UFC Vegas 88 UFC Best Bets

UFC 299 was an epic fight card, with favorites running 3-2 on the pay-per-view main card. Overall, on the slate, chalk realized a 9-5 result. This makes the 2024 total for favorites in the UFC 64-30-3 or 66%. The organization returns to Las Vegas for a fight card, which will take place at the UFC APEX, where, again, the smaller twenty-five-foot cage is used, and very few fans are able to attend. Overwhelmingly, the athletes express a desire to compete in front of packed arenas where they can feed off the ferocity of the attendees despite the organization’s zeal to continue to hold events at its own forum. Let’s look at this week’s best bets for UFC Vegas 88.

Last week, I hit both underdogs released as UFC best bets. Curtis Blaydes was released at a price of -110 but ended up closing a slight underdog. He knocked out Jailton Almeida in the second round of their heavyweight bout.


Dustin Poirier +185 was fully disrespected by the betting public in his bout against Benoit Saint Denis. He displayed how critical it is to recognize a professional fighter’s entire body of work as opposed to being blinded by recency and the lack of formidable, elite competition.

Saint Denis was not prepared mentally or physically to step up the level of competition so aggressively this early in his promising career.

Poirier awarded Saint Denis his Ph.D. in MMA, but look for Saint Denis to rebound after being knocked out. There is a learning curve in world-class mixed martial arts!

Those two underdog releases put my UFC best bets profitability for this column in 2024 to 5-4 +3.05u.

Now let us investigate a fight card that offers thirteen bouts featuring athletes less recognized by most fans than last week’s UFC 299.

This production begins at 1 p.m. PT with preliminary action followed by the main card, which drops at 4 p.m. PT.

Tai Tuivasa -115 vs. Marcin Tybura +105

Heavyweight (265 pounds) main event

The Polish tenth-ranked Tybura, 24-8, is a black belt in BJJ. Tybura’s grappling is the foundation for his fighting. His striking is not overly effective, as he carries little speed, precision, or power in his hands. He does offer decent kicking power from distance, despite telegraphing his intentions.

When matched against top-seven heavyweight adversaries, Tybura’s lack of fluid footwork and precision striking leaves him exposed to being blasted when standing. The singularly dimensioned Pole, as witnessed in his last bout, a first-round KO loss against interim heavyweight champ Tom Aspinall, struggles against elite, well-rounded heavyweight competition.

In Tai Tuivasa, we have an athlete who enters the cage eight years younger than Tybura, which is a great advantage. The fun-loving Australian, now training in California at AKA, is a brawling Muay Thai-based striker who carries abundant power in his hands and can end any fight with one pop to an opponent’s chops.

Tuivasa also lacks the fluidity of movement and precision striking, preferring to walk opponents down and engage in leveraged toe-to-toe brawls staged from the center of the cage.

Once the bell to this bout chimes, I look for Tuivasa to be on the hunt for hooks, crosses, knees, and uppercuts. Tybura will attempt to engage on the feet only long enough to clasp onto the Aussie. He’ll try to force him against the fence. Then he’ll try to drag the massive mauler onto the mat, attempting to gain the top position where he can reign his own damage.

Where this bout takes place will go a long way in determining its outcome. Tuivasa is as ill-prepared to grapple/roll as Tybura is to engage in an all-out stand-up fracas.

Total in this fight: 1.5 Rds Over -180

Mike Davis -300 vs. Natan Levy +245

Lightweight (155 pounds)

Levy trains at Syndicate MMA in Las Vegas. He is only three fights into his UFC career, realizing a 2-1 record. His resume appears impressive. He is decorated with a third-dan black belt in Uechi-Ryū Karate, a black belt in Kyokushin Karate, a black belt in Kung Fu, and a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Yet he has shown little ability to apply effective striking in his bouts.

Despite his karate accolades, Levy’s grappling and wrestling are much more refined than his striking. Levy needs a victory over a legitimate UFC-caliber opponent. The level of his previous UFC competition leaves much to be desired. Levy will step up in class substantially to take on his opponent, Mike Davis.

Davis, 10-2, trains professionally in Florida’s famous ATT. There, he can train with an array of highly skilled professionals who offer a wide range of specialized MMA skills.

Davis’ UFC record is 3-1, but he has faced a more stringent level of competition than Levy. His takedown defense, movement and cardio will also be differentiating factors in a fight that I expect could go all fifteen minutes.

After a second-round submission loss to Gilbert Burns in his debut, Davis rattled off three straight victories against a very worthy UFC competition.

In this fight, he will be challenged by Levy’s pressing grappling. It is my judgment that Davis’s footwork and effective power striking make him a legitimate favorite in this confrontation.

While both men have grappling backgrounds, I look for this bout to occur standing. Davis’s youth, height, and reach advantages, coupled with his superior athleticism, will provide him with a great advantage on the feet.

I normally avoid high-priced favorites, but Davis’s advantages are too glaring to overlook in this fight. Levy, for his part, is stepping up in class exponentially.

Rather than risk such a high-priced favorite straight up, I will choose instead to parlay Mike Davis with Rose Namajunas -168, who competes in the main event of UFC Las Vegas 89 next week at the APEX center against Brazil’s Amanda Ribas.

Namajunas, a former strawweight champion, is making her second bout at flyweight after an ultra-close decision loss to top-three-ranked Manon Fiorot in her last outing.

Namajunas trains in Denver at altitude. She has championship pedigree and is a fine accompaniment to Mike Davis.

This parlay application as a UFC best bet allows me to hold a substantial price advantage on Namajunas next week, provided Davis wins as a -310 favorite this Saturday.

UFC Vegas 88 Best Bet: Davis -310 to Namajunas -175 1u pays 1.07

Total in Davis vs. Levy: 2.5 Rds. -210 Over

Jake Filho -185 vs. Ode Osbourne +160

Flyweight (125 pounds)

The smaller twenty-five-foot octagon used in APEX bouts will have a negligible effect on these two tiny athletes who enter the cage with differing specialties.

Osbourne, 12-6, is a southpaw striker with a five-inch reach advantage in this fight. He is 4-4 in the UFC displaying skilled striking. However, his inability to fend off aggressive, forward-pressing grappling/wrestling-based athletes is extremely worrisome. He struggles mightily if/when grounded. Osbourne must sell his soul to ensure this fight remains standing. If he can do so, he is in a position to get his hand raised.

In Brazilian Filho, we have a tough, cagey BJJ artist who is 15-3 professionally and 1-1 in UFC competition. Filho gives away UFC experience to Osbourne. But his dynamic viper-like grappling enables him to engulf opponents and then drag them to the dirt for a drubbing. Grappling defines his success.

In a ‘styles make fights’ matchup, it is Osbourne who needs to remain standing to find success. Filho must find a way to clasp onto the longer striker, ground him, wrap him up, then choke the life out of him.

Total in this fight: 2.5 Rds Under -210

Props have not yet been released for this card. I expect Filho to submit Osbourne sometime after a competitive first round.

The GambLou ‘Bout Business Podcast is white hot after realizing huge returns in last week’s UFC 299. Get all my UFC best bet releases for this week’s UFC LV 88 at GambLou.com.

Thank you for reading, and enjoy the aggression!