UFC 264: Betting Picks and Predictions
Tonight wraps up an incredible trilogy, the finale with McGregor vs Poirier III. The rest of the card is also stacked, from the early prelims all the way up to the co-main event. How could you not be excited?
Two weeks ago, we had a fight night. I gave you my four best picks, and all four were winners. I called every main card fight correctly on that episode of Pickin’ Fights. Not to get Conor levels of cocky, but I want to keep this heater going, for you and for me. Let’s dive into this beautiful, thrilling, and well put together card for UFC 264.
Ryan Hall +180 vs Ilia Topuria -230
Ryan Hall is 36 and Ilia Topuria is only 24, so Hall is the significantly older man here. While I typically go with the younger guy when the ages are this disparaging, I’m taking Ryan Hall. This will be a grappling match, because while Hall is an incredible BJJ practitioner (major understatement), Topuria is also very good. I think Hall is just too smart and experienced, despite using the same tactics consistently throughout his career. He uses many wheel kicks while standing, and looks for openings for his famous iminari roll to a heel hook. My main reason for picking Hall here is that Topuria’s prowess with BJJ may encourage him to go where many men have been afraid to, and that’s on the ground with Ryan Hall. If they do meet on the ground Ryan Hall will snatch a limb or choke him out. Solid underdog money at +180. Only way Ryan Hall loses is due to ring rust and age, because he hasn’t fought since 2018. Risky play, but I still like his chances.
Main Card Picks
”Suga” Sean O'Malley -835 vs Khris Moutinho +525
This is an all around lock, a lock bet, and a lock to watch. The UFC has been padding Sean O’Malley’s career and record for some time now. It’s not totally undeserved, as he is a marketable personality. When his original opponent for this fight dropped out, almost every notable bantamweight in the UFC was publicly throwing their hat in the ring to step in and fight O'Malley on short notice. Instead of giving him someone the people would actually want to see, they sign an unknown, that doesn’t even match up here, in Kris Moutinho to make his debut. Dana White and Sean Shelby are essentially saying, we know Sean can get it done easily and in entertaining fashion on the McGregor/Poirier card, which in turn will draw more eyes to O’Malley. At anything over -200 I refuse to take a guy straight, but O’Malley will deliver another right hand from Sugar Land and get it done by KO. I’ll add him to my parlay ML, as well as take him straight to win by knockout. The odds are varying across books, ranging from -350 to +200 so bet with your brain.
Irene Aldana -125 vs Yana Kunitskaya +100
Yana Kunitskaya looked really good in her last fight, in which I picked her against Ketlen Viera. Irene Aldana also fought Ketlen and knocked her out with a straight punch in round 1. Yana won her fight with control time and damage while grappling, but Aldana is a lot tougher to bring to the ground. I am slightly favoring Yana Kunitskaya in this one due to her ground game and her fight IQ. At +100, this is a risk I’m willing to take.
Tai Tuivasa -137 vs Greg Hardy +110
Both of these men are hard hitters. Greg Hardy is highly athletic from a career as an NFL defensive end, but there isn’t much crossover between MMA and football. However, Greg Hardy is evolving as a fighter and learning. He certainly learned patience and not to waste his strikes after gassing out and getting KO’d by Marcin Tybura. Tai Tuivasa looks to be a much more complete fighter, and understands grappling and takedowns well, but Hardy also knows how to stuff them. This one will stay on the feet and become a punching battle, and with that being said, I’m willing to take the riskier play here with Greg Hardy at +110. I see him sticking to boxing while Tuivasa is trying to chop at his legs, and mix things up a bit more. Tuivasa may be too technical for his own good here. Also, in situations like this where literally everyone is picking a guy like Tai Tuivasa I like to fade the public and take someone everyone has counted out, in Greg Hardy. There is a lock in this fight: NOT to go the distance at -200, and also possibly the Under Rounds at 1.5 for +160.
Gilbert Burns +125 vs Stephen Thompson -155
I am a huge Gil Burns fan. He’s got some of the best defensive BJJ in the welterweight division, and incredibly powerful hands. He was the first person to rock Karamu Usman in a long time. Unfortunately, I think he’s fallen in love with those hands too much, and his offensive grappling is falling behind. So while I love Gil, I don’t love him in this fight. Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson is one of the greatest kickboxers to grace god's green earth, and that spells trouble for Gil, especially if he tries to keep the fight standing. Wonderboy manages distance so well that even if Gil were to secure a single leg, he’d have to run him back to the cage to try to take him down. I don’t think Gil is competitive enough on his feet to even touch Thompson, and Thompson is too smart to get taken down. You can’t forget Thompson’s leg dexterity either. He has the ability to sneak kicks up and over a guy's shoulder so fast that they don’t even see them coming, and knock them clean out. While I love Gil Burns I don’t even like him in this fight. I see Thompson flexing all his kickboxing muscles here and landing a sneaky head kick for KO, or just landing so many strikes he wins by decision. I’ll be taking Wonderboy for KO at +185 (somewhat risky, due to the possibility of a decision) and adding him to my parlay ML -155.
Dustin Poirier-130 vs Conor McGregor +105
McGregor has never lost to the same guy twice. He always comes back after a loss to fix the technical errors he made the first time to get the win. This time around, I’m hoping he switches from the boxing stance he had back to his original karate stance so his weight isn't so heavy on his front leg, and actually checks Dustin’s brutal leg kicks. That’s how he lost the last time around. You also have to keep in mind that the last time they fought was on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, and there were no fans. Conor thrives with fans in the building and T Mobile Arena is sold out. The fans in the building seem to be favoring him heavily On our episode of Pickin’ Fights for UFC 264, I said that if Conor comes full of piss and vinegar (and leaves the kids at home) it is Conor’s fight. He did, and at the final face off last night, he said that Dustin Poirier would “pay with his life” for disrespecting him. This is the Conor that wins. Packed stadium, trash talking, and (hopefully) karate stance Conor. I’m taking the Notorious Conor McGregor in my parlay at +105, as well as to win by KO straight at -105. So far, I've picked both fights in the trilogy correct. Let's hope I can cap it off with another win tonight.
Sean O'Malley -835
Under 1.5 Rounds (Tuivasa vs Hardy) +160
Stephen Thompson -155
Conor McGregor +105
This comes out to a total of +881.
Like my picks? Hate em? Or more importantly, if I helped you stack some bread, let me know on Twitter @53keppi. Bet responsibly.