The two most violent men in MMA will face off for the second time when Dustin Poirier goes to war with Justin Gaethje at UFC 291.
A loaded 12-fight, fight card will include plenty of finishes as the fights will occur at elevation in Salt Lake City, Utah.
This is an important distinction, as frequent readers have recently noticed a betting trend for betting decisions.
That will not be the case at UFC 291.
Fighters constantly get exhausted when fighting at elevation so any of your favorites with cardio issues – buyer beware.
Last week we were 3-1. The good times keep rolling, profiting from each of the last six UFC cards.
Below we break down our best bets and picks for UFC 291, with early prelims starting at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, regular prelims at 8 p.m. on ABC and ESPN with the main card on PPV at 10 p.m.
UFC 291 predictions
Dustin Poirier vs. Justin Gaethje
Lafayette, LA’s Dustin Poirier steps into the octagon for the second time opposite Justin Gaethje.
Gaethje is truly a wild man.
This guy will take unbelievable amounts of punishment while delivering even more to carry himself to victories in the octagon.
Rewatching their first fight, Gaethje was a sizeable favorite but lost by TKO in the fourth round.
He also lost the first and second rounds on my scorecard.
Gaethje loves those leg kicks but drops his hands oftentimes when he lands them.
Poirier can and will make you pay for dropping your hands.
While Gaethje is an intriguing underdog, Poirier is the only choice at -145 and should be counted on to get a violent victory on Saturday.
Jan Blachowicz vs. Alex Pereira
The odds have officially flipped this fight as Jan Blachowicz faces former middleweight champion Alex Pereira in a light heavyweight fight.
Pereira looks wonderful in training and won’t look oversized in the octagon.
Where we worry for Pereira is on the ground, a place that Blachowicz is unafraid of going.
Typically, Blachowicz isn’t afraid of taking things to the mat.
When a fighter opens at -160 and closes at +120, I get a serious pause about fading him.
Oddsmakers are right more often than they are wrong, a data study I did a few years back.
A small play here on Blachowicz by submission +550 (BetRivers); is fine, but Blachowicz didn’t submit Adesanya despite taking him to the mat several times.
Pereira is a more powerful striker than Adesanya, and Blachowicz is now 40 years old.
Eventually father time will win out, especially in MMA.
Pereira by KO/TKO +170 is the pick, but boy, did you miss out on this line last week.
Michel Pereira vs. Stephen Thompson
Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson has given a handful of UFC fighters the “y’all must have forgot,” treatment. Can he do it again on Saturday?
I’m not so sure that’s the case, as Michel Pereira has shown off some impressive striking recently and, importantly, some patience of late.
Pereira was billed as an action-packed, wild fighter that was simply kill or be killed.
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Since then, he has shown off some impressive patience, striking, and even grappling chops that lead me to believe this could be a solid matchup for him.
If you can back Thompson up against the fence, you should be able to cage grappler or use your power to carry you to victory.
At an underdog price, Pereira (+130, BetMGM) is the play for this weekend’s underdog pick.
UFC 291 picks
- Michel Pereira ML +130 (BetMGM)
UFC 291 parlay
Roman Kopylov wins in round 3 +1000 + C.J. Vergara wins in round 3 +1200
Mega long shot here, betting the trend that poor cardio fighters will quit in round three thanks to the elevation.
If that were to happen here, you’re getting paid handsomely at 142/1, a massive long shot but it makes sense when you see Claudio Ribiero go all out for a finish of Kopylov.
But we saw Kopylov has solid striking when pushed in round three by Albert Duraev.
This is worth a small shot here as these are two fighters I identified with poor cardio that could be taken advantage of at elevation, but feel free to watch your own tape and see if there are other fade-able fighters with poor cardio.
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