As UFC 188 proved, fighting in Mexico City ain’t no joke. At 7300+ feet above sea level, the altitude becomes another opponent inside the ring. More than 2000 higher than Denver – the mile high city – even the famously well-conditioned Cain Velasquez succumbed to the thin air and lost the heavyweight title after exhausting himself after a single round.
It’s a factor that absolutely has to be accounted for when it comes to betting on the UFC Fight Night 98 odds this Saturday. No other location tests a fighter’s gas tank more, and a tired fighter is one I’ll bet against every time. With that in mind, let’s get into the cherry picks for the week.
Cherry Picking Record: 8-2
Since UFC Fight Night 95, we’ve targeted value bets as opposed to making simple predictions. These are known as Cherry Picks.
All UFC odds courtesy of BookMaker.eu
Rafael Dos Anjos (-150) vs Tony Ferguson (+130 )
Over/under 3.5 rounds, over -135, under +115
Remember that character Taz from Looney Tunes? The weird-looking Tasmanian devil that would literally turn into a hurricane of shit-wrecking? That’s what fighting Tony Ferguson must feel like. “El Cucuy” is a guy that charges forward and throws whatever the hell he wants – like when he kept somersaulting for leg locks against Edson Barboza.
What’s more, it works. He’s not some newb throwing out random stuff and seeing what sticks. There’s a method to his madness, and it’s led to eight straight wins in the most loaded UFC division. What’s more, Ferguson seems to have an unlimited gas tank, he just never backs off.
Dos Anjos Is Still the Reigning Champ
Before becoming the lightweight champion, he straight up trucked through a murderer’s row of elite fighters (Benson Henderson, Nate Diaz, Donald Cerrone, Anthony Pettis). But he’s never faced anyone like Ferguson, and I’m not sure he can keep up the pace at that altitude. Anjos is just one fight removed from being the reigning champ.
Did I mention that the Brazilian is three inches shorter and is most comfortably when he’s crowding the pocket? Good luck wading through the minefield of manslaughter.
Our UFC Pick
Ferguson to win at +130
For a detailed fight preview, check out “Betting Goldmine: Rafael Dos Anjos vs Tony Ferguson”
Diego Sanchez (+215) vs Marcin Held (-260)
Over/under 2.5 rounds, over -156, under +131
Ahh, Diego Sanchez. Since 2005, the artist formerly known as “The Nightmare” and now known as “The Dream” (for more positive associations) has engaged in some of the UFC’s bloodiest battles to date. Watching Sanchez charge forward with punches in the final rounds of fights he’s well behind in is like a rite of passage for UFC fans. You can’t help admire his heart.
But that rock’em sock’em style has caught up to him. Just 3-5 in his past eight fights, the 34-year old Sanchez has noticeably declined in recent years and has suffered more prolonged beatings during that time. Now, he’s matched up against former Bellator title challenger Marcin Held, a 24-year old jiu-jitsu specialist.
We have no idea how Held holds up in Mexico City. But we do know that he’s more than 10 years younger and has a skillset that can turn Sanchez’s preferred offense of wrestling against him. And for the most part, Sanchez has looked a bit…paunchy…in his recent fights. Not a good sign for his cardio.
Your Best UFC Betting Option
Held to win at -255 is a solid bet in the fight odds. But that’s kinda expensive, right? Instead, try your hand at the over. Sanchez is as tough as they come, and 10 of his past 11 fights have gone the distance. Held isn’t a knockout guy, so his best chance at finishing Sanchez is on the ground, where he is actually most comfortable.
Over on 2.5 rounds at -156
Ricardo Lamas (-104) vs Charles Oliveira (-116)
Over/under 1.5, over -185, under +160
Here’s another wrestler vs. grappler fight. Lamas has long been one of the best featherweights in the UFC, anchored by a gritty, well-rounded game. He’s a good wrestler and an above-average striker with particularly punishing leg kicks.
In 10 UFC fights, “The Bully” has only lost to Jose Aldo, Chad Mendes and Max Holloway while beating very good fighters like Dennis Bermudez and Cub Swanson. That’s a resume that puts him in No. 4 at 145 pounds, right under the elite tier.
Oliveira’s Weight Cutting Issues
As for Oliveira, you have to like the Brazilian’s ceiling. Just 27 years old and already a submission savant (13 SUBs in 21 wins), he’s steadily improving his standup game and has a great combination of size and athleticism.
But the guy has had weight cutting issues in the past and tends to fade late in fights. That won’t fly in Mexico City, especially against a grinder like Lamas.
Our UFC Pick
Lamas to win at -104
For more UFC news and betting odds on UFC 98, check out Cash In Big: Most Profitable UFC Underdogs This Fall