Best bets for UFC Fight Night: Swanson vs. Chikadze

    Reed Kuhn is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, and strategy and analytics consultant. He is the author of “Fightnomics: The Hidden Numbers and Science in Mixed Martial Arts,” the first book to quantify drivers and performance metrics in combat sports.

It’s hard to follow such a buzzworthy event as UFC 261, and the card this weekend might seem like a letdown in terms of star power. But longtime MMA fans have come to learn that sometimes the cards that fly under the radar end up providing plenty of excitement. At a minimum, the six-fight main card is at least likely to last longer than 21 minutes of fight time, which would be longer than the entire main card of UFC 261, despite it featuring three five-round title fights.

However, unlike nearly every UFC main event, this week we’ll see a relative newcomer making the main event walk. Former UFC light heavyweight title contender Dominick Reyes will face former Rizin champion Jiri Prochazka. Unfortunately for us, this is just Prochazka’s second UFC appearance. In his UFC debut, he took less than six minutes to knock out Volkan Oezdemir last July. And that’s hardly enough data to draw meaningful conclusions in a fresh matchup against top talent. Even if we’re not betting that one, we’re sure to be watching because fireworks are likely.

Thankfully, there are plenty of established fighters elsewhere on the card, and that’s where we see some value.

Prelims start at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2/ESPN+ and the main card begins at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN2/ESPN+.

Odds are courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill.

Featherweights: Giga Chikadze (-165) vs. Cub Swanson (+140)

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