The UFC returns to the APEX this weekend with a card that while slipping slightly under the radar, features some of the best young talents the promotion has to offer and a main event that is sure to bring fireworks.
All bets featured are available at BetMGM.
In one of the most intriguing possible matchups between contenders in the always exciting 155lbs division, #13 Lightweight Arman Tsarukyan will put his UFC ranking on the line against Spanish prospect Joel Alvarez.
Despite both fighters possessing similar resumes on paper, Tsarukyan enters the fight as a sizeable favourite primarily due to his experience competing in the Octagon with proven UFC-level competition. The Armenian made an immediate impact on the UFC brass during his debut when he had a back-and-forth battle with Saturday's main event fighter, Islam Makhachev, ultimately finding himself on the losing end of a competitive decision.
Since then, Tsarukyan has rebounded with four consecutive victories, including a first-round TKO over Christos Giagos back in September. Interestingly, Tsarukyan's Octagon bow is the only time he has not been the betting favourite since his UFC debut:
Arman Tsarukyan Betting History:
UFC FN 149: Defeated by Islam Makhachev (+325)
UFC 240: Defeated Olivier Aubin-Mercier (-160)
UFC FN 172: Defeated Davi Ramos (-230)
UFC 257: Defeated Matt Frevola (-650)
UFC FN 192: Defeated Christos Giagos (-800)
UFC FN 202: Faces Joel Alvarez (-175)
Despite being the betting underdog, Joel Alvarez is not the kind of fighter to be ruled out. Much like Tsarukyan, Alvarez lost his UFC debut but has since gone undefeated with wins over the likes of Joe Duffy and Thiago Moises.
Alvarez has a real shot at pulling off the upset on Saturday night, but it would be wise to hold off placing your bets until after the weigh-ins are over. The Spaniard is a massive lightweight standing 6 foot 3 inches, and has failed to make the 156lbs non-title fight limit in his last two UFC appearances. However, should Alvarez come into the fight this weekend in top condition, we could well have a new contender at lightweight on our hands.
Our Pick: Joel Alvarez by TKO
Having made his professional debut back in 2008 and with over 40 fights on his record, there are few things that Bobby Green hasn't done in his storied career. In his 9 year stint with the UFC Green has been one of the most dependable talents in the lightweight division, but never has he faced a challenge quite like this one...
With original headliner Beniel Dariush injured just ten days before the fight, Green will step in to face the man that some are claiming is already deserving of the title of the best lightweight MMA fighter on the planet. However, it isn't the first time Green has found himself an underdog in the Octagon.
Total UFC record as an underdog: 4 wins, 5 losses, 1 draw.
At +500 on BetMGM, Green is not only the biggest underdog to feature on this weekend's card but it is also the biggest line of his long UFC career.
But why is Green such an underdog?
Training out of the American Kickboxing Academy with his longtime training partner and mentor Khabib Nurmagomedov, Islam Makhachev has already proved himself inside the Octagon as one of the toughest outs at 155lbs.
Possessing a dominating wrestling offence combined with devastating submission abilities Makhachev has been quietly establishing himself as one of the most exciting contenders in the talent-stacked UFC lightweight division.
Though comparisons are often drawn between Makhachev and the former UFC Lightweight Champion Nurmagomedov, Islam possesses a fundamentally different approach to fighting than his fellow countryman. Unlike Khabib, Islam is not as relentless in his pursuit of the takedown/submission, and appears to be more comfortable at striking distance than Nurmagomedov was until the latter stages of his professional career.
The other factor to consider when attempting to assess Green's chances in Saturday's main event is the short time in which he has had to prepare for his first UFC main event. Typically, competing at the highest levels without the luxury of a full training camp can prove to be disastrous, but not always...
For Green to emerge victorious on Saturday night he will need to, first and foremost, do everything within his power to avoid Makhachev being able to take him down early in the first round. Of course, stopping a wrestler the calibre of Makhachev is no easy task, but Green will have more success if he can rely on his ringcraft and movement to avoid attempts entirely rather than trying to sprawl on one of the Russian's takedown attempts.
So, while putting money on Green is advisable as an outside shot or as a way to really boost your parlay, ultimately the odds are as they are for a reason. So while Green hasn't been submitted in over a decade, the smart money would have to go on Makhachev utilising his superior grappling skills to drag the fight to the mat and to force a tap out of Green in the early rounds.
Our Pick: Islam Makhachev by submission
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