UFC tips: Our 3 best bets from Saturday’s UFC 271 card as Adesanya battles Whittaker in the main event

Paddy's chief MMA tipster Sean Taylor picks his punts for this weekend's cracking card.


* 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.

Please note: All start times are approximate.

Sunday 5.30am: Israel Adesanya v Robert Whittaker – Will the fight go the distance? Yes

A second rematch in a row for the middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya, and unlike the previous one against Marvin Vettori this rematch still has some unanswered questions from the first fight. Robert Whittaker fought very emotionally the first time around and while Adesanya certainly deserves credit for bringing out that side of him, fans were left feeling that we didn’t necessarily see both fighters at their best.

Whittaker took some time off following that loss and is now riding a three fight win streak with really impressive, technical displays against Darren Till, Jared Connonier and Kelvin Gastelum; all via decision. In these fights he has been much calmer and more measured in his striking than he was against Adesanya. 

The elephant in the room is that the blueprint for beating Adesanya has since been laid out by the now former light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz. However, in my opinion there are some caveats to anyone looking to implement that game plan. Jan was able to keep Adesanya down due to a sizeable weight differential and we’ve seen at middleweight that Izzy is notoriously hard to takedown with takedown defence of 80% in his UFC career. Moreover, while Whittaker’s wrestling isn’t to be sniffed at, he is predominantly a defense wrestler and this is backed up by an average of 0.64 takedowns per 15 minutes in his UFC career. For me, this isn’t the best path to victory for Whittaker. 

With a non-emotionally invested Whittaker, I think it’s likely we see a super technical stand-up fight that goes the distance, chess with feints. Counteracting Adesanya’s counter-striking prowess could be best done by standing off him and letting Adesanya bring the fight to him. While ultimately, I think Adesanya is operating on a different level striking wise to anyone else in the middleweight division, the value here lies in the fight to go the distance. Whittaker hasn’t finished a fight since Jacare in 2017 while we’ve seen that Adesanya is content to wait and let the finish come to him and that’s not something I’m expecting to present itself so easily this time around. 


TV: Live on BT Sport, main card from 3am Sunday morning

Sunday 4.45am: Tai Tuivasa to beat Derrick Lewis

This particular selection is a pretty simple value play. Here you have two of the biggest hitters in a division loaded with sluggers. I think this fight is essentially a pick ‘em and the betting should be closer to reflect that. At the time of writing you’re getting 6/4 about Tai Tuivasa and I think anything from 11/10 upwards represents good value.

It’s not that I have anything major against Derrick Lewis here, I just think they’re both equally likely to knock each other out and so the current price about Lewis represents poor value. The first big punch in this one could well be fight-ending.

Sunday 4.15am: Derek Brunson to beat Jared Cannonier

Similar to the above, I think this is a fight where the betting should be closer. I don’t have a strong lean on this fight but I think the current prices show a certain amount of disrespect towards Derek Brunson. Since losing to Adesanya back in late 208, Brunson has gone 5-0 with some really impressive wins. It’s easy to forget but he stopped the Shahbazyan and Holland hype trains and most recently put the brakes on Darren Till’s title hopes.

If you’re into these kinds of things, it’s also worth noting that Blonde Brunson is undefeated. Cannonier isn’t a guy that middleweights are rushing to fight but if you look at his losses they have come against high level opposition and Brunson has shown himself to be just that of late and I think his current price represents excellent value. 

UFC 271 betting tips:

5.30am: Israel Adesanya vs Robert Whittaker: Fight to go the distance? Yes
4.45am: Tai Tuivasa to beat Derrick Lewis
4.15am: Derek Brunson to beat Jared Cannonier

* 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.


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What do you think?