UFC 298 is in the books, but the MMA world keeps right on rocking as this weekend there are two major events taking place between UFC Mexico City and the long-awaited PFL vs. Bellator card. That’s 25 fights, countless big names, and massive stakes all around, so let’s neither dilly nor dally, and jump right into things.
As always, all odds are courtesy of our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Yair Rodriguez -155
Heading into UFC Mexico City, much has been made of Rodriguez and his beef with new featherweight champion Ilia Topuria. But before he can get there, Rodriguez first has to settle up with Brian Ortega. Fortunately, I think he has a good shot at that. Their first fight was supposed to be a banger until an unfortunate injury ended the evening early, but from that brief showing, Rodriguez looked good. Ortega was able to get the takedown eventually but it was not an easy task, and on the feet, Rodriguez remains the more dynamic striker of the two.
Ryan Bader -102
Bader is 40 years old and clearly well past his prime, but here’s the thing: Renan Ferreira is fun, but he’s still very limited. Bader has the power to finish this one the feet if necessary, but he has a much simpler path to victory by using his acclaimed wrestling skill. Ferreira is long and explosive, but Bader should be able to double-leg him all the same and grind out a win, or finish things with ground-and-pound.
Yoel Romero +105
I’m never going to quit Yoel. He’s 46 years old going on 26 and I genuinely believe him to be the most athletic person who has ever competed in MMA (and if he’s not No. 1, he’s on the short list). On the other side of things, Thiago Santos has simply never been the same since blowing out both his knees against Jon Jones. In all likelihood, this fight will be awful to watch as both men will spend long portions of it staring at one another, but Romero has more juice, more skills, and is more durable, so I love getting him as an underdog.
Brandon Moreno vs. Brandon Royval Under 3.5 Rounds +114
If you’re unaware of the majesty that is Flyweight Unders, I encourage you to clink the link above and listen to Conner Burks and I discuss the greatest find in sports betting. After a rough 2023, Flyweight Unders are back and this weekend is our Super Bowl with FIVE flyweight fights set to take place on Saturday. For the ensuing bets here, just refer back to this.
Specifically for this fight, Moreno has quietly become one of the better finishers at flyweight, and Royval is one of MMA’s premier chaos merchants. The man simply does not know how to be boring, and coming off a failed title attempt where he prioritized safety to zero benefit, expect Royval to come out looking to fire, meaning it’s Get-Or-Get-Got time.
Jesus Santos Aguilar vs. Mateus Mendonça U2.5 -150
Aguilar has hit U2.5 in 8 of 11 career fights. Mendonça has his U2.5 in 7 of 12 career bouts.
Edgar Chairez vs. Daniel Lacerda U1.5 -195
Chairez has hit U1.5 in 9 of 15 career fights. We cannot confirm several of his regional bouts, but Lacerda is a Flyweight Under All-Star, hitting U1.5 in 9 of his previous 10 fights. Also, these two faced off in September and the fight was well on the way to ending in Round 1 before some tomfoolery took place.
Luis Rodriguez vs. Denys Bondar U2.5 +124
Rodriguez has his U2.5 in 12 of 17 career fights. Like Lacerda, Bondar has some unknown regional results, but six of his past seven have hit this Under.
Victor Altamirano vs. Felipe dos Santos U2.5 +185
This is the fight that calls everything into question. Altamirano hates Flyweight Unders more than any man not named Charles Johnson, but sometimes you’ve just got to do down swinging.
Parlay of the Week
If there’s one thing I know beyond all doubt, it’s that a four-leg parlay can never fail, especially when it’s all Bellator favorites. What could possibly go wrong here?
Johnny Eblen -500
Eblen takes on Impa Kasanganay in the co-main event of PFL vs. Bellator, and despite the fact that Kasanganay is now dropping back down to 185, I doubt that will help him out too much. Kasanganay had a great run to win the PFL light heavyweight season in 2023, but Eblen is a different beast entirely and should have the run of play wherever this fight takes place.
Vadim Nemkov -520
Arguably the best light heavyweight in the world, Nemkov is hanging up his 205-pound gloves and moving to heavyweight, where he’ll take on former PFL champion Bruno Cappelozza. It’s always interesting to see how a fighter does in a new weight class, but light heavyweight to heavyweight is basically the same, except Nemkov will have an even larger speed advantage. Like with Eblen, this should be one-way traffic.
AJ McKee Jr. -305
McKee takes on Clay Collard in what should be one of the most fun fights of the weekend, but Collard is coming in without the necessary tools to get a win here. Collard might have the better pure boxing, but he’s not a huge finishing threat and McKee is far more dynamic.
Aaron Pico -455
The Prince That Was Promised, Pico finally appears to be rounding into form as a legitimate threat. The man has all the ability in the world and Henry Corrales is severely out-gunned in this one.
Parlay these four bets together for +141 odds.
Long Shot of the Week
Emmanuel Palacio +750
Who is Emmanuel Palacio? That’s a great question. I’ve never seen him fight and know almost nothing about him, other than the fact that he’s from Argentina and he’s 19 years old. Also, he’s fighting Biaggio Ali Walsh this Saturday in BAW’s professional debut, and BAW is a -1200 favorite.
You read that right, a man making his professional MMA debut is a -1200 favorite. And we’re not talking about a Bo Nickal or something. We’re talking about a guy who is probably going to win, but should not be this big of a betting favorite over any other fighter. Add in that Palacio is 19 and, like, who knows? Maybe the kid has juice? It’s enough for me to take a stab, regardless.
The cold streak continues. 2024 has been a rough year thus far, but hopefully PFL and Bellator can get us back on track.
Until next week, enjoy the fights, good luck, and gamble responsibly!
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