A glance down the fight card for UFC 238 is enough to get any self-respecting MMA fan excited for this weekend’s event in Chicago.
With two world title fights, a lightweight scrap that could easily have been placed as the main event above both title tilts, and a host of other pivotal bouts throughout the UFC’s weight divisions, Saturday night’s event has exciting match-ups everywhere you turn.
But while we’re excited for the bouts, we’re here for the value, and the betting markets offer a few intriguing routes that could turn an already-fun night into a winning one for us.
The main event
UFC flyweight world champion Henry Cejudo has been counted out in almost every big fight he’s had. But, he’s now at the peak of his powers.
He dethroned the unbeatable Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson, then stunned TJ Dillashaw in just 32 seconds when the bantamweight champ dropped down in a bid to nab ‘The Messenger’s’ flyweight title.
Now, following Dillashaw’s ban for testing positive for EPO for that fight (not that it helped him much…) the bantamweight strap is vacant, and Cejudo is stepping up to face top contender Marlon Moraes for the title.
Moraes is a dangerous finisher who has put away a trio of top contenders in his last three fights.
Aljamain Sterling, Jimmie Rivera and Raphael Assuncao were all dusted inside a round by the surging Brazilian, and his form has seen him made a solid favourite for the main event on Saturday night.
But, I have a feeling Cejudo is being criminally underrated – once again.
The American’s wrestling is as good as it gets in the lower weight classes, and his footwork and striking has been vastly improved.
He’ll have to be wary of being caught, but his championship mentality and his recent performances against Johnson and Dillashaw show that he’s every bit the equal of Moraes.
To me, it’s a coin-flip fight, and when you’re betting on a coin flip and someone gives one side bigger odds, you’d be daft not to take it. That’s my take here, and I’m siding with Cejudo to get the job done at 11/10.
— Mike Allardyce (@mikedyce) June 6, 2019
Other value picks
Valentina Shevchenko is prohibitively priced to defeat Jessica Eye at 1/14, but the 7/5 available a decision victory offers the best value for that fight. Eye is a competitor who doesn’t have a technical edge over the champion in any department, but she is super-tough, and that may carry her to the scorecards in a losing effort.
— UFC (@ufc) June 6, 2019
Tony Ferguson is making his long-awaited return to action against Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone in a must-see lightweight clash. Cerrone may tempt some at 6/5, but I fancy ‘El Cucuy’ to extend his winning streak to 12 in a row with a stoppage win over ‘Cowboy’. Cerrone has been hurt to the body before, and I see Ferguson having success there before finishing him via TKO (16/5).
Tai Tuivasa is looking to bounce back into the win column against immovable Bulgarian object Blagoy Ivanov, and he’s going to have to put on a big performance to get him out of there. Ivanov has been stopped just once (by submission) in 20 career fights, so a knockout win from Tuivasa would be a huge statement. He has the power to do it, and the 17/10 on him getting it done by KO/TKO is an attractive side bet. But, I prefer the 7/2 on the big Aussie claiming a decision win over the gritty European campaigner.
Tatiana Suarez is a future women’s strawweight champion in-waiting. Her ability on the mat far outstrips just about anyone in her division, and her wrestling skills mean she can control where the fight goes with relative ease. She’s a 1/10 favourite to defeat Nina Ansaroff in their preliminary card matchup, which isn’t too attractive a price. A TKO via ground and pound seems almost as likely as a submission in this fight, and the 3/1 for the TKO looks much nicer than the 11/10 for the sub. Pick your poison, but I’m gambling on the value selection.
* All odds correct at time of posting.