Charles Oliveira has fought professionally 41 times as a mixed martial artist, winning 32. Of those 32, he finished 29 and with 18 submissions, is the UFC’s all-time leader in that category.
He’s won 10 in a row over the last four years with nine finishes. Not surprisingly, Tony Ferguson is the only fighter not to be finished by Oliveira in that span and Oliveira had him in a deep arm bar at the end of the first round.
Once overlooked, he is now widely respected as the UFC champion. Oliveira’s a solid -175 favorite at BetMGM to defeat Justin Gaethje on Saturday in their bout in the main event of UFC 274 at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona.
Despite being one of the all-time great submission artists, Oliveira loves the striking battle and insists he’ll engage Gaethje on his feet. That leaves him two issues: Gaethje is difficult to get down and Oliveira doesn’t really have a wrestling takedown, per se. And if he stands, he’s got to withstand the withering attack Gaethje will unleash on his legs.
This is one of those fights where you have to ask yourself, do you go with the irresistible force or the immovable object?
Gaethje is really primed for a major performance and so I like him to win the fight. I’ll lay a one-unit bet on him at +145. So I’ll risk $100 and win $145 if Gaethje is victorious.
I’m also going to bet the fight ends in a Knockout/TKO or DQ. That is +125 and I’ll put three units on that. It seems unlikely to go the distance, and it’s highly unlikely Gaethje would submit Oliveira. Oliveira may well submit Gaethje, but he has KO ability as well. So I’ll risk $300 and hopefully earn a $375 profit if either one of the fighters wins by KO or TKO.
Esparza enticing at +185
In the co-main event, strawweight champion Rose Namajunas is a -225 favorite over Carla Esparza, who is +185. Esparza won their first fight by submission and has reeled off five wins in a row.
It’s hard to pass her up that way, particularly given her elite wrestling skills.
But Namajunas’ evolution has been remarkable and she’s now above average in every aspect of the game. She’s also expert in rematches and extremely mentally tough.
I’ll lay the -225 and play Namajunas to win.
Chandler-Ferguson bout should be tough
There is a lot at stake in the bout between Michael Chandler and Tony Ferguson. The loser is likely out of title contention, at least for a while.
Chandler is -400 while on a two-fight losing streak. Ferguson, who has lost three in a row, is +300.
Ferguson is a wild card here because it’s difficult to assess what to make of his losing skein. He was beaten in one-sided fights by Gaethje, Oliveira and Beneil Dariush after having won 12 in a row.
I think Chandler is more of a certainty, but it’s tough to lay -400. So I’ll put a half-unit on Chandler and risk $200 and hope to make a $50 profit.
Other bets for UFC 274 and Bellator 280
I will lay the -160 and bet Blagoy Ivanov to win over Marcos Rogerio de Lima, who is +130. I’ll also lay two units +120 on this fight to go the distance.
I’ll bet Randy Brown at +100 to defeat Khaos Williams, who is -120.
I’ll lay the -400 on Ryan Bader and play him to win over Cheick Kongo, who is +310, in their bout Friday at Bellator 280.