While this week’s episode opens with a little chat about Jake Paul vs Tommy Fury (I was correct in my Tommy Fury prediction, by the way), the real meat and potatoes is UFC 285. We see the return of Jon Jones after a 3 year layoff against Cyril Gane. This is a legacy fight for both men. In the co-main, Valentina Schevchenko defends her belt yet again against challenger Alexa Grasso. The card leading up to these fights promises action from start to finish, so if you’re a fan, you’ll want to be glued to your couch when the early prelims start.
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All Aboard the Hype Trains
There are some big names on this card, and if you’re really into with MMA you’ll know them. If you aren’t, these names are on here in order to familiarize you with them, because the UFC is planning on Jon Jones selling a lot of PPV’s. These scenarios typically make for good bets, because just as it was with guys like Sean O’Malley and Paddy Pimblett, when the UFC wants the fans to like someone they match them up with an opponent they can put on a show with. Starting with the early prelims, we have 10-0 Ian Garry. Garry is an Irish lad, McGregor wannabe that just doesn’t bring the same pizzazz Conor did. He is a solid fighter, pretty large with nice kickboxing. He is currently -600, because his opponent is just not up to par. You’ll see that pattern forming throughout this card.
Next is Shavkat Rakhmonov, currently a -500 favorite against Geoff Neal. There is a bit of Khamzat syndrome when it comes to Shavkat, as Shavkat has dismantled opponents with ease. In the same way that Khamzat was a wild favorite against Gil Burns, who provided hm a challenge, there is a chance Neal provides challenges to Shavkat this weekend. Shavkat is still a heavy lock for bettors, and unfortunately for us, he can win any way he chooses, which makes selecting prop bets a bit more difficult. If you tune into this week’s episode, you’ll see which way we are leaning, and it has a lot to do with Shavkat’s advantages on the ground. Don’t expect Neal to lay down and die, though.
Finally, Bo Nickal makes his UFC debut, and is currently slotted in the third-to-last fight. Bo is a whopping -1400 favorite. He was a dominant wrestler at Penn State and has shown flashes of greatness in MMA on his short path to the UFC. This fight will most likely look a lot more like Khamzat’s earliest fights: little-to-no strikes absorbed by Nickal from Jamie Pickett, a quick takedown and slick submission. Parlaying these three fighters straight up still only nets -215 ish odds depending on which book you’re privy too, so watch this week’s episode for our prop bets.
DDP Makes a Push
I have to mention this prelim fight because I am a huge believer in Dricus Du Plessis. The South African native just beat Darren Till and faces his next step in a man by the name of Derek Brunson. These fights couldn’t be more different for DDP, as Darren Till is almost strictly a striker, and Brunson is basically just a wrestler. DDP beat Till by using wrestling and ultimately won with a rear naked choke. I hope to see him defend takedowns and piece Brunson up on the feet this week. Either way, expect excitement, as DDP has yet to be in a boring fight, constantly pushing pace and bloodying his opponents with risky striking.
Two Championship Fights
Valentina Schevchenko has defended her belt against a variety of opponents, including diner waitresses, pitbulls, and meth addicts. (Inside jokes for MMA fans- you’ll know exactly who I’m referring to.) Expect her to do the same in a fight you could probably afford to miss. Valentina is incredible to watch but she is so far beyond the majority of her competition that it’s almost boring. We’re just waiting for Erin Blanchfield to get her shot and make things fun again, but in the meantime, we get to watch Alexa Grasso get beat up.
Not to be a tease, but you have to tune in to this week’s episode for our main event pick- timestamps are in the description. Jon Jones vs Cyril Gane is currently a pickem, both men at -110. Jones comes off a three year layoff, but Gane hasn’t done enough to prove that he could beat prime Jones. Nobody knows what to expect from Jon Jones, and if he hadn’t spent three years away then these odds may look differently. Gane can strike with the best of them, and if Jon Jones isn’t back 100% then this fight could be lopsided. Remains to be seen, but we are excited nonetheless.