UFC 286 Welterweights
Gunnar Nelson vs. Bryan Barbarena is set to excite UFC fans on Saturday and UFC lines have Nelson heavily backed to win.
The 18-5-1 fighter is the dominant -370 favorite to beat 18-9 Barbarena, who could provide a stiff challenge.
There might be value with UFC fight odds for the main card event.
Nelson’s Comeback Continues
The Icelandic fighter didn’t fight between 2019-2022 but returned with a decision win over Takashi Sato last year.
He is 34 years old, so he’s at his peak, and despite not having much experience in the last few years, he has wins over the likes of Alex Oliveira and Alan Jouban.
We do have concerns about ring rust, and his Las Vegas UFC odds are so low that bettors aren’t getting much value. However, Barbarena isn’t an easy fight, so we thought he would pay around -200.
The short notice for Barbarena, who took Daniel Rodriguez’s spot just two weeks ago, is going in Nelson’s favor. That puts the pressure on Nelson to perform, and UFC news suggests he’s in good form.
“It’s good to have time away to actually build up new skills,” Nelson said. “If you’re always getting ready for a fight, you’re always working on your game, whereas if you have some time to sit back a little bit and look at your game and go over things, you have time to progress. It’s important to have that, as well.
“Coaching is great because it forces you to really look at the details of certain things and situations that maybe you wouldn’t have done in this manner if you were just doing them yourself. When you’re actually trying to teach them to somebody, it makes you look at them even closer.”
Gunnar Nelson: “If Conor [McGregor] trains properly and is in shape, he will kick the s*** out of” Michael Chandler 😳
Full #UFC286 scrum ▶️ https://t.co/cql7M6ELdC pic.twitter.com/HTfqKwUd33
— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) March 15, 2023
Barbarena Not Shying Away
Credit goes to Barbarena, who took the fight on short notice, but he’s up for the challenge.
The 33-year-old welterweight lost to Rafael dos Anjos in 2022, but that followed a knockout win over Robbie Lawler, which created a huge impact in the UFC.
He has wins over Darian Weeks and Jake Ellenberger, so he has beaten some solid fighters. However, Nelson is on a different level, so the +270 UFC odds underdog needs to produce his career-best effort.
We think he should be shorter in the market but still an underdog. He hasn’t had the best preparation for this fight, which is an important one for welterweight rankings.
Nelson vs Barbarena Head-to-Head
This will be the first meeting between Nelson and Barbarena.
Nelson vs Barbarena Fight Information
- Fighters: Nelson (18-5-1) vs Barbarena (18-9)
- Location: O2 Arena, London, England
- Day/Time: Saturday, March 18, 6:00 pm ET
- Nelson vs Barbarena Live stream: UFC Fight Pass
Nelson vs Barbarena Betting Lines
Nelson vs Barbarena Picks & Prediction
Our UFC picks have Nelson winning at -370. The odds are short, but they’re worth including in UFC parlays this weekend.
UFC 286 is packed with great fighters, and Nelson is one of them. He’s on the comeback trail, so bettors should expect him to win.
The Gunnar are listed at -370 in our Vegas UFC lines. This means that if you wager $100 on Nelson, you have a chance to win $27. The Bryan are +270, offering a chance to win $270 on a $100 wager.
The implied probability attached to the betting lines gives Nelson a 78.72% chance to win, with Barberena at 27.03%