UFC 274 tips its maroon hat to the lightweight division, which contains three of the main card’s six contests. However, there’s nothing light about the potential money won from wagers placed with prizefighter precision. OddsJam’s predictions help bettors take their best shot at landing a profitable punch.
If experience is the best teacher, Charles Oliveira deserves a doctorate in devastation from the UFC. He weathered stormy years to find lightweight gold at the end of a rainbow that took shape in the form of a current 10-fight win streak.
Oliveira utilizes push kicks, mixes in a bevy of lengthy strikes, and frequently uses these distractions to relentlessly push forward to obtain his opponents’ back and finish fights on the ground, where Oliveira enjoys the most submissions wins in UFC history.
Justin Gaethje shares a love for moving forward but prefers breaking noses to limbs. That said, he brutalizes legs and ankles with terrifying low-calf kicks refined by arguably the best striking coach in MMA Trevor Wittman.
Wittman molded Gaethje’s barbaric, wild brawling into the patient counterattacking style that welterweight kingpin and fellow Wittman disciple Kamaru Usman adopted under the same tutelage. Leg kicks, counter hooks and a steady diet of uppercuts all make fans, battered foes and Joe Rogan scream “Oh my!”
While Gaethje’s aggression simmered, he’s still susceptible to firefights. An ability to use NCAA Division 1 wrestling in reverse similar to Chuck Liddell keeps him upright, but Khabib Nurmagomedov’s uncanny ability to chain wrestling with submission grappling at the highest level ever seen in the Octagon lured Gaethje into a beautiful triangle choke transition. Oliveira shares a similar predilection for submission chaining that Gaethje hasn’t faced much of.
Charles Oliveira vs. Justin Gaethje Pick & Prediction:
Editor’s Note: Oliveira failed to make weight, meaning he will be stripped of his title and ineligible to win it back here even if he wins the fight. Only Justin Gaethje is able to win the championship should he win the main event.
Oliveira’s modus operandi claims another victim, though not without a thrilling effort.
Rose Namajunas’s footwork is as beautiful as her first name. She angles outside of straight lines, preventing opponents from pressuring her against the cage into takedown and clinch attempts.
Her exemplary jab ranks among the best in all of mixed martial arts, creating further separation from grapple-happy attackers, such as Carla Esparza. Creativity fuses with distance control and the jab to create a three-headed monster that only Jessica Andrade’s slam has been able to solve in the last five years.
Esparza struggles against high-level strikers and Namajunas is one of the worst women on the planet to prove history won’t repeat itself in that regard.
Rose Namajunas vs. Carla Esparza Pick & Prediction:
Bet on “Thug Rose” and put on the thug life glasses when the punches and payoffs connect.
Tom Brady holds a victory over Father Time, but the persistent phantom’s record remains unblemished in the Octagon. Tony Ferguson represents one of the latest victims on the endless list.
Ferguson exemplified excellence in eccentricity, using his endless cardio, lightning reflexes and unorthodox strategies — ranging from Win Chung attacks demonstrated by Bruce Lee to Imanari Rolls — to carve wins out of confusing scrambles on the ground and the striking game.
Ferguson’s equally strange training regime includes carrying refrigerators, grappling bathtubs and kicking metal poles for shin conditioning. These tactics boost hospital bills at the same rate as social media traffic. Prioritizing fun over fundamentals creates a recipe for disaster at age 38. Ferguson moves far slower than he did during the vaunted 12-fight win streak that caused many fans and experts to speculate whether he was the one to solve Nurmagomedov’s puzzle.
Ferguson’s last three fights answered that question. Justin Gaethje demolished Ferguson on the feet, landing 143 of 197 significant strikes (a record for accuracy). The ground denied Ferguson any comfort in his last two fights, which saw Ferguson controlled on the ground for 23 of a possible 30 minutes. Ferguson surrendered six of his last two opponents’ 9 takedown attempts even though neither Charles Oliveira nor Bennil Dariush is known for wrestling prowess.
Conversely, former NCAA Division I All-American Michael Chandler makes his money hitting haymakers and takedowns. In fairness, he lacks the prolific submissions of Oliveira (who has the most submission wins in UFC history) or the credentials of Dariush (who is a former World No-Gi champion in Brazilian jiu-jitsu). Chandler packs more physical power in a compact frame.
Ferguson needs to find the uppercuts that Gaethje repeatedly landed and even knocked down Chandler with during their recent war. Unfortunately, although uppercuts and elbows are Ferguson’s striking specialty and Chandler’s wide stance exposes him to leg kicks, Ferguson’s repertoire lacks the low-calf kick that Gaethje weaponizes with the stinging rapidity of a machine gun to disguise those uppercut setups. Ferguson likes elbows and the aforementioned wild scrambles that Chandler should be extra cautious to get into coming off the most intense firefight of his career.
Michael Chandler vs. Tony Ferguson Pick & Prediction:
Although Ferguson’s chances of remerging as a championship contender died, he’ll bear any beatdown with Terminator-esque resilience. Finishing the man essentially requires a shotgun, so bet on Ferguson to be down, but never out.
Past performances can indicate future results when trading punches instead of stocks. OSP eviscerated Shogun with ground and pound immediately after Shogun slipped during their last contest over seven years ago.
Power stays long after a fighter’s reflexes and chin. OSP wields more of the former this time, coming off a bulked foray into the heavyweight division. Famed battles and the surgical scars left from them robbed Shogun of his once-famed agility and ability to absorb punishment, as demonstrated by his last fight resulting in a technical knockout loss at the hands of submission specialist Paul Craig (who only had one knockout win prior).
Shogun Rua vs. Ovince Saint Preux Pick & Prediction:
More power in OSP plus more wear and tear in Shogun equals more of the same Saturday.
Summoning one matchup backed by a record 64 fights of combined UFC experience requires Disney levels of fight magic. Dana White confirmed that the loser between Donald Cerrone and Joe Lauzon receives Old Yeller’s ending.
Detractors shoot down “Cowboy” Cerrone as the primary example of someone with all the physical skills to win UFC gold, but none of the intangibles. Cerrone’s hyperactive record reveals that 14 of his 16 losses occurred against former UFC/WEC champions or title challengers.
Joe Lauzon holds numerous respectable UFC honors, including top-10 placement in submission victories and total finishes, but he has never competed for gold. Cerrone’s distinction of never being submitted in the UFC (and only once in his 54-fight career) impedes Lauzon’s submission prowess.
Additionally, this matchup lacks the marketability and contender implications that generate the marquee fights where Cerrone’s performance suffers, partially due to the extreme anxiety he admits to facing before the Octagon closes. The scenario frees Cerrone to string naturally flowing offense without overthinking. Nobody accuses Donald Cerrone of contracting the ring rust that potentially plagues Lauzon. Cerrone has competed eight times since 2019, whereas Lauzon has only competed once in the same span (and not in over two years).
How tough is Blagoy Ivanov? Certainly tough enough to enter the Salty Spitoon and even tough enough to call his own cab directly after getting stabbed by a 12-inch blade before being induced into a coma for 68 days that withered his body to 190 pounds. The iron-willed, iron-chinned man returned to MMA, where he has never been knocked out in 23 heavyweight fights, despite facing the UFC’s leading knockout artist Derrick Lewis, the man who knocked him out last fight Tai Tuivasa, Ben Rothwell (owner of 28 heavyweight MMA knockouts), and former UFC heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos (who ranks in the top 10 all-time with 10 knockouts).
Ivanov deals modest amounts of damage himself by heavyweight standards, thanks to a point fighting Sambo style centered around movement and clinch trips. In fact, Ivanov hasn’t knocked anyone out in over a decade. He hasn’t tapped anyone out in the UFC either. Marcos Rogerio de Lima holds one submission victory in 13 UFC fights and in all likelihood isn’t cracking probably the toughest chin in MMA.
Tracy Cortez vs. Melissa Gatto AND Macy Chiasson vs. Norma Dumont Goes The Distance Parlay | +128 at DraftKings
Tracy Cortez has only finished an opponent once in a small organization. Her only loss via knockout or submission happened during her debut. Melissa Gatto is fairly new to the UFC. Macy Chiasson’s two finishes in seven UFC fights occurred in a different weight division. Norma Dumont obtained two submission victories in minor leagues against obscure opponents and has only been finished once in eight fights.