UFC 293 at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney features five fights on the main card, highlighted by a middleweight title fight between Israel Adesanya and Sean Strickland.
Adesanya (24-2 MMA, 13-2 UFC) is the reigning middleweight champion and is coming off a knockout win over Alex Pereira in April. The 34-year-old is the heavy -650 favorite at BetMGM, although he has drawn just 20 percent of the total fight bets and 25 percent of the money.
Strickland (27-5, 14-5) also won his most recent fight, scoring a technical knockout of Abus Magomedov in July.
Prediction: Strickland can’t be discounted despite his heavy underdog odds at +475. He’s an experienced, well-rounded fighter. But Adesanya should be able to use his kickboxing prowess to get at Strickland’s legs from the outset. Adesanya winning by KO/TKO/DQ at -135 is a solid wager.
OTHER MAIN CARD FIGHTS
–Tai Tuivasa (14-5, 8-5) vs. Alexander Volkov (36-10, 10-4)
The co-main event is an intriguing matchup. Thirteen of Tuivasa’s professional wins have come by knockout, while Volkov brings a vast amount of experience inside the octagon. Tuivasa is explosive and powerful, but has to be wary of Volkov’s takedown ability.
Prediction: Tuivasa has been backed by 75 percent of the bets as the +200 underdog while the money wagered on the fight has been even at BetMGM. Volkov, a former Bellator heavyweight champion and the -250 favorite, has an array of ways in which to react to Tuivasa’s gameplan. We’ll take Volkov as the outright winner.
–Manel Kape vs. Felipe dos Santos
Kape (18-6, 3-2) was originally slated to face Adesanya’s teammate, Kai Kara-France, who was forced to withdraw due to a concussion. In steps dos Santos (7-0, 0-0), who will make his UFC debut. Kape finally steps in the octagon after having five of his past six fights fall through over the past two years. That said, Kape said he is more “focused” entering this fight and told UFC.com that he is “more of a savage.”
Prediction: Kape is a heavy -450 favorite for good reason. Although dos Santos has drawn 70 percent of the money as the +325 underdog, we like Kape’s experience to finish the fight before the distance at -250 odds.
–Austen Lane vs. Justin Tafa
This is a rematch of a fight that ended in a no contest after just 29 seconds in June, with Tafa (6-3, 3-3) getting poked in the eye. Tafa said that injury limited his sparring time leading up to the rematch against Lane (12-3, 0-0), who will make his UFC debut for a second time.
Prediction: Tafa opened at -250 but the odds have shortened to -200 with Lane drawing 72 percent of the bets and 87 percent of the money at +165. Tafa is in his home country and motivated to continue his ascent up the heavyweight rankings. We’re taking Tafa to win the fight outright.
–Anton Turkalj vs. Tyson Pedro
This is a light heavyweight fight between Turkalj (8-2, 0-2) and Pedro (9-4, 5-4). Pedro is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Modestas Bukauskas at UFC 284, while Turkalj (-115) is seeking his first UFC win his third attempt.
Prediction: Pedro (-105) has been training alongside Adesanya at City Kickboxing in New Zealand and will be looking for a quick end to this fight. If the fight goes the distance Pedro could be in trouble, so we’ll take him at -250 to win by KO/TKO/DQ.
–Field Level Media