UFC betting takes a marquee spot on the odds board this week, thanks to arguably the biggest name in the sport. Conor McGregor returns to the octagon in UFC 257, for a rematch with Dustin Poirier Saturday night in the main event of a 12-bout card on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.
Circa Sports MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas talked UFC 257 line movement, sharp money and public betting. Covers will update this action report on UFC 257 betting, with sharp picks vs. public bets and line movement, up through the main card’s 10 p.m. ET Saturday start.
Who Are People Betting to Win Poirier vs McGregor II?
UPDATE 10:45 P.M. ET SATURDAY: With the main card underway, The SuperBook at Westgate has the main event at McGregor -335/Poirier +275. "There are more people betting on Poirier, but the real money is on the favorite, not surprisingly," SuperBook risk manager Rex Beyers said.
UPDATE 9:30 P.M. ET SATURDAY: Shortly before the five-bout main card begins, BetMGM Nevada's Scott Shelton said this fight and the co-main of Dan Hooker vs Michael Chandler are the only remaining bouts with noteworthy decisions. The main event opened Oct. 29 at McGregor -185/Poirier +155. "It's steadily, slowly climbed to -340/+270," Shelton said, noting Poirier is getting 63 percent of bets, but McGregor is taking 77 percent of money. "It's a six-figure decision on straight bets, but really not that bad. But with parlays, it's a pretty significant decision. Parlays are 2/1 tickets and 8/1 money in favor of McGregor. He's gonna be at the end of everybody's parlays." And a significant chunk of those parlays are sizable wagers at BetMGM Nevada. "There are a lot of five-figure parlay bets." On a broader scale, BetMGM's New Jersey hub earlier today reported one of the largest wagers for tonight, a $209,500 parlay of McGregor -300 to the Packers -3.5 on Sunday against the Buccaneers. The customer would win $335,865.
UPDATE 8 P.M. ET SATURDAY: Two hours before UFC 257's five-bout main card starts, McGregor is -305 to Poirier's +230 at PointsBet USA, where communications director Patrick Eichner said the need on Poirier is "very" big. McGregor is landing a whopping 92 percent of tickets and 98 percent of handle, including a $100,000 bet at -277 on Jan. 15.
UPDATE 4 P.M. ET SATURDAY: McGregor liability is beginning to stack up at FanDuel, thanks to some large wagers. A New Jersey customer on Friday put $188,800 on the Irishman at -290, to win $65,103, and today, bets of $80,000, $65,000 and $55,000 came in on McGregor -330. McGregor is currently -330 and Poirier +265, with McGregor taking just 38 percent of bets, but 83 percent of money. On the prop bet of method of victory, the most tickets are on McGregor by submission, at 30 percent, but the most money is on McGregor by knockout/technical knockout, at 61 percent.
UPDATE 9:30 P.M. ET FRIDAY: William Hill US opened this fight more than two months ago, on Nov. 20, with McGregor as -240 chalk and Poirier a +200 underdog. Tonight, the fight is at McGregor -320/Poirier+260, with McGregor getting just 56 percent of bets, but far more of the money at 86 percent. "McGregor has always been a big draw, and pretty much whatever’s in the pot right now is on McGregor,” William Hill US director of trading Nick Bogdanovich said. “I would imagine that we’ll need Poirier pretty good. Every parlay will be going to McGregor."
UPDATE 1:45 P.M. ET FRIDAY: BetMGM's New Jersey hub opened McGregor a -190 favorite and has stretched to -300, with Poirier correspondingly moving from +160 to +240. Interestingly, McGregor is taking just 44 percent of tickets so far, but those tickets represent 79 percent of money. BetMGM New Jersey also has an intriguing prop bet for this bout: Gone in 60 Seconds. The prop asks if either fighter will win in 60 seconds or less, and there's little faith in Poirier, with McGregor taking 95 percent of tickets and 99 percent of money.
It's been almost exactly one year since McGregor's last fight, a 40-second technical-knockout victory over Donald Cerrone in UFC 246 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It's been six-plus years since McGregor scored a first-round TKO over Poirier in the first meeting between these two fighters, on Sept. 14, 2014.
Now comes the McGregor-Poirier rematch. Circa Sports first posted this fight on Nov. 10, with McGregor a -270 favorite and Poirier a +230 underdog. The odds are now McGregor -310/Poirier +270.
"I purposely opened us higher, as I knew the market would rise drastically from the numbers that were widely available at the time," Kalikas said. "As expected, we took a decent amount of Poirier action early on, which has actually put us in a pretty good spot, since the market eventually caught up to our opening number. Currently, we're seeing both public and sharp money on each side of this one, but when it's all said and done, we'll likely need Conor McGregor to pull out a win for the house, and I'm OK with that."
Who Are People Betting to Win Hooker vs Chandler?
UPDATE 10:45 P.M. ET SATURDAY: The SuperBook currently has the co-main at Dan Hooker -150/Michael Chandler +130, and the book needs the favorite, which is fine with risk manager Rex Beyers. "We like Hooker and have been using him higher to write some bets on the 'dog, which has worked so far," Beyers said. "We need Hooker for a little bit at this point."
UPDATE 9:30 P.M. ET SATURDAY: BetMGM Nevada's Scott Shelton said this fight is a six-figure decision on straight bets, as well. "We actually need the favorite in this one. Tickets are almost dead even, but money is 5/1 in favor of Chandler." The bout opened Hooker -170/Chandler +140 on Dec. 28 and is now Hooker -145/Chandler +120. "They're taking the 'dog on the parlays, too," Shelton said.
UPDATE 8 P.M. ET SATURDAY: PointsBet USA has this bout at Dan Hooker -143/Michael Chandler +110, and bettors like the favorite in the co-main event. Hooker is taking 70 percent of bets and 85 percent of money.
UPDATE 4 P.M. ET SATURDAY: Dan Hooker is currently -146 at FanDuel and Michael Chandler +124, with Hooker landing 60 percent of tickets and 66 percent of money in the co-main event.
UPDATE 9:30 P.M. ET FRIDAY: William Hill US has Dan Hooker -150/Michael Chandler +130 in a bout seeing two-way action, with Chandler getting 53 percent of bets and Hooker 54 percent of money.
UPDATE 5 P.M. ET FRIDAY: Dan Hooker is currently -134 to Michael Chandler's +105 at DraftKings, with the favorite taking 54 percent of bets and 61 percent of money in the co-main event. Among the winning method splits, Hooker by knockout/technical knockout/disqualification is the most popular play, landing 28 percent of bets and 35 percent of money.
Dan Hooker opened -145 to Michael Chandler's +125 on Dec. 28 at Circa Sports, and the odds are now approaching a pick 'em at Hooker -115/Chandler -105 for this key lightweight bout.
"Early action came in on the well-respected UFC veteran Hooker over the debuting former Bellator champ Chandler," Kalikas said. "An extremely important fight for both gentlemen, as a win will get them one step closer to a title shot. As we currently stand, enough sharp action has come in on the underdog Chandler that we've adjusted our line accordingly. I'm expecting us to be fairly even on this fight by fight time."
Who Are People Betting to Win Eye vs Calderwood?
UPDATE 9:30 P.M. ET FRIDAY: This women's flyweight bout has the closest odds of any of the five fights on the main card Saturday night, with Joanne Calderwood -120 to Jessica Eye's even money at William Hill US. Ticket count is dead even on this fight, but the favored Calderwood is drawing 87 percent of the money.
UPDATE 5 P.M. ET FRIDAY: Joanne Calderwood is a slim -117 favorite against Jessica Eye (-105) at DraftKings. Calderwood barely has the edge in ticket count, at 51 percent, while Eye is getting 65 percent of money.
Jessica Eye and Joanne Calderwood collide in a women's flyweight bout Saturday night, just ahead of the co-main and main events. Circa Sports opened at Calderwood -130/Eye +110 and on Thursday night was slightly shorter at Calderwood -120/Eye even money.
"Very well-matched fight here, as we're getting two of the best fighters in the women's flyweight division squaring up," Kalikas said. "This one should be a very competitive back-and-forth type of battle. We're seeing lot's of two-way action, and I don't really expect that to change much by fight time. As of right now, the house needs Calderwood for a small amount."
Other UFC 257 Betting Action
UPDATE 4 P.M. ET SATURDAY: Makhmud Muradov is -162 to Andrew Sanchez's +136 at FanDuel, where Muradov is getting the vast majority of action, at 83 percent of tickets and 89 percent of money. In the opening bout on the five-fight main card, beginning at 10 p.m. ET, Amanda Ribas is a healthy -335 chalk against Marina Rodriguez (+270). Ribas is taking 88 percent of bets and 93 percent of cash on the moneyline.
UPDATE MIDNIGHT ET FRIDAY: Circa Sports MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas is looking forward to the Brad Taveres-Antonio Carlos Junior bout on the preliminary card. The fight opened Tavares -150/Carlos Junior +130 on Dec. 18, and it's moving closer to a pick 'em, currently at Tavares -120/Carlos Junior even money. "A very popular fight at the betting window," Kalikas said. "From the start, we've seen sharper action taking that plus money on Carlos Junior, causing the price to drop marketwide. Despite already seeing a decent amount of buyback on Tavares, we probably won't see another plus number on Junior the rest of the way."
UPDATE 5 P.M. ET FRIDAY: The top fight on the preliminary card, pitting Arman Tsarukyan against Nasrat Haqparast, won't take place after Haqparast withdrew due to illness earlier today. The bout was among UFC 257's most anticipated matchups beyond, of course, the McGregor-Poirier main event.
Kalikas pointed to the top of the top of the four-bout preliminary card for another fight generating interest at Circa Sports. Arman Tsarukyan opened -185 in a lightweight bout against Nasrat Haqparast (+160), and those odds have now reached Tsarukyan -265/Haqparast +225.
"This is one of the most anticipated fights on this card, slotted in as the prelims main event, and it should deliver," Kalikas said. "Both are very talented young fighters who have already shown they can compete at the highest level in the UFC. Since our line went up (Dec. 28), we've seen mostly sharp action backing the favorite Tsarukyan, causing the line to rise to our current price. As we get closer to fight time, I anticipate we'll have plenty of buyback on Haqparast and the line should come back down some by post. The winner of this one will take a huge step forward and potentially get in the title mix."
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