The UFC makes another appearance on fight island this weekend with one of the biggest cards of the year. In the main event of the evening, lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov faces interim champion Justin Gaethje in one of the most exciting bouts of the year. The card is stacked from head to toe, with many of the bouts being fascinating stylistic matchups between quality fighters. On a night, or day for those in the USA, with GOAT debate repercussions, here are some UFC 254 betting tips to help you win big this weekend.
UFC 254 Betting Tips
Robert Whittaker (-105) to win
In the co-headliner, Robert Whittaker (21-5) takes on Jared Cannonier (13-4) in a middleweight title eliminator.
Jared Cannonier has fast become one of the most fearsome names in the middleweight division. After lukewarm stints at heavyweight and light-heavyweight, Cannonier has made middleweight his home with three straight TKO wins over the elite of the division. “The Killa Gorilla” carries frightening power, with nine of his thirteen career wins coming by way of knockout. Considering the damage that Whittaker has suffered in his last few bouts Cannonier will be confident that if he can catch the Aussie on the button, he can put him to sleep.
However, that will be easier said than done against one of the greatest middleweights in UFC history. Whittaker bounced back from a brutal knockout loss to Israel Adesanya with a decision victory over Darren Till and will be hoping to build a streak against Cannonier. Adesanya has backed Cannonier to finish Whittaker with relative ease, which will certainly give “Bobby Knuckles” the chip on his shoulder he needs to perform to his best this weekend.
Stylistically, this is nothing that Whittaker hasn’t seen before. Whittaker went ten rounds with Yoel Romero without being robbed of consciousness, an impressive feat for any man. “The Reaper” has an excellent striking game. If Whittaker is able to utilise his jab effectively to keep Cannonier at distance he should be able to set up his left hook or head-kicks to truly rock his opponent. Whittaker has shown that he still has a chin, absorbing a huge elbow against Till before coming back to win the fight. All things considered, Whittaker is excellent value and is a solid first inclusion on these UFC 254 betting tips.
2) Nathaniel Wood (+165) to win
Nathaniel Wood (17-4) is one of the most promising British prospects in MMA today. For a full breakdown of Wood’s meteoric rise, click here. However, he has his work cut out for him when he fights the surging Casey Kenney (15-2-1).
Credit where it’s due, this is very exciting matchmaking from the UFC. Kenney is an excellent defensive wrestler but also possesses the ability to press the grappling action against his opponent. Kenney has a strong long jab and will be best served to attempt to press the action against Wood before his opponent finds his flow.
What makes this matchup so fascinating is how both fighters are so well-rounded. Nathaniel wood came into the UFC with a lot of hype, and this reputation came well deserved. In his last octagon outing, Wood bounced back from his maiden UFC loss with perhaps his best showing in the organisation. Wood absolutely demolished the tough John Castaneda, showing off many of the tools that he possesses on the feet. Wood’s leg kicks are nasty and have disabled many of his previous opponents. Alongside this, Wood presents a genuine submission threat. His first three wins in the UFC all came by way of submission.
Wood has proven in so many of his bouts that he can take a beating and still make miraculous comebacks. Even after being caught clean by John Dodson, known for his finishing power, Wood seemed to be making a very quick recovery before the stoppage was called. As an underdog, backing Wood is certainly a good choice for UFC 254. Wood has faced a higher quality of opposition than Kenney, and it seems that he is continuing to learn and grow at an impressive rate.
3) Ion Cutelaba (+260) to win
If at first you fail, try, try, and try again. This has been the UFC’s approach to booking Ion Cutelaba (15-5) vs. Magomed Ankalaev (13-1).
Ankalaev somewhat controversially knocked out Cutelaba when they first met in February 2020. The fight was called off as Cutelaba appeared to be out on his feet, but “the Hulk” claims that he was in fact just pretending to be hurt for… undisclosed reasons. Although Ankalaev is an excellent striker with the superior grappling, as a fairly significant underdog Cutelaba carries some value this weekend. He certainly has the potential to catch the Russian and knock him out swiftly. Cutelaba will look to apply serious pressure early in the bout, ensuring to stay in the pocket. Ankalaev has only lost once, to perhaps the most insane hail mary moment in UFC history when Paul Craig submitted him with a last-second triangle, and wild-man Cutelaba might be the perfect man to inflict a second freak occurrence onto the Dagestani.
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