After a one-week hiatus, the UFC is back with another pay-per-view event on deck: UFC 287, headlined by a middleweight title rematch between Alex Pereira and Israel Adesanya. It’s the fourth time these two striking savants have squared off across two combat sports, and with everything on the line, this could be the best fight yet. So let’s talk about that fight, and all the other best bets for UFC 287.
As always, all odds are courtesy of our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Jorge Masvidal, +360
Masvidal is 38 years old, has lost three in a row, and his best career win is the flying knee over Ben Askren, who himself was not particularly brilliant for his UFC run. I get it. I’m not crazy. BUT, this is a big number. Like, an overly big number. For as good as Gilbert Burns has been since bumping up to welterweight, Masvidal is still no pushover, and these are pushover numbers. Masvidal is an excellent defensive fighter and a good defensive wrestler (Usman and Covington only pulled of takedowns at a 33% rate, and they are much better wrestlers than Burns). If this fight plays out entirely on the feet, Masvidal certainly has a chance to land the cleaner shots. Add in that the Miami crowd will probably give “Gamebred” a big boost, and I think he has a better shot here than the odds imply.
Chase Sherman, +320
Like with Masvidal, I understand all the negatives. Sherman is 1-5 in his previous six and 4-10 in the UFC overall. Karl Williams is 8-1 in his career. I get it. But should Williams really be an almost -400 favorite over any competent heavyweight? Yes, he can wrestle, and Sherman hasn’t been a great defensive wrestler, but Williams got a little tired last time out, and for all his flaws, Sherman usually has decent cardio. There is a world where Williams gets takedowns early but tires out and the volume from Sherman takes over down the stretch.
Israel Adesanya by KO/TKO/DQ, +300
I wrote a larger breakdown of the rematch here, but my thoughts are almost exactly the same as the previous matchup, save one major difference. For their fight at UFC 281, I picked Pereira under the assumption that Adesanya’s cautious approach would backfire, because it’s too hard to stay defensively perfect for 25 minutes against someone of Pereira’s caliber. To be frank, I nailed that one. I think the same dynamic is in play for this one, but I think this time, finally, Adesanya will heed his coaches, learn the lesson, and come out aggressively trying to take Pereira’s head off. Now, “Poatan” could still obviously catch Izzy, he has that power, but over his career we’ve seen Pereira struggle when he’s under pressure. I’m betting Izzy finally gets the job done here.
Adrian Yanez by Decision, +275
This fight is going to be awesome. I’m a huge fan of Yanez and think he has all the makings of a future contender at 135 pounds, and in Font, we’re getting an ideal matchup — two dudes who are durable, high-volume boxers. Font has faced much tougher competition thus far, but he’s on a bad run of late and he’s been getting hurt repeatedly in fights. Yanez leaves a lot to be desired defensively, but he hits quite hard and has a good chin, which goes a long way. I think this fight looks a lot like the Font vs. Marlon Vera fight, where Font lands more and is too durable to finish, but loses rounds to the power strikes of Yanez.
Chris Curtis by Decision, +225
Chris Curtis vs. Kelvin Gastelum is a darn good fight between two, durable, well-rounded fighters. Curtis has proven to be an exceptional defensive wrestler, which means this is likely going to be primarily a striking battle, and in that, I think Curtis has the advantage. Gastelum has more power, but Curtis throws a better diversity of strikes and at a higher clip, but perhaps more importantly, Gastelum just hasn’t looked great lately.He’s 1-5 in his previous six fights, and that lone win was about as forgettable as possible. Gastelum may be well and truly past it, which is obviously huge for Curtis. That being said, I’m not sure any man alive can knock out Gastelum, so getting all the free points of value on a Decision prop feels like value.
Parlay of the Week
Michelle Waterson-Gomez/Luana Pinheiro Over 2.5 Rounds, -320
For most of her career, Waterson-Gomez has proven quite durable. Conversely, Pinheiro has been a finisher for her entire career, until she got to the UFC, where she has one win by DQ and one decision. This seems likely to go long.
Cynthia Calvillo/Lupita Godinez Over 2.5 Rounds, -305
Per UFCStats, both Calvillo and Godinez have an average fight time of more than 12:30 minutes. So that’s a solid place to start. Then we look and see that Godinez has been to decision in five of six bouts inside the UFC, and Calvillo has been to the cards in four of her previous six, and this also has the makings of a long fight.
Parlay these two bets together for -135 odds.
Long Shot of the Week
Israel Adesanya by KO/TKO/DQ in Round 1, +900
An extension of everything I wrote about, I’m also taking a shot at the Round 1 prop. In their previous two fights, Adesanya nearly finished Pereira in the first round, with the champion getting saved by the bell in MMA, and a standing eight-count in kickboxing. Saturday, with his back fully against the wall, I think Izzy is coming to settle things quickly, and he’s got a real shot at closing the show early.
After a week off, we’re back at it. A lot of live dogs on the card this week. Hopefully a few will cash and we’ll get April off to a hot start.
Until next week, enjoy the fights, good luck, and gamble responsibly!
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