Derrick Lewis via TKO at +675 could be enticing. (Photo: Harry How/Getty Images)
UFC 230 is now available on Amazon Prime.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship returns to Madison Square Garden in New York City Saturday for UFC 230. The card has undergone a number of significant changes to its lineup over the last few months, but the card we are left with is still a solid offering from the promotion, ripe with a number of fights to bet on. I expect the sportsbooks to get quite a bit of action for this event as odds are available for all 13 fights on the card. Below, you can view my Prime Picks for UFC 230.
Israel Adesanya (-320)
One of the fighters I have the most confidence to get their hand raised is Adesanya, who fights Derek Brunson in a middleweight showcase bout. Adesanya is undefeated with a 14-0 pro record, including 12 wins by stoppage. In his last bout he showed off a well-rounded skill set as he picked apart and battered Brad Tavares for five rounds, winning a “Performance of the Night” bonus for the biggest win of his career to date. The fact he won a bonus without even getting a finish is a testament to how good he looked in that contest. Tavares is a quality fighter and the way Adesanya beat him down was quite impressive.
Standing across from him is Brunson, who is a bit of a glass cannon. When he’s on Brunson can be a devastating knockout artist, as his last six wins have come by TKO. But Brunson’s problem is that he’s defensively flawed and has been knocked out in brutal fashion three times, including a head kick KO loss to Ronaldo Souza in his last action. Brunson is super aggressive, but we have seen that cost him in the past against superior strikers like Robert Whittaker and I think it will cost him here, too. I see Adesanya catching Brunson coming in with his chin in the air and knocking him out. As a -320 betting favorite, Adesanya is someone to consider putting into a parlay.
David Branch (-350)
I also have quite a bit of confidence in Branch to defeat Jared Cannonier. I just feel like the former two-division World Series of Fighting king is the more proven and well-rounded fighter and I have been very impressed by his return to the UFC. Yes, he was finished by Luke Rockhold, but Rockhold finishes a lot of other middleweights, and Branch’s wins were quality victories over Thiago Santos and Krzysztof Jotko. Overall, he’s actually won 12 of his last 13. Branch was originally supposed to fight the aforementioned Souza, but after a late card switcheroo, he now faces Cannonier on short notice and I believe this is a easier stylistic matchup. At times, Cannonier has looked pretty good in the UFC and he has solid striking skills, but he is coming off of a knockout loss to Dominick Reyes and is moving down to middleweight for the first time in his career. I just don’t like that situation at all. Branch, meanwhile, has a ton of confidence after KOing Santos in a breakthrough performance. At -350, Branch is another fighter to consider putting into a parlay.
Brian Kelleher (+120)
For a dog pick, I have my eye on Kelleher, who takes on Montel Jackson in a bantamweight bout. The oddsmakers actually opened up Kelleher as the betting favorite, but the public betting action has been all over Jackson so far, leaving Kelleher as an underdog. At plus money, I see value in Kelleher. He has several advantages in this fight that cannot be ignored.
First and foremost, experience. Kelleher has 28 pro bouts, while this will be Jackson’s eighth pro fight. That’s a significant difference. Moreover, the level of competition each fighter has faced is clearly in the favor of Kelleher. He has wins over quality fighters like Renan Barao, Iuri Alcantara and Julio Arce, while Jackson has no notable wins of note. Yes, Jackson is a huge, athletic bantamweight and will have the size advantage, but as we saw against Ricky Simon in his UFC debut, size doesn’t necessarily matter. I think Kelleher should be the favorite here so at +120 underdog odds there is value on him here to get the upset.
Derrick Lewis wins via TKO (+675)
For a prop play, consider taking a flier on Lewis to beat Daniel Cormier via TKO. Yes, Lewis is a huge underdog and for good reason. Clearly, Cormier has a significant advantage in the wrestling department and he has the superior cardio as well. There’s a reason why Cormier is a -700 betting favorite. But this is MMA, and we’ve seen crazy things happen over the years, so you can’t ignore the possibility of chaos reigning supreme. I wouldn’t be totally shocked if Lewis beat Cormier by knockout, and at +675 the odds on him to do so are very tempting to take a punt on.
We’ve seen Lewis be counted out of so many fights in the UFC only to shock the world and knock his opponent out when no one saw it coming. Heck, he just did it last month against Alexander Volkov, winning the fight via KO with just 11 seconds left after being down big on the scorecards. That was the fourth time Lewis has come back in the third round or later and win the fight via knockout in the UFC alone, which shows how much heart he has. Cormier has been knocked out before by Jon Jones, so his chin can be susceptible to the knockout if he gets caught. Of all the weight classes in MMA, heavyweight has probably the most upsets just because anyone can be knocked out at any time. Again, I believe Cormier most likely wins this fight, but I think the odds are too high in his favor, and I wouldn’t blame anyone for throwing a few bucks on Lewis to win the fight by TKO at these crazy odds.
Adam Martin is a mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the sport since 2011. He is currently the lead odds analyst for Sherdog.com as well as the lead staff writer for MMAOddsbreaker.com. Adam is also the co-host of “The Parting Shot Podcast” on iTunes. His favorite fight of all time is Dan Henderson vs. Shogun Rua and he wishes Pride never died. Adam is based out of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and he is a graduate of the University of Toronto and Centennial College. Get in touch with him on Twitter @MMAdamMartin.
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