The lower weight classes take center stage inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, this Saturday (July 8, 2023) when Alexander Volkanovski and Brandon Moreno defend their Featherweight and Flyweight titles against Yair Rodriguez and Alexandre Pantoja, respectively. UFC 290 will also feature Robert Whittaker’s pivotal clash with Dricus Du Plessis, as well as Jalin Turner vs. Dan Hooker and the return of Bo Nickal (just barely).
Independence Day may have passed us by, but nothing rouses the American spirit quite like gambling. Let’s get to it ...
He was winning until he wasn’t. He got a little too elbow-happy, but seemed to be cruising to a decision before getting hurt by a body shot and floored by a strike on the break.
I genuinely think he lost his composure right off the bat. He neglected that killer jab of his and loaded up on his power shots to the point of entirely compromising his grappling defense. Props to Saint-Denis for capitalizing.
I don’t know what to say other than that she looked far, far better than that on tape. I especially can’t wrap my head around how poorly she did in the clinch.
What Went Right?
Sean Strickland, Karol Rosa and Rinat Fakhretdinov
On a personal level, I was hoping Strickland would lose once I no longer had a financial stake in the outcome, but he and the others did their jobs. Karol Rosa could have stood to turn it on a bit earlier, though.
I’ve said it before and I think this one’s for real: if I bust again, I’m walking away from this series, at least for a bit. It’s not fair for me to act like an expert when I’ve lost my touch and it doesn’t bring me joy.
UFC 290 Odds For The Under Card:
Niko Price (-260) vs. Robbie Lawler (+220)
Not feeling this one, honestly. I do favor Price, but he looked really out of sorts against Phil Rowe and I don’t entirely trust him not to fall apart late.
Jack Della Maddalena (-950) vs. Josiah Harrell (+600)
I can’t disagree with the line, honestly. Harrell is smaller than Della Maddalena, a lesser striker, and has yet to prove his wrestling against higher-level foes. Therefore, stick “JDM” in an accumulator.
Yazmin Jauregui (-390) vs. Denise Gomes (+295)
Don’t go nuts on Jauregui, but don’t turn her down, either. She’s significantly faster than Gomes, who’s also shown herself to be the more fragile of the two. Gomes’ inability to out-wrestle Loma Lookboonmee suggests that she’ll be forced to trade hands with Jauregui whether she likes it or not and I just don’t see that ending well for her.
Jimmy Crute (-120) vs. Alonzo Menifield (EVEN)
Not entirely clear on why Menifield is the underdog — if he hadn’t grabbed the fence in the third round of their first meeting, he’d have won a unanimous decision. It’s not like Menifield’s earlier success was fluky, either, as he dropped and nearly finished Crute on two separate occasions. He’s got a clear stylistic advantage, and now that he knows to pace himself, I see him finishing the job this time.
Tatsuro Taira (-950) vs. Edgar Chairez (+650)
Stick Taira in an accumulator, too. Chairez has been out-wrestled by lesser grapplers than Taira and is too inactive on the feet to pose a true threat there.
Vitor Petrino (-280) vs. Marcin Prachnio (+235)
Prachnio has unquestionably improved since that disastrous UFC start, but beating an out-of-shape Khalil Rountree, a warm body in Ike Villanueva, and an immobile William Knight aren’t enough to convince me that he’s a contender. Petrino hits more than hard enough to send Prachnio back to the shadow realm and has shown off the cardio needed to stay afloat even if the early finish isn’t there.
Cameron Saaiman (-500) vs. Terrence Mitchell (+370)
This feels overly generous to Mitchell, honestly. And as much as I loathe the term, there’s no other way to describe “Terr-Bear” than a can crusher. He’s fought exactly one competent opponent in Kai Kara-France, who knocked him dead in 30 seconds. Saaiman should smoke him, so bet accordingly.
Jesus Aguilar (-145) vs. Shannon Ross (+125)
This is not the pick-’em fight the odds suggest. Ross gets dropped with painful regularity, and for all of Aguilar’s faults, he’s aggressive enough to hurt Ross and opportunistic enough to choke him out while he’s discombobulated.
Esteban Ribovics (-150) vs. Kamuela Kirk (+130)
Try a small bet on Ribovics. He’s far more dangerous on the feet than Kirk — who’s been touched up by more rudimentary strikers in the past — and proved difficult to hold down in his fight with the larger Loik Radzhabov.
UFC 290 Odds For The Main Card:
Alexander Volkanovski (-380) vs. Yair Rodriguez (+290)
Even with Rodriguez’s recent cardio improvement, I just can’t pick against Volkanovksi. “The Great” has more than proven his ability to deal with rangier opponents and we’ve seen Rodriguez’s dynamism peter out when opponents refuse to quail in the face of it. Volkanovski is too tough and, more important, too adaptable for Rodriguez to overwhelm him.
Brandon Moreno (-200) vs. Alexandre Pantoja (+170)
I favor Moreno here, as he’s grown considerably since those two losses and proved his ability to handle overwhelming aggression in his fights with Deiveson Figueiredo, but maybe Pantoja just has his number. Skip it.
Robert Whittaker (-400) vs. Dricus Du Plessis (+300)
I believe in Bobby Knuckles. Wacky nonsense doesn’t work on someone who also utilizes wacky nonsense, but has actual fundamentals behind it. As much as I love watching Du Plessis awkwardly flail his way past gatekeepers, he’s not out-striking or out-wrestling Whittaker.
Jalin Turner (-255) vs. Dan Hooker (+215)
Can’t pass up Turner at these odds. Hooker’s younger, more indestructible self may have been able to stand up to “The Tarantula,” but recent bouts suggest that his many wars have taken their toll. Not the sort of baggage you want against someone with genuinely alarming power and great finishing instincts.
Bo Nickal (-2500) vs. Val Woodburn (+1200)
The last-minute odds are historically ridiculous — probably best to steer clear.
UFC 290 Best Bets:
- Parlay — Tatsuro Taira, Jack Della Maddalena and Esteban Ribovics: Bet $40 to make $44.80
- Single bet — Alonzo Menifield: Bet $50 to make $50
- Parlay — Cameron Saaiman, Yazmin Jauregui and Vitor Petrino: Bet $60 to make $62.40
- Parlay — Jesus Aguilar and Alexander Volkanovski: Bet $60 to make $67.80
- Parlay — Robert Whittaker and Jalin Turner: Bet $70 to make $51.85
Even with the late replacements and one-sided matchmaking, it’s a card worth watching. See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Initial Investment For 2023: $600
April Bailout: $400
Current Total: $285.34
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 290 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard on ESPN/ESPN+/ABC at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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