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UFC 274 Betting Preview: Oliveira vs. Gaethje

UFC 274 has a stacked card on Saturday in Phoenix the early prelims on ESPN+. Johnny Covers takes a closer look at the Charles Oliveira vs. Justin Gaethje and Rose Namajunas vs. Carla Esparza fights.
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UFC 274 Betting Preview: Oliveira vs. Gaethje

We have another stacked UFC card on our hands for Saturday in Phoenix, as UFC 274 has one great fight after another starting with the early prelims on ESPN+. At the top, two title fights will serve as the co-main and main events of the evening, as the women's strawweight and men's lightweight belts will be on the line. 

Let’s take a closer look at both fights which should offer plenty of action both inside the octagon and in the sportsbook.

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All Odds via DraftKings at time of publishing

Rose Namajunas (-220) vs. Cara Esparza (+180)

This fight pits the No. 3 pound-for-pound woman on the planet in Rose Namajunas against the No. 2 strawweight contender Carla Esparza, in a fight that will be a rematch from a 2014 encounter. In that 2014 fight, the finale and inaugural women’s strawweight title fight, Esparza pulled out the win via a third-round submission that won her performance of the night.  

Since then, however, Namajunas has improved tremendously, beating the best the division has to offer including Paige VanZant, Tecia Torres, Joanna Jędrzejczyk (2), and most recently Zhang Weili (2) who she took the belt from back in April of 2022. Coming into this fight Namajunas holds a significant edge both in striking and on the ground, landing almost double the significant strikes on average (4.01 vs. 2.34), and securing almost triple the submissions on average (.69 vs. .34). 

Rose Namajunas vs. Cara Esparza Pick

Pick: Rose Namajunas (-220) (Bet $220 to win $100)

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Charles Oliveira (-170) vs. Justin Gaethje (+145)

Charles “Bronx” Oliveira will step into the octagon Saturday night for his second title defense in less than six months, once again against an elite striker in Justin Gaethje. In a fight that also won him a Performance of the Night bonus, Oliveira first defended his belt against Dustin Poirier in December, a fight in which he attempted more strikes than he ever had before inside the octagon. While he ultimately ended it in the third round via submission, Oliveira showed a willingness to stand and strike on his way to extending his record for the most finishes (18) in UFC history. 

As far as Gaethje is concerned, a willingness to stand and strike would be a welcomed sight, as he has become known as one of the most dangerous in the lightweight division. Despite being a former Division I wrestler, Gaethje has yet to record a successful takedown during his UFC career and is one of the best defensive (against the takedown) fighters in the UFC with a takedown defense of 73%.

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If Gaethje can avoid the takedown in this fight like he has in the past, failing to do so only against arguably the GOAT, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Gaethje’s striking could very well see him through in this one. Coming into this fight, Gaethje lands more than double (7.5 vs. 3.44) the significant strikes per minute, with 60% (vs. 53%) being accurate. 

While I do think Oliveira is severely underrated when it comes to his overall game, standing and striking against Gaethje would be a massive miscalculation; which I’m anticipating him making based on the Poirier fight. In a fight I have much closer to pick-em, I’m going with the underdog in this one. 

Charles Oliveira vs. Justin Gaethje Pick

Pick: Justin Gaethje (+145) (Bet $100 to win $145)

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Johnny has been covering the sports betting markets and handicapping games for the better part of the past decade. Along the way, he has written for publications such as All-In Magazine, Blitz Predict, FantasyPros, Betting Pros, Sportsbook Review, and most recently, OddsChecker. In addition to giving out picks on Twitter, Johnny is the host of the podcast The Daily Sports Bet -- a 10 minute or less listen with actionable insights and no fluff or BS. Starting the podcast in June, he closed out 2021 up 26 units with a winning percentage of 55%.


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