Best bets for UFC 262: Beneil Dariush vs. Tony Ferguson 👊



Mar 6, 2018
[h=1]Best bets for UFC 262: Beneil Dariush vs. Tony Ferguson[/h]

The "post-Khabib era" begins at UFC 262, with the vacant lightweight title up for grabs. But whether Charles Oliveira or Michael Chandler wins the belt, isn't it just a placeholder until the Dustin Poirier-Conor McGregor trilogy is settled?

Regardless, given that Chandler has only one prior UFC appearance, the main event doesn't meet the threshold for a data-driven prediction. Instead, we'll look closer at the co-main event and search for betting leans further down the card.

Early prelims begin at 5:30 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN+, prelims start at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN/ESPN+ and the main card is at 10 p.m. ET on pay-per-view.

Odds are courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill.
[h=2]Lightweights: No. 9 Beneil Dariush (-170) vs. No. 5 Tony Ferguson (+145)[/h] [h=2]Tale Of The Tape[/h]
Last fight weight classLightweightLightweight
Analyzed minutes200170
Stand-up striking offense
Total knockdown ratio (scored:received)3:46:4
Distance knockdown rate1.0%2.9%
Head jab accuracy38%30%
Head power accuracy32%37%
Total stand-up strike ratio1.31.0
Striking defense
Total head strike defense67%72%
Distance knockdown defense ("Chin")99%98%
Wrestling and grappling
TD attempts per min standing/clinch0.090.59
Takedown accuracy43%33%
Advances per takedown/top control0.61.6
Opponent takedown attempts4727
Takedown defense70%81%
Share of total ground time in control16%89%
Submission attempts per trip to ground0.750.39


Ferguson and Dariush have both managed lengthy win streaks within the UFC's most competitive division. But capping that streak for Ferguson were two lopsided losses, while Dariush has emerged more recently as a top-10 talent hitting his stride. This pairing is a critical test for both men, as only one can advance into the crowded lightweight title picture.

That gauntlet that Ferguson ran through was impressive, but arguably costly. At 37, he's accumulated more damage than most UFC veterans, and his aggressive, fearless style of striking will catch up with him eventually. While he's dangerous offensively, defensively he's vulnerable. That style of fighting is riskier with each matchup, and the pairing with Dariush adds additional risks.

Even if we ignore the liability of Ferguson's age and cumulative damage, Dariush appears on paper as the better technical striker. Dariush is more accurate, more evasive and knocks opponents down at nearly triple the rate of Ferguson. However, Ferguson will have a substantial range advantage and prefers a high-paced, high-pressure style that can stifle opponents.

But even if those factors cancel out on the feet, the ground game is still a significant liability for Ferguson. He has been controlled on the mat by experienced grapplers, including in his most recent loss to Oliveira. While Ferguson does have a number of submissions to his credit, which sometimes benefits from him fighting off his back, Dariush has the ground credentials to both stay out of trouble and also win rounds with position.

Dariush has spent 89% of all time on the mat in dominant position, compared to just 16% for Ferguson. If the fight hits the mat, Dariush will have a clear advantage. And in just a three-round fight, there's less risk Ferguson's pace simply runs away with rounds.

It's an uphill battle for Ferguson at the wrong point in his career. He'll need an impressive rebound performance or an opportunistic finish to score the upset, and we just don't see it.

E+ recommends: Money line play on Dariush as long as his price is cheaper than -200. Expect two-way action and price hunt; late Ferguson support could create better value.
[h=2]Best bets elsewhere on the card[/h]
Of three women's flyweight fights on the card, the first will feature Gina Mazany (-210) and Priscila Cachoeira (+175). There's certainly no age discrepancy, as both women were coincidentally born on the exact same date. But Mazany will have plenty of other advantages, including size. Mazany is the more accurate striker, and Cachoeira has striking defense far below average.

And if that's not a bad enough combination, Mazany spends 90% of ground time in control, compared to just 8% for Cachoeira. Mazany also spends more time in control in the clinch and lands two out of three takedowns. Regardless of where this goes, Mazany appears to be a justifiable favorite, and therefore we're willing to lay the juice.

E+ recommends: Money line lean on Mazany.

Speaking of women's flyweights, the final divisional pairing of the night will feature two top-10 fighters, Katlyn Chookagian (-140) and Viviane Araujo (+120). The odds are tight, but there's value on the underdog. Araujo is the much more accurate striker and also has superior grappling metrics.

In what could be a close fight, the lean is on the 'dog.

E+ recommends: Money line lean on Araujo at plus money.