The Heavyweight title will be claimed Saturday night at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, as Jon Jones -164, returns from a long layoff to face Ciryl Gane +146. This card also features some prospects with hefty price tags as Shavkat Rakhmonov -500 takes on Geoff Neal +420 at Welterweight and Bo Nickal -1,429 debuts against Jamie Pickett +1000 at Middleweight.
Odds provided by Stake.com accurate as of 3/2/2023 5:00 PM EST
The Heavyweight main event is one of the most intriguing matchups of the year. Jon Jones returns from a long layoff, and he is challenging to evaluate as he has the highest ceiling of any fighter ever. Still, he is coming off two unimpressive performances and moving up in weight. Ciryl Gane has developed very quickly and shown incredible striking and movement for someone his size, although his grappling is a massive concern as he has been taken down and controlled by Francis Ngannou.
This fight has been difficult for me to pick but I'm going with Gane as I do not see Jones returning to form after such a long time off and after several lackluster showings I am left much more tempted by Gane entering his prime at an underdog price.
Pick: Gane O/U: Over 4.5 -164
The Women's Flyweight title is on the line in this matchup. Valentina Shevchenko is as well-rounded a fighter as one will find with very sharp counterstriking and a well-developed clinch game with many throws in her arsenal. Alexa Grasso is a good boxer who has shown a much-improved ground game over her time in the UFC.
I am picking Shevchenko here as I don't see what Grasso could do to win at a consistent rate; however, I will bet the over as Grasso has the skills and durability to stay in this one until the later stages.
Pick: Shevchenko O/U: Over 4.5 +114
Two red-hot contenders meet here at Welterweight. Geoff Neal is a powerful striker with a great left hand and a high kick coming off a devastating knockout of Vicente Luque. Shavkat Rakhmonov is an absolute monster who can strike with anyone or take them down, which he has proven by easily finishing every opponent he has faced.
I've got Rakhmonov here as his advantage in the grappling will likely be too much for Neal, and for that reason, I have played his submission prop, as he will probably find an opening at some point.
Pick: Rakhmonov O/U: Over 1.5 -159
Short notice matchup at Lightweight that has many split. Mateusz Gamrot is a grappling machine with a very high work rate. Jalin Turner is an explosive finisher who has shown the ability to hurt opponents on the feet using his range and power, and his long limbs have helped him develop an excellent submission game.
I'm leaning towards Gamrot here, but this fight is appropriately priced as this is short notice, and Turner will likely have the striking advantage. I see Gamrot controlling him for the majority of the fight.
Pick: Gamrot O/U: Over 2.5 +114
One of the most anticipated debuts in UFC history opens the main card here. Jamie Pickett is a long fighter with solid power, although he has been out-grappled in the UFC. Bo Nickal is as high-end a prospect as one can find, with a top-tier grappling game by any standard and surprising power in his hands.
I immediately played Bo Nickal round one and inside the distance, at the best price I could find, as he should roll with ease here using his wrestling to dominate.
Pick: Nickal O/U: Under 1.5 -312
Powerful punchers matchup here at Bantamweight. Cody Garbrandt is a speedy and powerful striker who can mix in takedowns if he needs to, although his defense and durability are a massive issue. Trevin Jones is a big puncher with tough competition over his UFC run, although he sometimes struggles to throw much volume.
I'll play Jones by knockout here, as even though Garbrandt may have the skill edge, this is not a sport where repeated knockout losses can be ignored, and a solid price on Jones by knockout is too tempting.
Pick: Jones O/U: Under 1.5 +100
Huge Middleweight clash on the prelims here. Derek Brunson is a great wrestler for the weight class, although his striking is concerning as he leaves himself very open and has been caught before. Dricus Du Plessis is a strong finisher who throws power at an insane rate with surprising cardio.
I've got Du Plessis here, and I've got him by knockout as he can use his strength to keep this fight standing and will overwhelm Brunson with his power and get the stoppage.
Pick: Du Plessis O/U: Under 1.5 +122
A fun matchup between grapplers here at women's Flyweight. Viviane Araujo has tested herself against some of the best in the division and shown strong grappling with a solid striking base. Amanda Ribas has had flashes of brilliance in her UFC run with high-volume striking and aggressive grappling, although she still has flaws in offensive wrestling and striking defense.
I'll take Araujo here as she should have the edge in striking along with her strong takedown defense, which matches up well against Ribas.
Pick: Araujo O/U: Over 2.5 -286
High pace fight here at Middleweight. Julian Marquez is a powerful puncher, although he can be worn down and I have concerns about his durability. Marc-Andre Barriault is an exhausting fighter who will wear opponents down on the cage before using his powerful boxing.
I'm going with Barriault in this one, as I see him pushing Marquez against the fence early and putting it on him as the fight continues.
Pick: Barriault O/U: Over 1.5 -185
An excellent striking clash between finishers here at Welterweight. Ian Machado Garry has shown a well-rounded skillset early in his career as he is fast on the feet and has a good submission game, although his defense is a concern. Kenan Song is a quick finisher coming off a tough knockout loss as he moved up in competition.
I'll take Garry by knockout in this one as we have seen Song struggle when facing strikers with power and this is a good matchup for Garry to show off his striking and get a highlight finish.
Pick: Garry O/U: Under 1.5 -104
A good test for a young prospect in this one at Bantamweight. Mana Martinez has had some close fights in the UFC, going to decision in all three of his bouts in the promotion, winning two by split decision. Cameron Saaiman is a well-rounded young fighter with a high pace that can often wear opponents down, resulting in him getting a late stoppage.
I'm leaning toward Saaiman as my pick but my bet for this one is the over as Martinez has gone the distance in each of his UFC fights and many of Saaiman's finishes come against tired opponents with little experience.
Pick: Saaiman O/U: Over 2.5 -114
Matchup between two grapplers here at Strawweight. Jessica Penne is a veteran who has made a career with her solid wrestling and submission game. Tabatha Ricci is a fresh prospect with a solid grappling game, particularly from the top position.
I'll take Ricci by decision in this one as I do not see either woman getting subbed in this matchup which is their most likely finishing method, and I see Ricci as the better offensive wrestler and striker.
Pick: Ricci O/U: Over 2.5 -333
Good matchup for the debut of the younger Basharat brother here. Farid Basharat is undefeated, winning many of his fights by rear naked choke, although he has not faced much real competition. Damon Blackshear is a good grappler with strong control and an excellent submission game coming off a very close draw in his UFC debut.
I'm taking a small shot on Blackshear here as he is the much more battle-tested fighter, and with his grappling skill, this price is far too wide. I also do not see either fighter being finished here, as Blackshear has never been finished, and Basharat is unlikely to be submitted, which is Blackshear's main finishing threat.
Pick: Blackshear O/U: Over 2.5 -185
Debuting Lightweights clash in the first fight of the night. Loik Radzhabov has competed with high-level competition in the PFL with mixed results showing his durability and wrestling game. Esteban Ribiovics is a power puncher who comes in having finished all of his pro fights, most recently with a win on Dana White's Contender Series.
I'll pick Radzhabov here, as he has been in there with much better competition, and he should have a sizeable grappling edge.
Pick: Radzhabov O/U: Under 2.5 -135
Ciryl Gane +146
Viviane Araujo +104
Marc-Andre Barriault -147
Da'Mon Blackshear +370
Valentina Shevchenko vs. Alexa Grasso Over 2.5 -150
Shavkat Rakhmonov by Submission +160
Bo Nickal Inside The Distance -769
Trevin Jones by KO/TKO +280
Dricus Du Plessis by KO/TKO +119
Ian Machado Garry by KO/TKO -141
Tabatha Ricci by decision -145
Mana Martinez vs. Cameron Saaiman Over 2.5 -114
Farid Basharat vs. Da'Mon Blackshear Fight Goes The Distance -145