UFC 298 Gambling Preview: Can Alexander Volkanovski beat Ilia Topuria and keep his featherweight title?

Finally, UFC delivers a good one!

After a smattering of cards from the world’s leading MMA promotion to start the year, UFC 298 is the first great event of the year (unless you’re counting Dogfight Wild Tournament Second Impact). Headlined by a featherweight title fight between Alexander Volkanovski and Ilia Topuria, there are also a host of other great matchups as the UFC season begins in earnest.

As always, all odds are courtesy of our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.

UFC 294: Makhachev v Volkanovski 2

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Straight Bets

Alexander Volkanovski -125

I did a full write-up on this fight so I won’t dive too deep here, but the short version is that this is a matchup between veteran savvy and youthful exuberance, and I think the old dog still has some juice left. Volkanovski is definitely losing a step, but the style matchup lines up nicely for him and I think reports of his diminishing chin have been overblown. By contrast, this is a huge leap up for Topuria, and while he could surprise us, I’m backing the known commodity.

Henry Cejudo +180

I think Merab Dvalishvili is probably the best bantamweight in the world, but this is a tough style matchup for him. Dvalishvili is all pressure and pace, but it’s the wrestling that ties the room together, and Henry Cejudo is more capable of shutting that down than perhaps anyone else in the division. It wouldn’t shock me if Dvalishvili was able to eke out a decision with clinching and pace (a la Jose Aldo), but if he can’t get the wrestling going, Merab is still a work in progress on the feet and the advantage shifts to Cejudo. This is a big price for him given his stylistic benefits.

UFC 290: Volkanovski v Rodriguez

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Prop Bets

Robert Whittaker To Win By Decision +120

Whittaker takes on Paulo Costa in the co-main event, in a matchup of two men who are very likely past their primes. Fortunately, it’s not by much for either man so the fight should still be fun, but it’s one that Whittaker is extremely likely to win. Costa is a charge forward, head down, bull of a fighter, and Whittaker remains excellent at playing the matador. His footwork and precision should keep Costa from ever getting into rhythm while Whittaker simply picks his shots and racks up points. Maybe Costa gets frustrated and overextends himself, but Whittaker has not finished an opponent since 2017, and Costa has only ever been finished by Israel Adesanya. This should go to the cards and be pretty easy to score.

Dana White’s Contender Series – Barlow v Forest

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Parlay of the Week

Brendson Ribeiro +102 + Danny Barlow -205

Last week I ran with a parlay featuring two UFC debutants who both competed on the most recent season of Contender Series and who I graded in the same tier in my review of the show. Carlos Prates and Bolaji Oki did great work in cashing that parlay, and as the saying goes: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Both Brendson Ribeiro and Danny Barlow were “Defense Is Optional” talents on Contender Series, with potent offensive firepower and a general disregard for their own safety. That makes them volatile fighters, but damn fun ones. Barlow should fare fine against Josh Quinluin, but Ribeiro will have a more difficult time with the equally get-or-get-got kind of fighter, Zhang Mingyang.

Parlay these two bets together for +108 odds.

UFC Fight Night: Rogerio de Lima v Cortes-Acosta

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Long Shot of the Week

Marcos Rogerio de Lima To Win By Submission +550

Rogerio de Lima is a man who likes to swang and bang, but he’s also a BJJ black belt. Moreover, Justin Tafa is not the best fighter in the world, but he’s very tough and he throws heat on the feet. The best path forward for RDL, by far, is to charge out, take Tafa down, and pursue the arm-triangle choke he favors, as Tafa won’t really have much defense for it. And if you’re looking to juice this prop up even more, you can take Rogerio de Lima to win by submission in Round 1 at +900 as 14 of his 21 career wins have come in the first.

Wrap Up

Prop bets have been killing us this year. Keep that in mind as I intentionally avoided most of those this week. Really paring things down until we can catch fire.

Until next week, enjoy the fights, good luck, and gamble responsibly!

All information in this article is provided to readers of MMA Fighting for entertainment, news, and amusement purposes only. It is the responsibility of the reader to learn and abide by online gambling laws in their region before placing any online sports betting wagers.

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