The UFC has done it again! For the 11th straight year the UFC has pulled out all the stops for International Fight Week. Hosted in Las Vegas, the UFC welcomes fight fans from around the world to partake in an awesome experience that gets capped off with one of the best fight cards the UFC has put together all year. This is a stacked card that will feature two title fights.
Brandon Moreno will put his flyweight belt on the line against familiar foe in Alexandre Pantoja and the main event will see Alexander Volkanovski coming back down to the featherweight division to defend his title against interim featherweight champion Yair Rodriguez. The rest of the card will feature rising young talents such as Cameron Saaiman, Tatsuro Tiara, Jack Della Maddalena, and Bo Nickal. It will also provide an opportunity for marquee fighters Robert Whittaker and Dricus Du Plessis to put on a show for what could be a title fight for the winner — not to mention the newly minted UFC Hall of Famer Robbie Lawler facing off against Niko Price in what will be Lawler’s retirement fight.
I have a few wagers I believe will win us some cash and hopefully cover the charge for the much deserving Pay-Per-View.
Jimmy Crute vs Alonzo Menifield
A rematch of the back-and-forth war that took place on UFC 284 in February. The first fight ended in a majority draw that was scored (29-27, 28-28, 28-28). During the fight, referee Mark Goddard deducting a point from Menifield in the third round for holding on to the fence when Crute was obviously going to take him down. In this fight, Crute seemed to be able to take Menifield down whenever he wanted. While the fight was on the feet, Menifield had the clear advantage with his striking which led to two knockdowns on Crute. I see this fight being pretty much the same. If he stays on the feet, Menifield should have no issue finding the KO and if Crute lands takedown after takedown again he will win this fight easily.
In my opinion, Crute is still only 27 years old and has the capability of improving his striking and head movement to nullify Menifield’s power and striking. Not so much for Menifield, who is 35 years old and seemed vastly overmatched in the grappling department. If Crute can limit the damage coming his way, I don’t see a way he can lose this fight.
My Picks: Jimmy Crute to win -132 (1u) and Crute to win by submission +350 (.5u)
Robert Whittaker vs Dricus Du Plessis
A middleweight scrap that is sure not to disappoint between number 2 ranked middleweight Robert Whittaker and number 5 ranked Dricus Du Plessis. If the winner of this fight puts on a show and ends the fight before it gets to the judges scorecard, they most definitely will be in line for a title fight against Israel Adesanya. Whittaker, who has already challenged Adesanya twice for the belt and lost both bouts, is eyeing up may be his last chance at middleweight gold. On the opposite side of the octagon, an up and coming middleweight savage Dricus Du Plessis is looking for his 6th straight win in the UFC to cement his opportunity for a worthy challenger for the title. Both fighters are comfortable anywhere this fight goes, but if you’ve ever watched a Du Plessis fight you know he’ll be looking for a war.
The question is will Whittaker give Du Plessis what he is looking for or use will he use his experience to be patient, letting the fight play out and cater to his more counter-striking style. Du Plessis is known for coming out swinging and emptying his gas tank early, and if he does that again this fight he is in for a quick fight. Of course he has the chance to catch Whittaker with one of his nasty right hands, hoping to end the fight early, but Whittaker has tremendous defense and has only been knocked out twice in his 31 professional fights. I am looking for Whittaker to use his experience to control the pace and lead the dance in this fight. Coming into this fight as a near -400 favorite Whittaker should get the job done. Although the juice probably isn’t worth the squeeze in my opinion. Whittaker is long due for a KO/TKO and with Du Plessis not having the stamina to keep those power shots coming, I see Whittaker most likely ending the fight in the 2nd or 3rd round.
My PIcks: Robert Whittaker to win by KO/TKO +110 (1u) and Whittaker to win in round 3 +900 (.5u)
Alexander Volkanovski vs Yair Rodriguez
Finally, the main event of the evening will determine who reigns supreme in the featherweight division when Alexander Volkanovski takes on Yair Rodriguez. Alexander Volkanovski is coming back down to featherweight after his lightweight bout against Islam Makhachev, where he tested himself to try and do what very few fighters have done and be a two division champion. While the fight between Volkanovski and Makhachev was taking place, Rodriguez took that opportunity to claim the vacant featherweight belt when he tapped Josh Emmett in the second round to win the Interim Featherweight belt.
Volkanovski has won a dozen straight featherweight fights, with the last five being championship fights. Volk is, in my opinion, the most well-rounded fighter in the entire UFC. His striking is elite, his grappling is second to none and his durability and stamina are top tier. There is nowhere inside of the octagon that he doesn’t dominate. Rodriguez is unlike anyone Volk has fought before, though. He has lightning quick strikes that come from every direction and he uses them so unpredictably that it makes him so hard to figure out, which he showed in his last fight against Emmett. He will also hold his own on the ground and look for submissions that catch you off guard in hopes of ending the fight early. As tempting as Yair is as a +285 underdog, there is a reason why Volkanovski is a -375 favorite; he is just that damn good!
My Picks: Alexander Volkanovski to win by decision +135 (1u)
Best Parlay Plays for UFC 290
- Ross/Aguilar fight does not go the distance
- Terrance Mitchell
- Jesus Aguilar
- Vitor Petrino
- Bo Nickal
- Jalin Turner
- Alexandre Pantoja