Complete UFC 236 Betting Preview, Odds, Tips and Best Bets
On Saturday evening, the UFC returns to Atlanta, Georgia for the first time in three years with UFC 226, and this time, it’s bringing two title fights with it.
In the main event, UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway is moving up to 155 pounds to challenge for an interim lightweight title against surging contender Dustin Poirier, a man who beat him once before at featherweight.
In the co-main event, one of the UFC’s fastest rising stars, Israel Adesanya, gets his first shot at UFC gold when he takes on The Ultimate Fighter 17 winner, Kelvin Gastelum. It’s two fight-of-the-year contenders in the ATL with two very live underdogs for UFC betting fans to consider, so let’s get to it.
Max Holloway vs. Dustin Poirier Odds & Tips UFC 236
What is there to say about Max Holloway that hasn’t already been said? At only 27 years old, Holloway is already making his case for the title of best featherweight of all time with two dominant wins over Jose Aldo in 2017.
Now, Holloway has his sights set on the title of best pound-for-pound fighter and is moving up to 155 pounds to become only the fourth double champion in UFC history.
Holloway’s game is all about pressure and pace. He sets one of the highest paces in the featherweight division, throwing about 15 strikes per minute and burying opponents under his relentless volume.
Even when a fighter can get the better of him early on, as Aldo did in both of their fights, few are able to stay blow for blow with Holloway as the fight drags into the third, fourth and fifth rounds.
In many respects, Poirier is similar. “The Diamond” also works at a high rate, with combination striking. Where the two differ though is that while Max has power and can hurt opponents, his finishes usually come as a result of accumulated damage.
Poirier, in contrast, is one of the single hardest blow-for-blow punchers in the lightweight division. He does not need to land many strikes to hurt an opponent as his litany of UFC wins shows. Poirier also is a more willing grappler than Holloway.
Holloway-Poirer Best Bets
Holloway is currently a healthy favorite at -225 with the comeback on Poirier at +180 with 888Sport, and those odds present an excellent gambling opportunity.
It’s easy to see why Max is the favorite coming in: He’s unbeaten in his last 13 fights and has looked dominant during that stretch, but this fight should be seen as a coin-flip, or something close to it; -225 implies Max will win this fight 69% of the time and that means there is a ton of value to mine on Poirier.
Though Max is a huge featherweight, he will still be the smaller man on Saturday and he’s never fought someone with the raw power Poirier brings to the cage, save, perhaps, Conor McGregor, and Holloway’s style affords opponents ample opportunity to hit him.
Add in Poiriers willingness to mix things up with wrestling, and Holloway’s possible lingering medical issues and I believe “The Diamond” should be slightly favored in the bout, so getting him as an underdog is great.
On top of the straight bet on Poirier, there are a number of props that could be included, or bet instead. In their first fight, Poirier handed max his only stoppage loss, a triangle-armbar and another finish is very possible here, so Poirier by Finish at +225 with 888Sport is some nice added value you can pursue.
Also, for the risk averse, Holloway by KO/TKO at +110 with Karamba offers you a nice hedging opportunity against a Poirier bet. Finally, considering the pace, volume, and finishing abilities of both men, the odds of this fight lasting all five rounds are pretty low. Fight Does Not Go the Distance at -265 with Betfair is solid parlay material.
Kelvin Gastelum vs. Israel Adesanya Odds & Tips UFC 236
In the co-main event, Kelvin Gastelum finally gets his crack at UFC gold. The former welterweight contender was forced up to middleweight after repeatedly failing to make the 170-pound limit and the change has been great for him.
Since moving up, Gastelum has amassed a 3-1 record with 1 No Contest (a KO win over Vitor Belfort that was overturned due to a positive marijuana test). Like Holloway, Gastelum’s game is built around pressure and pace, perhaps even more so.
Gastelum specializes in crowding his opponents against the fence where he can fire big left hands and get in on the legs for takedowns. Gastelum’s best weapon is his left hand which has enough pop to knockdown nearly everyone in the division and he sets up with the threat of takedowns.
Adesanya is the latest phenom to enter into the upper echelon of MMA. A decorated kickboxer, Adesanya made his UFC debut last year and has racked up five wins and four performance bonuses already.
It’s fair to say that Adesanya is the best pure striker in MMA currently, with the ability to do everything and then some, including some truly sublime bits of flashy attacking. The biggest question for him in this fight is how does he handle the pressure wrestling of Gastelum?
Gastelum- Adesanya Best Bets
Oddsmakers have installed Adesanya as the favorite at -190 with the comeback on Gastelum at +155 with 888Sport, and like the main event, those odds make sense but are off. Though Adesanya has a lot of physical tools in his favor in this fight -- he’s taller, longer, and the better athlete -- Gastelum presents arguably his toughest challenge in the division.
Though talk of Adesanya getting “an easy road” so far in the UFC is over blown, he has faced mostly stylistically advantageous opposition. Marvin Vettori is basically a worse version of Gastelum and gave Adesanya a ton of trouble by pressuring constantly and that fight was one year ago.
Has Adesanya improved enough since then to mitigate that? Possibly, but it seems more likely that Gastelum will be able to keep “The Last Stylebender” out of his comfort zone for long stretches of the fight.
Add in the fact that Adesanya has had a ferocious fight schedule -- this will be his sixth fight in 14 months - and things are lining up for Gastelum to once again play spoiler.
Gastelum straight at +155 with 888Sport has value but there are a number of interesting prop bets available for this fight as well.
Firstly, Fight Goes the Distance at +130 with Karamba is possibly the surest bet on the card. Either way this goes, a finish is unlikely. Gastelum is super durable and Adesanya isn’t likely to be starched by a Gastelum left hand so even though it’s five rounds, I strongly suspect we’ll hear the final bell.
Along those lines, Gastelum by Decision is a whopping +700 with 888Sport and that seems insane. Gastelum’s most likely path to victory is a grinding, wrestling based win, so everyone should feel good taking a shot on long odds like that.
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