The first UFC event of 2024 takes place on January 13th, with Magomed Ankalaev and Johnny Walker headlining UFC Vegas 84. The duo’s light-heavyweight fight is a rematch after their no-contest in October. Ankalaev (-445) is the favorite to win with the bookmakers, and here we assess his chances in our latest UFC betting picks.
What: UFC Vegas 84
Main Event: Magomed Ankalaev vs. Johnny Walker 2
Where: UFC Apex, Las Vegas, Nevada
When: Saturday, January 13th, 2024
Time: 7 pm ET (Main Card)
The first fight between these two was highly anticipated but ended in disappointment after a knee landed by Ankalaev in the first round was deemed illegal, resulting in the fight being called off by the cage-side doctor and declared a no-contest. The bout was on the UFC 294 undercard, and although not the main event, it still left plenty of fans (and the two fighters) feeling short-changed.
Now, we will finally get to see if Ankalaev is going to be as dominant over his Brazilian opponent as the odds suggest.
UFC Vegas 84 Main Card Betting
The UFC Vegas 84 main card is headlined by the matchup between Magomed Ankalaev and Johnny Walker, but it has plenty of other exciting bouts.
Matheus Nicolau (+205) is taking on Manel Kape (-240) in a flyweight fight, with Gabriel Benitez (-110) meeting Jim Miller (-110) in a hard-to-call lightweight scrap. Also on the card is Ricky Simon (-155), who is favored to beat Mario Bautista (+135) in their bantamweight showdown, with a middleweight scrap between Phil Hawes (+105) and Brunno Ferreira (-125) completing the main card.
More main card betting options are available on our UFC odds table. The odds we have used are from the best UFC betting sites.
The Main Event; Magomed Ankalaev vs. Johnny Walker 2
Magomed Ankalaev has a mixed martial arts record of 17-1-1-1. His last fight was the no-contest against Walker. Before that, he drew with Jan Blachowicz at UFC 282 in December 2022 for the vacant UFC light heavyweight championship.
The 31-year-old Russian is smaller than his opponent, but that should play to his advantage as he has a better take-down average (1.07 per 15 minutes) than Walker (0.5), which could be crucial in the death rounds of the fight.
Ankalaaev’s 17 wins have come via nine knockouts and eight decisions. The one defeat on his record was to Paul Craig in 2018 and was by submission.
Johnny Walker has had more MMA fights than his opponent, but with a 21-7-0-1 record, he has suffered significantly more defeats than his opponent.
Walker’s 21 wins have come by 16 knockouts, three submissions, and two decisions. In his seven defeats, he has been knocked out on four occasions, lost twice by decision and once by submission.
Before his no contest with Ankalaev, Walker had won his previous three fights. He scored a unanimous decision win over Anthony Smith in May 2023, a knockout win over Paul Craig at UFC 283 in January 2023, and defeated Ion Cuțelaba by submission at UFC 279 in September 2022.
Magomed Ankalaev vs. Johnny Walker 2 fight betting
The latest UFC Vegas betting odds are heavily favoring the number three-ranked Russian, Magomed Ankalaev. On the money line, Ankalaev is -445 to win, with Johnny Walker at +345.
In the previous fight between the two, the UFC betting sites had Ankalaev at around -350 to win. The current odds of -445 represent a further swing towards the Russian fighter. The number seven-ranked Brazilian was the underdog at +270 back in October.
It’s clear from the three minutes plus action in October that the sportsbooks and punters thought that Ankalaev looked like the superior fighter – a view we find hard to disagree with!
Magomed Ankalaev vs. Johnny Walker 2 betting picks
Magomed Ankalaev is the odds-on favorite for many reasons. We already know he has a better win rate and also a better take-down rate than Johnny Walker. The Russian also has the better defense, with a 58% record compared to Walker’s 45%.
Where Walker does have the superior stats is in the striking. Walker lands 3.87 strikes per minute compared to Ankalaev’s 3.56. He also has a superior rate in significant strikes, landing 56%, compared to Ankalaev’s 52%.
Is this enough to give Walker a chance at victory? We’re not so sure. The striking stats do favor Walker, but not by much. If Walker is to win, we feel it will be with a knockout. With 16 knockout wins to his name already, it’s clear where Walker’s main strengths are.
And if it’s clear to us, it will be clear to Magomed Ankalaev and his team, so we expect Ankalaev to take the fight to the canvas. He had considerable success in this in the first fight while it lasted. And although Johnny Walker will know this is coming, it’s another thing altogether dealing with it.
For our betting pick, we are going for Magomed Ankalaev to win. We believe he will wear Walker down on the canvas and eventually score the win. The Russian has no submission wins to his name, and that is telling. So we are going for Ankalaev to win by KO/TKO, which is most likely to happen when he has his opponent grounded.
Magomed Ankalaev To beat Johnny Walker by KO/TKO/DQ
Dean has a strong affinity for the English Premier League and cricket, but his extensive understanding of sports allows him to discuss a wide range of athletic topics. Previously, Dean has explored the world to attend events such as the FIFA World Cup and Ashes cricket matches, but currently, he prefers to enjoy sports from the coziness of his home.