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UFC 292: Sterling vs. O'Malley goes down this Saturday night, live from the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. Check out my plays for this highly anticipated card below.
Chris Weidman (+215) (FanDuel) (1U)
I admit that Chris Weidman is coming off a horrific leg injury, hasn’t fought in two years, is now 39 years old, and knocking on retirement’s door, but should he really be a 2-1 underdog against Brad Tavares? I don’t believe so. Tavares’ longevity in the middleweight division is astonishing. He’s the gatekeeper of the division but nothing more, especially at this point of his career. He’s 2-4 in his last six fights, losing two in a row, and leaving much to be desired in the way of his performances. He’s a solid volume striker who’s tough and durable. Weidman will look to get this fight to the ground against a guy with good takedown defense but even if he isn’t able to do so, is Tavares gonna hurt Weidman on the feet? No. Tavares hasn’t knocked out an opponent since April of 2018. If Weidman isn’t able to get Tavares to the mat and win rounds, he’ll at the very least be in even striking exchanges on the feet. I see this fight going to the judge’s scorecards and I expect a close, greasy decision victory for one of these fighters. At 2-1 odds and in front of crowd that is gonna go nuts for him (this will help sway the judges), I can’t help but jump on the value that is Weidman and hope he’s the one winning the close, greasy decision.
Zhang Weili by KO/TKO or Submission (-140) (PointsBet) (1.5U)
Zhang Weili by Submission (+450) (PointsBet) (0.75U)
Sean O’Malley (+225) (FanDuel) (1U)
Aljamain Sterling is the rightful favorite with the clearest path to victory in this matchup. I understand that I could look like an idiot at the conclusion of this bout because I can easily see Sterling backpacking O’Malley and choking him out. However, my gut tells me something different. Sterling and O’Malley’s common opponent was Petr Yan. Yan was able to out grapple Sterling and light him up on the feet in both of their matchups for long periods of time. Against O’Malley, Yan did more of the same but O’Malley was able to survive the grappling exchanges and light Yan up on the feet as well. O’Malley is the furthest thing from a grappler. For him to survive many of the grappling exchanges against Yan was shocking and say a lot about his evolution as a fighter. The “book” on O’Malley is to take him down and you win but we haven’t seen that happen in his career to date. I understand that Sterling is on another level with his grappling but on the feet he takes too much damage for my liking. He also gasses late in fights which leaves him susceptible to power shots. O’Malley is a sniper on the feet and he knows he can’t go to the ground with Sterling for extended periods of time. I believe O’Malley has drilled his takedown defense in training and has a few tricks up his sleeve for Sterling upon takedown entries. I see O’Malley knocking Sterling out with a a crisp one-two combination. There is an aura around O’Malley. Just when everyone writes him off, he proves them wrong. I believe that this is his moment and he will shock the world against a guy that most of the MMA world has already anointed as the winner Saturday night.
My Picks to Win
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