UFC 262: Picks and Predictions
UFC 262 is finally here, and there is a lot to be excited about. Especially the main event, Michael Chandler vs Charles Oliveira. Lets stack some bread.
I'm in a little bit of a rut lately, going 8-8 over the past three weeks. Forget about that. My confidence is at an all time high going into UFC 262. This weekend, we snap out of that slump.
Shane Burgos (-134) vs Edson Barboza (+108)
There are some tough fights to pick on this card. This is one of them. Edson Barboza is getting up there in age, currently 35 as opposed to Burgos, who is still only 30. Barboza has lost 4 of his last 5, whereas Burgos is 4-3 over his last 7 fights. Shane Burgos has a lot more going for him in this fight than Barboza, in my opinion. The biggest factor on Burgos' side is the strength of his chin. In his last few fights he's been hit with big stunning shots that would've put many men to sleep, and Burgos instead laughed them off, and came back a massive strike of his own. His chin will play a part in this fight against Barboza, who is an extremely proficient kickboxer. The key to victory for him here is to walk down Edson Barboza, and put him on his back foot where he will struggle to throw any fight ending punches or kicks. This shouldn't be hard for Burgos as he trains at Tiger Schulman's, and the karate fighters there have developed great kicking techniques that allow them to control distance in their fights. There is a prop I love in this matchup, and the stats back it up: the fight to NOT go the distance. In their combined fighting history, only 35% of Barboza and Burgos' fights have gone the distance. It is more than likely this ends in an insane knockout, potentially a fight of the night candidate. The odds this fight does not go the distance are currently +125 at the time of writing, and considering their past fights and the plus money odds I will be taking this prop.
Katlyn Chookagian (-150) vs Viviane Araujo (+120)
Katlyn Chookagian is a perennially ranked #1 or #2, in a division dominated by Valentina Schevchenko, for almost her entire time in the UFC. Looking at her previous victories over some elite opponents, there is no question as to why she's been why. She was knocked out by Jessica Andrade in her second-to-last fight, but bounced back for a good win via decision against Antonina Schevchenko. Chookagian is still fighting for an opportunity to face Valentina again, and understands that a loss here would cause that opportunity to vanish. She's better than Araujo in all realms of the game, as her striking and grappling abilities are what have kept her high in the rankings. Araujo has not had the same caliber of opponents as Chookagian, getting her last win against a mediocre Roxanne Modafferi. -150 isn't a bad line for Chookagian straight up, and I'll be adding her to my parlay as well. If she wins, theres a good chance its on the card, based on her record of fights going the distance. Chookagian via decision currently -110.
Tony Ferguson (+125) vs Beneil Dariush (-152)
This is another fight that is incredibly hard to call, for so many reasons. As a fan of the sport for years, my heart tells me Tony. My head tells me Dariush. Tony Ferguson is attempting to bounce back after two rough losses to Justin Gaethje and Charles Oliveira. Beneil Dariush is on a five fight win streak. Tony's biggest strength is his mental toughness, but at this late stage in his career he appears to be losing elements of his game, as opposed to Dariush who is a complete fighter in all elements of MMA. Out of his five win streak, two have come via submission and two via KO, most notably of which was a walk-off spinning backfist againsst Scott Holtzman. Due to the toughness of both of these fighters, it can be difficult to call a method of victory. Tony doesn't tap to submissions, as we saw when Charles Oliveira was practically tearing ligaments in his elbow with an armbar, only to be saved by the bell. He's hardly ever been knocked out. Beneil, on the other hand, is a much more dominant grappler than Tony in this stage of his career and can dish out serious damage with his striking. Dariush is driven and has been begging for a top five opponent for a long time. The Iranian-American wants to become a household name, and he knows that a win here could provide him with that status. Due to these factors I'll be taking Beneil Dariush ML in my parlay, and stake an additional prop bet for him to win via decision at +130. This is a risky play though, so do not be surprised if Tony pulls out a win.
Charles Oliveira (-134) vs Michael Chandler (+110)
We are in for an all-out war with these men in the octagon. Charles Oliveira has the most submission wins in the UFC. Michael Chandler is a former Bellator champ who made his UFC debut back in January, stunning a lot of fans with an easy KO victory over Dan Hooker. Many people are upset that after one fight in the UFC, Chandler is up for the belt that Khabib held for so long. In my opinion, Chandler is the only fighter on the roster right now that would give Khabib a challenge. Not only is he an incredible striker, but an All-American wrestler from Mizzou. Fun fact: Chandler wrestled at Mizzou with former UFC champ Tyron Woodley, and One and Bellator champ Ben Askren. Chandler trains with Gilbert Burns, an incredible Jiu Jitsu fighter, at the Sanford MMA gym in Florida. If anyone will give you a good look for a BJJ great like Charles Oliveira, it is Gil Burns. There's a famous video of Chandler putting the magic stick on Kamaru Usman when he was training there with them. When Chandler was in Bellator, he traded blows with guys like Eddie Alvarez and Sidney Outlaw and knocked them out. He fought great submission specialists, and even when they've got him all wrapped up he finds a way to slip out, almost every time. All of this is to say: Michael Chandler can do it all, and do it at the highest levels. He has many paths to victory in this fight. Charles Oliveira has one: submission. He's calling for a first round KO against Chandler but he does not have the striking acumen to pull that off. Chandler is also calling for a first round KO, but the difference is that he's got so much power in his hands and pushes an incredibly fast pace, using those hands, from the start of every fight. As we saw against Hooker, he often backs his opponents down to the point where it looks like they're running from him and lands highly efficient and damaging punches. Chandler is highly prepared for the BJJ skills Oliveira brings to the table, as his wrestling has been described as "anti-jiu jitsu". As long as he doesn't let Charles get comfortable in any grappling situations or grab a limb, Chandler will win. I see him putting Charles on his back foot from the jump, damaging him on his feet badly in the first, and eventually winning via knockout in the second or third round. Out of his 22 wins, 17 have been finishes, and of those 9 have been knockouts. I'll be taking Chandler ML straight at +110, and adding him to my parlay, as well as taking Chandler for a knockout straight, currently at +175.
Katlyn Chookagian (-150)
Beneil Dariush (-152)
Michael Chandler (+110)
This comes to a total of +480.
Let's stack some bread tonight.
Tail me or fade me, the choice is yours. Whatever you choose to do, do it responsibly.
If you don't like my picks, or prefer to hear a little pushback and debate, check out this week's episode of Pickin' Fights. Our guest this week is Pat Ball, a fighter on a warpath to the pro's.