UFC Fight Night Ankalaev vs. Walker 2 Predictions, Odds and Fight Card

Best bets and fight predictions for the UFC's first event of 2024.

Dec 10, 2022; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA;  Magomed Ankalaev (blue gloves) reacts during the fight
Dec 10, 2022; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Magomed Ankalaev (blue gloves) reacts during the fight / Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

After a month off, the UFC finally returns to action with a highly-anticipated main event rematch.

Light heavyweights Magomed Ankalaev and Johnny Walker headline the event with fan favorites filling out the card for an intriguing opening act of 2024. We finally have fights to bet on again.

All eyes will be on the main event, but the undercard provides a lot of value. With a potential title shot on the line in the co-main event and a dynamic prospect making his debut on the prelims, there is a lot to like at UFC Vegas 84.

Before we get into my favorite plays on the card, preview my best bet for the main event.

Of the 11-fight event, these will be the fights we are focusing on:

  • ​​Tom Nolan (-290) vs. Nikolas Motta (+235)
  • Marcus McGhee (-278) vs. Gaston Bolanos (+230)
  • Matthew Semelsberger (-130) vs. Preston Parsons (+110)
  • Phil Hawes (+105) vs. Brunno Ferreira (-122)

All odds and lines are according to DraftKings Sportsbook. New users that sign up with the link below will receive $200 in bonus bets if they place a $5 wager.

View my full list of picks here.

UFC Vegas 84 Best Bets

Gaston Bolanos +230

Marcus McGhee has looked great in the UFC so far going 2-0 with two performance bonuses, but those wins come against two of the worst fighters in the division. McGhee should still be favored against Bolanos, but not by this wide of a margin.

Though Bolanos has very little professional MMA experience, he has an extensive career in Muay Thai and kickboxing. He is still in the transitional period, but nobody can dismiss his high-level striking.

Obviously, Bolanos' biggest question mark is with his grappling. He gave up three takedowns to Aaron Phillips and though he survived, still got controlled for over six minutes while ceding a submission attempt. If this fight hits the canvas, McGhee has a huge advantage and will likely get a submission.

McGhee already has one submission in the UFC but has not attempted a single takedown in the octagon. Bolanos' takedown defense was not the best in his debut but showed enough improvement to suggest he has gotten better since that fight. Training at American Kickboxing Academy, his defensive wrestling can only improve while working with the likes of Cain Velasquez, Daniel Cormier, Islam Makhachev and Umar Nurmagomedov.

This is a big underdog shot but with the advantage Bolanos has in the striking department, I like the odds.

Matthew Semelsberger -125

After beating Jake Matthews in 2022 people got a little bit too excited about Semelsberger's potential and the explosive welterweight has not picked up a win since. However, this is a great bounce-back spot with an amazing buy-low opportunity.

Pound for pound, Semelsberger is still one of the most explosive, powerful and athletic fighters in the UFC. Fight IQ and a lack of diversity in his striking have limited him to an 11-6 record. Regardless, his striking advantage is sizeable in this matchup with Preston Parsons, who is essentially a non-striker.

Parsons is 1-2 in the UFC with his lone win against Evan Elder who is now a lightweight. He is a fine grappler but presents just 49% striking defense, leaving many openings. In Semelsberger's nine UFC fights he has 10 total knockdowns, including six in his last three bouts.

The game plan for Parsons won't be a surprise but he is completing just 33% of his takedowns thus far in the UFC. With a career 50% takedown defense, I like Semelsberger to keep himself upright more often than not. The play is Semelsberger with a sprinkle on the knockout prop.

Parlay: Nolan/Motta u 1.5, Ferreira/Hawes u 1.5 +101

This is by far my favorite play of the night in what I predict will be the two most violent fights. Getting this price on these two prop lines is amazing value.

After Nikolas Motta struggled to get past the length of Trey Ogden — a notorious grappler — the UFC threw him into the fire against the 6'3" giant in Tom Nolan for his debut. This is one of the most obvious set-up fights and it will get bloody fast.

Nolan's fight on DWCS lasted just under a minute and a half and four of his six career fights have gone under the 1.5 mark. Motta has cashed under 1.5 in all three of his eligible UFC fights. In Motta's five career losses, all have come by finish before 2:30 in the second round.

If Nolan can finish Motta early, I don't even see Bruno Ferreira and Phil Hawes lasting four minutes. In 11 career fights, Ferreira has seen the second round just twice and of those two, his longest career bout has lasted just six minutes.

In Hawes' career, he has only seen the cards twice. In every other fight, only one has gone over 1.5 rounds. Though Hawes has gotten knocked out in three of his last four, he still possesses fight-ending power and striking, while Ferreira has the grappling skills to neutralize any potential wrestling he may use.

Neither of these fights will last long and getting plus money value on this play is an easy buy.

Odds refresh periodically and are subject to change