UFC tips: Our 2 top selections for UFC 272 on Saturday night

Our ace MMA tipster Sean Taylor picks out his best bets from a blockbuster Las Vegas lineup

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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.

Please note: All start times are approximate.

TV: Live on BT Sport 1, main card from 3am Sunday morning

05:30 (Sun AM): Colby Covington v Jorge Masvidal – Masvidal to win (decision no bet)

This fight should be a relatively simple one to unpick stylistically in that it’s a credentialed wrestler versus an accomplished striker. The paths to victory for both would seem quite obvious; Jorge Masvidal’s takedown defence is very good, thanks largely in part to Colby Covington (they were training partners after all), but if Covington can get this fight to the ground then he likely wins a dominant decision, and this is reflected in the odds as being the most likely outcome. For Masvidal, he’ll want to keep it standing and make Covington worry about what he might get hit with when looking for the takedown (cc. Ben Askren).

Where the picture of how this fight plays out becomes more clouded for me is in how well both fighters know each other. This may well be the most high-level fight we see between two guys who know each other this well. Covington’s striking skills are largely down to the amount of training he has done with Masivdal and conversely, Masvidal’s takedown defence can probably be attributed in large part to his training with Covington.

Something that’s hard to factor into the odds here is the emotional investment each fighter has in this bout given their acrimonious fallout. We have seen both fighters involved in fights where it felt like they were emotionally invested in the fight, but this feels like an altogether different level and that’s hard to account for when looking to find value here. 

One market I do like the look of is the ‘Decision No Bet’ market. Like I said earlier, if Covington has his way it’s very likely this fight ends up on the floor and while he won’t necessarily be afraid to have the fight on the feet, he will want to keep it a safe distance. I’d struggle to see a Covington KO given his style of striking is more likely to cause a build-up of damage over five rounds rather than end in a one-shot KO. With this in mind, one would suspect that Masvidal’s best path to victory is a KO and the decision no bet route gives us the chance to take underdog odds about Masvidal with the safety net of knowing that should Masvidal lose via a decision, we’ll get our money back while still offering a nice return should he find the KO or submission.

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04:15 Edson Barboza v Bryce Mitchell – Barboza to win

Based on current prices, I feel like Mitchell is quite easy to oppose here. He hasn’t fought since October 2020 when he broke his hand and has only been cleared to fight since October just passed. That previous outing was a dominant victory against Andre Fili, his toughest opponent at the time. For that fight, his closing odds were around the 17/20 mark. At the time of writing, he is 8/13 and I don’t feel this is a fair representation of his chances in a fight that is to date, the toughest of his career.

There were plenty of raised eyebrows when Edson Barboza made the move down to 145lb limit and despite being 2-2 in the division he has silenced those doubters with some really good performances, in particular the Shane Burgos performance. Allowing for a contentious split decision loss to Dan Ige, he could quite easily be 3-1 at featherweight and be eying up a title shot. More to my point, based on his showings at featherweight, it doesn’t feel to me as though Barboza’s odds are a fair reflection of the step-up in class for Mitchell here.

This feels like a big step-up for Mitchell when you look at the list of opponents Barboza has shared the cage with; wins over Donald Cerrone, Paul Felder, Anthony Pettis, Beneil Dariush and Dan Hooker as well as losses to Tony Ferguson, Justin Gaethje and Khabib Nurmagomedov. Barboza has been around the block and been in there with the best.

Mitchell’s style won’t be anything he hasn’t seen before and if he can keep this fight on the feet then he has a much better chance than his odds would suggest. Comparatively, it’s worth noting that while Mitchell is 5-0 in the UFC, the first three opponents he faced are no longer employed by the promotion. I really like this fight and think it will tell us a lot about Bryce Mitchell and his prospects in the division but I’m riding with the underdog here.

UFC 272 betting tips:

5.30am: Colby Covington v Jorge Masvidal – Jorge Masvidal to win (decision no bet)
4.15am: Edson Barboza v Bryce Mitchell – Barboza to win

* 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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