Fight fans can finally rejoice as UFC 290 has arrived. The past few months of UFC cards have honestly been lackluster but 290 seems poised to end the drought and remind the combat sports world why the UFC is the premier organization in the world. There are so many good fights to go over I will try to do a rapid fire analysis for the sake of everyone's time and my own fleeting sanity. As always, I source the odds from Draftkings and I will start top to bottom with the main card and occasionally skip around thereafter so that I can stay relevant with the fights I'm most invested in and familiar with. Thank you for reading and all your support.
ALEXANDER VOLKANOVSKI VS YAIR RODRIGUEZ
One day Volkanovski will lose the title, that day will not be tonight. Volk is the -380 Draftkings favorite to Yair's +290 underdog status and I see no reasonable path to Yair winning this other than a headkick KO potentially. While anything can happen in MMA, this is statistically unlikely to me to occur in this match up. Much has been made of Yair's ground game coming off his submission victory over Josh Emmett for the interim belt but that was a freak occurrence I feel. Yair has traditionally struggled with grapplers and his own grappling is not a prominent facet of his fight style. If he chooses to grapple with Volk he won't find success, Volk has faced much more danger from submissions from more credentialed and experienced grapplers such as Brian Ortega, if Volk can survive Ortega's maddening grip and pressure Yair is not in the same sphere. Yair's best chance is on the feet with his kicks, especially the high kick I alluded to earlier. Volk was susceptible to this kick in his fights with Max Holloway but if I can identify this weakness from my mom's basement I'm sure Volk's elite coaches and team definitely are aware and planning accordingly. Don't overthink this, Volk will continue the dominance.
BRANDON MORENO VS ALEXANDRE PANTOJA
I struggle with Moreno as the -190 favorite to Pantoja's +160 dog status. I like both men and think they are both the best in their division, evidenced by Moreno as champ and Pantoja as challenger. What leaves me a bit confused is Moreno and Pantoja have already fought twice before, once on the Ultimate Fighter in 2016 when Pantoja beat Moreno by submission and again in 2018 when Pantoja beat Moreno by unanimous decision. Critics will say Moreno has improved tremendously since then and that I don't disagree with, but I offer you this, could you not say Pantoja has also had the same amount of time to improve and clearly demonstrated that but making his way to a title shot? Adesanya just proved against Pereira you can eventually beat a guy who has the ups on you but I chalk that up to Pereira having a very minimal amount of MMA experience, something Pantoja has plenty of. Close and competitive fight but I'll take Pantoja as the underdog.
ROBERT WHITTAKER VS DRICUS DU PLESSIS
I'm a Dricus truther, even a stan if you will, I think he gets dismantled by Robert and offers nothing however. I think Dricus will be better with his nasal surgery to correct severe breathing issues he previously fought with but this is not enough to overcome the well rounded game of Robert and the experience Robert brings. Dricus would breathe fresh life into an honestly stale 185 pound division dominated by Adesanya and Robert but tonight Robert will continue to dismantle challengers and guard the throne as the second best guy in that division. Robert is a -355 favorite while Dricus is +275. Go with Robert and see the experience difference tonight.
JALIN TURNER VS DAN HOOKER
This fight is a lot closer to me than odds suggest. I'm taking Hooker as the +245 underdog to Turner's -295 status. If odds were closer I'd take Jalin but honestly it's a bit criminal to have Hooker that much of a dog. I get his past few fights have not went his way but his losses have been to elite fighters like Dustin Poirier, Michael Chandler, Islam Makhachev, and Arnold Allen at a lower weight of 145 where Hooker had no business trying to go back down to when 155's weight cut is already brutal for him. Hooker has held off promising prospects before and Turner is no different to me. I'm taking Hooker at those odds.
BO NICKAL VS VAL WOODBURN
I love Bo, I love lamp, I think Bo is great for the sport, I can say a lot of great things about Bo but I can't say a lot of great things about this match up on short notice for both men as Bo's original opponent Tresean Gore withdrew with an injury earlier this week. You won't believe the odds on this so look it up for yourself to experience the Bo Nickal show for yourself. As Ben pointed out on the podcast earlier, Bo is inevitable. Bo by first round submission enough said.
ROBBIE LAWLER VS NIKO PRICE
Lawler at +185 is good value to me. This is Lawler's last fight and I think this is the best opponent the UFC could give him to make for a fun and competitive fight to end Robbie's career as he goes into retirement. This is also one of the most winnable fights for Robbie without almost being sanctioned murder like the Bo fight I just discussed, at least the UFC tried to do Robbie a solid without it being a bit over the top. Robbie is a brawler and so is Price, but Robbie has the experience and tenacity to outlast Price in what should be a bloodbath.
THE RECORD IS STILL TANKING
The last card I covered was the Emmett VS Topuria affair in which the only fight I was correct on was the Emmett VS Topuria fight itself. Topuria was never in any danger and dominated Emmett start to finish like I anticipated. I was wrong on Maycee Barber who surprised me, Randy Brown who I thought would lose, Ricci who gave me what for, and Brendan Allen told me his chin had improved and I could go kick rocks. My record desperately needs a boost as I stand at an embarrassing 2-8 correct/incorrect prediction rate as I continue on this path making content. Thank you as always for reading and all the support, until next card fight fans.