Edwards: UFC Fight Island 2 Picks

Twelve fights are on tap for tonight’s ‘UFC Fight Island 2’ card in Abu Dhabi. In the headliner, Joseph Benavidez gets one last opportunity to capture UFC gold when he takes on No. 1 flyweight contender Deiveson Figueiredo.

As of early this afternoon, MyBookie had Figueiredo (18-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC) installed as a -235 ‘chalk’ with a total of 4.5 rounds (‘under’ -175, ‘over’ +145). Benavidez was +195 on the comeback.

Both fighters made weight Friday, tipping the scales at 125 pounds. Figueiredo missed weight by 2.5 pounds ahead of their UFC Norfolk showdown on Feb. 29. Therefore, he was ineligible to win the 125-pound belt left vacant by Henry Cejudo.

Benavidez won Round 1 on all three judges’ scorecards. However, as both men came together in Round 2, an accidental headbutt left Benavidez stunned, on wobbly legs and with a big cut opened up on his forehead.

Figueiredo took advantage by ripping a big shot to the body. Next, he landed a lunging right that dropped Benavidez. One big hammerfist to follow up and Figueiredo was the winner via second-round knockout.

The belt remained vacant, though, and a rematch was booked.

Prediction #1: Benavidez for one-half unit and a +210 payout (5Dimes). Also, one unit on ‘under’ 3.5 rounds at a -125 price (William Hill).

Can seventh-ranked middleweight Kelvin Gastelum put back-to-back heartbreaking losses in the rearview mirror and get back into the win column vs. sixth-ranked Jack Hermansson in the co-main event? Most books have this 185-pound scrap listed as a pick ’em.

Prediction #2: Let’s go with three units on Kelvin Gastelum (16-5-0-1 MMA, 11-5-0-1 UFC) as an even-money underdog at 5Dimes. Gastelum has faced much tougher competition than Hermansson, and he’s alos the younger man by four years. Gastelum has beaten three former champions in Michael Bisping, Johny Hendricks and Vitor Belort, although the win over Belfort was changed to a no-contest after Gastelum tested positive for marijuana. Gastelum also has impressive scalps over the likes of Jacare Souza, Uriah Hall, Jake Ellenberger, Tim Kennedy, Nate Marquardt and Rick Story.

Prediction #3: I like one unit on ‘under’ 1.5 rounds for a +110 return (William Hill) in the show’s heavyweight opener between Serghei Spivac and Carlos Felipe. Only one of Spivac’s 12 career fights have gone past Round 2. Felipe is 8-0 with six first-round KOs.

Prediction #4: Let’s go with one-half unit on the prop bet for Grant Dawson to submit Nad Narimani for a +285 payout (5Dimes).

Prediction #5: I like a two-fight parlay for one unit with Dawson and Marc Diakiese at -222 (Bet365) and -161 prices (BetDSI), respectively. The handy parlay calculator over at VegasInsider gives us a +135 payout.

**B.E.’s Octagon Nuggets**

–BetOnline has Greg Hardy listed as a -150 favorite for his showdown vs. Khalil Rountree, who will be making his heavyweight debut as a +130 underdog at UFC 252. Most books have the main event between Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic listed at pick ’em (-110 or -115 either way).

–Also on the UFC 252 card, ‘Sugar’ Sean O’Malley will be looking for his third win of 2020 when he faces Marlon Vera as a -380 favorite. Vera is a +290 underdog.

–On the Aug. 8 card, former middleweight kingpin Chris Weidman is installed as a -125 ‘chalk’ vs. Omari Akhmedov (-105).

–My official play is the parlay listed above as Prediction #5. However, I’ll throw this out as an idea presuming you’ll hedge it with Hermansson. If you add Gastelum to the parlay with Dawson and Diakiese, the three-fight parlay then offers a +370 return. But since we already have three units on Gastelum, we’d then have a four-unit risk to earn a 6.7-unit payout. At that point, I’d recommend coming back with 1.5 or two units on Hermansson.

Best of luck with your plays and enjoy the show!

Follow me on Twitter at @vegasbedwards and you can always e-mail me sports betting questions at [email protected].

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