UFC Predictions: Betting Tips

Here we go! Enter the world of MMA with UFC Predictions courtesy of the Betfair Hub’s expert, Talen Guzman.

With over 20 years’ experience in combat sports, including more than 5 in MMA, Talen Guzman can boast a feel for the athleticism and hard-hitting brutality of the UFC like few can. His content combines meaningful commentary with colour, having written published articles pre-and-post fight for over 10 years.

Get his UFC predictions and betting tips on major pay-per-views throughout the UFC calendar year.

Read fighter profiles, breakdowns and the all-important verdicts for main card fights.

See below for predictions on the next UFC pay-per-view from Talen Guzman – available for free on the Betfair Hub.

UFC 268: USMAN v COVINGTON 2


Kamaru Usman once again faces off with his longtime rival and controversial MMA contender Colby Covington at UFC 258, a rematch to conclude what began in December of 2019.

Nearly two full years ago, Usman, frequently called “Snoozeman” by the outspoken American due to Usman’s former propensity for winning by decision, forced the tune to change when Usman and Covington went to war in the center of the cage for nearly 5 full rounds. With only 50 seconds left in the bout, Usman finally managed to break the durable Covington, eliciting a stoppage and emphatically ending his streak of decisions.

The moniker “Snoozeman” has long been a relic of the past, as Usman has finished 3 of his last 4 opponents, which include removing Jorge Masvidal from consciousness earlier this year and, in his most recent outing, brutalizing Gilbert Burns over 3 rounds. Working closely with a new friend, knockout artist, and UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou, it is clear to see that Usman is hitting his prime as a fighter. With some of the best overall wrestling ability in the division on top of his newfound power and striking prowess, paths to victory against the reigning champion are getting thinner by the year.

Colby Covington, despite the result of their first bout, believes he still has what it takes to snatch the welterweight title. Although less busy inside the cage than his rival Usman, he did return to action in late 2020 against the enigmatic Tyron Woodley, besting him via TKO in the 5th round when Woodley sustained a rib injury.

Covington, a former accomplished collegiate wrestler in his own right, ironically shares a fair number of similarities with his opponent this weekend. Conditioning, work rate, a nearly unbreakable will, and dogged, effective wrestling that can put most any welterweight in MMA on the floor. That said, there is an argument to be made that everything Covington does, Usman does better.

THE VERDICT

I believe that Colby does not know what he is in for in his rematch with Kamaru. I expect action, I expect a war, I expect a lot of bad blood, and I expect Covington to fold even faster than he did last time.

Prediction: Kamaru Usman to win by knockout.

BETTING STRATEGY

BACK — Usman by KO / TKO / DQ at $2.50+

Another rematch warms up the audience before the main event at UFC 258 as Rose Namajunas defends her title against Weili Zhang. The two meet again only five months after their first contest, in which Namajunas landed a crushing head kick that ended the bout just over a minute into the first frame.

While it was one of the most disappointing results for the formerly surging Zhang, it was the emotional and emphatic victory that Namajunas has been chasing since losing her title to Jessica Andrade in 2019. That loss was immediately avenged, but a split decision verdict in Rose’s favor did little to satisfy her.

Undoubtedly one of the best fighters in women’s strawweight history, Rose has seen a slow but consistent rise through the ranks of the UFC as she has developed from quick, wiry grappler to a consistent double threat with accurate, cutting striking capabilities.

At 5’5” (167cm) and only 115lbs (52kg), Namajunas is liable to be bullied a little by more physically imposing opponents. But, that assumes they can even get their hands on the crafty veteran. At this point of her career, Rose is well aware of her strengths and weaknesses and does her best to avoid extended wars of physical attrition.

This strategy serves her well against opponents like Weili Zhang, who is simply a beast of a fighter in the strawweight division. Having displayed shockingly refined and technically sharp striking in a 5 round war with striking queen Joanna Jedrzejczyk, it is apparent that Zhang has more than just physical advantages over the majority of her opponents: she can flat out beat them with just her technique alone.

This bout has all the makings of the war fight fans were expecting the first time around. A physical force with refined striking against a quick, crafty champion who can chop opponents down with a single kick or bleed them dry with a death by a thousand cuts.

THE VERDICT

I expect Rose to do well early, but for Weili to come on later as the pace and intensity of the bout slows Namajunas down. I suspect this one comes down to the wire, and I hope you have your snacks ready before the fight starts because you won’t want to get up from this one.

Prediction: Rose Namajunas by points decision.

BETTING STRATEGY

BACK — Fight to go the distance at $1.91+

The last man to see the best lightweight in MMA history – Khabib Nurmagomedov – in a professional cage match was Justin Gaethje and while he may have been bested by the now-retired lightweight king, he finds himself in a favorable position to get back on track this weekend.

With a stacked resume that grows more impressive by the year, Gaethje has been in the cage with some of the best and most recognizable names in and around the lightweight division. Formerly leaning heavily on insanely heavy hands and NCAA Division I wrestling experience, since being taken under the wing of renowned MMA trainer Trevor Wittman, it is easiest to simply say that Gaethje has evolved.

Now one of the most technically sharp strikers in the division, Justin still possesses his head-rattling knockout power in both hands but now has the offensive technique, defensive savvy, and smooth footwork to complement his other intangible strengths.

The man looking to exploit one of the few flaws Gaethje still has will be Michael Chandler, who is trying to get back to winning ways after a failed title challenge against Charles Oliveira. An exciting contest from the jump, Chandler eventually folded early in the second round, being finished via TKO and sending him back down a few rungs on the lightweight ladder.

Chandler, a longtime Bellator veteran and former champion who contested 23 of his 28 total professional bouts inside the organization, is a powerful striker and dynamic wrestler in his own right and will surely be seeking a finish against Gaethje this weekend. That being said, Chandler is no stranger to adversity and of his six professional losses, four of them came via KO or TKO.

Michael is a fairly tight striker with thudding power in particularly his right hand but as he has advanced in his career, his offensive wrestling has become less of a factor. Not uncommon for aging former wrestlers, Chandler now relies heavily on his striking and power to elicit victory.

That said, there are two major concerns that supporters of Michael Chandler should consider going into this contest with Justin Gaethje.

First, Chandler’s durability has been tested, and failed that test, in the past. While his heart cannot be questioned, his punch resistance can and should be. Second, Chandler throws what is often called a “lazy” right hand in the striking world, meaning that after he throws the right hand, he lets it drop slightly before retracting it back to a defensive position closer to his face. His tendency to let his rear hand linger lower than it should puts him in egregious danger to left hooks – a punch that Justin Gaethje happens to have developed quite well in recent years.

THE VERDICT

With all due respect to Michael Chandler, this is a horrible stylistic match up for him and I believe his path to victory is a lucky KO or bust. The duration of this fight depends entirely on how much punishment Chandler will absorb, because he will be absorbing a lot.

Prediction: Justin Gaethje by knockout in the first round.

BETTING STRATEGY

BACK — Gaethje by KO / TKO / DQ at $2.00+

BACK — Gaethje by KO / TKO in Round 1 at $3.25+

Both Marlon Vera and Frankie Edgar are well known names in the bantamweight division of the UFC and the two now square off in what is likely a classic “crossroads” fight that determines the likelihood of either man ever challenging for a title again.

Vera, to his credit, is coming into this contest off of an unextraordinary unanimous decision win over middle-of-the-road Englishman Davey Grant. Prior to that, Vera went to war in a losing decision effort against the legendary Jose Aldo. It is safe to say that despite his unassuming 17-7 record as a professional, Vera has been quietly amassing an impressive resume littered with former titlists and title challengers.

A historically slow starter, once Vera gets going, he can be quite the fun favorite as an aggressive striker who is unafraid to take one to give one. What he lacks in finesse he makes up for with outstanding durability, strong conditioning, and a willingness to keep charging forward in search of a win, even if he’s losing. From a gambling perspective, it is a quality to know what you will get from a performer on fight night.

Frankie Edgar is a fighter known for being quite a bit more versatile than his counterpart this weekend, but is unfortunately past his prime, as well. A former lightweight world champion with one of the best resumes in UFC history, Edgar is a surefire future UFC Hall of Fame entrant.

However, in 2021, the man once known as “Lil’ Frankie” is racing against the clock. Freshly turned 40, Frankie still has a trove of skill to display even as the mileage piles up on his body. While his durability has taken a bit of a hit in recent years – culminating with a savage KO loss to a flying knee by Cory Sandhagen nine months ago – Edgar still remains one of the more elusive, technically sharp, and dynamic fighters in the division.

Unlike most wrestlers his age, Edgar is unafraid to shoot for takedowns that he sees an opportunity for. Although he tends to utilize his fast feet and even faster hands to flurry his way to points on the scorecards, if the chance is there, Frankie can and will launch into a quick double leg takedown. Even more impressively, Edgar is one of the few modern wrestlers in MMA – especially considering his age – that can still consistently land takedowns without needing a cage to finish them.

While there is no question Vera is progressing and Edgar is regressing, I think the timing of this fight is just a bit off for Marlon. There is something to be said about Edgar’s recent struggles, but considering his amazing resume, there is margin for forgiveness. If this contest were five rounds, it would greatly favor Vera, who likes to build momentum slowly before finally rolling over his opponents later in fights.

THE VERDICT

In a mere three-round contest though, and under the assumption Vera – as usual – will struggle to put together enough consistent offense to win the first round against a fighter of Edgar’s caliber, I very much like Edgar’s chances – and the value it presents – of pulling off a tightly contested decision win.

Prediction: Frankie Edgar by points decision.

BETTING STRATEGY

BACK — Edgar by points decision at $3.6+


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