UFC tips: Our best bets for Blaydes v Lewis and the rest of this weekend’s card

UFC action returns on Saturday night and Simon Head has his latest picks.

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*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change.

UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas this weekend may not boast a world title fight at the top of the card, but on a bout sheet that offers plenty of exciting matchups, three big heavyweight bouts stand out as potential show-stealers.

Ahead of fight night, we take a look at all three, and pick out our favourite value selections for each.

4AM: CURTIS BLAYDES V DERRICK LEWIS

Heavyweight contenders collide in the main event, and No. 3-ranked Curtis Blaydes would appear to have a big advantage over opponent Derrick Lewis.

Lewis may have the most knockouts in UFC heavyweight history, but Blaydes’ ability to get the fight to the mat should negate “The Black Beast’s” scary punch power.

Once the fight is on the mat, it’ll be all “Razor” as Blaydes will dominate from top position and unload a barrage of strikes in a bid to finish his opponent. He’s big enough and strong enough to keep even a man as big as Lewis on his back, and once he’s taken him down it seems unlikely that Lewis will be able to get back up.

It might take him a few rounds, but backing a Blaydes win via KO/TKO looks like the smart bet here and, while the 11/4 on a first-round TKO finish looks tempting, I think the #WhatOddsPaddy option of backing Blaydes to win by KO/TKO in Round 2 OR Round 3 looks like outstanding value.

PICK: CURTIS BLAYDES TO WIN BY KO/TKO IN ROUND 2 OR ROUND 3

2AM: ALEKSEI OLEINIK V CHRIS DAUKAUS

When I checked Paddy’s odds for this fight, I was genuinely surprised. Chris Daukaus is a rising heavyweight prospect, but Aleksei Oleinik’s immense experience and insane toughness makes him a really tough man to go against in this situation.

Oleinik is coming of a defeat to Derrick Lewis, but prior to that he’d defeated the former UFC heavyweight champion, Fabricio Werdum. He also holds a 2018 victory over heavy-handed striker Mark Hunt, so facing someone with punch power isn’t new to him, either.

Daukaus is not in Werdum’s class, and he doesn’t hit as hard as Hunt. He’ll have a speed advantage, but Oleinik remains a serious threat, especially on the ground.

The grizzled Russian has a staggering 74 fights and 59 wins to his name. If that’s not astonishing enough, an incredible 46 of those victories have come via submission. So, when you look at the odds you can see that Oleinik to win by submission is great value.

PICK: ALEKSEI OLEINIK TO WIN BY SUBMISSION

1AM: ANDREI ARLOVSKI V TOM ASPINALL

Andrei Arlovski is a UFC legend. He’s an evergreen former heavyweight champion and a man who, despite people writing him off, continues to bounce back and show that he’s still relevant in the UFC’s heavyweight division.

But on Saturday night, I sense we could see a changing of the guard, as England’s Tom Aspinall steps in looking to pick up the biggest win of his career.

Aspinall is an out-and-out knockout artist. But, unlike many heavyweights, he’s not a slugger. He’s a slick boxer, with outstanding technique, superb accuracy and serious punch power.

Arlovski has always fancied himself as one of the better MMA boxers in the heavyweight division, and the prospect of the pair trading leather in the middle of the octagon is a mouth-watering one. But we’ve seen Arlovski hurt, dropped and finished plenty of times over the years, and Aspinall looks to be in prime position to score a big win here.

He’s the betting favourite for the fight, and a knockout victory for the Brit looks like a solid route to take here. He’s even money to win by KO/TKO at any point during their three-round bout. But, for those chasing a little more value, the 12/5 available on a first-round KO/TKO finish may prove more appealing.

Aspinall has finished each of his last SIX fights via first-round KO/TKO, and none of those fights has gone longer than 95 seconds. Unless Arlovski turns into a wrestler for the night in Las Vegas, look for Aspinall to add another knockout win to his resume.

PICK: TOM ASPINALL TO WIN BY KO/TKO IN ROUND 1

UFC VALUE PICKS:

Curtis Blaydes v Derrick Lewis: Blaydes to win by KO/TKO in Round 2 or 3
Aleksei Oleinik v Chris Daukaus: Oleinik to Win by Submission
Andrei Arlovski v Tom Aspinall: Aspinall to win by KO/TKO in Round 1

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