UFC 262 looks like an exciting card and I think there are some good betting opportunities. Here are my main card picks from a betting perspective.
Shane Burgos vs. Edson Barboza
I feel Edson Barboza has looked better since dropping to the featherweight division. It sounds like he was eating excessively to keep the weight on at lightweight, which might explain why he used to slow down in fights.
Coming from a background in Muay Thai, Barboza is arguably the best kicker in the UFC. He should target low kicks early and often in this match-up, because his opponent does lean heavily on his lead leg.
Barboza hasn’t fared well against pressure fighters in his career, but it looks like he’s taken measures to correct this. His boxing has looked sharper in recent fights and he managed to drop both Dan Ige and Makwan Amirkhani with his right hand.
Shane Burgos will look to move forward and force his kick-centric opponent to fight on the back foot.
While not a huge puncher, Burgos usually melts fighters with pressure and output until they break – and I guess that will be the game plan here.
Burgos fights with his hands low and leaves his chin way out there, baiting you to try and hit him so that he can slip and return with his own combinations.
This has worked pretty well against a certain level of competition, but I feel that he’s a knockout loss waiting to happen if he doesn’t correct those tendencies.
You simply can’t throw caution to the wind defensively against a power puncher like Josh Emmett, and it’s a miracle he was able to survive multiple nuclear bombs to his chin in the third round.
I could see this going either way, but I feel Edson Barboza’s defensive awareness and more varied weapons will win him the contest.
Katlyn Chookagian vs. Viviane Araujo
While her style isn’t the most thrilling for the fans, Katlyn Chookagian is looking to play it safe, cash checks and not have brain damage in later life – so you can’t really flaw her for that!
Chookagian moves light on her feet and likes to throw the jab, 1-2 and front kicks at range. Her defense is reliant on distance control, which makes her hittable when you’re able to work your way inside against her.
A brown belt under Renzo Gracie, Chookagian is difficult to control on bottom position and savvy on top. However, she lacks physicality and wrestling ability – which can be problematic when she wants to get the fight to the mat on her terms (unless she’s facing an opponent with no takedown defense like Antonina Shevchenko).
Viviane Araujo utilizes plenty of footwork and upper body movement, which should be useful against a much taller opponent that likes to fight behind the jab. I expect Araujo to target the lead leg of her opponent, as well as slip the jab and land hard hooks to the body.
Although Araujo looks underwhelming on bottom position, I can’t see a situation where she winds up there (unless she hits her own takedowns and gets swept).
I feel that Araujo is the far better wrestler in this contest. We saw her hit two reactive double legs on Roxanne Modaferri as well as pass her guard, and she’s mentioned that she’s been working on her wrestling for this fight specifically.
The biggest problem for Araujo is her cardio. We’ve seen her slow down in the second half of fights and this could be a major issue against an opponent who won’t stop throwing volume for fifteen minutes.
I feel this will be a competitive bout and the line that stands out to me is Viviane Araujo to win by decision at +215.
Tony Ferguson vs. Beneil Dariush
A whirlwind of destruction, Tony Ferguson is one of the most fan-friendly athletes in the UFC.
Known for marching forward and putting pressure on his opponents, “El Cucuy” will attack with all eight limbs and force them into grappling exchanges where he can capitalize with a slick back take or opportunistic D’Arce choke.
Creating pandemonium is the name of the game for Ferguson and he sets the kind of pace that few combatants can keep up with.
That said, Ferguson has always had major defensive liabilities in his game and at 37-years-of-age, they’re becoming more apparent than ever.
He got counter-punched into oblivion by Justin Gaethje and taken down and dominated by Charles Oliveira in his most recent outing.
I feel that Beneil Dariush is the more fundamentally sound grappler and has the tools to replicate Charles Oliveira’s game plan. In fact, we saw him execute a similar strategy against Diego Ferreira, who is a third degree BJJ black belt.
I don’t think Dariush is out of his depth on the feet either. From the southpaw stance, he counters well with the left hand and throws a hard body kick.
To his detriment, Dariush is hittable and will certainly be at a cardio disadvantage. I’m inclined to believe that he’ll be able to secure top control consistently, but if he’s not then he runs the risk of getting drowned in the second half of the fight.
I think we’re looking at one fighter peaking and another on a hard decline, so I have to pick Beneil Dariush to get the victory this weekend.
Charles Oliveira vs. Michael Chandler
As someone who bet on Dan Hooker, I’d love nothing more than to tell you Michael Chandler won with a lucky punch, but that wasn’t the case. Chandler programmed him to expect the right overhand, feinted to back him up to the fence and then nuked him with a left hand that he didn’t see coming.
It was magnificent to watch, even if I did lose money on it!
While Chandler isn’t the most dynamic striker, he has many creative paths in order to connect his power shots to your chin – and one punch is all it takes.
At 35-years-of-age, Chandler has been in some wars and I’ve seen him get rocked in multiple fights as well as knocked unconscious by Patricio “Pitbull” Freire.
I feel that he’ll be susceptible to low kicks here and potentially a knee down the middle, since he steps in with all of his attacks.
Charles Oliveira is a traditional Muay Thai stylist with an array of strikes in his arsenal, including low kicks, body kicks and clean combinations down the pipe.
He fights with a very upright stance and minimal head movement, which is a terrible trait to have against a power puncher like Chandler.
That said, Oliveira won’t stop moving forward and if he doesn’t get knocked unconscious, I think he has a good chance of getting ahead on the numbers with his more dynamic range of attacks.
Oliveira is a highly skilled BJJ black belt, which helps him to get loose with his striking because he doesn’t care if he gets taken down.
I can’t see the Brazilian hitting takedowns on a stout wrestler like Chandler (early in the fight at least), but I could see a scenario where he threatens with a leg lock and uses the opportunity to jump on top – where he is a nightmare to deal with.
The first couple of rounds will be scary, but I think Charles Oliveira’s more well-rounded skill set will carry him to victory.