UFC betting: Can we find any value on Max Holloway against the 'Korean Zombie'?

Fight fans will have to set their alarms for Saturday morning, as UFC Singapore gets started while most of the western world is sound asleep. The 13-fight card gets underway at 5 a.m. ET, while the main card begins at 8 a.m. Watching fists fly might not be your typical Saturday morning routine, but the main event is going to be worth getting out of bed for.

Featherweight legend Max Holloway makes the walk to the Octagon for the 28th time in his famed career. The former champion faces the fearless “Korean Zombie” — Chan Sung Jung — who became a fan favorite for his penchant for coming forward and initiating violence. On paper, it appears like a matchup tailor-made for Holloway. Jung’s aggressiveness should lead to plenty of counters from one of the best technical strikers in the sport’s history. The long, rangy Hawaiian holds numerous UFC records, including most significant strikes landed in UFC history (3,122) and the highest significant strike differential in a single fight (plus-312).

The books agree as Holloway was positioned as high as a -1000 favorite at BetMGM 10 days ago, but slight line movement this week has shortened him to the current odds of -800. Even though the 89% implied odds seem about right, I am not rushing to the window to bet any favorite at this price. It’s the fight game. We have all seen freak injuries or knockouts happen at the most improbable moments. But don’t be so quick to label the main event as unbeatable due to the wide moneyline odds. There are some valuable prop bets available at much more reasonable odds.

SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE - AUGUST 25: Max Holloway poses on the scale during the UFC Fight Night ceremonial weigh-in at Singapore Indoor Stadium on August 25, 2023 in Singapore. (Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Max Holloway poses on the scale during the UFC Fight Night ceremonial weigh-in at Singapore Indoor Stadium on Aug. 25, 2023. (Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Max Holloway (-800) vs. Chan Sung Jung (+550)

Durability always has to factor into your decision-making whenever two veterans are set to do battle for five rounds. It’s one of the most difficult things to handicap, because there is little to no warning before a fighter's chin betrays him. While Holloway has dished out punishment at a historic rate, there is still a residual cost from being a willing participant in all of these five-round wars. Jung has the one-punch power to take advantage if Holloway's chin does hit its limit. However, Holloway’s elite pocket movement and defensive instincts make it a very unlikely outcome.

While bettors are left to speculate whether the dreaded cliff is lurking around the corner for Holloway, his opponent has already shown signs of decline at age 36. Four years older than Holloway, Jung only mustered 48 significant strikes before getting finished in the fourth round by current champion Alexander Volkanovski. Losing to one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters in the sport is nothing to be ashamed about, but it does show an important pattern that’s relevant in this fight.

If you look at Jung’s fights over the past 10 years, it’s pretty clear that there is a correlation between the level of competition and the outcome. He has consistently come up short when matched up against the division's best. Not only was he outlanded 138-48 by Volkanovski, but he was doubled up in significant strikes (127-62) by Brian Ortega in his previous loss in 2020. So when the opposition reaches a certain level, “The Korean Zombie” gets outstruck in a big way, which has resulted in a finish 75% of the time.

Holloway’s legacy is built off his ability to brutally batter his opponents with pace and volume. Not only did his historic fight against Calvin Kattar set the UFC record for significant strikes landed and largest striking differential, but his performance against Ortega is No. 2 all time in both categories. That’s the same Ortega who dominated Jung in a unanimous decision win in 2020.

These two fighters are going to look miles apart on the feet as Holloway will orchestrate another record-setting masterpiece as his counter-striking carves up Jung. Holloway has been more of a showman of late, avoiding danger while cruising to lopsided wins. His last eight fights have gone the full five rounds, but I don’t think Jung has the durability to handle the avalanche of offense coming his way. Holloway has been in this game long enough to know he needs a finish to force a fourth fight with Volkanovski. I bet he gets it done, so let's grab the -800 favorite at a much shorter price. Bet: Max Holloway by KO/TKO/DQ (-125)

Stats provided by: ufcstats.com, Richard Mann.