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UFC 231 Betting Guide
UFC 231 sees the return of featherweight champion Max Holloway, held on December 8th at Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, Canada. The penultimate PPV of 2018 hosts a stacked card from top to bottom. Bet UK puts the main card under the spotlight, as our resident MMA writer gives his UFC 231 betting tips.
Max Holloway (c) vs. Brian Ortega
Holloway returns to the Octagon almost a year to the day at UFC 231. The Hawaiian rides a 12-fight winning streak, including 2 TKO victories of featherweight legend Jose Aldo. He faces Ortega, who's touted as one of the most talented guys in the featherweight division. Ortega is a BJJ blackbelt and is undefeated, coming off an impressive KO of Frankie Edgar, the first man to finish the former champion. Both fighters enter the contest with hot winning streaks and age on their side. If ring rust does exist then you would have to say Ortega has been more active fighting in March. Before Holloway was forced out of a previous fight he was rapidly becoming one of the biggest and best pound for pound fighters in the UFC. Holloway has excellent stand up and leading levels of cardio. I'm going for Holloway to retain his title, his lanky frame and takedown defence will make it hard for Ortega to utilise his BJJ and Holloway wins the stand up battle for me, he's won his last three fights by TKO with wins over two former champions.
Valentina Shevchenko vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
The bantamweight showdown between two of the most talented female fighters on the planet is my pick for fight of the night. This fight will be fantastic for those who love Muay Thai. Valentina Shevchenko is a master kickboxer and Muay Thai fighter who's won over 50 amateur and pro matches. Interestingly, she has beat Jedrzejczyk, the former UFC champion, 3 times in kickboxing bouts. Jedrzejczyk has been dominant since day 1 in the UFC, her stellar career began with brutal finishes and top class stand up until she met Rose Namajunas, who won via knockout and then decision in the rematch. Although her unbeatable stigma is no more Jedrzejczyk is still one of the best women's fighters to enter the cage. MMA is a different game, setting up strikes with takedowns means there is more to worry about. Shevchenko's only loss in the UFC comes from champion Amanda Nunes, with the second fight being that close some people thought she won. Jedrzejczyk has been knocked out and Rose has shown she can be beat on the feet and with 3 previous losses to the Russian you would have to give Shevchenko the edge in this one.
Alex Oliveira vs. Gunnar Nelson
Conor McGregor's teammate Gunner Nelson has been fairly inactive over the last 3 years, only fighting five times with a 3-2 record. His latest outing saw him KO'ed in Glasgow in July 2017 against Santiago Ponzinibbio. Nelson was somewhat of a puzzle for a few years in the UFC, racking up an unbeaten run until he ran into Rick Story. Since that first loss he went on to lose against Demian Maia too. However, it's clear that Gunnie has the talent but his stand up has always been his downfall. His punches come very straight with little footwork to create angles, this means he's very predictable and repetitive. Oliveira comes in off two finishes over former champion Carlos Condit and Carlo Perdersoli Jr. 'Cowboy' has a solid ground game and stand up, he is a complete martial artist but no more than a gatekeeper in my opinion. With Nelson's lack of cage time and 'Cowboy' coming fresh off a win just 3 months ago in September I think the momentum is behind the Brazilian.
Hakeem Dawodu vs. Kyle Bochniak
Kyle Bochniak is coming off a 'Fight of the Night' performance against Zabit Magomedsharipov, which he lost via decision. But, the Boston native proved himself to be a great addition to the roster. He showed a solid chin and a lot of heart against a tricky striker in Zabit. Dawodu, however, is a top class striker compiling a Muay Thai record of 42-4 with 15 KOs. I see this as a stand up war with both fighters out to prove something, although both guys have suffered losses there is a lot more in the MMA talent pool. Both will aim to be a tough gatekeeper and scoop as many fight night bonuses as they can. The striking advantage is clearly with Dawodu.
Jimi Manuwa vs. Thiago Santos
Jimi Manuwa has been gifted with the death touch - I swear the Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique from Kill Bill is based on Manuwa's power. With 17 wins in 21 fights and 15 by KO/TKO it's very very rare that the Brit goes the distance. Coming off two losses Manuwa will be looking to get back to winning ways and make another title run but he needs to make sure his cardio is on point because it's been very much a thorn in his side. Santos is coming off two wins with 4 fights under his belt for 2018. With a 3-1 record Santos is certainly in form. If Santos can get this down to the canvas then it's going to be a short night for Manuwa. The Brazilian is a BJJ blackbelt although his flashy stand up skills have given him most of his wins. Expect a slugfest in the opener, it's going to be a gritty affair with lots of blood and it won't go the distance if history and reputation is anything to go against.
*All odds from Bet UK’s online betting correct at the time of writing.