This weekend sees the UFC head back to pay-per-view with a fantastic fight card that features two superb title fights.
Max Holloway will defend his UFC Featherweight Championship from Brian Ortega in the main event. And in the co-main event, Valentina Shevchenko will compete for the UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship in a duel with Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
We’ve broken down all of the main card fights taking place at UFC 231 this weekend to bring you the best betting advice online.
Max Holloway vs. Brian Ortega
Max Holloway vs. Brian Ortega might be one of the best title fights of 2018.
With Holloway riding a remarkable 12-fight winning streak in the UFC and having recently captured the UFC Featherweight Championship, he’s set to be the biggest challenge to date for Brian Ortega, who is undefeated after 14 fights.
Best odds for Max Holloway vs. Brian Ortega:
Max Holloway enters this one as a slight betting favorite but is arguably the considerably higher skilled mixed martial artist.
Brian Ortega is a superb fight-finisher who continually finds a way to win fights, even in those contests in which he is struggling. A talented Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, Ortega possesses one of the nastiest squeezes in the game and has strangled any opponent who gives up their neck. Moreover, on the feet, Ortega has developed into a dangerous striker with heavy hands and consistent forward pressure.
He’ll be tested by Holloway, who is to be considered nothing other than one of the most intelligent strikers in the UFC today. Masterfully dissecting the defense of his opponent, Holloway kicks into gear in the middle rounds before eventually overrunning them with a high volume of strikes. With extreme precision and by inflicting damage that accumulates quickly, Jose Aldo and Anthony Pettis were the last two fighters to succumb to Holloway’s pressure.
Ortega doesn’t have high-level wrestling or an ability to take an opponent to the mat. All of his recent submissions have come via way of grabbing the neck of his opponent in the clinch or making the most of an opportunity after being taken down. He’s without a clear pathway to victory against a fighter who is nothing short of world-class while standing and striking inside the UFC’s octagon and that’s why we’re confidently betting on Max Holloway to win this fight.
Bet on Max Holloway to win: -125 (Bovada)
Valentina Shevchenko vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Valentina Shevchenko and Joanna Jedrzejczyk are set to exchange strikes for the fourth time in their careers this weekend, but for the very first time in mixed martial arts competition.
Shevchenko, who was initially scheduled to fight for the UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship against Nicco Montano earlier this year before Montano withdrew due to complications, will now get her chance to compete for the title. This time, Jedrzejczyk will the fighter standing across from her.
Best odds for Valentina Shevchenko vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk:
Valentina Shevchenko looks to have found her best fit in the UFC’s 125-pound division. After losing a 135-pound title fight with Amanda Nunes in September last year, Shevchenko made the drop down to the newly created division and took on Priscila Cachoeira in her debut. Entering the fight as a -1000 betting favorite, Shevchenko looked every part the better fighter and gave her opponent a brutal beatdown. However, Shevchenko’s best work came earlier in her career against the likes of Holly Holm and Julianna Pena – two fighters who are significantly bigger and stronger than her upcoming opponent.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk is a former champion of the UFC women’s strawweight division and successfully defended her title five times after winning it against Carla Esparza back at UFC 185. At one stage, Joanna looked to be one of the most dominant athletes in the sport today. That was until Rose Namajunas dethroned the champion with a stunning first-round KO/TKO finish in November 2017.
Now, after losing to “Thug” Rose a second time, Joanna has bounced back in a big way with a decisive victory against Tecia Torres at UFC on FOX 30.
Shevchenko might be bigger and stronger, but she’s unusually inactive at times during a fight and is known to give away close split decisions to opponent fighters. Jedrzejczyk is a decision-winner who can fight at a high pace for five rounds. At these odds, Jedrzejczyk makes for an excellent bet.
Bet on Joanna Jedrzejczyk to win: +290 (Pinnacle)
Alex Oliveira vs. Gunnar Nelson
One of the most underrated fights coming up this weekend is an exciting welterweight showdown between Alex Oliveira and Gunnar Nelson.
“Cowboy” Oliveira had won six of his last seven fights and enters this weekend on a roll, whereas Nelson is returning for the first time since July last year when he was knocked out by Santiago Ponzinibbio in the first round.
Best odds for Alex Oliveira vs. Gunnar Nelson:
In many ways, this is an intriguing matchup that could go either way. Unsurprisingly, the odds for this fight are tight with Gunnar Nelson coming in as only a slight favorite.
On the feet, Oliveira might have a minor advantage considering his lengthy and bouncy style will help him move forward and land cleanly on a relatively defenseless Nelson.
But if this fight hits the mat, it’s Nelson who will likely have the significant advantages. “Cowboy” is indeed dangerous from some areas and has a great submission game but he allows too many advances and Nelson is superb at transitioning by slicing through the guard of an opponent. The rear-naked choke will likely be there for Nelson.
We will side with the underdog, Oliveira, here in what should be a very close fight.
Bet on Alex Oliveira to win: +110 (Bovada)
Hakeem Dawodu vs. Kyle Bochniak
Hakeem Dawodu vs. Kyle Bochniak is a matchup between two very entertaining featherweight fighters.
Dawodu recently had his seven-fight undefeated streak snapped by Danny Henry in his UFC debut but did bounce back strong against Austin Arnett earlier this year.
Bochniak has dropped three of his five fights in the UFC but gained some favor with the organization after a Fight of the Night winning performance in defeat to Zabit Magomedsharipov.
Best odds for Hakeem Dawodu vs. Kyle Bochniak:
While the Zabit Magomedsharipov proved to us that Bochniak has heart, determination, and some offensive ability, it also showed many of the holes in Bochniak’s defensive ability.
It’s these defensive lapses that Dawodu will likely take advantage of in this fight as he’ll look to eat up the lead leg of Bochniak with kicks before eventually turning on the gas and overrunning him in the middle and late rounds.
Bet on Hakeem Dawodu to win: -164 (Pinnacle)
Jimi Manuwa vs. Thiago Santos
Jimi Manuwa and Thiago Santos are scheduled to fight in a brilliant light heavyweight fight that will likely not last three rounds.
Best odds for Jimi Manuwa vs. Thiago Santos:
At first glance, this would appear to be a 50/50 battle between two guys with great knockout power – so it’s a little bizarre that the odds are favoring Santos so heavily.
Manuwa walks forward and uses his excellent boxing ability to work the head and body of his opponent, especially when against the cage. This pressure might be too much for someone like Santos who likes to stand in the open and exchange long-range kicks and punches. When moving backward, Santos’ best weapons are nullified.
We’re confident that there shouldn’t be this much separation between Manuwa and Santos and will happily take Manuwa at underdog odds.
Bet on Jimi Manuwa to win: +175 (Bovada)
Claudia Gadelha vs. Nina Ansaroff
The #3 ranked Claudia Gadelha will take a step down at UFC 231 in a battle with #11 ranked Nina Ansaroff to get the main event started.
Best odds for Claudia Gadelha vs. Nina Ansaroff:
Fresh off a win against Carla Esparza, former title challenger Claudia Gadelha will now attempt to make it two wins in a row. Gadelha is an impressive high-pace fighter with excellent wrestling ability. She was also very close to defeating Joanna Jedrzejczyk to become the UFC women’s strawweight champion on two occasions. A win here would surely put her next in line to face the winner of Rose Namajunas vs. Jessica Andrade.
Nina Ansaroff is now on a three-fight winning streak and hasn’t experienced defeat in the last two years. Most recently, she’s coming off big wins against Angela Hill and Randa Markos and will inevitably rise the rankings if she manages a win this weekend.
Gadelha takes plenty of damage in her fights, and it’s a question of whether she can withstand the striking for Ansaroff. If Gadelha can come out and secure big takedowns and maintain top control, it should be a comfortable night.
Bet on Claudia Gadelha to win: -310 (Bovada)
UFC 231 fight card
UFC 231 begins on UFC Fight Pass from 6:30 pm ET (10:30 pm GMT) on Saturday, December 8.
UFC 231 Pay-Per-View Main Card (10:00 pm ET / 2:00 am GMT)
- Max Holloway vs. Brian Ortega
- Valentina Shevchenko vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
- Alex Oliveira vs. Gunnar Nelson
- Hakeem Dawodu vs. Kyle Bochniak
- Jimi Manuwa vs. Thiago Santos
- Claudia Gadelha vs. Nina Ansaroff
FS1 Prelims (8:00 pm ET / 12:00 am GMT)
- Katlyn Chookagian vs. Jessica Eye
- Elias Theodorou vs. Eryk Anders
- Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Gilbert Burns
- Devin Clark vs. Aleksandar Rakic
UFC Fight Pass Early Prelims (6:30 pm ET / 10:30 pm GMT)
- Brad Katona vs. Matthew Lopez
- Chad Laprise vs. Dhiego Lima
- Carlos Diego Ferreira vs. Jesse Ronson