The heater (25-9 over three weeks, 39-20 over five) is burning hot and strong heading into this weekend’s packed UFC 266 pay-per-view. This is one of the best fight cards the UFC has put on in many years, stacked with talent from top to bottom. So let’s get right into to my UFC 266 predictions and pick ourselves some winners. Warning: if you’re allergic to chalk, tread forward at your own risk.
UFC 266 Predictions
All odds courtesy of PointsBet
Alexander Volkanovski (-180) vs Brian Ortega
In the main event, I’m expecting UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski to successfully turn back challenger Brian Ortega and retain his title. All the relevant stats (striking, active striking, grappling) are in the champ’s favor, plus I think he’s just too fast, explosive and powerful for Ortega to beat. He’s extremely durable on the feet, next to impossible to knock out, and is a very strong grappler, making him hard to submit.
Valentina Shevchenko (-1500) vs Lauren Murphy
I have got to go chalk in the championship co-main event as well. While I have no interest in betting on a line this big, there is nowhere this fight goes that challenger Lauren Murphy will have the edge over UFC Women’s Flyweight Champion Valentina Shevchenko. The champ rolls.
Robbie Lawler (-134) vs Nick Diaz
What an odd fight to handicap. Former UFC Welterweight Champion Robbie Lawler has looked shot as of late, losing his last four and five of six. However, Nick Diaz hasn’t fought in six years and hasn’t won in 10. Lawler looks unable to pull the trigger in fights and gets overwhelmed, however a disturbing promo video of Diaz recently leaked out showing him in less than optimal shape. Lawler is my pick to avenge a 17-year-old loss (UFC 47), but this is a weird, five-round middleweight fight (formerly welterweight until Diaz requested the change earlier this week).
Curtis Blaydes (-325) vs Jairzinho Rozenstruik
This fight is much more straightforward to pick. Curtis ‘Razor’ Blaydes will use his powerful, smothering wrestling and punishing ground and pound to beat knockout machine Jarizhino Rozenstruk. However, I’m not a fan of a number this big for a heavyweight fight, especially with the crazy knockout power Blaydes will have to avoid.
Jessica Andrade (-280) vs Cynthia Calvillo
Cynthia Calvillo’s path to victory here is the takedown, but I think former UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion Jessica Andrade is strong enough to thwart these attempts. I’m counting on Andrade’s strength and power to carry the day here and overwhelm Calvillo.
Merab Dvalishvili (-260) vs Marlon Moraes
Speaking of shot fighters, Marlon Moraes has looked totally washed up recently, getting TKO’d in his last two fights and only winning one of his last four. However, he’s fought a murderer’s row of fighters, and Saturday’s opponent Merab Dvalishvili is by no means a knockout artist or heavy hitter. While the matchup might be more favorable than his recent battles, I still have to fade Moraes until he proves me wrong.
Dan Hooker (-150) vs Nasrat Haqparast
This fight was in jeopardy right down to the wire, with New Zealand’s Dan Hooker and Germany’s Nasrat Haqparast both struggling to obtain visas. But as of this writing, both are on their way to Las Vegas. I’m picking the insanely durable and tough Hooker to prevail on Saturday.
Chris Daukaus (-210) vs Shamil Abdurakhimov
A #chunkyguy heavyweight battle. Firefighter Chris Daukaus is the pick, as he’s much younger and just hits so damn hard. Look no further than all three of his UFC fights ending with him pounding out his opponent
Taila Santos (-375 – not on PB) vs Roxanne Modafferi
While I’ve been burned underestimating women’s MMA OG Roxanne Modafferi in the past, there really isn’t any clear path to victory here for her. Taila Santos is just better than her at everything, plus is 11 years her junior.
Uros Medic (-130) vs Jalin Turner
‘The Doctor’ Uros Medic appears to be the real deal in the lightweight division, going 7-0 as a pro, including winning his UFC debut via TKO. In fact, all seven of his wins have come via finish (five knockouts, two submissions). His striking will be too much for Jalin Turner on Saturday.
Nick Maximov (-175) vs Cody Brundage
Cody Brundage will be making his UFC debut on three day’s notice, as he just stepped in for Karl Roberson on Wednesday. That pretty much never goes well, so Nick Diaz protege Nick Maximov is the pick.
Matthew Semelsberger (-475) vs Martin Sano Jr.
Martin Sano Jr. is another Diaz student, but in his case, he has no business being in the UFC. Matthew Semelsberger wins easily.
Omar Morales (-150) vs Jonathan Pearce
In the curtain jerker, I’m capping off this all-chalk card with a chalky pick. Omar Morales is 3-1 in the UFC, 11-1 overall as a pro, and is the bigger and younger fighter in this matchup.
Overall Record: 510-408
Return on Investment: -(7.6)%
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