You’ll pay the price to do so — Chimaev is a staggering -550 pick at BetMGM at this point — but it may be one of your last real opportunities to bet on him. Because if Chimaev defeats the second-ranked Burns, his numbers are going to be so high in most of the rest of his fights that you’ll have to pass.
I’m going to take the value with Burns, who is far more proven against elite opposition, and suggest a wager on him to win at +400. I’m also going to bet one unit on Burns by submission — a three-time world jiu-jitsu champion, remember — at +1200.
Plus 1200? It’s amazing how the legend of Khamzat Chimaev has grown. He’s gone 4-0 in the UFC, destroying all four opponents and making it look easy in the process.
Seconds into his last fight, he scooped up highly regarded welterweight Li Jingliang, carried him to the side of the cage where UFC president Dana White was seated, and then dumped Jingliang and proceeded to beat on him while carrying on a mostly one-sided conversation with a laughing White.
Jingliang and Gerald Meerschaert are very credible opponents, and Chimaev steamrolled through them. You hear tales of his prowess in the gym and it’s like he’s a man among boys. He’s amazingly strong physically and hits hard enough that it only took one shot on the chin to finish Meerschaert.
He may well win this fight, but there’s no value in laying -550, particularly when the opponent is as decorated as Burns.
So I’ll wager $100 on Burns to win at $400 and another $100 on Burns by submission to win $1,200. If Burns wins by submission, I’ll collect a tidy $1,600. And if Chimaev wins, well, that should mean the odds should be even bigger next time out unless the next time is welterweight champion Kamaru Usman.
Will Alexander Volkanovski finish 'The Korean Zombie'?
I’ll go with Alexander Volkanovski to win by stoppage in his featherweight title bout in the main event with Chan Sung Jung, aka “The Korean Zombie.” Volkanovski is +200 to win by KO and I think he’ll pull that off by mixing in his wrestling and his kicks with his hands.
Zombie is a solid counter puncher, and has brought in former double champion Henry Cejudo to coach him. That’s presumably an effort to prepare for a wrestling-heavy Volkanovski style.
But Volkanovski, who has won 20 in a row, has many ways he can attack Jung, while Jung’s main chance is to catch Volkanovski with a big shot.
It’s terrible to be on the right side and lose, and if you beat Volkanovski by KO, you lose if he wins by submission or decision. He’s -800 to win, and that’s a heavy price to pay. He’s +1000 by submission.
Volkanovski will go after the legs with calf kicks, keep Jung off balance with takedowns and then either land a big shot or finish him with ground-and-pound.
Either way, Volkanovski keeps the belt and I say play him at +200 to win by KO.
Aljamain Sterling for the win
Call me crazy, but I’m going with Aljamain Sterling to retain his bantamweight title by defeating Petr Yan. Yan dominated Sterling for most of their first fight, which ended when Yan fouled him and Sterling won by disqualification.
Sterling had a bad rehydration and was fighting with an injured neck he’d dealt with since his freshman year in college. He’s more like the guy who submitted Cory Sandhagen in the first than the guy who was run over by Yan in their first encounter.
Yan is -500 to win and Sterling is +360. I’ll go with Sterling to win and take the value play.
I’ll also lay -110 and bet that the fight does go the distance, regardless of who wins. Betting that the fight won’t go the distance will cost you -120.
• I’ll bet Mark Madsen at +105 to win over Vinc Pichel. Pichel is -125.