UFC 254 Best Bets and Sleepers – Top Picks for Khabib vs. Gaethje and More (October 24, 2020)

| October 19, 2020 11:43 am PDT

I was thinking of reaching out to you with some of the best UFC 254 bets for the Khabib vs. Gaethje card on Saturday, October 24.

But then I thought I might as well add some of the top sleepers for UFC 254. I mean, there are some really good matchups on this card, but a few fighters that stand out above the rest. More than anything, I wanted to find the elusive balance of safe bets and value for money.

So, in the end, I decided to choose three best bets for UFC 254 as well as three-plus money sleepers for the fights. You can find all six of them below. Make sure to take a look at the odds for all bets listed as well as my rationale for each one, as that will tell you why I have chosen these bets.

If you’re looking for your UFC 254 picks, you have come to the right place. Enjoy!

Best UFC 254 Bets

There’s no better place to get started with my best UFC 254 picks than the headline fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje.

No introduction necessary? I thought as much.

Khabib to Beat Gaethje (-340)

Look, I’m not going to beat around the bush here — I believe Khabib to beat Gaethje deserves to be at the top of my list of UFC 254 picks.

The Dagestani destroyer is not a man you can back against easily. From 28 fights have come 28 wins, as well as the names of some of the best in the business. Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor are Khabib’s last wins, and now he turns his attention to the interim champ, Justin Gaethje.

Gaethje is a KO maestro with an NCAA Division I wrestling background. Of course, we don’t get to see his offensive wrestling, as the American believes it is too detrimental to his gas tank. But when you have the power and precision to piece up and plant guys on their backs like Gaethje, can you blame him?

One of the main reasons why “The Highlight” is being talked up as the man to beat Khabib is, well, he beat Tony Ferguson. Not only did he win that fight — he beat him like a wisecracking punchbag that once stole his lunch money. Ferguson was considered the guy to finally hand Nurmagomedov his first loss, so… well, you get the picture.

Now, Gaethje has excellent takedown defense and the type of striking that can cause huge problems for Khabib. But the dominant champ is in a class of his own and has the most relentless and effective weapon in MMA today — his wrestling.

Not only that, but he consistently fights the same way and still cannot be stopped. His incredible strength, conditioning, and ability to avoid punishment on the feet, should win him this fight.

Da Un Jung to Beat Sam Alvey (-375)

Korea’s Da Un Jung is looking for a straight 13th win, and a third in the UFC.

Jung faces off with “Smile’N” Sam Alvey on the night and looks a horrible matchup for the 0-4 Wisconsin. The Korean has proved to be a force of nature on his route to this fight and hasn’t been beaten since losing the third fight of his career back in 2015.

At 6’4″ and with a 78.5″ reach, Jung has two inches in height as well as three inches in reach. A powerful striker with solid grappling, he is also an adaptable athlete with solid fundamentals and a nice array of shots.

I can’t see Alvey lasting two rounds. Jung should win by KO/TKO no later than Round 2.

Hawes to Beat Malkoun (-285)

In a clash of the debutants, Phil Hawes meets Robert Whittaker’s training partner,  Jacob Malkoun.

Hawes is a fighter that has really improved over the years, and it’s nice to see him finally getting his shot in the promotion. A one-time Jackson-Wink prospect, “Megatron” is now 31 and carries a four-fight streak into this fight.

Hawes smoked Khadzhimurat Bestaev on Dana White’s Contender Series in September to book his ticket into the UFC. Given that he is fighting a 4-0 pro in Malkoun, it’s fair to say it could have been harder.

From what I have seen of the Aussie, he might be in trouble against a guy like Malkoun. At odds of -285, Hawes is definitely one of the best bets for UFC 254.

UFC 254 Sleeper Picks

OK, so we’ve covered the best UFC 254 bets. Now it’s time to look at the top UFC 254 sleeper picks.

Let’s start with another debutant that some of the best sites for betting on UFC appear to be underestimating.

Rakhmonov to Win by Submission (+900)

Shavkat Rakhmonov is a fighter that I cannot wait to see do his thing in the UFC. He is also one of my UFC 254 sleepers for Saturday’s fights.

The Kazakh is 12-0, with stoppages in every fight. He makes his UFC welterweight debut against the tough and steady Alex Oliveira, and it’s safe to say that he has a tough job on his hands.

The Brazilian “Cowboy” has the advantage when it comes to experience, but I’m not sure he trumps “Nomad” in other areas. The newcomer looks solid all-around, with power, great grappling, and a very potent submission game that has earned him the taps of five of his previous opponents.

I think Rakhmonov has what it takes to wear Oliveira down before submitting him late on.

At odds of +900, this is, hands down, one of the best sleepers for UFC 254.

Struve to Win by Submission (+275)

Yes, I picked Tuivasa to win in my UFC 254 predictions for all fights piece.

But at +275 to submit to Tuivasa, I think there’s nice value in these odds and have made him one of my top UFC 254 sleepers as a result. After all, Struve has an incredible 18 submissions in his career. If he can avoid Tuivasa’s power and take him down, he could make that 19 on Saturday.

The 7’0″ Dutchman submitted Marcos Rogerio de Lima in February 2019, before being stopped by Ben Rothwell. Courtesy of some low blows from “Big Ben,” I might add. But this is a winnable fight providing he can protect his chin and lock in a submission.

Tuivasa was submitted by Sergey Spivak in his last fight and I think Struve will be looking for his neck all night.

This is a decent bet for anyone looking for the best sleeper picks for UFC 254.

Murphy to Win by KO/TKO (+450)

The third and final of my sleepers for UFC 254 is Lauren Murphy to beat Lillya Shakirova by KO/TKO.

Why? Well, there is just so much working against Shakirova in this fight that I am amazed at this price. Murphy is in the best form of her UFC career, having TKOd Mara Romero Borella and decisioned both Andrea Lee and Roxanne Modafferi.

“Lucky” has fought twice in 2020, and will benefit from a full fight camp. Unlike her opponent, Uzbekistan’s Shakirova. Not only is this Shakirova’s first fight since October 2019, but she has taken the bout on less than a week’s notice.

Shakirova was last beaten in March 2018 by Julia Borisova, who had lost four of her previous five fights in a row. She has no wins over notable names and does not really look up to this level, in my opinion.

Kudos to her for taking this fight. I hope it leads to a career in the UFC. But I can see her wild style and lack of prep time getting her KOd on the night.

How to Bet on UFC 254 and More

Whether you like my UFC 254 sleeper picks or best bets, I’m hoping you choose the right wagers and get lucky this Saturday.

The more experienced bettor might already have your betting locks and potentially profitable value picks down by now, but it’s always a good idea to consider a second opinion. As such, I have put together a UFC 254 betting guide that contains odds for all fights, picks, and updates.

Looking for even more UFC betting material. Why not check out the following?

Enjoy the fights!

Adam Haynes
Adam Haynes

Adam is a sports writer and tipster with a strong background in MMA, boxing, and combat sports.

When Adam isn't writing about those, as well as politics, rugby, and Gaelic Games, he can be found working on methods and strategies to beat the bookies.

For his troubles, Adam is a fan of Leinster Rugby, Glasgow Celtic, and trusting the process.

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