There may not be any titles on the line in this PPV, but this card is still stacked to the brim with incredible, ‘brawl of the night’ potential matchups. Every single one of these fights is worth a watch and I could talk about every single one of them, but I’ve narrowed it down to just the best of the best. In the main event we’re going to see Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal settle their beef in a 5 round brawl. Before that we’ve got a star-studded main card with returns from Rafael dos Anjos, Edson Barboza and Kevin Holland. If that wasn’t enough, the prelims will feature top flyweight contenders Tim Elliott and Tagir Ulanbekov, a title eliminator in the strawweight division between Marina Rodriguez and Xiaonan Yan and an exciting bout between Umar Nurmagomedov vs. Brian Kelleher. All of these matchups (plus more) are covered below and feature BLÜ’s predictions along with the Bet99 Sportsbook Odds.
Main Card (7:00 PM PST)
Sergey Spivak vs. Greg Hardy
Spivak: -209 Hardy: +166
Over 1.5: -150 Under 1.5: +116
This seems like an odd choice for an opening fight on the main card and it also seems to be slanted in one direction. Although Spivak was absolutely mauled by the rising contender Aspinall in September, he’s still got a fairly impressive record in the UFC with wins over Tuivasa, Vanderaa and Oleinik. He’s also still only getting started in his career; he’s only 27 and has been in the UFC since 2019. Greg Hardy is on the other side of the spectrum and is (hopefully) on his way out of the UFC after 3 losses in his last 5 fights.
The experience is heavily in favour of the younger man, Spivak, in this matchup. There is one advantage that Hardy carries into this bout and that’s his massive weight. Hardy always cuts down to the 260 pound range while Spivak tends to come in at around 240 or so. This extra weight will give Hardy the edge in power as well as help him in any grappling exchanges. For Spivak, he’ll certainly be the faster man with the better cardio. As always with heavyweights, one punch could change the whole fight (or end the fight), so we really could see either man win. But, when you combine all the factors, Spivak is more likely to be the guy who lands that punch first or even win a decision.
Spivak by Finish
Kevin Holland vs. Alex Oliveira
Holland: -334 Oliveira: +260
Over 1.5: -163 Under 1.5: +128
It’s never a dull fight when Kevin Holland is involved. After the unusual outcome in his last fight with a ‘No Contest’ against Daukaus after he was momentarily knocked out from a clash of heads, Holland is back and squaring off against the scrappy veteran, Alex Oliveira. Although Holland lost to Vettori and Brunson in 2021 because of his lack of wrestling experience, he’s spent the last 10 months in the gym trying to master those skills and bring them into his future fights. He briefly showed off those improvements in the Daukaus fight where he managed to stay on his feet after numerous takedowns before that unfortunate clash of heads. It’s also important to remember that Holland went 5-0 in 2020 in one of the most impressive runs in recent history. Also keep in mind that this was in the middleweight division while this one will be contested at welterweight. Oliveira has had a much rougher career with a 2-6 record in his last 8 fights and has lost his last 3 fights.
Even if Holland hadn’t been working on his wrestling, he would still be the massive favourite in this fight. Oliveira isn’t at the same level of wrestling as Vettori and Brunson, plus, Holland is one of the best strikers in the middleweight division. Considering the fact that Holland had enough power to one-punch KO middleweights, he may be unstoppable in the welterweight division. Not only does he have that unbelievable power, he’s also got one of the longest reaches on the entire roster sitting at a WILD 81 inches. I think we’ll see Kevin Holland jump right into his new home in the welterweight division and get another highlight reel KO to add to his collection.
Holland by Finish
Edson Barboza vs. Bryce Mitchell
Barboza: +136 Mitchell: -167
Over 2.5: -110 Under 2.5: -116
As if this card wasn’t thrilling enough, we’ve got another two ranked fighters squaring off, this time in the featherweight division. We’ve talked a lot about Barboza on BLÜ-FC since he’s fought recently and he’s one of the most legendary icons of the sport, but he now sits in 10th position after his loss to Giga Chikadze in the main event in late August. In spite of recent record of 2-4, he’s one of the best and most likeable fighters in UFC history and has been around since 2010. The only reason he’s got so many losses is because he’s been in the rankings for almost the past decade and constantly fights other tough, ranked contenders. Mitchell is far less experienced but came off the Ultimate Fighter in 2018 and holds an undefeated record of 14-0. An interesting fact is that he’s also one of the very few fighters in UFC history that have won by twister submission.
Once again we’ve got another extremely tight matchup that’s a coin toss. Barboza is an elite, elite striker and is on a level that Mitchell has never experienced before. Meanwhile, Mitchell is undefeated and is a very skilled grappler and submission artist. I don’t believe Barboza will get submitted; he’s simply too experienced and skilled for that. But I also don’t think it’s likely that Barboza will get a KO. That means we’re likely going to see a decision here. Because of what I saw in Barboza’s last fight, where Giga… a kickboxer… was using grappling to control him, I think Mitchell might have the edge here because of his grappling. I know Barboza is going to make it tough and Mitchell is gonna get lit up with some kicks, but I think he can control Edson with his grappling and get a decision win.
Mitchell by Decision
Rafael dos Anjos vs. Renato Moicano
dos Anjos: -180 Moicano: +145
Over 4.5: +105 Under 4.5: -134
Originally scheduled to be a bout between RDA and Fiziev, Fiziev sadly was removed due to COVID and Moicano jumped in late to save the co-main event. Interestingly, although this is not the main event and not the original opponent, they’ve decided to continue as scheduled as a 5 round bout. Just like Barboza in the last fight, Rafael dos Anjos (RDA) is a true UFC legend who’s been here since all the way back in 2008. Again, he also has a lot of losses on his record, but he’s also spent a lot of his career in the top 15 and has fought against some of the best fighters in every era of the UFC. Moicano has also been around for quite a while after making his debut in 2014. Sitting at a record of 16-4, all of his losses have come to some of the top contenders right now in Ortega, Aldo, the Korean Zombie and Fiziev.
Following the theme of the night, this is set up to be another tight matchup. Both men are very well rounded, very experienced and have absolutely no quit in them. The only factor that stands out to me is the actual nature of the fight itself. Since this matchup was moved back a couple weeks from when it was originally scheduled, RDA has been primed for a 5 Round brawl with one of the toughest strikers in the division for about a month now. On the other side, Moicano just fought a little over 2 weeks ago and now has to jump into a 5 round fight on less than a week’s notice. Even for that reason alone, RDA holds a huge advantage. That aside, RDA is known for his unbreakable cardio, which was on full display in his last bout against Felder, and is an elite striker and grappler. I don’t think we’ll see a finish, but I do think we’ll see a dominant and thrilling performance from RDA.
dos Anjos by Decision
Colby Covington vs. Jorge Masvidal
Covington: -334 Masvidal: +250
Over 4.5: -160 Under 4.5: +125
The appeal of this matchup is, of course, the drama and the personalities that these two men have. You may not enjoy either of them outside of the cage, but, inside the cage, Masvidal is an extremely dangerous and exciting striker while Covington is a relentless wrestler and doesn’t understand the meaning of the word ‘stop’. If you’ve been paying attention at all to the UFC the past couple years, you’d know that both men have had a couple shots at Usman’s belt and have both come up just short.
Based on what I’ve seen in all 4 of those fights, I’d have to say that Covington has a much better chance of winning this fight. It all comes down to style and skill. While I think Masvidal likely holds an edge on the feet, Covington doesn’t need to engage there if he doesn’t want to. He’s a gifted wrestler and can control Jorge’s offense with grappling along the fence and takedowns. Let’s just say that Colby wants to make this one entertaining (which he will because that’s who he is) and he chooses to make it a striking match for a while, he’s so tough that Masvidal won’t be able to finish him. There’s no doubt in my mind that Colby will make this fight interesting, mess around on the feet with Masvidal and make it a war, then reign it in, throw in the grappling and wrestling to take this decision.
Covington by Decision
BLU’s Prelim Picks (Prelims begin at 3:00 PM PST)
Dustin Jacoby vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk
Jacoby: -200 Oleksiejczuk: +160
Over 2.5: -105 Under 2.5: -123
Opening up the card is a thrilling light heavyweight bout between a streaking kickboxer, Dustin Jacoby, and rising contender Michal Oleksiejczuk. Dustin Jacoby is an alumni of the Contender Series from 2020. Even though he’s a recent addition to the UFC, he’s made a splash and has yet to lose with 4 wins and a draw. He hasn’t just been successful in the Octagon, he’s also been successful in the world of kickboxing. As for Michal, he’s also got 4 UFC wins on his resume but also a couple of losses to former ranked contenders St. Preux and Jimmy Crute.
This is looking like it’s going to be a tightly contested standup battle. Neither of them have really shown too much grappling experience, so this seems like it’ll stay on the feet. Thanks to his vast experience in kickboxing and his 4 inch reach advantage, Jacoby will likely hold an edge in the striking exchanges. On top of that, he’s got the longer win streak and had a draw against one of the better strikers in the division, Ion Cutelaba. Both men have been extremely difficult to finish, so it seems likely that we’ll be seeing a decision.
Jacoby by Decision
Tim Elliott vs. Tagir Ulanbekov
Elliott: +200 Ulanbekov: -250
Over 2.5: -175 Under 2.5: +136
Here we’ve got a fight that could be a co-main event on any card, a ranked flyweight bout between number 13, Tim Elliott, and the 15th ranked Tagir Ulanbekov. Tim Elliott has been entertaining UFC audiences since all the way back in 2012. He briefly left the promotion in 2015 but was then brought back for the Ultimate Fighter where he ultimately lost to one of the greatest UFC fighters of all time in Demetrious Johnson. Since then his career has had some ups and downs with a record of 4-5. It should be said that 3 of losses were in a 12 month period where he fought top flyweight contenders Askar Askarov, Brandon Royval and, the current champ, Deiveson Figueiredo. While he bounced back from that with 2 wins, he lost his last one out to Matheus Nicolau a few months ago. Ulanbekov has had a very different UFC experience so far. He hasn’t fought those tough names that Tim Elliott has, but he sits at a record of 13-1 with a 2-0 record in the UFC. Likely the most important feature that he has is that he’s one of those classic Dagestani wrestlers… just in a smaller package.
This is one of the most exciting matchups of the night and is extremely important for the future of the flyweight division. This is also another matchup that seems like a coin toss. Elliott has the very clear advantage in experience, but Tagir is slightly younger (5 years), has a slight reach advantage and has the confidence and momentum of someone with a 13-1 record. It should also be pointed out that most of Elliott’s 12 losses have been by submission and Tagir is a grappler. All of those slight edges, plus his edge on the ground, I have to give Ulanbekov the edge in this fight. I’d say the most likely scenario is Ulanbekov winning a tight decision because that’s what both men are accustomed to, but a submission from Tagir is certainly plausible.
Ulanbekov by Decision
Umar Nurmagomedov vs. Brian Kelleher
Nurmagomedov: -800 Kelleher: +533
Over 2.5: -129 Under 2.5: +100
We mentioned in a previous episode that Khabib’s cousin would be fighting… we were wrong that time, but THIS time, Umar really IS Khabib’s cousin and sits at a record of 13-0 with a win in the UFC over Sergey Morozov. In classic Dagestani style, his last 3 wins have been by submission. UFC fans should be well-acquainted with Brian Kelleher at this point; he’s been in the UFC since 2016 and is one of the most exciting fighters on the roster. Sadly, the fights haven’t gone his way all the time with a record of 7-5 in the UFC. It should be said though, that most of those losses were to men that have, at some point, been in the top 15.
There’s no doubt that this is going to be Umar’s toughest test yet. The odds are one-sided but you’ve always gotta keep in mind that this is going to happen every single time there’s a Dagestani fighter that’s coached by Khabib. Besides the obvious standard advantage that Umar will have on the ground and his mindset coming into a fight at 13-0, he’s also 9 years younger with a 5 inch reach advantage. I don’t believe it’ll be as one-sided as the odds suggest, but the matchup certainly favours Umar. Kelleher showed in his last bout that he’s got a strong ground game, but Umar is clearly going to be on a different level. That means Kelleher will have to try and stay on his feet and use his striking. He likely has the better striking, but just like we saw with Islam last week, I think Umar is going to and go through that to get his takedowns. Kelleher has been stopped in the UFC by submission before, so that’s certainly a possible outcome here. I’ve gone back and forth between a finish for Umar and a decision, but since the finish will always reward more money, we’ll lean towards that.
Nurmagomedov by Finish
Marina Rodriguez vs. Xiaonan Yan
Rodriguez: -275 Yan: +214
Over 2.5: -267 Under 2.5: +200
Here we’ve got one of the first high-profile women’s fights of the year with another matchup worthy of a co-main event or even the main event of their own card. We last saw Rodriguez headlining a card in October with Mackenzie Dern where she absolutely dominated her opponent with her striking. Overall, she’s sitting with a record of 15-1-2 with her only loss coming in a split decision to one of the greatest women fighters of all time, Carla Esparza. Yan is coming in with an impressive record herself, sitting at 13-2. Coincidentally, her only UFC loss also came from Carla Esparza.
With Rodriguez currently sitting in the number 3 spot and Xiaonan in 4th, this is another close one. Both women prefer striking to grappling and actually tend to avoid any exchanges on the ground, especially Rodriguez. That means we’re in store for a certified BRAWL that may very well earn a BLÜ BONUS. There is, however, one woman that stands out in this matchup: Marina Rodriguez. Her fight against Dern in October was one of the most impressive striking performances I’ve seen and it was against someone who only had one loss in her career AND someone who is a specialist at dragging strikers to the ground and submitting them. Based on that unbelievable performance, plus her slight edge in reach, I’m giving the edge to Rodriguez. I still believe that we’ll likely be seeing a decision though because of their long history of decision wins and because we’re in the strawweight division.
Rodriguez by Decision
BLÜ’s Best Bets
Here I highlight some betting lines that you might want to take advantage of for UFC 272. These are odds that favour the bettor. Although some of them may conflict with my picks, they offer a fair reward for a slight bit of risk.
Rafael dos Anjos vs. Renato Moicano Over 4.5 at +105
Even though Moicano isn’t conditioned to win this fight, they’re both tough and very experienced. I think we’re going to be seeing a 5 round brawl and at +105 that’s a great betting line.
Umar Nurmagomedov vs. Brian Kelleher Under 2.5 at +100
While Kelleher is the best competition Umar has faced, it’s still important to remember the fact that Umar is a powerful grappler and Kelleher has lost a couple of times by submission. Khabib’s influence has been talked about a lot… maybe too much, but it’s real; ever since he started being a coach, all of his teammates have been undefeated and have been getting more finishes. At +100, why not put some money on that trend continuing?
The Underdog Jamie Mullarkey at +128
This matchup is pretty tight; that alone makes it worth throwing a bit of money on the underdog. That aside, I actually think Mullarkey has the advantage in this fight based on his impressive performance in his last bout.
The Short Run
Nurmagomedov + Holland + Covington
The Long Run
Jacoby + Ulanbekov + Nurmagomedov + Rodriguez + Spivak + Holland + dos Anjos + Covington