There may not be a title fight on the UFC 264 card at T-Mobile Arena, but we have a lot of good fights on the slate for Saturday July 10.
What should be the last chapter of the rivalry between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor will be written on Saturday night in the lightweight main event. Gilbert Burns and Stephen Thompson will try to get themselves positioned for a welterweight title shot in what is being termed the co-main event.
In all, we’ll see 13 fights, with preliminary card action on ESPN+ and then main five fights on ESPN+ PPV.
Odds are from BetOnline Sportsbook as we scan through Saturday’s festivities for best bets and betting angles.
Hu Yaozong (+115) vs. Alen Amedovski (-135); Total: 1.5 (-150/120)
Action begins in the middleweight division with Hu Yaozong and Alen Amedovski at 185 pounds. Yaozong previously fought as a light heavyweight at 205 pounds, but after starting 0-2 in UFC, he’ll try his luck at middleweight. This will be the first fight for Yaozong since 11/24/18 in his native China. In fact, both of his UFC fights have been in China.
This one is not, as Alen Amedovski, who is also 0-2 in UFC, shakes off nearly a two-year hiatus after losing in 17 seconds to John Phillips. This is a really hard fight to bet right out of the gate. Better options are forthcoming.
Jerome Rivera (+260) vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov (-310); Total: 2.5 (-215/175)
We go from a fight of guys that haven’t been in the Octagon in a while to a guy that is a $3 favorite in Zhalgas Zhumagulov. Zhumagulov is actually 0-2 with two decision losses since joining the UFC last year. Jerome Rivera has dropped three straight since his Dana White Contender Series appearance last August. These two guys are both in dire need of a win.
Zhumagulov is the heavy favorite to get it, but there is no way that price is worth laying here. It would be dog or bust.
Omari Akhmedov (+145) vs. Brad Tavares (-165); Total: 2.5 (-215/175)
Hopefully we get a better fight here between Brad Tavares and Omari Akhmedov. A lot of money has hit the Tavares side in advance of this match. Tavares returned from over a year on the shelf to beat Antonio Carlos Junior at UFC 257, which was the second installment of the Poirier vs. McGregor main event.
Tavares’s prebious two fights were losses to Israel Adesanya and Edmen Shahbazyan. He should get a good test here from Akhmedov, who has won four of his last five fights, but struggled with takedown defense against Chris Weidman back in August. Tavares is a smart, veteran fighter, but at this point, the line has swung so much that we’re in another dog or bust situation. So far, not much betting opportunity as far as we’re concerned.
Jessica Eye (+160) vs. Jennifer Maia (-185); Total: 2.5 (-325/250)
Jessica Eye hasn’t really been the same since the absolutely vicious knockout suffered at the foot of Valentina Shevchenko back at UFC 238. Eye did win her next fight over Viviane Araujo, but has dropped consecutive decisions to Cynthia Calvillo and Joanne Calderwood. This fight looks to have a pretty similar outcome, as Maia by decision is the most likely outcome per the odds.
Jennifer Maia did go the distance with Shevchenko last time out and scored a first-round submission win over Calderwood prior to that. Maia is a solid fighter and similar in experience to Eye. These two fighters are probably going to look a lot alike in this fight. There is a possibility that Maia, who was hit 249 times in the fight with Shevchenko, has a hangover effect here, much like the one that Eye had. With that in mind, it seems like the underdog could surprise here. Eye at +160 does not look like a bad bet at all.
Dricus Du Plessis (-110) vs. Trevin Giles (-110); Total: 2.5 (-125/-105)
This is as close as it gets for a UFC fight. The fighters are lined the same and the total slightly leans towards a decision. Dricus Du Plessis is 1-0 in the UFC with a win over Markus Perez. He was 14-2 in KSW and other promotions, including a title win back in 2018. He promptly lost the title without being able to defend it. The 27-year-old South African has a big opportunity here against a very talented prospect in Giles.
Trevin Giles got off to a little bit of a slow start in UFC with a 2-2 record, the first two losses of his career, but then responded in a big way with wins over James Krause, Roman Dolidze, and Bevon Lewis. Giles has wins over Brendan Allen, Ryan Spann, and Ike Villanueva from previous promotions, so his ascent in the division is not a big surprise. He looks like the clear pick here.
Ryan Hall (+200) vs. Ilia Topuria (-235); Total: 2.5 (-103/-127)
Undefeated Ilia Topuria takes on Ryan Hall at 145 pounds in this featherweight fight. Hall is 8-1 in his career, including the TUF 22 championship win over Artem Lobov. Since then, though, Hall has only fought three times. All three have been wins, but he has not fought since 7/13/19. Hall has fought better, more accomplished competition than Topuria, but finds himself a big underdog here anyway.
Topuria is 2-0 in UFC. He made his debut last October and beat Youssef Zalal on short notice. Then he beat Damon Jackson by KO less than two months later. The 24-year-old Georgian looks like a nice prospect in a division that could use a young up-and-comer to challenge the old guard. He should win this fight and stay perfect.
Niko Price (+142) vs. Michel Pereira (-162); Total: 1.5 (-185/155)
This is the return to the Octagon for Niko Price, who was suspended for a chemical found in THC after his win over Donald Cerrone. Price is 14-4 in his career and has fought a lot of big names in the promotion, though he has technically only gone 2-2 in his last four fights with that No Contest. Some may be taken aback to see the big line here on Price, who has represented himself well in the cage since joining UFC.
It is an especially interesting line because Michel Pereira hasn’t beaten anyone of great consequence in a while. He scored wins over Zelim Imadaev and Khaos Williams to finish out 2020 with a couple of third-round victories. Other than that, Pereira is 3-2 and hasn’t really done much that stands out from a wins and losses standpoint. He is a fighter with a lot of personality, though, and that makes for a good PPV contributor. I have to think Price is live at this price, though.
Carlos Condit (+170) vs. Max Griffin (-195); Total: 2.5 (-220/180)
Heavy money has hit the board on Max Griffin in this fight against Carlos Condit. The 37-year-old Condit got back on track with wins over Court McGee and Matt Brown, but it sure looked like he was done prior to that with consecutive losses to Robbie Lawler, Demian Maia, Alex Oliveira, and Michael Chiesa.
Apparently bettors think Griffin is a lot closer to those guys than McGee and Brown. Frankly, that seems like a fair assessment, though Griffin has had his share of UFC bumps as well. He has also won two in a row, so he rides a little momentum into this fight, but any line equity seems to be gone from Griffin now. Bring on the main card.
Kris Moutinho (+550) vs. Sean O’Malley (-900); Total: 1.5 (150/-180)
A lot of people were excited to see Sean O’Malley in what would have been a much more competitive fight against Louis Smolka, but it will be UFC debutant Kris Moutinho that draws the assignment to open up the main card. O’Malley could very well be 13-0, but he lost to Marlon Vera at UFC 252 after suffering a foot injury early in the fight.
This is a bad matchup for Moutinho, as the line correctly implies. O’Malley has four inches of height, which will make his leg kicks that much more effective. The only question here is how long it takes for this fight to end. O’Malley likely feels like he needs to make a statement without screwing around here.
Pick: Under 1.5
Yana Kunitskaya (+107) vs. Irene Aldana (-127); Total: 2.5 (-325/250)
This should be a good one in the women’s bantamweight division between Yana Kunitskaya and Irene Aldana. Kunitskaya has won four of her last five, including a pretty nice win over Ketlen Vieira back in February. This is a little bit of a step up Kunitskaya based on her recent opponents, but she does have past fights against Tonya Evinger, Raquel Canuto, and Cris Cyborg to her name. Her loss to Aspen Ladd by KO came in what was a very even fight prior to Ladd’s finishing blows.
Irene Aldana is looking to bounce back from a loss to Holly Holm over 25 minutes back in October. It would up being Aldana’s first fight in almost 10 months after she dealt with COVID in July. Holm more than doubled Aldana in total strikes, significant strikes, and was also way better on the ground. Though Aldana is favored here, maybe she shouldn’t be coming off of that performance. I’d be inclined to look at the underdog here.
Pick: Yana Kunitskaya
Greg Hardy (+108) vs. Tui Tuivasa (-128); Total: 1.5 (-200/160)
There is an unwritten rule that there needs to be a heavyweight fight on every pay-per-view for the knockout potential. This one will feature Greg Hardy and Tui Tuivasa. Hardy is coming off of his first knockout loss as a pro fighter and now sits at 7-3. That loss was against Marcin Tybura, a well-rounded, solid heavyweight. His other loss was to Alexander Volkov, another really solid fighter.
This is a tough fight to handicap. Tai Tuivasa is classically-trained to be sure, and a veteran of 15 fights, but he hasn’t fared all that well against UFC competition. He does have back-to-back first-round wins over Harry Hunsucker and Stefan Struve, but he’s giving up some size to Hardy in this fight. Hunsucker has no UFC future and Struve has been mediocre at best.
Tough fight to call here, but when that’s the case and the under is plus money, that seems like a safe default.
Pick: Under 1.5
Gilbert Burns (+145) vs. Stephen Thompson (-170); Total: 2.5 (-150/120)
The last time we saw Gilbert Burns, he was fighting for the title against Kamaru Usman. He lost by third-round knockout, but he got in his fair share of shots. He just didn’t get in as many as the champ. Burns, who won six in a row prior to that loss, finds himself a pretty big underdog here against Stephen Thompson.
The man known as Wonderboy has won two in a row after consecutive losses to Anthony Pettis and Darren Till. Thompson has wins over Vicente Luque and Geoff Neal 13 months apart, so he had a long layoff between fights and went the distance in both of them, including five rounds with Neal in the main event on December 19.
Many are probably looking with some side eye at Burns, whose biggest win in UFC is probably Tyron Woodley, but Woodley is a boxer now and a guy that really fell off quickly, including that Burns loss. This will be a big fight for both guys, but the line seems to imply a lot about Burns and the confidence in him.
Pick: Stephen Thompson
Conor McGregor (+108) vs. Dustin Poirier (-128); Total: 1.5 (-205/165)
The first meeting between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier was back on September 27, 2014. McGregor won by first-round knockout and it took less than two minutes. We had to wait 2,310 days for the rematch, which came on January 23, 2021. It was Poirier that won that one by knockout in the second round.
Now, we get Fight #3. It is the main event of UFC 264 and a highly anticipated one at that in what should be the rubber match and the final fight between the two unless we get a title on the line at some point. Recent betting action has pushed Poirier into the favorite role and McGregor into the underdog role.
You have to think McGregor is in a better spot for this fight. His last real fight was against Khabib Nurmagomedov back on October 6, 2018 prior to Poirier vs. McGregor 2. His win over Donald Cerrone was just for show. It was a paycheck fight for Cerrone and a good opportunity to come back for McGregor. He found out how much tougher Poirier is.
Poirier also has a loss to Khabib to his name, but Poirier had the advantage in the last fight against McGregor because he’s been in fight camps and regularly training. The playing field should be closer to even here. That said, Poirier is probably just the better fighter now. The more technically sound and serious fighter. That’s why money is coming in on him and why he should win here.