Betting Guide for UFC 274
Power puncher Justin Gaethje is the latest lightweight to take aim at Charles Oliveira's throne. Rose Namajunas will also look for her second straight title defense at women's strawweight against Carla Esparza.
UFC 274: Oliveira vs. Gaethje takes place Saturday from the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Where are the sharpest places to wager on the card using UFC odds?
Brandon Royval and Loopy Godinez to Both Win (+110; 2.0 Units)
The guide was thwarted to its first 0-4 week of 2022. The two-legger dropped to 7-4. Hopefully, regression will work for us favorably in this weekend's pay-per-view.
Brandon Royval (-265) was the clear place I wanted to start this weekend. Royval's only UFC losses have come to top-three division contenders Brandon Moreno and Alexandre Pantoja, and his knockout win -- on the feet -- over Kai-Kara France is aging like fine wine. He defeated Rogerio Bontorin last time out, and Bontorin's last win was over his opponent this weekend, Matt Schnell.
Royval's chaotic style has led to issues with his takedown defense (39%), but Schnell just historically hasn't tested foes in that department (0.39 takedowns landed per 15 minutes). As a result, Royval profiles to be the more dangerous striker (two career knockdowns to Schnell's zero) and grappler (2.2 submission attempts per 15 minutes).
I wanted to throw champion Charles Oliveira (-188) in as the second leg, but as a sign of respect to the power of Justin Gaethje, Loopy Godinez (-176) is a better choice. Godinez's five-takedown cruise over Loma Lookboonme officially has women's 115 on notice considering her only two UFC losses came on less than two weeks' notice.
Godinez is a powerful, athletic wrestler who averages a card-best 4.57 takedowns per 15 minutes. Her opponent, Ariane Carnelossi, has just a 25% takedown defense. Carnelossi has overwhelmed two straight UFC debutants on the mat, but Loopy is an entirely different challenge -- with a win over the credentialed competition to prove it.
RankingMMA's world rankings indicate a step back in competition for both of these rising stars in these matchups, so a defeat would be equal parts costly and surprising.
Randy Brown to Win (+100; 1.0 Units)
I'll admit -- Randy Brown (+100) took more effort than I anticipated to sneak past Jared Gooden, but Gooden's hard-fought losses to both Brown and Alan Jouban indicate he may just be a hidden gem.
I'm shocked Brown is an underdog to Khaos Williams in this spot. "Ox" Williams flew out of the gate with two quick knockouts, but a loss to Michel Pereira cooled his run before he's now bounced back with two decent wins against Matthew Semelsberger and Miguel Baeza.
These two have been fighting on completely different plains of welterweight, though. Brown has fought against UFC veterans and former and current title challengers, including Vicente Luque, Belal Muhammad, and Alex Oliveira.
Considering that, "Rudeboy" has far more impressive peripherals than Williams. He's got a higher striking accuracy (48%) by 10 percentage points, and he's also posted a better striking defense (52%), and takedown defense (71%). Williams likely won't be able to just slug his way through Brown as he has less-experienced competition.
Brown's biggest advantage could be grappling. Williams has ceded six submission attempts in his last three fights, and the lanky arms of Brown just were used to find a choke on "Cowboy" Oliveira in 2021.
Dart Throw of the Week: Joe Lauzon by KO/TKO (+600; 0.25 Units)
Do I believe Joe Lauzon (+144) is the better MMA fighter at this stage than Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone? Not particularly. However, he might just be more reliable.
Cerrone has suffered six straight UFC losses, and four were defeats via knockout. Each one has been more surprising than the last. Lauzon, in Cerrone's return to welterweight, would certainly be the least-credentialed fighter to get it done at this point.
Still, at 39 years old with 52 professional fights, Cerrone has eaten a ton of damage inside the octagon walls. Now, cutting more weight since 2019 isn't exactly reassuring news in terms of his durability.
Lauzon finished Jonathan Pearce in his last bout, but Pearce has since dropped to featherweight. Pearce proved to just be too small for Lauzon, who overwhelmed him quickly with power. "J-Lau" has a tendency to do that; 26 of his 28 pro wins have come via finish.
In a technical, uneventful fight, Cerrone probably walks away with the nod in a decision. Lauzon (-2.55 striking success rate) just isn't polished. However, Cowboy's durability has been so, so poor that he shouldn't be a -178 favorite against anyone on UFC's lightweight roster. This dart is a belief that Lauzon has the explosiveness to conquer Cerrone's fleeting chin.