Two titles are on the line Saturday at UFC 273, but both betting favorites are juiced to the extreme. We’ll have to look way down in the prelims to find better value.
Vinc Pichel (-145) vs. Mark Madsen (+ 125)
Whenever an Olympic-caliber wrestler enters the Octagon, it’s good to take notice. Madsen won a silver medal for Denmark in 2016 and has since focused mainly on MMA. While he has far less MMA experience than Pichel, Madsen’s wrestle-first mentality could pair nicely with Pichel’s underwhelming takedown success rate of 26%.
Pichel does appear to be a well-rounded fighter, posting a 7-2 record in a competitive lightweight division. But styles make fights, and his two losses came against fighters who landed a lot of takedowns. Madsen is a very live dog.
Play: Madsen to win. Over/Under recommendation to come later in the week on First Strike.
Petr Yan (-475) vs. Aljamain Sterling (+ 350)
The first meeting between these two fighters was clearly a bad beat for Yan backers. The price for the rematch reflects Yan’s performance in that 2021 bout rather than the controversial ending. Sterling was named the winner and new champ then, but Yan is an overwhelming favorite Saturday.
However, the numbers see it closer than the market. Sterling is super busy on the feet and still dangerous on the ground. He arguably won the early stages of the first fight before fading. Perhaps he’s had enough time to figure out the tricky defensive wrestling of Yan. If prices stay inflated, Sterling is worth a small play.
Small lean: Sterling if prices remain at these levels.
Lean: Fight does not go the distance at even or plus money.
Alexander Volkanovski (-630) vs. Chan Sung Jung (+ 450)
A title shot for long-time contender Jung makes for a feel-good story, but it would be a miracle if he could do what Max Holloway and Brian Ortega could not. MMA math aside, Volkanovski shows superior stats everywhere it counts. He’ll get the better of exchanges and is unlikely to spend time on his back.
Play: Volkanovski to win and Over 2.5 rounds for parlays.