UFC 273 gambling preview: Best bets, parlays, and long shot of the week

UFC Fight Night: Dern v Rodriguez

UFC 273 takes places Saturday at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla.. Pay-per-view will feature two titles fights as well as the intriguing non-title bout of the year. The main event features Alexander Volkanovski as the featherweight champion. He will be defending his title against Chan Sung Jung. In the co-main event, bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling finally settles his longtime feud with interim champion Petr Yan, and in a featured welterweight bout, one-time title challenger Gilbert Burns takes on the most exciting prospect to come to the UFC in many years, Khamzat Chimaev.

Let’s look at the top bets on this card. All odds are courtesy of our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.


Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC

Straight Bets

Mackenzie Dern over Tecia Torres, -120

I understand why the line is so close. Torres has been on an excellent run, she is scrappy and Dern seems overrated. However, I cannot help but think that Dern is the better choice. Her age is younger and she’s bigger. She’s also more athletic than Dern, making her the most skilled grappler in MMA. Torres may be a stronger striker, using more volume. However, she isn’t a finisher, and lacks the distance management and footwork that Marina Rodriguez had to frustrate Dern. On top of that, Torres isn’t a great defensive wrestler, meaning that Dern will probably be able to score takedowns, and with her top control and grappling, one takedown may be all it takes. To win this fight, Torres will need to be close to perfect all night long, and that’s asking a lot.

Mark O. Madsen over Vince Pichel, +105

Madsen is one of the dark horses in the lightweight division. The 2016 Olympic silver medalist in Grego-Roman wrestling has been perfect in his MMA career thus far, and in Pichel, he faces an aging veteran who has historically struggled with good wrestlers. This is Madsen’s matchup. The only real concern here for Madsen is his cardio, but with Pichel’s porous takedown defense (25 percent), Madsen should mostly be in control of this fight.

Jared Vanderaa over Aleksei Oleinik, -110

God love him, but Aleksei Oleinik is a few months shy of his 45th birthday and hasn’t won a fight in two years. Granted, in that time he has fought better fighters than Vanderaa, but the fact remains that Oleinik is just generally old and practically ancient in fight years. He’s been fighting since the first Clinton administration, for God’s sake. Vanderaa may not be great, but so long as he doesn’t get Ezekiel-choked in the first four minutes, he’s going to be able to simply outlast Oleinik.

Mickey Gall over Mike Malott, +180

This line is a perfect showcase of how hype plays with public perception. Although Mickey Gall may not be an A+ welterweight, he’s a competent one. Similar to Malott, Malott’s performance isn’t stellar, but that’s because Malott just joined the UFC, is in a hurry, and Gall has been around for a while and has suffered some notable losses. The public loves the new shiny object. The truth is, these guys are pretty similar fighters, but I think Gall is the better grappler and the more dangerous striker. The fight should be either a pick-em or Gall should win. I am taking the underdog.


Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Prop Bets

Petr Yan over Aljamain Sterling by KO/TKO, +150

I want to believe in Aljamain Sterling, but I just can’t. Sterling certainly has the tools to make this an interesting fight, but unfortunately for the champion, his game is not well-built to fight someone like Yan. We saw what happened last time. Sterling was unable to get his takedowns going against Yan and so he resorted to overly aggressive striking. He can be competitive with that for a round or two, but ultimately, that drains his card and plays into Yan’s “snowball-rolling-downhill” style of fighting. The same thing will happen this time, only Yan won’t throw the fight away.

Jairzinho Rozenstruik by KO/TKO, +110

Rozenstruik has had an up-and-down run of late, alternating wins and losses over his previous six fights. When you take into account that the losses were against Francis Ngannou and Ciryl Gane (three of the best heavyweights in existence), then this run isn’t so bad. Marcin Tybura is another step back in competition for Rozenstruik, and while Tybura is fairly durable and a better grappler, he gets hit a lot on the feet, and he’s not a great wrestler. Rozenstruik has show solid takedown defense, and he’s a much better striker, so I suspect this will look similar to Tybura’s fight with Derek Lewis, which ended with Tybura in a heap.

Aspen Ladd by Decision, +250

This is the bet that I am least certain about, aside from Long Shot. But I see the value in it. Raquel Pennington and Ladd are statistically very similar. However, Ladd is the stronger grappler. Pennington is the savvier striker and a pretty good defensive wrestler, but she still gives up takedowns, and she will allow fights to come to her, which gives Ladd even more of a chance to get her own offense going. Pennington’s continued improvement means that we should expect some regression. I believe Ladd has been undervalued.


Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Parlay of the Week

Alexander Volkanovski over Chan Sung Jung, -720

Volkanovski, for all the love and admiration of Korean Zombie is one the greatest fighters in the entire world. Moreover, Volkanovski is coming off a very similar fight against Brian Ortega. Zombie, like Ortega, has the potential to win with one moment of outstanding offense. This is the only way Volkanovski can be defeated. But the champ has proven to be exceedingly durable and nearly impossible to submit. At this point in his career, Zombie is probably just a worse version of Ortega, which means Volkanovski should show his class.

Petr Yan over Aljamain Sterling, -475

Although everything I have said is correct, there are still possibilities that Sterling might not overexert themselves early on and lose a decision. This accounts for that possibility.

Khamzat Chimaev over Gilbert Burns, -490

I wrote about this fight here, so I won’t dive into this one, but the short version is: Chimaev is the next big thing and also a horrible matchup for Burns. This should be one-way traffic.

Aspen Ladd/Raquel Pennington Fight Goes To Decision, -280

Pennington is absurdly durable and also not much of a finisher. That’s a good combination for a Goes To Decision bet, especially when you factor in Ladd’s most recent performance and both women’s propensity for slower-paced fights.

Parlay these four bets together for +125 odds.


Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Long Shot of the Week

Aljamain Sterling by Submission in Round 1, +3500

*Forget all that I’ve said, Sterling will win via an early submission. Sterling is a prey grappler despite his numerous faults. He’s going into this fight with an enormous chip on his shoulders. He’s spent the past year catching hell from half the sport, and I suspect he will come out for this fight turbo-charged. Sterling isn’t built to win a drawn out battle with Yan, but he could barnstorm him early, a la the Cory Sandhagen fight.

Wrap Up

*Obviously, we took last week off but we had been building a solid run. UFC Columbus was very kind to us, paying all three straight bets as well as two props. Let’s keep that roll going this weekend.

Good luck y’all, and gamble responsibly!

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