The UFC is bringing a stacked card of pay-per-view action to the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, headlined by a rematch between two pound-for-pound giants as Islam Makhachev -238 defends his Lightweight title against Featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski +205. I went over every fight on this deep card and gave my picks and best bets, so let's get into it.
Odds provided by Stake.com accurate as of 9:45 AM EST 10/19/2023
This rematch for the ages goes down at Lightweight, with Volkanovski coming in on just ten days' notice. Islam Makhachev looks to continue his dominant run using his slick grappling and the technical striking he showed off the last time these two fought. Alexander Volkanovski is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, in my opinion, as he has an unbelievably well-rounded game with very high-level striking leading the way.
I'll pick Makhachev here as I see the short notice and "hometown" advantage for him being too much to overcome, although Volkanovski is also very hard to bet against.
Pick: Makhachev O/U: Over 4.5 -122
The Middleweight co-main event has been deemed a title eliminator, and it features one of the best in the sport looking to get another title, taking on a seemingly unstoppable prospect. Kamaru Usman steps in here after his dominant run at Welterweight, where he showed elite wrestling, strength, and solid striking fundamentals, notably a strong jab. Khamzat Chimaev has looked unbeatable so far with a monstrous wrestling attack and powerful striking with a crazy pace behind all of it.
I see Chimaev likely getting a finish here, but these odds make it hard to bet on him here.
Pick: Chimaev O/U: Under 2.5 -159
Top contending Light Heavyweights go head to head in this marquee matchup. Magomed Ankalaev nearly claimed UFC gold against Jan Blachowicz, where he showed a well-roundedness to his game, although he continued to be a slow starter. Johnny Walker is a big and powerful striker with a wild style, although his durability remains a large concern every time he fights a puncher.
I think Ankalaev gets the knockout here, as he is a much cleaner and more durable striker.
Pick: Ankalaev O/U: Under 1.5 +122
Showcase spot here for an exciting prospect at Middleweight. Ikram Aliskerov comes in off an impressive debut knockout over Phil Hawes, which showed his power, and he also has very high-level wrestling. Warlley Alves steps in on short notice here; he is a stocky fighter with solid finishing ability.
Aliskerov should win here, but I am not nearly sold enough on him to take this price.
Pick: Aliskerov O/U: Over 1.5 +118
This is a fun matchup here at Bantamweight featuring two high pace fighters. Said Nurmagomedov is an electric fighter to watch with flashy striking and a dangerous choke game; his cardio is a slight question mark. Muin Gafurov is a tough fighter who has never been finished as a pro and brings a high pace with solid finishing ability.
I'm picking Nurmagomedov here as he will be able to win the fight by keeping his distance or controlling on the ground.
Pick: Nurmagomedov O/U: Under 2.5 -127
It's an excellent test for a highly touted prospect here at Flyweight. Tim Elliot is a crafty veteran with a unique style of mixing his striking and grappling; he also has tremendous cardio. Muhammad Mokaev has remained unbeaten in the UFC so far, although he has faced adversity multiple times in his fights, leaving questions about how he will fare against the top of the division.
I'll take Elliot at these odds, as Mokaev has struggled with lower-level guys like Malcolm Gordon, and I am not sure he is ready for this test.
Pick: Elliot O/U: Over 2.5 -167
Fun firefight here at Lightweight. Mohammad Yahya enters with a decent record out of UAE Warriors, although his losses are ugly and to fighters less than UFC caliber. Trevor Peek is an all-action brawler with an insane style, big power, and a great chin.
I think Peek gets a knockout here, as I think his power and durability will be too much for Yahya.
Pick: Peek O/U: Under 1.5 -143
Two highly skilled Bantamweights test themselves against one another here. Javid Basharat has been impressive, displaying a well-rounded skillset and high IQ during his perfect run. Victor Henry is a forward-moving cardio machine that throws a lot of volume and is very durable.
I've got Basharat to win a decision in this one, as Henry has never been finished and Basharat has won all his UFC fights via decision.
Pick: Basharat O/U: Over 2.5 -278
Two Middleweights with very different recent schedules face off in this one. Sedriques Dumas comes in off a good performance where he dominated Cody Brundage, showing an improved ground game along with his solid striking; I still think he has some durability concerns and maybe a bit small for the weight class. Abu Azaitar returns here with just one fight in the last five years which was a loss; this leaves many questions about the fighter who could still have dangerous power in his hands.
I'll take Dumas, as he is the much longer fighter who has been much more active.
Pick: Dumas O/U: Over 1.5 -189
Here, the Road to UFC winner gets his first UFC fight at Lightweight. Anshul Jubli showed a well-developed game and good athleticism on his way to earning this contract. Mike Breeden is a tough fighter with decent grappling, although he is not very athletic and struggles when facing big power, having been finished early several times in the UFC.
I'll go with Jubli here as he is better everywhere, and it is hard to trust Breeden's chin.
Pick: Jubli O/U: Over 1.5 -227
This is a good matchup here at early on the card Featherweight. Nathaniel Wood is a very good striker with incredible speed and a ground game that he mixes in well. Muhammad Naimov comes in off an upset over Jamie Mullarkey, where he was getting outpaced until he landed the big knockout shot.
Wood is one of my safest picks of the card, as I see him fighting responsibly and dominating to a decision win here.
Pick: Wood O/U: Over 2.5 -217
A Strawweight veteran takes on an undefeated prospect here. Jinh Yu Frey comes in on a three-fight losing streak against rather unimpressive competition; I would not expect things to get better at this point with her age. Victoria Dudakova is an undefeated fighter who has looked good in her UFC run thus far; she brings a heavy grappling game for as long as the fight goes.
Dudakova should dominate here as she has several clear advantages.
Pick: Dudakova O/U: Over 2.5 -256
Middleweight strikers clash in what should be a wild fight to start this card. Bruno Silva enters, having lost three of his last four fights with his chin looking faded, although he still has big power and skill striking. Sharabutdin Magomedov makes his debut here as an unbeaten kickboxer; he looks to be very athletic and wild but also untested to this point.
It is very hard to trust either of these guys, but I am not sold on Magomedov at all, so I'll take Silva here as he is much more experienced and easy to back, even at this stage of his career.
Pick: Silva O/U: Under 1.5 -109
Tim Elliot +380
Trevor Peek by TKO/KO +110
Javid Basharat on Points -135
Nathaniel Wood + Victor Henry vs. Javid Basharat Over 2.5 Rounds -128