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UFC 290 MMA Betting Odds (7/8)

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International fight week! One of the most anticipated UFC cards of the year touches down in Las Vegas to host a couple of championship bouts between high-level athletes from around the world this week. In the main event, Mexico’s Yair “La Pantera” Rodriguez challenges the champion from down under, Australia’s Alex “The Great” Volkanovski. In the co-main event, another of Mexico’s sons and champions looks to defend his belt against an old foe from Brazil, Alexandre Pantoja. It marks the third time the two have met, and the matchup is sure to bring fireworks in the evening.

 

Before we get to the championship bouts, we have other great matchups like former champion Robert Whittaker taking on rising star Dricus du Plessis. Also returning to the cage after getting back to the win column is Dan Hooker, as he hopes to get by Jalin Turner and back on the path to the title shot. Kicking off the PPV is stud wrestler and a rookie in the UFC Bo Nickal, who so far has shown improvements every time he’s in the octagon, and I’m sure fans are eager to see if the hype train continues to roar down the tracks.

The prelims are free on ESPN+ and kick off at 6 p.m. ET. Below I’ll be breaking down my favorite bets from the main card and prelim fights. All odds are per BetMGM.

Volkanovski vs. Rodriguez Odds

Alex Volkanovski -400, Yair Rodriguez +295

Making his fifth title defense, Volkanovski welcomes his newest challenger Rodriguez to the octagon. Rodriguez is currently the interim champ and, like Volkanovski, has rarely ever tasted defeat. In the UFC, Rodriguez has only lost twice since making his debut in 2014, the last time being in 2021 against Max Holloway. Yair is, as Dominick Cruz likes to call him, “one of one.” There isn’t another fighter like him. Not one combo begins the same — he’ll gauge distance using kicks and jabs, and he moves in and out of the pocket like a magician. Rodriguez has been in five-round fights, but none had title implications. This is the culmination of years of hard work, and for Rodriguez to win, he will have to pitch a perfect game. Rodriguez averages 4.78 significant strikes, 0.79 takedowns per 15 minutes and attempts 0.8 submissions per 15 minutes, and anywhere this fight goes, he can be dangerous. Rodriguez has finishes on his record, but it’s interesting that all finishes but one have come inside two rounds. His finish against Korean Zombie could be seen as lucky as he finished the fight with a buzzer-beater elbow. If that elbow doesn’t land, then Rodriguez doesn’t go viral, and his career probably never ends here. It’s the nature of the sport, and in the blink of an eye, everything can change.

Yet the change of the guard, I don’t think, happens yet for the young Mexican contender because the champion at the top is not only battle-tested but is capable of exposing the holes in the Rodriguez’ game. He is aggressive, dynamic and unpredictable, so I believe Volkanovski can wrestle him up against the cage and down to the canvas. He will have success limiting the movement and creativity of Rodriguez. Rodriguez throws a lot of kicks, punches and unorthodox strikes from all angles. The best way to limit that would be to clinch and keep the fight in close range, where Rodriguez can’t use his movement to create angles. Rodriguez is good, but what makes him so good is also what can leave him exposed in this fight. Rodriguez fights with so much confidence because his belief in getting out of bad situations is very high. This can lead to him getting overzealous and stunned with an overhand right and putting down as he did against Emmett.

Rodriguez is very hittable, and he absorbs the same amount of output he dishes out. Against someone like Volkanovski, there aren’t many mistakes that can be made without falling behind on the scorecards. Volkanovski has been stopped once in his career and never inside the UFC. Rodriguez has never been submitted in his career and has only lost to Frankie Edgar and Max Holloway. Considering how calculated Volkanovski has to be in this fight, I can see him dragging this into the deep waters (championship rounds). He must also incorporate some wrestling and make this fight ugly inside close quarters in the clinch and up against the cage. For Rodriguez to win, he will also have to be perfect, but his style is so free-flowing that he always finds himself fighting out of wrong positions and situations. Against Emmett, he was doing well but was stunned and dropped twice and, on the second time, happened to find a finish. If that happens against Volk, he may find himself down rounds and having to look for finishes because he’s down on the scorecards.

From a betting perspective, I am going to side with the champ because I think that his wrestling, movement, and not to mention his experience as champion will shine through while Yair is throwing everything but the kitchen sink at him. Rodriguez air is good, but he’s up against the real deal regarding Volk. At -400, I don’t like the juice, so I decided to attack props for this fight to make the lines more favorable. Because of their durability, toughness, and willingness to never quit, I am going to side with Volk to find a finish in the championship rounds or win by decision. I will also bet that the fight goes to the judges because 50% of wins for Rodriguez come by decision, and 67% of wins for Volkanovski in the UFC have come by decision. 

Bet: Volkanovski in Rounds 4, 5 or by decision -130 | Volkanovski vs. Rodriguez fight goes the distance -115

Moreno vs. Pantoja Odds

Brandon Moreno -195, Alexandre Pantoja +165

Moreno ends a quadrilogy with Deiveson Figueiredo only to enter a trilogy matchup with another dangerous Brazilian in Pantoja. The first time the pair met, it was on The Ultimate Fighter, and Pantoja beat Moreno, sending him packing before ever making it into the house. The second time they fought was in 2018, and after that fight, Moreno was cut and had to fight on the regional scene before returning to the UFC. Now the third fight will be for all the marbles as Moreno makes his second title defense against Pantoja. Will the third time be the charm? I think it will be. Moreno has improved in all aspects of the game and rounded out his skill set.

Most importantly, he has improved his mindset by going into fights and overcoming adversity after losing. After being cut the first time, he could have quit and never been seen again. Not only did he come back, but he became the champion and did it against top-level competition. Then after becoming champion, he lost his belt to Figuredo and almost became an afterthought. Still, once again, Moreno found another gear and, after a short four-week camp, was able to travel to Brazil and recapture his title on his opponent’s home turf ending the rivalry. Now Moreno has to conquer an old rival he has yet to conquer, but Moreno has reached heights his opponent has yet to climb. For one, Pantoja has never been in a five-round fight in the UFC. Like him, Moreno has never been finished in the UFC, so going into deep waters will be a new experience for Pantoja, who has only ever been in three-round fights and considering he has eighteen wins by finish and only seven by decision in his career.

Pantoja doesn’t have much faith in the judges or going the distance. Pantoja is the embodiment of aggression. He walks forward with reckless abandon, and he’s so durable that he has no problem absorbing his opponent’s strikes to close the distance and create chaos. He isn’t very technical in his standup, but he does possess knockout power if he connects a punch. Pantoja is a hyper-aggressive version of Demian Maia in that he is a specialist and the most dangerous on the ground. He doesn’t need many mistakes to happen to capitalize, but he does use a ton of energy while grappling and, at times, can get gassed and become hittable. Pantoja has never been finished, so it’s clear he’s durable, but blocking punches with your face is not conducive to winning on the judge’s scorecard. I see this fight going to the distance or pretty close to it. Therefore, I will take Moreno to find a finish late or win on the scorecards due to more volume and damage in the stand-up. I also will be playing on the fact that neither Pantoja nor Moreno have been stopped in their professional careers. This matchup will have a lot of scrambles and highlights and will surely be one for the history books.

Bet: Moreno in Rounds 4, 5 or by decision +120 | Moreno vs. Pantoja fight goes the distance -115 

 

Whittaker vs. du Plessis Odds

Robert Whittaker -400, Dricus du Plessis +300

Whittaker steps back into the cage to fight back another rising star in du Plessis. The former champion is fighting his way to the top again, and after taking out Martin Vetorri his last time out, he is up against a surging contender currently undefeated in the UFC. I’ve gone on record saying that I will continue to fade du Plessis until the day he retires because I don’t think he’s good. His greatest attributes are his resilience, size and granite chin. In every one of his fights thus far, his opponents have done everything but finish him. Du Plessis also has power, so mix that in with a will to win, and you’ll have a figure that wins because he can outlast his opponent’s onslaught. If his prior opponents could finish the job, we wouldn’t see him fighting in the promotion, let alone international fight week. It’s hard to pick against Whittaker when his only losses have come to the current champion, and he’s fought the likes of Yoel Romero and beat him when Romero was in his prime for the UFC. Whittaker belongs at the top, and this weekend, he will show why he was the former champ and, once and for all, expose and finish the job that other opponents of du Plessis couldn’t do. Where many of his opponents quit, Whittaker knows how to thrive, and keep in mind that Whittaker can also wrestle and do well anywhere this fight goes. Outside of being durable and bigger, I don’t see an edge for du Plessis, and I believe this will be his first real test and rude awakening. Because of his durability and threat of knockout power, I can see Whittaker having a calculated approach that lends itself to finding a finish late in the third or winning by decision. I also like the over-on-rounds prop and think this fight will make it into the third round. 

Bet: Whittaker vs. du Plessis over 2.5 rounds +115 | Whittaker by decision +170

Hooker vs. Turner Odds

Dan Hooker +212, Jalin Tuner -260

Whenever Hooker steps into the octagon, it’s never against a nobody. Out of all fighters I’ve ever seen compete, he has always chosen the path least traveled. He’s never in a “winnable” looking fight, and once again he’s up against a very tough challenge in Turner. For a while, it looked like Hooker may never win again, and he was going to retire a loser, but a win over a tricky rookie Claudio Puelles put him back on the winning track. He snapped a four-fight losing streak with his last fight, and this matchup is not like his last, where you could see a path of victory for Dan. In this matchup, I could only see ways that Turner could find finishes. The one quality Hooker doesn’t seem to have anymore is his durability against an opponent who has finished his last five fights in two rounds. I can’t see this going well for Hooker if he gets clipped too many times. Dan should try to incorporate some wrestling into his game plan after watching Gamrot have success against Turner. But Hooker has never been known for his grappling, and I don’t think he’ll turn into a Nurmagomedov overnight. Hooker could win this fight, but at this stage of his career, I don’t see it happening. He has too much wear and tear, and against an opponent with a height and reach advantage, it can get ugly quickly if he can’t wrestle. For that reason, I’m going to side with Jalin Turner and go with a round prop and say that both fighters go over one and a half rounds of fight time (7 mins). 

Bet: Turner vs. Hooker over 1.5 rounds -120 | Jalin Turner by KO/TKO or submission -150 

Ross vs. Aguilar Odds

Shannon Ross +123, Jesus Santos Aguilar -145

Aguilar and Ross are stepping into the octagon this weekend looking for their first official win in the UFC. These fighters have had similar paths up until this point. They both made their way into the UFC after debuting on the Contender Series, and both lost in the first round of their official debuts earlier this year. Their debuts weren’t easy as Aguilar fought Tatsuro Taira, and Ross stepped in against Kleydson Rodrigues. Both are still green at the sport’s highest level, but on the regional scene, Aguilar has consistently battled the better competition. Ross does have a significant advantage in terms of height (2 inches) and reach (4 inches), but outside of that, Ross can wrestle, but so can Aguilar, and having won 75% of his fights by submission, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind if Ross attempted some takedowns. From a betting perspective, I’d say that this is a coin flip, but the better skill set belongs to Aguilar. He’s more potent in the grappling department, resilient, and always finds a way out of bad situations. It isn’t fair to judge either fighter off their debuts, but after watching the tape of their regional fights, I will lean with Aguilar and think he finds the submission at some point in this fight. 

Bet: Jesus Santos Aguilar ML -145 | Santos by KO/TKO or submission +125 

Saaiman vs. Mitchell Odds

Cameron Saaiman -550, Terrence Mitchell +410

Making his debut this weekend is longtime Alaska FC vet Mitchell. He had a short stint on The Ultimate Fighter in 2016 and was quickly dispatched by Kai Kara France. He stayed on the UFC’s radar because of his nearly 10-year run and 10-2 record in Alaska. He also has nine first-round finishes and, since 2012, has yet to go to a third round. Mitchell is tall, and even if he has a reach advantage in most of his fights, he doesn’t utilize it well because his game plan revolves around getting fights to the ground and hunting submissions. Saaiman made his way into the UFC through the Contender Series. Like Dricus Du Plessis, Saaiman’s fights don’t often look pretty, but his pace, pressure and resilience push his opponents to their breaking points. Mitchell is decent, and this fight feels like a fight set up for Saaiman to shine. The pick is Saaiman to find a finish inside the distance and welcome Mitchell to the big leagues properly. 

Bet: Saaiman vs. Mitchell under 1.5 rounds -170 | Saaiman in Round 1 +110 

Kirk vs. Ribovics Odds

Kamuela Kirk +120, Esteban Ribovics -145

Kicking off the fight night is an exciting matchup between Kirk and Ribovics. Ribovics didn’t have a successful debut, but he did show promise against the tough and highly touted Loik Radzhabov. His athleticism, toughness and power made it difficult for Radzhabov to have his way, and Ribovics is making his sophomore appearance in a winnable fight against Kirk. Kamuela hasn’t been too active because of injuries that have limited the number of times he can fight. Still, Kirk is exciting, and it’s why the UFC is giving him his chance on a big card. The fight should start competitively, but I can see Ribovics pulling away with his aggression and pace. Ribovics has never won a fight by decision, and to make a statement and impress the bosses, I don’t think he will start on international fight week. The pick is Ribovics in what should be a fun and exciting matchup. 

Bet: Esteban Ribovics ML -145 | Ribovics by KO/TKO or submission +110 

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