite there."

UPDATE 1:30 P.M. ET SATURDAY: BetMGM opened the Derrick Lewis-Marcos Rogerio de Lima heavyweight bout at Lewis -135/Rogerio de Lima +110. There's since been a quantum shift, with Rogerio de Lima out to a -225 chalk and Lewis a +175 underdog.

That said, the liability is not where you'd think it would be for a fight that was on the prelims card, but moved to the main card when the Stephen Thompson-Michel Pereira bout was canceled.

"One of the biggest liabilities of the night is actually for Derrick Lewis to end his three-fight losing streak," Rella said. "While Lewis may no longer be a title contender, the bettors seem to believe he has enough left in the tank to defeat Rogerio de Lima. There’s value there if you think Lewis has sorted his weight cutting issues or Rogerio de Lima isn’t ready for the step up in competition."

In other intriguing UFC 291 betting trends, Rella also noted the Tony Ferguson-Bobby Green lightweight bout.

"We have taken about four times as much action on Green to defeat Ferguson. Ferguson is on a five-fight losing streak, but that was against the upper echelon of the UFC lightweight division," Rella said. "Now, he’s finally taking on a fellow veteran. Green has looked more durable than Ferguson of late, but [Green] fought in Affliction, so his best days are behind him, as well. It would be a good night for the book if we see flashes of vintage Tony Ferguson." 

UPDATE 8:30 P.M. ET FRIDAY: Degnon pointed to the Derrick Lewis-Marcos Rogerio de Lima matchup as one catching bettors' interest. It's a heavyweight bout that was scheduled for the preliminary card, but moved to the main card on the Thompson-Pereira cancellation.

Rogerio de Lima opened as a modest -125 favorite July 19, but he's been hammered out to -240 in UFC 291 betting trends.

Lewis correspondingly moved from +105 to +190 at The SuperBook.

"As you can see, this number moved a ton, and it wasn't without action," Degnon said. "We took some sharp money on Rogerio at -160 and -170, pushing us above -200 with the rest of the market now. The ticket count and money favor Rogerio, but it will be interesting to see if and at what number we start to see some buyback on Lewis.

"Derrick Lewis is somewhat of a fan favorite, based on his fighting style and interviews. So I know as we get closer, we will see some public money on him."

Expert Analysis

When asked about one other bout that piqued his interest, Kalikas also went straight to the Lewis-Rogerio de Lima matchup.

"Derrick Lewis is one of the all-time most popular heavyweights and one of the most devastating finishers. So it's weird to see him on the prelims card, but it's also indicative," Kalikas said, prior to this fight moving to the main card. "There's been so much sharp action, a lot of sharp agreement to hit the Rogerio de Lima side. They're both the same age (38), but Lewis has been through more wars.

"De Lima is a little fresher and performing better than he ever has. Lewis is going the other direction. But if you didn't get in on the favorite at under -200, you shouldn't bet this at over -200."

Thompson vs Pereira (Canceled)

Stephen Thompson, right, is a -150 chalk vs. Michel Pereira in UFC 291 odds. (Getty)

UPDATE 8:30 P.M. ET FRIDAY: Earlier today, Michel Pereira missed weight for this welterweight matchup in the middle of the five-bout main card. Subsequently, the Stephen Thompson vs. Pereira fight was canceled.

UPDATE MIDNIGHT ET WEDNESDAY: Much like Blachowicz-Pereira, the odds have tightened for a middleweight bout between Stephen Thompson and Michel Pereira (no relation to Alex). The SuperBook opened July 19 at Thompson -200/Pereira +170, and it's now at Thompson -150/Pereira +130.

"Thompson is tied to some parlays, but ticket count and money wagered is all on the 'dog Pereira so far," Degnon said. "The market seems to agree, as the price has dropped on Thompson. I think as we get closer to fight night, we will continue to see Pereira be the more popular side among the public.

"It's always hard to calculate in terms of parlays and liability, but I think this will be one fight in which we are actually rooting for the chalk."

Expert Analysis

"This is another spot where a lot of sharp 'dog action came in right away," Kalikas said. "Pereira is a bit of a wild man, a dangerous fighter, and he could take this fight to the floor. And Thompson makes elite-level strikers look bad."

So this bout, much like Poirier-Gaethje and Blachowicz-Pereira, could fall any direction.

"In all three fights, anything goes, anything could happen," Kalikas said. "They're really good fights."