Ladies and gentlemen, international fight week is well under way and the culmination of such will be the epic pay-per-view event this Saturday of UFC 290 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The main event will see Alexander Volkanovski take on the gritty Yair Rodriguez in a match slated to unify the UFC Featherweight Championships. Here are the best bets for Saturday night.
Best Bets: UFC 290
Cameron Saaiman vs Terrence Mitchell
In the featured bantamweight scrap of the early prelims, Cameron Saaiman is set to meet with Terrence Mitchell. South Africa’s Saaiman will enter the bout as a heavy favorite. The undefeated 22-year-old is 8-0 professionally, 2-0 in the UFC, and found a win in Dana White’s Contender Series over Josh Wang-Kim. With solid punching power and respectable grappling, Saaiman has six finishes.
With Christian Rodriguez pulling from the card, Terrence Mitchell steps up to fill the gap. Mitchell is on a four-fight win streak, competing in Alaska’s regional scene. Mitchell has not seen a professional loss since 2010, but did lose a hard-to-watch fight against Kai Kara-France in The Ultimate Fighter 24.
The odds in this fight make it hard to place any green on the moneyline, so maybe this fight will be a good toss into a parlay. In any case, we will take the prop bet here.
Fight Pick: Cameron Saaiman via Unanimous Decision
Tatsuro Taira vs Edgar Chairez
In another fight plagued by heavy-favorite odds, a catchweight bout will close out the early prelims. Tatsuro Taira enters the fight 13-0 as a professional and is 22-0 across his amateur and pro career combined. Japan’s Taira is 3-0 in the UFC, finding finishes in his last two fights.
Edgar Chairez gets the call to make his UFC debut in this fight. At 10-4, the 27-year-old enjoys a two-fight win streak. Chairez has been finished three times with all of those losses coming by way of tap. Taira has seven submission wins to his name, so expect this one to end in a similar manner.
Fight Pick: Tatsuro Taira via Round 2 Submission
Jack Della Maddalena vs Josiah Harrell
Moving to the preliminary card, the #14 ranked welterweight Jack Della Maddalena will face. . . a man who has no profile picture on the UFC website. If this fact alone does not scream heavy money on Della Maddalena, who knows what does. Australia’s rising star is 14-2 professionally with his first two fights being his only career losses. Blazing his way to 4-0 in his short time with the UFC, Della Maddalena has found finishes in all four of those encounters.
Josiah Harrell, the man with no face, covers for Sean Brady in this fight after Brady cited an injury. Harrell is 7-0 as is a former Ohio Combat League champion. The 24-year-old has never seen the judges’ scorecards and picked up a win in the LFA in his last fight.
Harrell does sound formidable on paper, but Della Maddalena is not one, not two, but three or four leaps ahead in competition over his previous seven opponents. Do not over think this one. Della Maddalena is the guy to pick.
Fight Pick: Jack Della Maddalena via TKO/KO
Robbie Lawler vs Niko Price
Lawler enters the bout as a moderate underdog as many cite his age and recent losses to justify the moneyline. Price, who has not been impressive, is 1-3 in his last five with a no-contest. Price is as tough as they come but is wild and does like to enter range with his guard down. Everything in my heart wants to see “Ruthless” leave out on top, so that will be the heart-felt pick of the week.
Fight Pick: Robbie Lawler Moneyline
Robert Whittaker vs Dricus Du Plessis
A battle of top-ranked middlewieghts is set to go down on the PPV card. Robert Whittaker, who has not lost to a man named “Israel Adesanya” since 2014, is one of the greatest 185ers to ever do it. Whittaker has pinned victories over Marvin Vettori, Kelvin Gastelum, and Jared Cannonier in his last four, with his only loss being to “Stylebender”.
Dricus Du Plessis, who is ranked #5 in the division, does have some wins over respectable names like Darren Till and Derek Brunson. These wins would mean a little bit more if the 29-year-old was not facing a reeling Till and an aging Brunson.
This fight will show just how adept Du Plessis is, but the “Reaper” will certainly not fall. Whittaker’s experience, grit, and incredibly tough striking will prove to be more than what Du Plessis can handle.
Fight Pick: Robert Whittaker Moneyline
Brandon Moreno vs Alexandre Pantoja
In a bout that has seemingly garnered little attention, the UFC flyweight title will be up for grabs. Brandon Moreno has burst into stardom over the past few years, due mainly impart to his four-fight rivalry with Deiveson Figueiredo. Now atop the division, he will do battle with Alexandre Pantoja—a man he has fallen to twice.
Pantoja defeated Moreno in 2016 in the TUF 24 Season in an exhibition fight. “The Cannibal” would square off with the “Assassin Baby” once more in 2018 in a fight that he would win by unanimous decision. Since that fight, Pantoja has fought eight times, losing only to the aforementioned Figueiredo and Askar Askarov.
The flyweight champion certainly has the capability to defeat Pantoja. To win this fight, Moreno will have to overcome the mental aspect of fighting a man he has lost to twice. Moreno has proven that he not only has resilience in the Octagon but also the grit to persist in obstacles and overcome setbacks. Moreno will find victory Saturday night.
Fight Pick: Brandon Moreno Moneyline