After a fairly inactive 2023, the infamous Michael Johnson returns to the octagon at UFC Vegas 86 against Darrius Flowers.
Johnson, 37, brings his 21-19 record into the octagon against the 12-6-1 Flowers. Both men enter the contest off of a loss, with Johnson suffering a brutal knockout against Diego Ferreira and Flowers falling to Jake Matthews on short notice at welterweight.
For just the second time since 2020, Johnson will enter the fight as the favorite despite being just 2-6 in his last eight bouts. But as scary as it is to lay the fare on the aging veteran, there is too much value to pass up on a particularly poorly priced line.
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Michael Johnson vs. Darrius Flowers odds, total
Over 1.5 rounds: -120
Under 1.5 rounds: -110
Michael Johnson vs. Darrius Flowers best bet
Michael Johnson by decision (+450)
With a guy who is just 2-6 in his last eight and 4-9 since his notorious knockout of Dustin Poirier as the betting favorite, it is undoubtedly tempting to take a shot on the underdog. Yet, everything in this matchup heavily favors Johnson, though the same can be said about his previous losses to Clay Guida and Stevie Ray.
When Johnson loses, it has typically come by submission with nine of his 19 career losses having been of that method. Flowers, a former boxer, has no career wins by submission and is credited as a BJJ blue belt by Smoothcomp.
The image of Johnson's stiff body from his last outing paired with Flowers' eight career wins by knockout will tempt many into taking Flowers by knockout, but the power difference between 'Beast Mode' and Ferreira is fairly wide. Only one of Flowers' knockout wins has been a clean KO against an opponent with a career record of 6-13.
In Johnson's lengthy career, he has rarely been out-struck in losses. In his 19 professional losses, nearly all of them involved a wrestling-heavy gameplan, with essentially only Gaethje being able to out-strike the southpaw for the duration of the fight. O fcourse, that's one of the best strikers in the sport.
Johnson was infamously cruising to decision wins over Emmett and Ferreira before catching a vicious overhand and while he did technically lose a stand-up battle to Jamie Mullarkey, 80% of credentialed media outlets scored the fight in his favor.
Nearly half of Johnson's career wins have been by decision and Flowers has only been finished once by knockout in a fight that occurred at 175 pounds. Flowers has been finished five times by submission but Johnson has just two career submission wins, both from his days as a regional fighter prior to signing with the UFC.
Johnson's career-long inconsistency makes it impossible to feel confident in -142 but the +450 prop is worth more than just a look.
Prediction: Johnson by decision
Odds refresh periodically and are subject to change