Welcome back to our weekly betting series. This week we cover one of the biggest cards this year in our UFC 281 betting tips and plays article.
The card is stacked top to bottom, with the headliner being a middleweight mammoth clash between Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira. It is their first meeting in MMA, but Pereira is 2-0 under kickboxing rules. Adesanya has looked a class above his opponents thus far in the striking department, but we know that “Poatan” has proven to be at least his equal in the past.
The co-main event is a strawweight title bout between Carla Esparza, looking to extend her somewhat unlikely title reign in a bout with Chinese representative and former champion Weili Zhang.
UFC 281 : Adesanya Vs Pereira Betting Tips
In what is a storied match-up, to say the least, Israel Adesanya vs Alex Pereira, the Brazilian has a 2-0 advantage in kickboxing, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Until the knockout, Adesanya was leading the proceedings and nearly stopped Pereira before being rendered unconscious for the first time in his career.
In MMA, Pereira’s knockout rate is even higher, at 88%. The reason he isn’t the obvious choice for my money is his gas tank. If Adesanya can survive the first two rounds, the fight enters his realm. A master of pacing his fights, as long as his nerve holds through the early onslaught, he can up his output as the fight progresses. While it isn’t a categorical fact that Pereira can’t match Adesanya’s tempo and longevity, he has nowhere near the experience in the upper echelons of MMA.
Pereira Rushed To Title Shot?
Name any other fighter who would get a title shot with Pereira’s three wins. The reason he is receiving the title shot now is, there is a good chance he loses to the first high-level fighter with a game plan other than trying to pressure him with a jab. I expect Adesanya to frustrate and dominate this bout and leave us all wondering what all the fuss was about. If Adesanya is as nervy as he looks, though, Pereira inside the first two could be a decent investment as a backup.
Adesanya in round 3/4/5 @ +650
Adesanya by decision @ +120
Pereira in round 1 or 2 @ +600
UFC 281: Carla Esparza vs Weili Zhang Betting Tips
In the co-main event, Carla Esparza tries to hold on to her strawweight title as Weili Zhang tries to reclaim her former belt. Zhang is heavily favored, helped in no small part by the manor of Esparza’s win. She defeated Rose Namajunas via a split decision in what was one of the dullest affairs of the year.
Esparza did. though, crack a puzzle that Zhang has failed twice to solve. Zhang has since rebounded from her pair of defeats to “Thug Rose” by obliterating and retiring Joanna Jędrzejczyk. The bookies have this one heavily favored for the challenger, with Weili Zhang sitting at around -400 to Esparza’s +300. Zhang is a specimen for the division, and if she can stuff the takedowns, of which Esparza lands only 35% of the time, then the bookmakers will probably end up seeming shrewd post-fight.
Weili Zhang by K.O @ +120
UFC 281: Dustin Poirier vs Michael Chandler Betting Tips
Many would call Dustin Poirier vs Michael Chandler the people’s main event, and it is hard to disagree. There are very few occasions that these fighters fail to put on a show. The stats marginally favor Poirier on the feet and Chandler in the grappling department.
Both men are 3-2 in their last five, with Poirier coming up short in his title shot against Charles Oliviera most recently. Chandler, on the contrary, knocked out former contender Tony Ferguson in one of the most violent finishes of all time, front kicking his face into what has been described as a chicken nugget-like formation.
The key to this bout is who gets started quicker. This is a three-round bout, and it is going to get messy. It is too difficult to pick the outright winner. Poirier’s motivation had me leaning towards Chandler, but it could also be said that Chandler is the more reckless of the two, and more liable to get caught.
Either fighter to win by K.O @ -138
UFC 281 Main Card Betting Tips
On the rest of the main card, we have Frankie Edgar in his final UFC bout, taking on Chris Gutierrez. The New York original Edgar will retire after this one, and that is never something you want to hear heading into the fight.
Gutierrez, by contrast, is receiving a big fight on the back of six wins and one draw in his last seven. He scored a huge knockout over Batgarel Danaa last time out. Edgar has been knocked out three times in his last four bouts. It could sadly, be another to end his illustrious career.
Gutierrez by stoppage @ +187
Starting off main card proceedings is Aussie brawler Dan Hooker, as he faces off against Peru’s Claudio Puelles. Hooker is on a bad run of form at the moment, against world-class opposition. Makhachev, Chandler, and Poirier are all names he has had to contend with. Puelles is unbeaten in his last five bouts, finishing three by way of kneebar. Clay Guida is the most recent victim of the leglock, which is uncommon to find much success with in MMA.
It looks as clear as day that Puelles should win, but it isn’t. Hooker in his time has beaten world-class opposition. His defensive grappling tends to be very good, and his striking is a step above his opponents.
Hooker by K.O @ +225
Best Prelim Bets
On the prelims, we have just as many, if not more exciting bouts scheduled. Silvana Gómez Juárez takes on Karolina Kowalkiewicz and looks good value against a fighter who has declined rapidly over the last few years. Juarez to win at -110 seems more than fair.
Carlos Ulberg takes on Nicolae Negumereanu in the opener, in what is sure to be a firefight. Ulberg has a higher output rate, better accuracy, defense, and even grappling. While Negumereanu has been a solid foil for many a fighter below the required kill level, Ulberg is not one of them. Ulberg is to win at -138.
Seungwoo Choi returns to action, looking to break a two-fight losing streak against Mike Trizano. Trizano was knocked out in his last bout, and a case of deja vu could be on the cards against a better striker. Choi to win by K.O at +260 is the play.
Matt Frevola vs Ottman Azaitar could well be the fight of the night, as well as the surprise of the night. Azaiter has been very inactive, having only fought twice in the past four years. Frevola by contrast has been far more active. Although he has had mixed results in the UFC, Frevola has proven a tough nut to crack. We take Frevola at +110, hoping his pressure will overwhelm Azaitar.
Full Card Predictions
185 lbs.: Israel Adesanya vs. Alex Pereira – Adesanya
115 lbs.: Carla Esparza vs. Zhang Weili – Weili
155 lbs.: Dustin Poirier vs. Michael Chandler – Poirier
135 lbs.: Frankie Edgar vs. Chris Gutierrez – Gutierrez
155 lbs.: Dan Hooker vs. Claudio Puelles – Hooker
155 lbs.: Brad Riddell vs. Renato Moicano – Moicano
205 lbs.: Dominick Reyes vs. Ryan Spann – Reyes
125 lbs.: Erin Blanchfield vs. Molly McCann – McCann
185 lbs.: Andre Petroski vs. Wellington Turman – Petroski
155 lbs.: Matt Frevola vs. Ottman Azaitar – Frevola
115 lbs.: Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Silvana Gomez – Gomez
145 lbs.: Michael Trizano vs. Seungwoo Choi – Choi
135 lbs.: Julio Arce vs. Montel Jackson – Jackson
205 lbs.: Carlos Ulberg vs. Nicolae Negumereanu – Ulberg
Big Price Plays
Molly McCann by K.O @ +800
Reyes by Decision @ +300
Adesanya and Zhang both to win by K.O @ +900
All main card fights to end by K.O @ +5000
Ulberg, Choi, Gomes-Juarez, Petroski, Reyes, Zhang, Adesanya.
$10 wins $202.71
Well, that is all for this week. Hopefully, these are enough betting tips to see you to a profitable card. If you are tailing these picks, be sure to do so in moderation.
Who is your pick of the week?
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