March 17, 2023 1:50 pm ET
March 17, 2023 1:50 pm ET
MMA Junkie analyst Dan Tom breaks down the UFC’s high bouts. Right this moment, we take a look at the principle card for UFC 286.
UFC 286 takes place Saturday at The O2 in London. The primary card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPNews and early prelims on ESPN+.
Final occasion’s outcomes: 5-1
General picks for UFC major playing cards in 2023: 21-17-2
Welcome to MMAJunkie’s Fast Picks and Prognostications, the place I’ll be giving temporary breakdowns for UFC major playing cards.
I hope these write-ups don’t come off as curt or dismissive. My aim right here is to supply fast picks and evaluation in a digestible format. All odds listed are supplied by Tipico Sportsbook.
Should you’d like extra detailed evaluation from me, then be happy to take a look at my weekly present, The Protect Ya’ Neck Podcast.
So, with out additional ado …
Marvin Vettori (-275) vs. Roman Dolidze (+210)
Regardless of former matchmaker Joe Silva’s bulletproof strategy of reserving light-weight or featherweight fights to kick off pay-per-views, the present UFC matchmakers are as soon as once more wanting towards the middleweights to get this get together began.
Marvin Vettori, who’s trying to bounce again from a troublesome loss to Robert Whittaker, will tackle the Georgian wildman, Roman Dolidze.
Dolidze is a harmful submission fighter with knockout energy in tow, however Vettori is about as unkillable as Blagoy Ivanov.
I’ll take Vettori to take a grinding determination after surviving a bizarre first spherical.
Casey O’Neill (-185) vs. Jenifer Maia (+150)
Filling out the principle card is an attention-grabbing flyweight matchup between Casey O’Neill and Jenifer Maia.
O’Neill shall be making her return off of a one-year layoff attributable to damage, whereas Maia shall be trying to shield her top-10 rating and maybe make one other run towards to high of the division.
Though my admitted Xtreme Couture bias has me leaning towards Casey, Maia’s counter boxing and clinch recreation make her a stay canine on this spot. That mentioned, I’ll nonetheless facet with O’Neill’s output and aggression to win the day in what I think about shall be a aggressive combat from begin to end.
Gunnar Nelson (-375) vs. Bryan Barberena (+280)
Quietly serving as one of many higher choices on the cardboard is an impromptu welterweight encounter between Gunnar Nelson and Bryan Barberena.
Regardless of Barberena’s final loss leaving a foul style in mouths whereas concurrently offering a possible blueprint for Nelson, I believe this combat might be deceptively nearer than the chances are indicating.
Barberena often is significantly better about utilizing the cage together with wrist controls to face, and the American additionally gives punishing elbows which have traditionally wreaked havoc on Nelson.
Don’t get me unsuitable: Nelson is the deserved favourite and nobody needs to be shocked if he’s capable of get to his recreation early on on this combat. That mentioned, if Nelson fails to complete by the center of the second spherical, then that most likely means one thing went unsuitable for the 34-year-old.
It’s a dangerous choose, however I’ll journey with the underdog in Barberena to come back up massive with an upset stoppage within the third spherical.
Justin Gaethje (+190) vs. Rafael Fiziev (-240)
The co-main occasion for UFC 286 is a implausible light-weight showdown between Justin Gaethje and Rafael Fiziev.
Despite the fact that seeing Gaethje as an underdog in a putting matchup could shock some, most individuals within the know received’t be shocked to see Fiziev as the favourite on this spot.
Gaethje has made some marked enhancements beneath the tutelage of Trevor Wittman, however I believe his body-shot vulnerabilities and propensity to dip laborious to his proper facet will damage him on this matchup.
Not solely does Fiziev punctuate combos with brutal swap kicks to the physique, however the Tiger Muay Thai product additionally has been preventing extra out of southpaw of late.
The choose is for Fiziev to knock Gaethje out with both a head kick or liver kick within the first spherical.
Leon Edwards (+200) vs. Kamaru Usman (-250)
The primary occasion in London incorporates a rubber match for the welterweight title between Leon Edwards and Kamaru Usman.
As I mentioned in my in-depth breakdown, the final assembly between these two was much more aggressive than many appear to recollect.
🪡🧵#TheSouthpawReport for #UFC286: (will add to this thread because the week goes on)
• Kamaru Usman is 6-1 in opposition to UFC-level southpaws (wins: Yakovlev, Edwards, Maia, RDA, Covington X2; loss: Edwards rematch)
Edwards constructed on traditional SP assaults en path to discovering a late end: pic.twitter.com/nbo1S0LYpi
— Dan Tom (@DanTomMMA) March 15, 2023
Not solely did Edwards construct off of traditional southpaw assaults en path to discovering a late end, however the English fighter additionally quietly received all of the clinch eventualities that befell from an over-under place.
If Edwards could make some wanted corrections to his cage positioning, then nobody needs to be shocked if he’s capable of make issues much more aggressive this time round.
Usman is a good fighter who deserves distinction as the favourite, I simply have a tough time understanding the place he’s at after sustaining a doubtlessly life-changing knockout at this stage of his profession.
Despite the fact that a dominant Usman win wouldn’t shock me, I’m selecting Edwards to retain his title by one other semi-controversial determination for the file books.
For extra on the cardboard, go to MMA Junkie’s occasion hub for UFC 286.
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