UFC Fight Night 234: Ankalaev vs. Walker 2 Main Card Betting Preview

Alex Murray
By:
Alex Murray
14 Jan 24
Betting Magazine
News - UFC
UFC Fight Night 234: Ankalaev vs. Walker 2 Main Card Betting Preview

The UFC is back with their first event of 2024 after about a month layoff. It won’t be a big arena event, as UFC Fight Night 234: Ankalaev vs. Walker 2 will take place at the UFC Apex in Nevada, but it should still bring fireworks, especially on the main card.

The main event is a rematch of a fight that was ended early in a very contentious No Contest back in October, so both fighters will be itching to get back at one another. The higher ranked Magomaed Ankalaev comes in as a massive moneyline favorite on all UFC betting sites and betting apps in what should still be an entertaining scrap.

Highlights

  • Ankalaev will win, but we don’t foresee him getting a finish against Walker
  • The main event could see two power punchers reach the final bell
  • Jim Miller will extend his UFC record for wins to 26 by finishing Benitez before the bell

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There are a couple of other intriguing bouts joining No. 3 light heavyweight Magomed Ankalaev and No. 7 Johnny Walker on the main card. Unfortunately, it won’t be a highly anticipated top six flyweight battle between Manel Kape and Mateus Nicolau after Kape missed weight. Instead, we’ll see UFC legend Jim Miller take on Gabriel Benitez in a lightweight scrap for the co-main event. All odds provided by Sports Interaction.

No. 3 Magomed Ankalaev vs. No. 7 Johnny Walker Light Heavyweight Main Event Fight Odds

FighterMoneylineWin by KO/TKO/DQWin by SubmissionWin by DecisionTotal Rounds
Magomed Ankalaev-556-227+700+450O1.5 (-169)
Johnny Walker+400+700+1,800+1,400U1.5 (+130)

Magomed Ankalaev (17-1-1, 1 NC) has been a serious contender for the light heavyweight belt for some time, and if he can get a convincing win over Johnny Walker (21-7, 1 NC), one would think that his next bout would have to be a title shot.

Prior to the no contest against Walker in October, Ankalaev had fought to a split decision draw against former champ Jan Blachowicz, which had followed a nine-fight winning streak for the Russian. Funnily enough, Ankalaev’s most recent win came against Anthony Smith, which is also the case for Walker, who went into the Ankalaev bout on a three-fight winning streak of his own.

While Ankalaev is the more well-rounded fighter, he has been very disappointing in his last few fights as a massive favorite like he is here. He’s only finished one of his last six opponents, while Walker has only gone to the final bell thrice since 2018.

Walker is unpredictable because of his unorthodox and somewhat wacky fighting style, which nearly put Ankalaev to sleep in their first meeting. Because of that flying knee which nearly finished him last time out, we would expect Ankalaev to continue to be more cautious, as he’s been in many of his recent fights. Walker was almost finished in that first meeting as well, which means even the wild Brazilian could bide his time as well.

Walker’s +400 odds moneyline isn't a bad bet considering his unpredictability and knockout power, but the safest play here would probably be on Ankalaev. Since his moneyline odds are prohibitively chalky, the only question is, how will he win?

Walker isn’t as susceptible to the knockout as some would have you believe, having suffered just four losses by KO/TKO in 29 professional bouts. Ankalaev is not much of a submission threat either, so smart money would land on Ankalaev to win via decision at +450, especially considering Ankalaev’s odds to win by KO/TKO are also at unappealingly low -227 odds.

And if you expect both fighters to be overly respectful of the other’s power, as we do, the odds for the fight to go the distance are sitting at very enticing +330 odds.

Jim Miller vs. Gabriel Benitz Lightweight Co-Main Event Fight Odds

FighterMoneylineWin by KO/TKO/DQWin by SubmissionWin by DecisionTotal Rounds
Jim Miller-154+275+325+450O1.5 (-135)
Gabriel Benitez+125+200+1,200+500U1.5 (+105)

This bout was supposed to be the third fight, serving as the meat of the main card. Instead, after Kape’s shocking weigh-in debacle, Jim Miller (36-17, 1 NC), a veteran of a thousand UFC battles, will duke it out with another longtime UFC employee in Gabriel Benitez (23-10).

Miller holds the UFC records for both wins and bouts, but the 40-year-old is still not showing much wear and tear, as he was able to go out and starch Jesse Butler 23 seconds into his last fight back in June 2023. Prior to that, Miller had split his last six bouts, with three finishes and three decision defeats.

Benitez is also coming off of a first round TKO in his last fight against Charlie Ontiveros, though that came way back in August 2022. Before that, he had lost four of his previous five, including three by KO/TKO.

Considering the extended layoff and the lack of success for Benitez of late, we like Miller to come out with his 37th pro MMA victory in this one. He’s not challenging for a belt, but he’s still very motivated and he’s as well-rounded as they come, with seven knockout finishes and 19 submission finishes on his resume.

Benitez is more of a volume guy, so if Miller can get him to open up, it could be sweet dreams for the Mexican thanks to that glass chin of his. If he tries to subdue Miller’s power by grappling and taking it to the mat, he might regret that decision as well considering Miller’s ingenuity in wrestling exchanges.

Miller hasn’t won by decision since 2016, and six of Benitez’s last eight losses have come inside the distance as well. Miller to win by finish (KO/TKO or submission) is sitting at lovely +125 odds, so snap that up before the oddsmakers catch on.

Alex is a recent graduate of Ryerson's Sport Media program in 2019 and has been contributing to BettingTop10 since 2020. He has worked in the field of sports and sports betting for several years, including stops writing for theScore and daily fantasy sports website FantasyPros as one of the lead NBA news writers. A dedicated sports fan and experienced sports bettor, Alex has the knowledge to provide you with the best betting advice and the sneakiest props no matter what the sport may be.