It’s easy for the western world to lose track of mixed martial-arts events in the spring. Baseball is in bloom, soccer is nearing its climax in Europe, and the NBA and NHL playoffs are in full swing.
The stiff competition is even harder to deal with on weekend evenings, when big-screen TVs at bars and sports-themed restaurants are showing hometown hoops and hockey. There’s little room for even a popular gambling sport like mixed martial-arts…unless the club has 9 televisions.
Some nightclubs have closer to 99 televisions, of course. But Dana White isn’t about to beat his hairless head against a wall.
Leave it to White and Ultimate Fighting Championship to come up with a clever way around the saturated sports-media landscape of April.
Instead of a Saturday night in Las Vegas, UFC is hosting UFC Fight Night 149 in St. Petersburg, Russia, during a state-side afternoon. That will amount to less competition for clicks and ratings. UFC even lucked out that powerful St. Petersburg didn’t qualify for the Gagarin Cup Finals this year. A hockey and prizefighting-mad culture now has only the latter to turn to at Yubileyny Sports Palace on Saturday. Winning!
Saturday’s co-main events couldn’t be more different. One is a battle of up-and-comers, another a tilt between 2 grand old veterans of the Heavyweight class.
There’s also a 3rd main-card match that could prove more valuable to MMA gamblers.
Alistair Overeem vs Aleksei Oleinik (Co-Main Event)
You can’t say these 2 Heavyweight martial artists have had perfect careers. Overeem and Oleinik have lost 28 bouts between them – a big number for fighters in a highly-promoted main event.
But each man has also won his share, with a combined 101 victories over the years. That’s a whole lot of experience in the Octagon.
Overeem is the 7th-ranked Heavyweight in UFC and has beaten names like Frank Mir and Brock Lesnar. He is an extremely well-rounded fighter with tremendous grappling skills. Despite his advanced age (38) and having lost 3 of his last 6 fights, the English-American is the favorite to beat Oleinik, who is a replacement entry for a scratched Alexander Volkov.
The best favorite’s line on this bout comes from Bovada Sportsbook with a (-240) line on Overeem to win and maintain his reputation in his twilight competing years.
If the underdog is your fancy despite the reduced preparation/training time for Oleinik, look for his current (+210) odds at BetOnline instead.
Click here for a more in-depth look at the Overeem-Oleinik bout from WagerBop’s excellent MMA reporter Jake Nichols.
Islam Makhachev vs Arman Tsarukyan (Co-Main Event)
A pair of much-younger Octagon combatants with only 2 combined losses between them will square-off in the co-main event in Russia.
Las Vegas handicappers seem to strongly prefer Islam Makhachev, a Russian dynamo with an unorthodox skill-set and a toolbox full of submission holds. Makhachev was tagged by a KO punch from Adriano Martins at UFC 192 in 2015, and hasn’t lost a bout since.
His opponent on Saturday, Arman Tsarukyan, is an exciting kickboxer who excels at spinning martial-arts blows and the old “foot to the face” as bouncers in Liverpool like to say. Tsarukyan is my sleeper pick to prevail in the co-main event on Saturday…but watch where you place a wager on either fighter.
BetOnline is somewhat “Islam-aphobic” in its moneyline of (-306) for the favorite and (+256) for the Bruce Lee-influenced underdog.
MyBookie, while putting a confident line of (-345) on Makhachev, is offering a nice (+285) payoff on the ‘dog to win by KO, submission, or decision.
Sergey Pavlovich vs Marcelo Golm
Heavyweight fighter Sergey Pavlovich is a much stronger favorite than either of the aforementioned expected-winners.
A well-trained and nearly-unbeaten combatant in his prime at age 27, Pavlovich has scored 9 knockouts in 12 wins despite falling to Overeem in his most-recent bout.
His underdog opponent Marcelo Golm has lost 2 fights in a row and has only ever won once on a UFC-promoted card, scoring a submission win with a rear-naked choke on aging Danish fighter Christian Colombo.
Let’s play detective Colombo and find out where the best line is. Pavlovich is a (-305) wager at Bovada, and a (-270) moneyline bet at MyBookie.
But you should gamble on the likely winner at BetOnline instead, which offers the highest payout for a Pavlovich win at (-253).
Kurt has authored close to 1000 stories covering football, soccer, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, prize-fighting and the Olympic Games. Kurt posted a 61% win rate on 200+ college and NFL gridiron picks last season. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.