The UFC returns this weekend with another pay-per-view offering, UFC 274, which goes down at the Footprint Center in Phoenix on Saturday. As is customary with pay-per-view events, the UFC has stacked the card with two title fights and a bevy of other high-profile matchups. In the co-main event, Rose Namajunas will defend her strawweight title in a rematch with inaugural champion Carla Esparza. Next, the lightweight champion Charles Oliveira will defend his title against the former interim champion Justin Gaethje .. We’ve got 15 fights this weekend, and plenty of opportunity to get some action down, so let’s get to it.
As always, all odds are courtesy of our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Mauricio Rua, +195
In all honesty, this is probably a dumb bet. Shogun is 40 years old and has been washed for at least five years — but I can’t help it, because for as washed as Shogun may be, so is Ovince Saint Preux! In his most recent fight, OSP lost to Tanner Boser because he simply didn’t do anything. In just seven minutes, he landed nine strikes. It’s not a good result. Saint Preux’s athleticism is declining and he has more energy than Shogun. Shogun is still able to hit like a drunken mole and has probably a cardio advantage. With this kind of line, I am willing to give up on one last chance at glory for the old guard. Pride Never Die.
Randy Brown, +105
This is an intense, sweaty play that I feel okay about. In a fight likely to be primarily on the feet and longer than Khaos Williams’, Randy Brown should do well. Williams’ weaknesses include a strong chin and kicking style that can make him look like an angry elephant. He can also be reckless at times and Brown could capitalize on this, given his physical strengths. At plus-money, there is value here.
Marcos Rogerio de Lima, +120
Another sweaty-palm fight. Betting on bad heavyweight MMA is never the easiest thing in the world to do, but there are enough things working in RDL’s favor here that I believe this is a value play. This is Blagoy Ivanov’s first fight in two years, and in his last time out, he didn’t look great. He’s lumbering and not an especially big hitter for the weight class. De Lima, meanwhile, is coming off the best performance of his career and looks to be finally putting things together. The ground game is always a concern, but the speed advantage should be so prominent for him that I think RDL can avoid getting taken down and get the hands going early, even against an iron-headed guy like Ivanov.
Justin Gaethje by KO/TKO, +200
Justin Gaethje vs. Charles Oliveira is a two-outcome fight: Either Oliveira can submit Gaethje, or he gets knocked out. The wrestling will decide which outcome prevails. Oliveira can take down Gaethje, but Gaethje has a greater takedown defense. Oliveira may not be the Khabib Nurmagomedov wrestler, but I think this fight will look like Oliveira against Michael Chandler with Gaethje taking the final punch.
Rose Namajunas by KO/TKO, +300
Simply put, Rose will defeat Carla Esparza. Esparza’s winning streak right now is just smoke and mirrors. She should have lost at least one fight, and possibly lost three. Rose has been training and fighting more physical imposing opponents and is still learning. Esparza’s ability to fight with Rose over extended periods of time is not good. Namajunas, though she isn’t the greatest defensive wrestler, is good enough for most things. From there, Esparza is a sitting duck.
Michael Chandler/Tony Ferguson Over 1. 5 Rounds, -160
Although Tony Ferguson may be crispier than the average cook, his chin is not the issue despite all of his struggles. He’s slower and his reflexes have dropped off, but he remains a supremely conditioned athlete and exceedingly durable. Chandler is not going to be able to haymaker “El Cucuy” out of there early, and so this one should make it past the halfway mark.
Joe Lauzon to win in Round 1, +800
Joe Lauzon is a true barnstormer throughout his career. The man starts fights with guns blazing, and as a result, 18 of his 28 career victories have come in the first round. Conversely, Donald Cerrone has long been known as a slow starter in MMA, with seven of his 16 career losses coming in the first round. This is a fight between two guys who are well beyond their primes, but Lauzon certainly looked better than Cerrone did their last times out, and given how their careers have gone, there’s value in a play on this juiced line.
Parlay of the Week
Rose Namajunas, -200
I think Namajunas will win this week over Esparza, as I mentioned earlier. She’s honestly my best bet and it is the smartest, most secure, and safest way to bet on her. But the people love parlays, and this is as solid of a parlay piece as I think you will find. Rose is not going to lose this one.
Chiasson/Dumont Fight To Go To Decision, -200
Chiasson and Dumont have each only been stopped once in their careers, and I don’t see either woman adding a second one on Saturday. This is probably going to be a lot of Dumont jabbing Chiasson for 15 minutes.
Parlay these two bets together for +125 odds.
Long Shot of the Week
Tony Ferguson by Submission, +1400
Tony Ferguson is probably going to lose this fight. He hasn’t won a round in nearly three years, and at 38 years old, he’s clearly past his peak. However, Michael Chandler may not be the same fighter as Ferguson and he isn’t as skilled as him. It’s entirely possible that Chandler just repeatedly takes Ferguson down and holds him there. But I have a feeling that Chandler is going to try and blow through Ferguson, which will create some chances for “El Cucuy” to sink in his famous D’Arce choke and become the first man to submit Chandler.
In case you didn’t know, The MMA Hour s Conner Burks & I created a podcast called “No Bets Barrered!” We will break down the week’s events and talk about what happened. Let’s get to the point this weekend!
Good luck y’all, and gamble responsibly!
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