We are just under two weeks away from the light heavyweight title fight between Jon Jones and Dominick Reyes at UFC 247. Jones – who is a -500 favorite according to OddShark – is expected by many to defend his belt for the third time on this current run. Reyes (+350) may be undefeated, but with a close split decision win over Volkan Oezdemir and a knockout against a far post-peak Weidman being his biggest victories, the odds simply seem insurmountable. Still, its very rare to have an undefeated fighter as a (+350) dog. Has Reyes already reached his ceiling or is there room to grow? We simply never know in MMA. While I wouldn’t bet anything substantial, throwing 10 bucks on Reyes is honestly a can’t lose situation.
The card will also feature another title fight between Valentina Shevchenko (-600) and Katlyn Chookagian, who is a +400 underdog. Again, lines like this are always worth a “why not” consideration, but I see even less of a chance of this happening than Jones defeating Reyes. Shevchenko should have little issue with this one.
As for the rest of the card, I’d be lying if I said it was a stacked card, but there are still some interesting bouts. One fight I was thinking of betting on – a Bantamweight bout between Jimmie Rivera and Marlon Vera – was cancelled due to an injury to Rivera. This bout had ‘Fight of the Night’ potential written all over it and the cancellation is unfortunate. It had a solid line either way as well.
While that certianly sucks, another interesting gambit is a Derrick Lewis knockout victory. Lewis is coming off a victory at UFC 244 and will be matched up against Illir Latiffi, who is making his heavyweight debut. Latifi was KO’d by Volkan Oezdemir his last go around, which is not very promising given the power Lewis possesses. Latifi may be in over his head here and his take-down heavy style will be tough to implement against Lewis. I don’t have enough faith in this one to officially pick it, but it is intriguing nonetheless.
That said, here are my two free UFC 247 picks after going 2-2 with 246.
Juan Adams (-210) vs. Justin Tafa (+170)
This heavyweight bout features two relative UFC newcomers who are both coming off losses. Tafa was KO’d by Jorgan De Castro in the first round of his UFC debut at UFC 243 while Adams is riding a two fight losing skid and was most recently knocked out by Greg Hardy. The stakes are relatively high for both fighters as each man looks to get back into the win column.
Adams works off of a very accurate jab that he throws with relentless volume over the course of a fight. It doesn’t do a whole lot of damage, but Adams has shown an ability to consistently land strikes even in the later rounds of his fights. Adams also has plenty of collegiate wrestling experience and holds physical advantages over Tafa.
Typically, Adams has started off his UFC fights with relentless action in the first round. After that he more or less fades, but he has shown improvement in his cardio every time out.
His losses are also worth examining. Adams lost a controversial decision to Arjen Bhullar in Bhullar’s home country of Canada. Adams nearly doubled Bhullar in significant strikes total and had more in every single round. Bhullar did land two take-downs and had 4:55 of control, but he struggled to do much of anything with his positioning, as evidenced by the striking numbers. After the stinging Bhullar loss, Adams went into his fight with Greg Hardy filled with emotion. It was clear that the “I’m gonna be the guy to end Hardy” hype got to his head and the result was a sloppy take-down attempt and subsequent KO. Adams then threw his mouthpiece out of the octagon and stormed off in protest of the stoppage.
Headed into this fight, Adams has spoken about how he regrets his behavior that night and says that he is locked in mentally. Heart and stakes of the fight are two unique, powerful factors in MMA betting and in the case of Adams, the fight stakes are very high. He needs to put on a good performance here or he risks release.
As for Tafa, he was knocked out cold after leaning into a strike courtesy of Jorgan De Castro, who is set to face Hardy himself in March. Tafa throws some absolute bombs that use every bit of power human hips could generate and looks like a dollar store Mark Hunt. However, Tafa is simply too predictable striking wise and Adams should be able to withstand some bombs he knows to look out for. It’s tough to see Tafa bullying Adams on the ground either, considering a poor defensive grappling game for Tafa.
Adams should have the edge on the ground or in the clinch and should be able to squeeze Tafa to a boring decision if worst comes to worst. Of course anything is possible in MMA, but Tafa seems to only have one path to victory here and that’s a flush, overhand knockout. It’s just tough to see Adams – the more experienced fighter – not take advantage of this UFC 247 match-up.
At (-210) and trending up, the line could be be a bit more profitable, but it is still decent for how confident I am in this pick. Adams was consistently improving cardio wise and we have no way of knowing how much better it could be since the Hardy fight ended the way that it did. With so many months of training between now and the Bhullar fight, Adams is almost certainly ready to roll.
I’m betting the moneyline, but if I had to guess on a specific outcome I’d say Adams by decision.
Prediction: Juan Adams (moneyline)
Dan Ige (+115) vs. Misrad Bektic (-135)
Following the cancellation of Rivera vs. Vera, Ige vs. Bektic is my prediction for ‘Fight of the Night’ at UFC 247. This is a bout between two featherweights who have proven they belong in the UFC and are now looking to take things to the next level.
Ige is riding a four fight win streak following a UFC debut loss to Julio Arce. He showed lots of poise in a gritty, unanimous decision win over Kevin Aguilar last June. The fight was razor close until Ige took control in the third round and finished as strong as he possibly could down the stretch. Before that, he secured a submission against Danny Henry in the first round and earned a ‘Performance of the Night’ bonus.
As for Bektic, the Bosnian born featherweight is looking to get back into the win column following a knockout loss to Josh Emmett in the first round. The fight took place in Emmett’s hometown of Sacremento, which made the fight quite the challenge for Bektic. Prior to that, Bektic was rolling following a ‘Performance of the Night’ TKO over Godofredo Pepey and a split-decision win over former #1 contender Ricardo Llamas.
This bout will feature two very evenly matched fighters who both like to control the center of the octagon. Those types of fights are always a treat to watch and this one should be no different.
While I could see this one going either way, it’s tough for me not to see Ige edging out the victory over the 14th ranked Bektic. A BJJ black-belt and Khabib training partner, Ige has the grappling edge. Though Bektic has thus far demonstrated perfect take-down defense, Ige shoots with great efficiency and if he can manage to get the fight to the ground proper, Bektic will be in trouble. Ige has shown insane transition ability as well as submission defense, so it’s hard to see Ige getting out-grappled in this one, at least not the way some are making it out to be.
While Bektic possesses the physical attributes to out wrestle Ige, he has never faced a wrestler of Ige’s level (at least not in their prime)/
Ige also throws a higher volume than Bektic and as stated before, he has shown he can dog out tough fights. Ige’s fight against Danny Henry featured another inspired and decisive third round stretch run by Ige.
While Bektic is a very good fighter, it’s tough to see how his resume makes him the favorite. Llamas was 36 years old when Bektic beat him by split decision and we never know how fighters are going to be coming off a knockout; especially a knockout as devastating as the one Bektic suffered. It was only a jab that knocked him down and he can expect the same amount of balance-altering pressure from Ige.
Eventually, Ige will either be able to get a take-down against Bektic or slightly edge him out on points. If he can avoid getting caught, most factors favor Ige here.
This one will be close, but Dan Ige straight up is my second UFC 247 fight prediction.