UFC 300 Betting Picks: Edwards likes healthy underdog

UFC 300 Betting Picks: Edwards likes healthy underdog

In the second scrap on the main card of UFC 300 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on April 13, former lightweight champion Charles ‘Do Bronx’ Oliveira will face fourth-ranked Arman Tsarukyan in what’s being billed as a 155-pound title eliminator.

As of Wednesday, three days out from the show, most betting shops had Tsarukyan (21-3 MMA, 8-2 UFC) installed as a -220 to -230 favorite with Oliveira at +180 to +185 odds on the comeback. The total was 1.5 rounds shaded to the ‘over’ at a -137 price (+108 to the ‘under’ at FanDuel).

Oliveira (34-9-0-1 MMA, 22-9-0-1 UFC) owns a 12-1 record in his last 13 fights, including 11 finishes. The 34-year-old Brazilian bounced back from losing the lightweight title against Islam Makhachev his last time out, beating Beneil Dariush by first-round knockout at UFC 289 in Vancouver last June.

Oliveira earned a rematch against Makhachev after ending Dariush’s eight-fight winning streak, but he had to pull out of UFC 294 last October due to a cut over his eye suffered in training camp less than two weeks before the bout.

The 27-year-old Tsarukyan is on a three-fight winning streak and owns an 8-1 record since losing his promotional debut to Makhachev by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27) in April of 2019. The scrap garnered Fight of the Night honors.

In fact, both of Tsarukyan’s UFC defeats came in Fight of the Night performances. He dropped a unanimous decision vs. Mateusz Gamrot (48-47, 48-47, 48-47) in a five-round main event at UFC Vegas 57 on June 25 of 2022.

However, 15 of 22 media members scored the bout in favor of Tsarukyan, who got the 48-47 nod from 12 media members, in addition to one 50-45 score and two 49-46 scores.

Since the gut-wrenching setback vs. Gamrot, Tsarukyan routed Damir Ismagulov via UD (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) and finished Joaquim Silva by third-round KO (punches) before blasting Dariush.

Tsarukyan owns nine career wins by KO and five via submissions. Both of his UFC losses came by decisions, and the only time the Russian’s been finished was in his second career bout on Dec. 12 of 2015 when he was KO’d by Alexander Belikh in 30 seconds.

Tsarukyan was only 19 at that time and he bounced back to win 12 fights in a row in a span of more than four years. That streak was snapped in the loss to the current 155-pound kingpin, Makhachev, although it was an extremely competitive scrap when Tsarukyan was just 22.

Nevertheless, with the exceptions of facing Makhachev and Gamrot, it’s hard to ignore what a monster step up in competition this is for Tsarukyan, who has captured his best career wins over Dariush and Matt Frevola.

On the other hand, the 34-year-old Oliveira owns wins over three former UFC interim lightweight champions. He finished Dustin Poirier via third-round submission (rear-naked choke) in his first title defense at UFC 269 on Dec. 11 of 2021 in Las Vegas.

Oliveira had to rally past Poirier after getting busted up when the fight was standing in the opening frame and the first few minutes of the second round. Likewise, the Brazilian was dropped twice and bloodied up by Justin Gaethje, only to respond by dropping Gaethje, following him to the ground and locking in a rear-naked choke for another comeback win at the 3:22 mark of the first stanza.

Oliveira also bested Tony Ferguson via UD (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) at UFC 256 on Dec. 12 of 2020. He owns other notable victories over Michael Chandler (second-round KO at UFC 262), Kevin Lee (third-round submission), Darren Elkins (first-round sub), Jeremy Stephens (UD), Nik Lentz (twice, by second-round KO and via third-round sub), Clay Guida (first-round sub) and Jim Miller (first-round sub).

The names on Oliveira’s victim list carry a lot of cachet, but he’s faced even more of the sport’s all-time greats, albeit in losing efforts. He’s lost to three former UFC champions in Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis, Max ‘Blessed’ Holloway and Frankie ‘The Answer’ Edgar, in addition to legends like Miller, Makhachev and Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone.

Oliveira’s name is all over the UFC’s record books. He is the promotion’s all-time leader in finishes (20), submission wins (16) and fight-night bonuses (19).

When Oliveira graces the Octagon on Saturday night, he’ll be making his 33rd career walk to tie Demian Maia for seventh on the all-time list. His 22 career UFC wins rank him in a fourth-place tie with Poirier, Maia and Neil Magny.

PREDICTION: This matchup reminds me of Poirier vs. Benoit Saint Denis at UFC 299. The 28-year-old Saint Denis was a -225 favorite vs. the 35-year-old veteran out of Lafayette, LA, who was a healthy underdog in the +185 to +200 range in the days leading up to the event.

I was amused and thrilled with that price, making a strong wager on Poirier, who won by second-round KO.

I felt like Poirier was better than Saint Denis everywhere. Similarly, I think Oliveira is better on the ground than Tsarukyan and I’m okay if the Brazilian wants to stand and trade with the Russian.

Oliveira has won by KO in four of his last nine fights, and it was his hands that led to the submission finish of Gaethje.

I’m on Oliveira for one unit at +190 odds and will also put 0.5 units on ‘under’ 1.5 rounds for a +108 payout.