UFC 254 Preliminary Card Betting Preview, Odds and Picks

By in MMA on
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On Saturday, October 18th, the UFC will be on PPV for UFC 254: Nurmagomedov vs Gaethje live from Fight Island. This exciting show features a main event fight for the undisputed lightweight championship. However, prior to the main card, we will take a look at the preliminary bouts first.

As of now, there are six bouts scheduled for the prelims with a start time of 12PM ET on ESPN+. There have been numerous adjustments made to this event lineup due to injuries and positive tests. Check out our UFC 254 hub for the latest event information all the way up to fight night.

UFC betting sites have released their full slate of odds and props for the UFC 254 preliminary card. Let’s step inside the octagon to examine these odds, identify potential value or upsets, and liver kick these predictions.

Joel Alvarez vs Alexander Yakovlev

  • Joel Alvarez (-155)
  • Alexander Yakovlev (+135)
  • Over (+115)/Under (-145) 2.5 rounds

Yakovlev last stepped inside the octagon 11 months ago and lost via unanimous decision to Roosevelt Roberts. He’s fought just twice in the last four years and has a 3-5 record in the UFC.

18 of his 25 pro wins have come via stoppage with nine wins apiece for submission and TKO/KO. He’s 7-5-1 when going the distance.

Alvarez earned a UFC shot after winning 10 straight fights. However, he lost his debut against Damir Ismagulov via unanimous decision. Alvarez would bounce back with two straight victories including a 1st round submission win over Joseph Duffy in July.

All 17 of his pro wins have come via stoppage with 15 by way of submission. He’s 0-1 when going the distance.

At 36 years old, Yakovlev’s best days are behind him. It’s hard to feel confident that he can win this fight when it seems like he beats himself in the octagon more times than his opponents do.

I believe this bout will end with a submission victory for Alvarez. The only question is if it will happen in the first or the second round. Take the Under 2.5 rounds (-145) and for this fight to end inside the distance (-195).

The best value for this bout is Alvarez winning the fight inside the distance at +110 odds. Yakovlev doesn’t have the skills to fend of Alvarez’s submission arsenal. Eventually this fight will end up on the mat where the 27 year old Spaniard will get the win.

Joel Alvarez vs Alexander Yakovlev –Alvarez (-155)

Under 2.5 rounds (-145)

Fight ends inside the distance (-195)

Alvarez wins inside the distance (+110)

Casey Kenney vs Nathaniel Wood

  • Casey Kenney (-200)
  • Nathaniel Wood (+170)
  • Over (-225)/Under (+175) 2.5 rounds

Despite the disparity of odds for this bout, Kenney vs Wood is a really exciting matchup between two top notch prospects.

Wood last fought in July and defeated John Castaneda via unanimous decision. That bumped his overall octagon record to 4-1. 14 of his 17 pro wins have come via stoppage with nine by way of TKO/KO. He’s 3-0 when going the distance.

Kenney last fought three weeks ago and dominated Heili Alateng on his way to an easy unanimous decision. He successfully lobbied the UFC for a quick turnaround as Wood needed an opponent. Kenney is also 4-1 inside the octagon and on a two fight win streak.

Seven of his 15 pro wins have come via stoppage with five by way of submission. He’s 8-2-1 when going the distance in a fight.

I like Kenney in this contest. I believe his grappling skills are superior to Wood’s mat skills. Additionally, I believe Kenney can hang in the striking game long enough to take this fight to the mat. Once he gets to the ground, he will have the advantage with top control for the majority of the contest.

Take the Over 2.5 rounds (-225) and for the fight to go the distance (-180). 11 of Kenney’s 17 pro fights and four of his five UFC bouts have gone the distance.

Kenney winning via decision offers the best value at +125 odds. Wood is a risky flier for those looking to wager on an underdog.

Casey Kenney vs Nathaniel Wood –Kenney (-200)

Over 2.5 rounds (-225)

Fight goes the distance (-180)

Kenney wins via decision (+125)

Liana Jojua vs Miranda Maverick

  • Liana Jojua (+335)
  • Miranda Maverick (-420)
  • Over (-115)/Under (-115) 2.5 rounds

This bout has the largest disparity in betting odds, making Miranda Maverick the biggest betting favorite and Liana Jojua the biggest betting underdog for UFC 254.

Jojua made her UFC debut 13 months ago and lost via 3rd round TKO to Sarah Moras. She bounced back in July with a 1st round submission over Diana Belbita. Seven of her eight pro wins have come via stoppage with six by way of submission. She’s 1-1 when going the distance.

Maverick has won three straight fights as she makes her UFC debut this weekend. Prior to the UFC, Maverick was a top contender in Invicta FC. Five of her seven pro wins have come via submission. She’s 2-2 when going the distance.

This fight will almost certainly end up on the mat. Combined, these two women have 11 submission victories in their 15 pro wins. Furthermore, they only have six decision outcomes in 20 total fights. I like this bout to end inside the distance (-145) and Under 2.5 rounds (-115).

Maverick is a far better striker than Jojua and has a three inch reach advantage. Jojua won’t last the 1st round if they stay standing for five minutes. She will want to get this fight to the mat where her chances of winning are slightly better.

With that said, Maverick is still the better grappler of the two and she will oblige Jojua in going to the mat. Once there, I expect Maverick to pick up a submission win as she’s the better overall wrestler. The best value is with Maverick winning via submission (+175).

Liana Jojua vs Miranda Maverick –Maverick (-420)

Under 2.5 rounds (-115)

Fight ends inside the distance (-145)

Maverick wins inside the distance (-420)

Maverick wins via submission (+175)

Da Un Jung vs Sam Alvey

  • Da Un Jung (-345)
  • Sam Alvey (+285)
  • Over (-130)/Under (+100) 1.5 rounds

Sam Alvey’s time in the UFC is about up. The 34 year old American has lost four straight fights and is 10-9 overall inside the octagon. His last contest was in May and he lost via split decision to Ryan Spann.

22 of his 33 pro wins have come via stoppage with 19 by way of TKO/KO. Alvey is 11-10 when going the distance.

Jung made his UFC debut 14 months ago and won via 3rd round submission over Khadis Ibragimov. He’s won 12 straight bouts including both of his trips inside the octagon. He last fought in December and won via 1st round KO.

12 of his 13 pro wins have come via stoppage with 10 by way of TKO/KO. Jung is 1-1 when going the distance.

I really only see one outcome for this fight and that’s Jung winning via TKO/KO. He’s a better striker and has more power.

I will give some credit and say that Alvey makes it out of the 1st round and barely Over 1.5 rounds (-130). This fight will definitely end inside the distance (-265).

Two of Alvey’s last four losses have come via TKO/KO. Jung has 10 knockouts on his resume including six in his last seven bouts. The best value for this contest is Jung winning via TKO/KO at +100 odds.

Da Un Jung vs Sam Alvey –Jung (-345)

Over 1.5 rounds (-130)

Fight ends inside the distance (-265)

Jung wins inside the distance (-130)

Jung wins via TKO/KO (+100)

Alex Oliveira vs Shavkat Rakhmonov

  • Alex Oliveira (-125)
  • Shavkat Rakhmonov (+105)
  • Over (-155)/Under (+125) 2.5 rounds

This fight was originally scheduled for Elizeu Zaleski to take on Shavkat Rakhmonov. However, Zaleski was forced to withdraw due to an injury and Alex Oliveira stepped in on two weeks’ notice.

Shavkat Rakhmonov is making his UFC debut this weekend and hasn’t competed since June 2019. The former M1 welterweight champ is unbeaten in his career and has won all 12 of his pro fights via stoppage with seven by way of TKO/KO. He’s never gone the distance in a pro fight.

Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira is a rugged veteran on a two fight win streak. He last fought in July and defeated Peter Sobotta via unanimous decision. 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.

This really is a coin flip fight. Oliveira is a tough, durable veteran who’s a hard out for anyone. I don’t see Rakhmonov being able to get the finish in this contest. But, I do like the potential from Shavkat and I’m leaning towards an upset in this bout.

I think Rakhmonov will outwork Oliveira in this matchup and land a higher volume of strikes, which should help him score the decision victory (+335). Cowboy’s last two losses have come via decision to Dalby and Perry.

The best value for this bout is Rakhmonov’s moneyline at +105 odds at UFC betting sites. If you don’t feel comfortable picking a winner then go with the Over 2.5 rounds (-155). If you want to take a flier then Rakhmonov pulling off a TKO/KO win is listed at +625 odds.

Alex Oliveira vs Shavkat Rakhmonov –Rakhmonov (+105)

Over 2.5 rounds (-155)

Fight goes the distance (-155)

Rakhmonov wins via decision (+335)

Stefan Struve vs Tai Tuivasa

  • Stefan Struve (-115)
  • Tai Tuivasa (-105)
  • Over (-130)/Under (+100) 1.5 rounds

Stefan Struve might be the slight favorite in this contest, but he’s dropped four of his last five bouts including the last time he fought which was 10 months ago. Struve lost via 2nd round TKO to Ben Rothwell.

26 of his 29 pro wins have come via stoppage with 18 by way of submission. He’s 2-3 when going the distance.

Tai Tuivasa has lost three straight fights and was bounced from the UFC. His last contest came one year ago where he lost via 2nd round submission to Sergey Spivak. Eight of his nine pro wins have come via TKO/KO. He’s 1-1 when going the distance.

Neither heavyweight inspires confidence. In fact, it’s hard to pick a winner in this bout when both are performing far below expectations. With that in mind, I believe that Tuivasa will make the most of his second chance with the UFC and takeout a shot Struve.

Struve has gone 4-7 in his last 11 UFC bouts and is pretty much at the end of his career. He’s no longer a Top 15 fighter, but more of a stepping stone. Yet, Tuivasa isn’t guaranteed a victory as he also has his own problems inside the octagon.

Let’s get the easy wagers out of the way first. This fight will end inside the distance (-270) as someone will eat a TKO/KO. I’m also taking the Over 1.5 rounds in this bout. Struve’s last five losses have all gone over that mark. Tuivasa’s last four contests have also gone over that mark.

Lastly, I’m giving the edge to Tuivasa in this matchup. He still has the knockout power, where Struve does not. Stefan’s best chance is to get this fight to the mat and locking in a submission. Unfortunately, I don’t see him surviving the standup battle long enough for this to happen.

The best value for this heavyweight bout is Tuivasa winning via TKO/KO (+175). Eight of his nine pro wins have come via knockout and eight of Struve’s 12 losses have come via TKO/KO.

Stefan Struve vs Tai Tuivasa –Tuivasa (-105)

Over 1.5 rounds (-130)

Fight ends inside the distance (-270)

Tuivasa wins inside the distance (+155)

Tuivasa wins via TKO/KO (+175)

Rick Rockwell

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. ...

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