Immediate title rematches are a funny thing these days. Sometimes, people that deserve one don’t get it – like Jose Aldo or Stipe Miocic. Sometimes they do, like Joanna Jedrzejczyk. But Dillashaw-Garbrandt 2 falls in a grey area.
Are there other deserving contenders? Yes there are. Marlon Moraes and Raphael Assuncao are out there. Cruz was the last guy to beat Dillashaw, but he’s injured (surprise surprise). But Garbrandt is still the No. 1 contender, and selling the beef between the former teammates is way easier than trying to build up Moraes or convincing everyone that Assunaco is interesting.
In the money fight era, Dana White and Co. are gonna give us the scraps that make the most money. And because Demetrious Johnson didn’t wanna put his belt on the line against Dillashaw, we’re getting another go-round between TJ and Cody. This is a good fight and a worthy main event. They’re the top 2 guys at 135 pounds, and their first scrap ended too early for us to say which of these dudes is better.
The co-main is another title match, but it’s a typical Demetrious Johnson title defense. And by typical, we mean it should be another easy night against a guy he’s already easily beaten. Henry Cejudo gets to go through the flyweight contender rite-of-passage of being owned twice by Mighty Mouse.
Also on the card is a sweet featherweight contest with action fighter Cub Swanson and the criminally overlooked Renato Moicano. Two Brazilian prospects, Antonio Carlos Junior and Polyvana Viana are two fighters to watch for as well.
Let’s jump right into the best bets for the night. As usual, we’re assigning Cherry Picks to good chalk plays, Savvy Risks to solid underdog picks and Lottery Tickets to playable hail marys.
Cody Garbrandt -102 vs. T.J. Dillashaw -118
Fight goes/doesn’t go to decision: +220 / -300
The ending of their first tilt was conclusive, but the actual fight was anything but. Garbrandt basically owned the first round, and for a moment it looked like he was gonna style on TJ all day like he did to Cruz. But after some brilliant corner advice from Duane “Bang” Ludwig, Dillashaw stopped setting up his kicks and floored “No Love” with a header that led to a finish.
That wasn’t a lucky shot, but T.J. isn’t a knockout artist and it was the first time Cody’s really been decked hard in the octagon. The question is whether you believe that Cody’s first round is the truth, or if T.J.’s too crafty for the banger. This isn’t gonna be a wrestling match – both guys are good enough that it cancels out. Gear up for a high level striking exchanges all day, with serious damage dealt from both sides.
Savvy Risk: Garbrandt to win at -102
In a coin flip fight, we lean on the Team Alpha Male rep. He’s faster, more athletic and his one-punch knockout power is the ultimate equalizer in a 25-minute affair. Of course, Garbrandt has to stay on his toes against a guy as crafty as Dillashaw, but if he embarrass Cruz, he can beat TJ.
Demetrious Johnson -509 vs. Henry Cejudo +391
Fight goes/doesn’t go to decision: -120 / -120
We like watching repeats when something good is on. Unfortunately, that’s not the case here. Johnson is miles ahead of the second best guy at 125 pounds, and the second best guy isn’t even Henry Cejudo. In fact, DJ’s an even bigger favorite this time around than when he first met “The Messenger”.
Back then, Cejudo had some hype as an undefeated prospect with an Olympic wrestling gold medal in his trophy case. Today, he’s a guy with two losses on his record and probably only a slightly better fighter. The only time we’ve seen DJ struggle as the flyweight champ was when bigger guys have overpowered him and took it to the mat, and even then it was only a brief respite from his usual dominance.
Cejudo doesn’t have the size to bully him, but to be fair he never even got to test his wrestling since it he got crumpled with knees on the first exchange. Maybe it goes differently this time?
Cherry Pick: Parlay Johnnon to win at -509
Nahhhh. Mighty Mouse is still the best, healthy and in his prime. Use this pick to anchor a parlay for a slight pay boost.
Savvy Risk: Fight goes to decision at -120
If you want a straight play, this prop is worth a gamble. Cejudo’s loss to DJ is the only time he’s been stopped, and both guys have the goods to make it five rounds easy.
Cub Swanson +325 vs. Renato Moicano -425
Fight goes/doesn’t go to decision: -260 / +180
Yes, we know that Moicano is a low-key monster. This is a guy that beat Jeremy Stephens in just his third UFC fight and was arguably beating Brian Ortega before getting caught with a late flash submission. But -400 against a perennial contender like Cub Swanson? Frankie Edgar closed at -315 against Cub just this past April.
That being said, we get why oddsmakers are siding with Moicano, we really do. He’s ranked way lower than he should be, and the 29-year old has proven he can hang and beat some of the best the division has to offer. But he’s never fought anyone like Swanson because there’s really nobody like him. Cub’s getting older, but the unorthodox striking, weird rhythm and gutsy experience makes him an extremely tough out for anyone.
Lottery Ticket: Swanson to win at +325
We just can’t pass up Swanson at this price. The 34-year old excels at derailing young hotshots, like he did to Doo Ho Choi and a young Charles Oliveira.
Savvy Risk: Polyana Viana Mota +150 inside the distance over JJ Aldrich
Mota is an uber prospect at 115 pounds, and she’s still in the resume-building stage of her UFC career. Her debut went off without a hitch, and now she’s only taking a slight step up in competition against JJ Aldrich. It won’t be quite as easy, but the talent gap between the two is big enough that we can recommend a finish for the Brazilian.
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