UFC 299 Odds, Picks, Predictions and Best Bets

This week, UFC 299 takes place in Miami, Florida. The early preliminary bouts begin at 3 p.m. PT with the main card kicking off at 5 p.m. PT. This fight slate is stacked from top to bottom, with each fight featuring athletes capable of headlining any fight night or PPV card on their own. Let us break down a few of the dynamic bouts on this card for our UFC 299 best bets.

Sean O’Malley -275 Champion vs. Marlon Vera +225

Bantamweight (135 pounds) title


O’Malley is currently the UFC’s “lightning in a bottle,” He has similar magnetism and drawing power to Conor McGregor and the Diaz brothers when those fighters were at their apex.

‘Suga’ is wildly popular with the under-35 demographic. His fighting style utilizes his height and reach advantages to the utmost degree. O’Malley compliments those physical traits with a fluidity of defensive movement, sharp snapping strikes and elite footwork.

‘The Suga Show’ has evolved into a champion mixed martial artist who is tall, long, precise with his leveraged striking, and carries more power than most opponents believe. Further, O’Malley trains diligently on his craft and possesses far more advanced grappling and takedown defense than he has been able to display in past bouts.

His Ecuadorian opponent, fifth-ranked Marlon Vera, is not flashy. He is gritty, grimy, and dawg-like in his approach to fighting. Vera’s not as gifted physically, nor is he as fluent an overall fighter as his opponent, but the weaponry Vera totes to the cage is mostly mental. Determination, focus, cardio, and the ability to wear opponents down physically/emotionally by applying unrelenting forward pressure are his assets.

This is a rematch of a 2020 bout that Vera won in the first round by incapacitating O’Malley’s beanpole legs with planned, bludgeoning leg kicks.

In this bout, Vera will attempt to apply pressure from the opening bell to try to back O’Malley up and force him to use energy in his defense. He will surely work to squelch O’Malley’s ability to move by attacking those legs to incapacitate the champion.

O’ Malley, for his part, will need to maintain spacing, which should not be an issue in the larger thirty-foot octagon. From distance he will then attempt to pepper Vera with jabs, counterstrikes, knees, and elbows as the edgy Ecuadorian presses inward to engage.

O’Malley’s opening price for the UFC 299 main event was -200. He now stands -285 over Vera, whose takeback is +245.

Vera is as or more determined as he was in their first bout, but it is O’Malley whose game has evolved more since these two first met. In that first bout, Vera opened the favorite, but O’Malley was quickly bet into the favorite position based on his overwhelming popularity rather than his mixed martial arts acumen.

For those reading, the time to jump on the improved O’Malley is now as this price is SURE to rise until the bell for round one chimes.

Vera backers would be wise to remain patient and take every penny of value, as Vera must take this fight into the championship rounds to find success.

One question that still surrounds Suga is his ability to fight at a frenetic pace for more than twelve to fifteen minutes. Vera’s plan will be to drain O’Malley’s gas tank and suck the snap out of Suga, then try to dominate him late.

The O’Malley plan will be to slice and dice Vera into a bloody pulp by employing constant side-to-side movement, striking from angles, and employing precision counterstriking as Vera attempts to work his way to attack.

Many believe O’Malley is in a favorable matchup here as the UFC takes advantage of his earning power/popularity, but I am not so sure I buy into this.

Vera must be taken seriously in a bout I handicap to be closer than the betting lines indicate.

Total in this fight: 4.5 Rds. Over -165

Benoit Saint Denis -215 vs. Dustin Poirier +185

Lightweight (155 pounds) co-main event

Saint Denis is a decorated former French first military paratrooper who is huge for the weight class. He is a black belt in Judo and has torn through the organization by winning all four victories via finish. His only blemish in the UFC was his first bout, a fight he took on ultra-short notice.

Saint Denis, ranked twelfth in the lightweight division, opened as a -140 favorite in this fight. He has been pounded to the current -215 based on his destructive performances, albeit against athletes ranked outside of the top fifteen in the division.

Poirier, the third-ranked athlete in the division, is the shorter fighter in this matchup. He will be giving away an inch of reach. Poirier is seven years older than the ferocious Frenchman.

Poirier possesses a wealth of UFC experience. He has a sturdy wrestling base, brilliant striking acumen, deft footwork and has been in with the absolute elite of the division.

Poirier trains at Florida’s ATT gym in Coconut Creek. He can compete at home without the complexity of having to travel. He will command the crowd in this war as well.

When this fight opened, I was astonished that Saint Denis came in as the favorite. I am more perplexed that he has been bet into this current price. I believe recency bias is heavily influencing the current betting line toward the Frenchman.

Based on the current betting line, I believe Poirier is being massively disrespected in this fight.

Once this bout begins, Poirier will have to deal with the ferocity, power and immediate aggression of Saint-Denis, who has never competed in a headline fight, nor has he ever prepared for or fought in a five-round battle.

I handicap Poirier to have superior fight IQ, which cannot be overlooked here—the defensive prowess, patience, and the deft striking to break down Saint Denis over time systematically. Time, I believe, is the fulcrum of this fight. I am certain Poirier understands this.

It is my position that Saint Denis is rushing into competition with an elite mixed martial artist well to quickly than is warranted.

I am committed to betting Poirier in this spot but will continue to monitor this number while it is on the rise to capture the best price advantage on the underdog, who I handicap to, in fact, be the favorite.

Saturday night, I believe Poirier awards Saint Denis his PhD in MMA!

UFC 299 best bet: Poirier +185 or better

Total in this fight: 1.5 Rds. -240 Over.

Curtis Blaydes -110 vs. Jailton Almeida -110

Heavyweight (265 pounds)

Seventh-ranked Almeida is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu savant who has ascended the heavyweight rankings in abbreviated time.

He is lightning fast for a man who competes at 245 pounds. He is extremely durable and has the single-minded approach to haul opponents down to the mat, then discover a way to clasp onto an appendage and snap it.

Almeida is shy in size, weight, and UFC experience. As capable as he is with his submission prowess, his offensive/defensive striking is mediocre and needs much development.

In Blaydes, we have the fifth-ranked athlete in the division who enters this fight with a complete mixed martial arts arsenal. Blaydes has power and speed in his hands. He is a world-class wrestler. In this bout, he will own substantial size, reach, and experience advantages.

Blaydes’ challenges in previous bouts revolve around the fragility of his face.

Athletes who are able to bash Blaydes’ beak early in fights often find success, but in this bout, Blaydes’ height, weight, reach, and experience should put him in position to batter Almeida on the feet, then transition to wrestling, where he, the sizable wrestler, will reign damage on the smaller grappler from top position.

In mixed martial arts, it is accepted that world-class wrestling is kryptonite to excellent BJJ practitioners. Exactly this formula puts Blaydes in a position to shine come Saturday night.

UFC 299 Best Bet: Blaydes -110

Total in this fight: 1.5 Rds. Over -150

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Thank you for reading, and enjoy the fights!