Thanks to Adam Martin (@MMAdamMartin) for his expert opinion in this article.
Charles Oliveira vs. Michael Chandler - vacant lightweight title
Charles Oliveira to win 1.75: Charles Oliveira is one of the best lightweights in the UFC and he has been one of the most exciting fighters in the promotion for over 10 years now, going back to his promotional debut in 2010.
Oliveira is a grappler by trade and his 14 UFC submissions is a company record. He is not only a deadly submission artist, but he also has improved striking skills on the feet which makes the Brazilian highly dangerous. In fact, he has won his last eight fights and has finished nearly everyone in his way save for the durable Tony Ferguson, who survived a nasty armbar attempt from Oliveira in his last fight to earn this title shot.
The fact Oliveira went in there and pitched a 30-24 shutout against Ferguson shows the elite level he’s been fighting at. No one has ever been able to destroy Ferguson the way that he did, and if Oliveira brings those skills to the Chandler fight, he can become the new UFC champ.
Michael Chandler to win 2.19: Michael Chandler is the three-time Bellator lightweight champion who made a big splash in his UFC debut when he knocked out Dan Hooker. For the better part of the last decade, Chandler has been plying his trade in Bellator and he has defeated some of the best fighters that promotion had to offer, including former UFC champions Eddie Alvarez and Benson Henderson.
After joining the UFC and knocking out Hooker, Dana White was so impressed with his performance that he couldn’t help but give Chandler a title shot. At his best, Chandler is an elite lightweight with KO power on the feet and elite wrestling skills. He has for years been one of the best fighters at 155lbs, but he hasn’t had the chance to prove it on the big stage until now.
Chandler has the power to finish Oliviera and he is only a small underdog in this fight.
It’s close, and you can’t count Chandler out of winning.
Total rounds: The total rounds for this championship bout has been set at 2.5 rounds, and we’d bet the Under. Both Oliveira and Chandler are potent finishers, and we suspect this fight might end quickly - in the first or second round.
Either Oliveira knocks Chandler out, or he gets the submission; or Chandler finds Oliveira’s chin and puts him out - but either way we don’t see this fight lasting very long. Picking Oliveira to win by stoppage, we also favour Under 2.5 rounds.
Betting tips: Charles Oliveira/Under 2.5
Beneil Dariush vs. Tony Ferguson - Lightweight
Beneil Dariush to win 1.58: Beneil Dariush has been in the UFC for the better part of a decade, but has only now begun to string together some wins and make some noise in the lightweight division. “Benny” has won his last six fights, including a split decision nod over Diego Ferreira in his last fight, not to mention his spinning backfist knockout over Scott Holtzman and a crazy KO win over Drakkar Klose before that.
Dariush comes from a grappling background and his bread-and-butter is still his wrestling and submission skills, but he has really improved his striking in the last few years and has turned into a true mixed martial artist. He’s an unbelievable talent who is finally starting to show real potential in the sport.
The UFC is giving him a big step up in competition against Ferguson and, if he wins, he should be right there in line for a lightweight title shot. This is the biggest fight of his career, but one he can win.
Tony Ferguson to win 2.51: Tony Ferguson has been one of the top lightweights in the world for years, having beaten a slew of some of the best fighters in the division - including Anthony Pettis, Donald Cerrone and Edson Barboza. The problem is Ferguson is now 37 years old and it appears his career is dipping - he has lost his last two fights against Justin Gaethje and this weekend’s main-carder Charles Oliveira, and neither fight was competitive.
It appears that he has lost a step and it makes sense as Father Time waits for no-one. At his best, Ferguson is an elite lightweight with incredible submission skills on the feet and a highlight-reel striking attack, but we haven’t seen that version of “El Cucuy” in years now.
It will be interesting to see how he looks in this fight against Dariush. Ferguson certainly has the skills to pull off the upset, but it looks like being another tough match-up for him.
Total rounds: The total rounds for this bout has been set at 2.5 rounds. Although a finish by either man is certainly possible, this feels more like a tactical fight that goes the distance. Ferguson is very durable and tough to finish, and it’s a big ask for Dariush to knock him out or submit him. It’s more likely that Dariush will take Ferguson down and wrestle him, as well as outstrike him on the feet, and win this fight on points. Let’s go with the Over on 2.5 rounds here - with Dariush doing what Oliveira did, winning the decision against Ferguson.
Betting tips: Dariush/Over 2.5
Money Talks - Probability vs The Action
Cloudbet's proprietary Money Talks feature illustrates a direct representation of the odds on an event (the Probability line) and of the action taken so far with Cloudbet - shown by the Money Talks line. This represents the number of bets taken, rather than the amount of money taken from those bets. The result - we can immediately see if bettors are toeing the odds-implied favoured outcome or not.
For the title fight, it looks like there isn't much variation between the the odds or the opinion of Cloudbet bettors. Oliveira is favoured slightly to win, as shown by the Probability line, and the bets placed so far with Cloudbet so far would suggest bettors agree - and then some... albeit only a little.
However, that is most definitely NOT the story with the Dariush vs. Ferguson fight. The Probability line shows Dariush the clear favourite, reflected in the 158/2.51 odds, but the Money Talks line shows the majority of the bettor love going Ferguson's way.
Also on the main card...
Matt Schnell vs. Rogerio Bontorin - bantamweight
This bout between Matt Schnell (1.65) and Rogerio Bontorin (2.37) should be fun - for as long as it lasts. Both are top-15 ranked bantamweights who can finish - or be finished, so this is unlikely to go the distance. Both are fighting up a weight class since the fight was booked on short notice, and both should carry their power up, so expect a clear winner. Bontorin is the superior grappler, but he seems to have some cardio issues which could come into play, while Schnell may look to take this into deep waters, winning by stoppage once Bontorin starts to slow. As such, we like the Under 2.5 as we expect a finish from these two fighters.
Betting tips: Matt Schnell/Under 2.5
Katlyn Chookagian vs. Viviane Araujo - flyweight
This bout between Katlyn Chookagian (1.74) and Viviane Araujo (2.22) will likely go the full three rounds as both women are more points-based strikers who tend to go the distance in their battles. Both women are capable of winning, but Araujo (according to the odds, a slight underdog) is the slightly better striker and, in this particular matchup, that gives her the edge. There is also the chance this fight takes place in the clinch and on the ground, which should help it push above the Over 2.5 rounds total.
This is going to be a close fight and the judges will surely come into play, but ultimately we expect Araujo to land more strikes and the harder punches as she goes the distance to win on points.
Betting tips: Viviane Araujo/Over 2.5
Shane Burgos vs. Edson Barboza - featherweight
The opening main card bout on the pay-per-view, this should be an incredible fight. Burgos (1.74) and Barboza (2.22) are both high-action strikers who always put on a good show for the fans. With all the firepower these two have, we're not convinced this goes the distance. With all the heat these two throw inside the Octagon, odds are someone gets caught on the chin and finished.
With Burgos being the slightly younger fighter and a more pressure-based fighter, we're leaning towards him being the one walking forward and eventually landing that big shot on Barboza, winning by knockout. That said, Burgos doesn’t have the greatest chin either and we cant rule out Barboza catching him either - so taking the Under 2.5 rounds is the smart way to go here.
Betting tips: Shane Burgos/Under 2.5