Star-studded PPV action goes down this week from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas as Alexander Volkanovski -385 defends his Featherweight belt against dangerous Mexican striker Yair Rodriguez +320, and Brandon Moreno -192 seeks revenge against top contender Alexandre Pantoja +170 in the co-main. I broke down the entire card, and I have some confident picks throughout the card, so let’s get into it.
Odds Provided by Stake.com Accurate as of 7/5/2023 4:30 AM EST
Massive Featherweight title matchup headlines this card, with many expecting a tough challenge for the dominant champion. Alexander Volkanovski returns to his weight class here after an impressive showing against Islam Makhachev, he has top-tier boxing, and his ground game has developed to become a weapon in particular, the damage he can do from the top position. Yair Rodriguez is a kickboxer who throws very hard kicks to all levels with crazy aggression and has a great chin; his cardio has seemingly improved beyond a concern since his layoff, although his wrestling is still a weakness.
I’m picking Volkanovski here, although I expect this fight to be wild, making me hesitant to place any bets on it. In the end, I see Volkanovski being able to use his boxing to outstrike Rodriguez and take him down at will before using his strong ground and pound.
Pick: Volkanovski O/U: Over 4.5 -133
An interesting rivalry continues to develop as the Flyweight title is on the line with a challenger who has beaten the champion multiple times before. Brandon Moreno developed his game in his time with the UFC to develop top-tier striking and a crafty grappling attack. Alexandre Pantoja is an ultra-aggressive, well-rounded fighter with a granite chin with a submission game that has proven effective against even high-level grapplers.
This is a very tough fight to pick, and at these odds, I understand wanting to play Pantoja as I give him much of the finishing upside, although if this fight reaches rounds four and five, I think Moreno may take over and steal a decision.
Pick: Moreno O/U: Over 3.5 -182
This highly anticipated Middleweight clash could determine the belt's next challenger. Robert Whittaker is a very high-level striker who moves like few his size and has the ability to mix in his ground attack when he chooses. Dricus Du Plessis has had a wild UFC run where he has shown his finishing ability and toughness if nothing else.
As a pure pick, Whittaker is likely the side; however, at these odds, give me Du Plessis, as many underestimate his actual ability based on several faulters, which can create chaos in his favor. If you can find an inside-the-distance-only bet where it voids if the fight goes to decision, I would take that as a decision favors Whittaker heavily, but I am not discounting Du Plessis’ finishing ability.
Pick: Du Plessis O/U: Under 2.5 -133
Big test for an intriguing talent at Lightweight against a veteran looking to prove they’re not done. Jalin Turner is a very tall fighter for the division with a well-rounded offensive attack that makes him a dangerous finisher, although his defense has some holes. Dan Hooker looks to continue momentum here after getting back in the win column, he is a tough striker with hard knees and elbows inside, although I believe his best days are behind him.
I’m picking Turner here, and if you follow me on social media, you would’ve seen I played his price early to get value; at his current price, I have a hard time recommending playing him, although I still believe he will get a finish over Hooker.
Pick: Turner O/U: Over 1.5 -141
One of the most intriguing names in the sport gets a short-notice matchup at Middleweight to open the main card. Bo Nickal has been one of the most talked about prospects in the history of the sport with his wrestling credentials and dominant displays so far in his limited octagon time; his submission game is at a very high level for such a fresh prospect, although he still has yet to be hit in a fight leaving some questions to be answered. Valentine Woodburn is undefeated, stepping up to this challenge, having fought between Middleweight and Light Heavyweight showing solid power although he has been out-grappled at times against lesser competition.
Nickal is the largest favorite in UFC history, with all of his props at very steep prices; the risk is not worth the reward here, although I wouldn’t recommend putting money on his opponent either.
Pick: Nickal O/U: Under 1.5 -400*
A Welterweight legend gets another spotlight here in a fun clash of high pace strikers. Robbie Lawler makes what will be his final walk here after a career of brawling like nobody else, he still tries to fight like he used to, but his gas tank and durability are not the same. Niko Price finds himself in another fun battle against a veteran here; he hits pretty hard and has decent wrestling, although he has had some injury trouble and was knocked out in his last fight.
I really don’t like picking fighters in their retirement fights, but these odds are a bit crazy, considering Niko Price is nothing special, and Lawler may still have something in the tank.
Pick: Lawler O/U: Under 2.5 -179
Short-notice replacement steps up against a blue-chip Welterweight prospect here. Jack Della Maddalena was meant to fight Sean Brady here in a compelling matchup to test his skills against a proven wrestler, as he has already shown he can dominate lesser competition with his powerful punches and slick defense. Josiah Harrell typically likes to fight at a lighter weight which I think will be clear when these two face off; he has a solid grappling game, although he has had a difficult time against other wrestlers getting put on his back.
It’s tough to know what to expect from Harrell, but with Della Maddalena, I know he will bring his crisp boxing that has been proven at a high level, and I’ll pick that without much hesitation.
Pick: Della Maddalena O/U: Under 1.5 -275*
An all-action matchup here at Strawweight. Yazmin Jauregui has had a very impressive UFC run so far, maintaining her undefeated record over two wild fights where she showed power in the striking and a solid ground game. Denise Gomes is an aggressive fighter with a good submission attack and heavy hands, although she can be beaten positionally in grappling.
I’m picking Jauregui, but these odds are too wide to do anything with, as Gomes is not a bad fighter with a wild style that could create a chaotic fight where you don’t want big money on either side.
Pick: Jauregui O/U: Under 2.5 +118
A Rematch of a wild fight at Light Heavyweight gives both men an opportunity to get the win. Jimmy Crute was once a very highly touted prospect; although several showings that have displayed a hole in his striking defense have halted the hype train, still his ground game is very high level, especially for this weight class. Alonzo Menifield is a hard puncher who appears to have fixed some of the holes in his game later in his career; still, he has been up and down through his UFC run.
I like Crute at these odds, as he was a much bigger favorite last time out, and I’m not sure the result justifies this shift considering Crute’s age compared to Menifield’s. If Crute is able to keep his wrestling going throughout the fight as he did early and late last fight without eating the big shots he did last time, he can dominate here.
Pick: Crute O/U: Over 1.5 -116
Another showcase for a young Flyweight prospect with a very high ceiling. Edgar Chairez is very aggressive when striking and has a solid submission game, although his wrestling is not great when he is not grabbing the fence repeatedly. Tatsuro Taira is a very young prospect with a dominant grappling game; he has shown high-level transition ability that has inevitably led to submission in his career many times.
I think Taira is a top-tier prospect and should be able to use his ground game to get another submission win here, although the price has gotten out of control, even for props.
Pick: Taira O/U: Under 1.5 -123
Hard-hitting Light Heavyweight action takes place in this one. Vitor Petrino is a crazy powerful striker who has knocked out most of his opponents in the first round, although his ground game leaves some to be desired. Marcin Prachnio is a solid kickboxer with powerful leg kicks and solid cardio who has shown some durability issues in the past.
I’ll pick Petrino to get the knockout, as his power is real, and he will likely touch Prachnio early and often.
Pick: Petrino O/U: Under 1.5 -137
Flyweight finishers collide here as a short-notice replacement keeps Saaiman on the card. Cameron Saaiman is a well-rounded young prospect who has made some in-fight mistakes, but that is to be expected with someone so fresh; he has great cardio, pace, and solid grappling defense. Terrence Mitchell is a tall thin guy for the weight class who has been winning fights up in Alaska using his solid submission game against unimpressive competition since his quick knockout loss to Kai Kara-France on The Ultimate Fighter.
I really like Saaiman here, and I think he gets a pretty early finish; using him as a parlay piece or playing his finish props is the way to go here.
Pick: Saaiman O/U: Under 1.5 -159
Flyweights looking to bounce back from tough debuts battle here. Shannon Ross has had a rough few fights in a row as after being brutally beaten on Dana White’s Contender Series, he lost his UFC debut to Kleydson Rodrigues very quickly, although, against lower-level competition, he has shown solid striking, and he is not incompetent on the ground. Jesus Aguilar is a very short, stocky guy with a solid ground attack, mainly a guillotine that he loves, although he has a very short reach and little power to speak of.
I’ll lean with Ross here, although I am not confident in either side here.
Pick: Ross O/U: Under 2.5 -141
Fun Lightweight clash here to open this deep card. Kamuela Kirk comes up in weight here after some time off; he has a karate striking style, although he doesn’t throw much volume. Esteban Ribovics is a powerful puncher who lost his UFC debut due to being taken down many times; despite this, he hurt his opponent and had some deep submission attempts.
I like Ribovics here, as I think he has all the finishing upside and a cardio advantage and has fought at this weight before.
Pick: Ribovics O/U: Under 2.5 -185