Two big favorites to play in UFC 272

By Reed Kuhn  (VSiN.com) 

March 3, 2022 10:39 PM
USATSI_15877479

Before a main event featuring the last two men to attempt to dethrone Kamaru Usman, we have two dangerous welterweights who could put on a show in UFC 272.  

Kevin Holland (-290) vs. Alex Oliveira (+ 230)

Welterweights

Two guys who finish fights go at it. 

Alex Oliveira used to welcome exchanges with strikers, but at this point in his career and against this particular opponent, that could be a mistake.

Assuming Kevin Holland can make the weight cut back to 170, he’ll have a huge size advantage over his older opponent. And for whatever time they spend on their feet, Holland should have advantages. 

Holland is the more technical striker, with superior accuracy at a higher pace while still maintaining tighter defense. Not yet 30 years old, Holland has yet to receive a knockdown, even in losses to elite middleweights Marvin Vettori and Derek Brunson. 

Oliveira’s striking stats aren’t bad, but they don’t stand up to Holland’s, with additional range and youth advantages working against the Brazilian. His best hope for an upset is on the ground, though in recent fights he hasn’t always gotten there. 

Holland’s takedown defense has been mediocre against middleweight wrestlers, so the big wild card will be whether he can keep a smaller opponent at bay. If he does, it’ll be an uphill battle for Oliveira, who could lose points under Holland’s pressure from range and comes in with a growing risk for a knockout. 

Holland’s price got steamed, but there’s still a bit of value, making for a good parlay leg. 

Play: Kevin Holland to win. Over/Under recommendation to come later in the week. 

Colby Covington (-320) vs. Jorge Masvidal (+ 260)

Main Event | Welterweights 

The main event is an overdue battle between two men who haven’t been able to crack the code of Kamaru Usman. 

Both Covington and Masvidal went the distance but lost to the current champ in their most recent fights. Covington appeared to improve in his second title fight, while Masvidal was brutally knocked out. Those losses combined with their complicated history as teammates should make for compelling drama, but their fighting styles might lead to the fight of the night.  

Trajectories and out-of-cage factors aside, the fight will boil down to Covington’s stifling pressure against Masvidal’s precision and finishing prowess. Covington will be throwing nearly twice the volume of Masvidal on the feet and could also be applying pressure in the clinch and on the ground. 

Masvidal’s takedown defense is above average, and he’s no stranger to opponents trying to shut down his power. But Covington seems well-suited to the pressure game, applying it on all fronts, with cardio and durability that saved him from close calls in a tight loss to Usman. 

Play: Colby Covington to win, or prop by decision. Lean Over 4.5 rounds, or fight goes the distance.

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