Violent strikers whose careers appear to be heading in opposite directions will face off in the main event of UFC Vegas 50 when Brazil’s Thiago Santos faces Russia’s Magomed Ankalaev in a light heavyweight battle. Here we discuss the odds and analysis from a betting perspective for Thiago Santos vs Magomed Ankalaev.
- When: Saturday, March 12, 2022 7 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
- Where: UFC Apex, Las Vegas, Nevada
- Line: Thiago Santos (+435) and Magomed Ankalaev (-600); Over 3.5 rounds (-115) and Under 3.5 rounds (-115); Santos wins inside the distance (+600) and Ankalaev wins inside the distance (+100); Santos wins by decision (+1200) and Ankalaev wins by decision (+140); odds from Draftkings Sportsbook.
Thiago “Marreta” Santos will be fighting in his second main event in the past six months and attempting to build off of his first UFC win since tearing his ACL, MCL, PCL and meniscus in his 2019 title fight, injuries that led to over a year hiatus from competition and speculation of whether he has been the same fighter since.
Santos has a one inch reach advantage over Ankalaev, averaging 3.95 significant strikes landed per minute (SLpM) with a 48 percent striking accuracy, 2.28 strikes absorbed per minute (SApM) with 56 percent striking defense, 0.61 takedowns per 15 minutes with a 36 percent takedown accuracy, 66 percent takedown defense and 0.1 submissions per 15 minutes, according to UFC Stats.
Santos has dropped three of his last five fights, though the losses were to top competition in Aleksandar Rakic (UD, 2021), Glover Teixeira (Sub Rd3, 2020) and Jon Jones (SD, 2019), with wins over Johnny Walker (UD, 2021) and Jan Blachowicz (TKO Rd3, 2019).
Since his infamous tapping out in the very last second of a fight that he had been dominating against Paul Craig in his UFC debut, Magomed Ankalaev has rattled off seven straight wins en route to the number six ranking in the division.
Ankalaev is an inch taller than Santos and averages 3.60 significant strikes landed per minute (SLpM) with a 55 percent striking accuracy, 2.05 strikes absorbed per minute (SApM) with 62 percent striking defense, 1.15 takedowns per 15 minutes with a 31 percent takedown accuracy, 85 percent takedown defense and 0.0 submissions per 15 minutes, according to UFC Stats.
Ankalaev has victories against his last five opponents in the UFC, including Volkan Oezdemir (UD, 2021), Nikita Krylov (UD, 2021), Ion Cutelaba (TKO Rd1, 2020 twice), Dalcha Lungiambula (TKO Rd3, 2019) and Klidson Abreu (UD, 2019).
Thiago Santos vs Magomed Ankalaev Narratives
The tremendous juice on the betting line reflects the narrative that Ankalaev and his violent, accurate striking and capable grappling should dominate Santos, possibly due to the perception that “Marreta”‘s kicking, striking volume and explosiveness have not been the same since the injuries incurred against Jon Jones. One would be hard-pressed to identify MMA handicappers taking a flier on Santos and anyone who might consider it would likely be doing so purely for the value of this wide line.
Thiago Santos vs Magomed Ankalaev Prediction
Despite some suggestions that he might be washed, Thiago Santos still retains power in his hands and it can be expected for Ankalaev to display some respect for said power. Do not anticipate a reckless brawl, at least in the first few rounds, though we do predict Ankalaev to emerge victorious.
While there should be higher output of striking compared to Santos’ low volume affair against Walker, Santos is not known for a suspect chin and Ankalaev has gone to decision in his last two contests against fighters who do not have the same striking skill as Santos, all of which lead us to lean toward predicting a longer contest.
Pick: Over 3.5 rounds (-115)
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