A monster UFC card is on the menu this Sunday in Phoenix. Here are our UFC 274 tips and multi for this Sunday’s card.
Charles Oliveira ($1.50) v Justin Gaethje ($2.47)
Gaethje by KO ($3.15)
We are treated to a cracker of a main event, which should produce action from the opening bell. Oliveira has continued his winning ways when choking out Dustin Poirier in his first lightweight title defence and Gaethje is coming off a brutal victory against Michael Chandler in what was considered Fight of the Year by many.
In a true “styles make fights” match up, Oliveira will have to be wary of Gaethje’s one punch knockout power but on the other hand, if he can assume a dominant position on the ground, Gaethje could be tapping moments later.
Gaethje is easily the most powerful striker that Oliveira has ever faced. Although Oliveira is certainly no slouch on the feet, his chin is slightly suspect and if Gaethje can connect with his patented right hand, we will likely be seeing the crowning of a new UFC 155lb champion.
Rose Namajunas ($1.42) v Carla Esparza ($2.73)
Esparza H2H ($2.73) & Esparza by Submission ($19 – VALUE BET)
The co-main event is a rematch over seven years in the making. These fighters duked it out in the finale of The Ultimate Fighter Season 20 and will now meet again but for much higher stakes, the UFC Women’s Strawweight Championship.
Esparza prevailed as the winner that day, locking up a rear-naked choke in Round 3 and history could very well repeat itself here. Esparza’s game has improved over the years, combining smothering top control with a volume heavy striking game and now having strung together 5 wins in a row, she gets another crack at the title.
Rose has certainly had more success since 2014, vanquishing former 115lb champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk and winning the title a second time when defeating Weili Zhang at UFC 261. Rose is a patient counter striker who has displayed knockout power on many occasions, but this could play into Esparza’s hands.
Esparza needs to take Rose out of her comfort zone, putting the pressure on early and getting the fight to the ground. Despite the fact that 5 of Rose’s 11 wins have come by submission, Esparza is the superior grappler here. If she can land on top and start to inflict damage with ground strikes, we could see replay of the finishing sequence in 2014.
Esparza is well worth a bet here and even though she hasn’t landed a submission win since choking out Rose, you could do much worse than have a few dollars on at double figure odds.
Michael Chandler ($1.22) v Tony Ferguson ($3.96)
Chandler by KO ($2.12 – BEST BET)
Many have argued whether this fight should actually go ahead (including yours truly!). Once one of the top fighters in a stacked lightweight division, Tony Ferguson hasn’t looked the same since ending up on the receiving end of a mauling from Justin Gaethje. He looks much slower and it seems his heart isn’t in it anymore. Chandler on the other hand, despite his 1-2 start in the UFC has impressed in all three of his performances.
Chandler is likely to come out all guns blazing and quite simply, he punches a LOT harder and faster than Ferguson. I don’t see this one lasting very long and black figures about a KO victory seems a luxury.
Mauricio Rua ($3.01) v Ovince Saint Preux ($1.35)
Fight to go the distance – Yes ($2.71)
This is an interesting match up between two 205lb veterans who one could argue are in the “twilight” of their careers. They have already met once back in November of 2014, when “OSP” brought an early halt to proceedings, knocking Shogun out in a mere 34 seconds.
Since then, both fighters have exchanged wins and losses with middle-tier opponents in the light heavyweight division. It honestly wouldn’t surprise me if one or both of these fighters retire after this bout.
Although both fighters are known for their highlight reel knockouts, they are both notoriously slow starters and they certainly wouldn’t be mistaken for spring chickens, coming in at 40 and 39 years old respectively. I expect a grinding sort of fight and the price to go the distance looks a nice bit of overs.
Donald Cerrone ($1.52) v Joe Lauzon ($2.41)
Lauzon H2H ($2.41) & Lauzon by KO ($7.25)
Speaking of fighters who could be considered over-the-hill, this is a fight that puzzled many when it was first announced. Joe Lauzon returns to the Octagon after an absence of more than 2.5 years against UFC stalwart and legend, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone.
It’s safe to say that the Cowboy of old would have handled Lauzon pretty comfortably here but he is riding a five-fight losing streak (including a NC) and like Ferguson, he simply isn’t the fighter he once was.
It’s hard to know what to expect from Lauzon but he should be the aggressor from the start. Cerrone is well known for starting his fights at a snail’s pace and it has cost him over the years, with first round stoppages courtesy of Justin Gaethje, Conor McGregor and Alex Morono. Lauzon isn’t known for having a great gas tank (and will be especially suspect after 30 months off the scene) but if he pours on the pressure early, it may be enough to get Cowboy to crack. He’s worth backing straight out and maybe something small to win by KO.
Chandler by KO & Esparza to win ($5.78)