UFC 281 Betting Odds: Full Main Card Rundown + Early Prop Predictions

UFC 281 Betting Odds: Full Main Card Rundown + Early Prop Predictions
✍️ Written by
Sarah Ryan
🗓 Updated
May 19th 2023

This Saturday night, six-time UFC middleweight champion Israel “The Stylebender” Adesanya will look to defend his title again at Madison Square Garden, this time, against one of the most vicious kickboxers in the game, Alex “Poatan” Pereria.

Pereria outclasses the Stylebender’s kickboxing game, but even so, Poatan is still the underdog against Adesanya, who is favored to come away retaining his title. But before both men come to blows, UFC fans and MMA bettors will be able to look forward to a stacked main card, running the gamut from strawweight, to bantamweight, to lightweight cage contests.

Ahead of the big, hotly-anticipated matchup next weekend, let’s run through a full rundown of where DraftKings’ early betting lines stand, some potential prop lines where you could find value, not chalk, and which sportsbook’s first deposit could match you with the most value. 

UFC 281 Predictions

As of now, here is the full main card lineup of UFC 281’s MSG matchups, with their current corresponding odds from DraftKings Sportsbook:

— Middleweight Brawl: Israel Adesanya (-170) versus Alex Pereira (+145)

— Women’s Strawweight Title Brawl: Carla Esparza (+280) versus Zhang Weili (-340)

— Lightweight Brawl: Dustin Poirier (-175) vs. Michael Chandler (+150)

— Bantamweight Brawl: Frankie Edgar (+175) vs. Chris Gutierrez (-205)

— Lightweight Brawl: Dan Hooker (-155) vs. Claudio Puelles (+135)

Although Pereria has a fairly solid track record at six wins and one loss, his record isn’t quite as storied as The Stylebender’s record, at a hefty 23 wins and 1 loss. That’s why the Poatan is entering it as a slight underdog, and Israel Adesanya as a slight favorite. If you think his kickboxing forte has a chance of getting the KO on Adesanya, putting a $100 unit on Pereira at +145 odds would return you a $245 net profit if he wins. 

Moving down to the strawweight title bout, we have Zhang Weili squaring off against Carla Esparza. Although Weili is entering this fight as the decisive favorite at -340 odds, this still has great potential to be a viable underdog spot. Esparza only has two less wins to her name than Weili (although she has 6 losses relative to her 3), and as MMA Mania reported back in August, Zhang admitted that Esparza was the first-wrestling heavy opponent in her career. 

It’s not out of the realm of impossibility that the style disparity between the combatants could potentially cause some trouble for Zhang, and if you believe enough in Carla’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills to potentially get the win, a smaller $50 unit on +280 odds would return a $165 payout. 

Dustin Poirier is priced as a relatively solid favorite at -175, despite his last fight being a loss. A betting trend of note (that Poirier himself noted to USA Today) is that Poirier has never lost two consecutive fights in a row, so you can rest assured that he’ll be determined to remain the favorite. 

Frankie Edgar’s bantamweight bout with Chris Gutierrez will be the retirement fight of his career, so there might be potential underdog value in backing him to go out with a bang. Placing a $100 unit on Edgar at +175 odds (effectively the inverse of Dustin Poirier’s odds) would return a hefty $275 payout if he wins his final career fight.

Lastly, we’ve got Dan Hooker and Caludio Puelles stepping in for the main card’s lightweight division event. Although Hooker has far more wins over his opponent (21 vs 13), his record also touts far more losses (12 relative to Puelles’ 2). So if you feel that Puelles could have a decent shot, a $100 unit on him could payout $235 if he wins. 

UFC 281 Props

It’s a little early before prop lines and prop betting markets will open up for the main card on this event, but that doesn’t mean we can attempt a little early guesswork at the best possible guesses. For example, if you believe that Carla Esparza’s grappling game could be enough to overpower Zhang, then there’ll likely be some value in her props to win by submission or any finish (TKO/KO/DQ/Submission).

Don’t treat it as a wager to bet the entire house on, but it’s possible that the final odds on those props could be worthwhile darts to throw sprinkles on. Esparza is coming into this fight with Weili off a six-fight win streak, and conversely, Weili is entering this event coming off a rebound, after defeating Joanna Jedrzejczyk with a flashy spinning backfist knockout for the ages. 

If you think Weili can carry that ferocity and fighting spirit into kickstarting a streak of her own, then we’d recommend line shopping for the best value on the prop for her getting the KO. While Esparza has the wrestling edge on Weili, Weili has the undisputed striking advantage on Esparza, with a sizable two-inch reach advantage.

Even if you don’t think those hands can catch the KO, you might be able to find safer value on them catching more significant strikes in this bout through a daily fantasy props site like PrizePicks. But if you think both fighters’ talents can equally match one another enough to go the distance, then you might be able to find some value there, or in the fight being won by decision. 

Moving onto another main card matchup where there could be potential value, let’s look at Michael Chandler and Dustin Poirier. At least 14 of Poirier’s past wins have come by KO in his overall professional MMA career, and as we’ve noted previously, Poirier has never lost two consecutive fights in his overall career. 

If you don’t see Poirier bucking that trend this Saturday, then you might be able to find value in him getting the knockout (or TKO) once his prop lines open up. Alternatively, if you think both Poirier and Chandler’s durability will be enough to keep both fighters standing through the whole bout, then another bet that might be worth looking at for this fight is the fight going the distance. 

In no way are we saying these outcomes are definitive locks that you should lay more than you’re comfortable losing - just darts that might be worth throwing a fraction of a unit on. Keep following our MMA news, and we’ll keep you posted on the event’s best prop picks as the lines start to open up!

How Much Do UFC 281 Tickets Cost?

Right now, SeatGeek has seats at Madison Square Garden going for as low as $277, and as high as $11,082. Oof! Not exactly the best deal in the world, but if you’re looking for a better welcome deal, you might want to take a gander at DraftKings’ Sportsbook welcome offer, which will match your first deposit with up to $1,000 in site credit!

Read our full review to learn more about the online sportsbook, and if you’d like to move forward, you can sign up for that welcome offer here.

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About the author
Sarah Ryan
Sarah Ryan
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Sarah's our Copy Editor. With a long career in hospitality, Sarah knows entertainment & gaming like none other!

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