The second batch of preliminary fights begins at 8pm ET on ESPN and also consists of four bouts with a featured welterweight contest of Alex Oliveira vs Randy Brown.
Let’s step inside the betting octagon to examine the latest UFC 261 odds courtesy of the best UFC betting sites, identify potential betting value, and dirty box these predictions all the way to a TKO victory.
Ariane Carnelossi (12-2) vs Na Liang (13-4)
Ariane Carnelossi (-200)
Na Liang (+170)
Over (+115)/Under (-145) 2.5 rounds
Liang will make her UFC debut this weekend and comes into this contest as the underdog. She’s won four straight fights in the WLF and has faced some decent competition along the way. Liang is 6-2 since the beginning of 2018 and is a submission machine.
11 of her 13 pro wins have come via stoppage with seven by way of submission. She’s 0-1 when going the distance.
Carnelossi comes into her second UFC fight as a large betting favorite. She hasn’t competed since her UFC debut in September 2019 where she lost via 3rd round TKO due to a doctor’s stoppage. Prior to the loss, she had won 12 straight fights.
Nine of her 12 pro wins have come via stoppage with eight by way of TKO/KO. She’s 3-0 when going the distance.
Combined, these two women have gone the distance in just four of their 31 total fights. So, it’s safe to say that they will finish this bout Under 2.5 rounds (-145) and inside the distance (-190).
As for the winner, I like Carnelossi in this one. Liang will take her usual approach of going for a takedown and trying to lock in a submission hold. Carnelossi will defend the takedown and eventually land a TKO/KO shot to win the fight. She’s the superior striker in this contest.
The best value is with Carnelossi winning inside the distance at +135 odds.
UFC Bets: Ariane Carnelossi (-200)
Under 2.5 rounds (-145)
Fight does not go the distance (-190)
Carnelossi wins inside the distance (+135)
Carnelossi wins via TKO/KO (+200)
Jeff Molina (8-2) vs Qileng Aori (18-6)
Jeff Molina (-110)
Qileng Aori (-110)
Over (-245)/Under (+185) 2.5 rounds
This contest has the closest odds for the entire UFC 261 event.
Aori will make his UFC debut this Saturday and rides into the octagon on a six fight win streak. He last fought in January 2020 and won via KO.
Seven of his 18 pro wins have come via stoppage with five by way of TKO/KO. He’s 11-3 when going the distance and also has three losses via submission.
Molina also enters the octagon on a winning streak as he’s put together seven straight victories including a win on DWCS last August via decision.
Seven of his eight pro wins have come via stoppage with four by way of submission. He’s 1-1 when going the distance.
Because it’s hard to find recent footage of Aori, we can’t get a true grasp of his overall skills. With that said, after reading through various reports of his previous fights, I’m taking Molina to win this bout.
I see Molina having success in counter punching and scoring more points in this fight as he wins via decision (+165).
Take the Over 2.5 rounds (-245) and for the fight to go the distance (-245). Aori has gone the distance in 14 of his 24 pro bouts. The best value is with each fighter’s moneyline.
UFC Bets: Jeff Molina (-110)
Over 2.5 rounds (-245)
Fight goes the distance (-245)
Molina wins via decision (+165)
Rodrigo Vargas (11-4) vs Zhu Rong (16-3)
Rodrigo Vargas (+215)
Zhu Rong (-255)
Over (-145)/Under (+115) 1.5 rounds
Vargas is a large underdog in this contest as he’s lost two fights in a row, which were both inside the octagon.
He debuted with the UFC in August 2019 and lost via decision to Alex da Silva Coelho via decision. His next fight was in February 2020 where he lost via disqualification due to an illegal knee strike against Brok Weaver. Vargas hasn’t competed since the DQ loss.
10 of his 11 pro wins have come via stoppage with seven by way of TKO/KO. He’s 1-2 when going the distance.
Rong will make his UFC debut this weekend like two of his fellow countrymen. He’s 13-1 in his last 14 fights including a winning streak of 10 in a row. 15 of his 16 pro wins have come via stoppage with 11 by way of TKO/KO. He’s 1-0 when going the distance.
I see this bout going Over 1.5 rounds (-145), but finishing inside the distance (-195). Combined, these two combatants have gone the distance in just four of their 34 pro fights.
Rong will have the height and reach advantages along with being the better overall striker. He also has the defensive skills to shut down anything Vargas attempts.
With such a significant striking advantage, Rong will eventually overwhelm Vargas and score the TKO somewhere in the middle of this contest.
The best value is with Rong winning inside the distance (-110).
UFC Bets: Zhu Rong (-255)
Over 1.5 rounds (-145)
Fight ends inside the distance (-195)
Rong wins inside the distance (-110)
Rong wins via TKO/KO (+175)
Danaa Batgerel (8-2) vs Kevin Natividad (9-2)
Danaa Batgerel (-185)
Kevin Natividad (+160)
Over (-170)/Under (+140) 2.5 rounds
Natividad put together a five fight win streak, including four in a row for LFA, to earn a shot with the UFC. He made his octagon debut last October and lost via 3rd round KO to Miles John.
Six of his nine pro wins have come via stoppage with five by way of TKO/KO. He’s 3-0 when going the distance.
Batgerel made his UFC debut in August 2019 and lost via decision to Heili Alateng. He bounced back in his second trip inside the octagon by defeating Guido Cannetti via 1st round KO in March 2020.
Six of his eight pro wins have come via stoppage with four by way of TKO/KO. He’s 2-2 when going the distance.
With two heavy hitters meeting inside the octagon, I don’t see this fight going the full 15 minutes. Instead, I believe it will end in Under 2.5 rounds (+140) and well within the distance (+110). These two combatants have gone the distance in just seven of 21 pro contests.
As for the winner, I like Batgerel in this one. He will keep this fight standing and has proven to be more durable than Natividad who has two KO losses on his resume.
I expect Batgerel to add another TKO/KO loss to Natividad’s record this weekend as he outslugs him in what could be a Fight of the Night contender.
UFC Bets: Danaa Batgerel (-185)
Under 2.5 rounds (+140)
Fight ends inside the distance (+110)
Batgerel wins inside the distance (+210)
Batgerel wins via TKO/KO (+275)
Tristan Connelly (14-6) vs Pat Sabatini (13-3)
Tristan Connelly (+190)
Pat Sabatini (-230)
Over (-215)/Under (+170) 2.5 rounds
Sabatini will make his octagon debut at UFC 261 and has won five of his last six pro fights with most of those contests coming in the CFFC promotion.
He last fought in December 2020 and won via 2nd round submission. 11 of his 13 pro wins have come via stoppage with three by way of submission. He’s 2-2 when going the distance.
Connelly is the large underdog and enters this bout on a five fight win streak. He debuted with the UFC in September 2019, which was his last fight, and defeated Michel Pereira via decision.
13 of his 14 pro wins have come via stoppage with nine by way of submission. He’s 1-4 when going the distance.
Connelly was out of action due to having neck surgery. During his recovery, the 35 year old Canadian decided to drop down to featherweight:
“After getting neck surgery, I had some time where I could really diet because I couldn’t really train like I normally am so I put some focus on trying to cut weight before I started training for a fight. So I started at a lower base point. I don’t know if I will be able to maintain it long-term but I’d figured hey man, ‘it’s the UFC’. There’s a lot of guys cutting a lot of weight. I have an opportunity to try and make a run for it so I figured let’s try one fight.”
It’s a bit surprising seeing the disparity in betting odds considering these two fighters are evenly matched. With that said, I do like the bout to go Over 2.5 rounds (-215) and the full 15 minutes (-190).
I also like Connelly in this matchup as I believe he’s the better striker. Both men are solid grapplers, but I believe that Connelly has the advantage in the striking battle, which will score him more points with the judges and earn the Canadian a split decision win.
UFC Bets: Tristan Connelly (+190)
Over 2.5 rounds (-215)
Fight goes the distance (-190)
Connelly wins via decision (+320)
Brendan Allen (15-4) vs Karl Roberson (9-3)
Brendan Allen (-145)
Karl Roberson (+125)
Over (-145)/Under (+115) 1.5 rounds
Roberson made his UFC debut in November 2017 after winning on DWCS in July 2017 via 1st round KO. He would also win his debut by defeating Darren Stewart via 1st round submission. Since then, Roberson has gone 3-3 and is 4-3 overall inside the octagon.
Roberson last fought in June 2020 and lost to Marvin Vettori via 1st round submission. Six of his nine pro wins have come via stoppage with four by way of submission. He’s 3-0 when going the distance. All three losses have come via submission.
Allen last fought in November 2020 and lost via 2nd round TKO to Sean Strickland. The loss snapped a seven fight win streak that included the LFA and his DWCS appearance in July 2019. “All In” is 3-1 inside the octagon with wins over Kevin Holland, Tom Breese and Kyle Daukaus.
13 of his 15 pro wins have come via stoppage with eight by way of submission. He’s 2-2 when going the distance.
Allen made the following comments about his opponent and the upcoming fight:
“I know he’s explosive, I know he’s got pretty good striking, I think he’s got OK takedown defense, bigger guy for a middleweight and seems to be explosive, athletic is pretty much the best words I can use for him though. I look forward to it, we’ll see what happens fight night, but I don’t think we’re gonna have any real problems or anything like that. I think it’s gonna be just fine.”
Combined, these two men have gone the distance in just seven of 31 total fights. I believe this fight will end inside the distance (-230), but over 1.5 rounds (-145).
Allen is the better striker between the two. In fact, I believe he’s the better overall fighter as well. His striking will set up takedowns or knock Roberson down to where he can find a submission hold to finish this fight.
The best betting value is with Allen winning inside the distance at +140. Allen is favored, is the better fighter, and these two men hardly go the distance.
UFC Bets: Brendan Allen (-145)
Over 1.5 rounds (-145)
Fight ends inside the distance (-230)
Allen wins inside the distance (+140)
Allen wins via submission (+200)
Dwight Grant (10-3) vs Stefan Sekulic (12-3)
Dwight Grant (-225)
Stefan Sekulic (+185)
Over (+105)/Under (-135) 2.5 rounds
Sekulic put together an 8-1 streak in the SBC to earn a UFC opportunity in September 2018. Unfortunately, the Serbian lost in his octagon debut via decision to Ramazan Emeev.
Sekulic failed a drug test a few months after his first UFC fight and was handed a two year suspension via USADA that ended last fall.
Nine of his 12 pro wins have come via stoppage with six by way of submission. He’s 3-1 when going the distance.
Grant earned his shot with the UFC by scoring a 2nd round KO victory on DWCS in June 2018. He’s 3-2 inside the octagon, but lost his last fight via 1st round KO to Daniel Rodriguez in August 2020. The loss snapped a two fight win streak.
Seven of his 10 pro wins have come via TKO/KO. He’s 3-2 when going the distance.
I don’t see this bout going the distance (-170). In fact, I believe the best betting strategy to take here is the Under 2.5 rounds (-135). These two fighters have gone the distance in nine of a combined 28 total bouts.
As for the winner, I like Grant in this one. He’s been more active and is the better striker between the two. As long as he defends the takedowns, I believe Grant will finish this fight in the 2nd round via TKO/KO. Sekulic has two losses via TKO/KO.
The best value is with Grant winning inside the distance at -105 odds.
UFC Bets: Dwight Grant (-225)
Under 2.5 rounds (-135)
Fight ends inside the distance (-170)
Grant wins inside the distance (-105)
Grant wins via TKO/KO (+105)
Alex Oliveira (22-9-1) vs RandyBrown (12-4)
Alex Oliveira (+130)
Over (-130)/Under (+100) 2.5 rounds
This welterweight fight will be the featured bout for the UFC 261 preliminary card. This matchup was originally scheduled for February, but Brown was forced to withdraw.
Oliveira was then going to fight a replacement opponent, but the fight was scrapped altogether after his new opponent had to withdraw. Once Brown proved that he could return to the octagon, the UFC quickly jumped at rebooking this fight.
“Cowboy” Oliveira is the small underdog for this matchup and is 2-4 in his last six UFC fights. He’s 11-7 overall inside the octagon. Oliveira last fought in October 2020 and lost via 1st round submission to Shavkat Rakhmonov.
17 of his 22 pro wins have come via stoppage with 12 by way of TKO/KO. He’s 5-3-1 when going the distance.
Brown last fought in August 2020 and lost via 2nd round KO to Vicente Luque. He’s 2-1 in his last three UFC fights and 6-4 overall inside the octagon.
10 of his 12 pro wins have come via stoppage with six by way of TKO/KO. He’s 2-1 when going the distance.
This matchup could also be another candidate for Fight of the Night as we have two fighters who aren’t afraid of standing and striking for the duration of the contest.
This bout can really go either way as both men are very capable of scoring the victory by stoppage or via decision.
With that said, I do think this bout will end inside the distance (-120) and taking the under betting option here at 2.5 rounds (+100) would be valuable as well. They’ve gone the distance in just 12 of a combined 48 total fights.
As for the winner, that’s tougher to predict. Brown has lost to strikers like Luque and Price. Yet, Oliveira has lost to fighters who are capable of getting the better of him on the mat like Nelson and Rakhmonov.
I’m taking the underdog in this contest as I think there’s a decent chance that Oliveira wins this fight via TKO/KO. If Price and Luque can score knockouts, Oliveira has a good shot as well.
UFC Bets: Alex Oliveira (+130)
Under 2.5 rounds (+100)
Fight ends inside the distance (-120)
Oliveira wins inside the distance (+330)
Oliveira wins via TKO/KO (+500)
As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed “King of the Blog” in his first year with the site. …