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UFC 247: Jones vs. Reyes Picks

The Octagon rolls into Houston on Saturday night for the UFC 247 card that’ll be headlined by Jon ‘Bones’ Jones, who will put his light-heavyweight strap on the line against undefeated Dominick Reyes.

As of Thursday afternoon, most betting shops had Jones (25-1-1 MMA, 19-1-1 UFC) as a favorite anywhere from -450 to -500. Reyes was a +350 underdog at most spots, while the total was 2.5 rounds (‘over’ -150, ‘under’ +130).

Jones had his toughest fight the first time he faced Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165 on Sept. 21 of 2013, when he rallied to win a unanimous decision by winning Rounds 4 and 5 in a bloodbath that ended with both men transported to the hospital. He was also tested by Daniel Cormier in a pair of bouts, but that was it until his last time out.

Despite tearing the ACL and MCL in both of his knees during the fight, Thiago Santos went the distance with Jones at UFC 239 last July. When the bell sounded to end the fifth and final round, I felt like Jones had clearly won even though it wasn’t a vintage performance by any means.

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Santos had effectively landed a bunch of leg kicks, but that was early in the scrap before both knees were compromised. Whatever the case, it was instantly clear that it was a split decision after Michael Buffer announced the score from the first judge. In those next 5-10 seconds, Jones was in the most danger of losing his belt ever (well, at least from a fight rather than an arrest). But two judges gave it to Jones in a split-decision victory (48-47, 47-48, 48-47).

Jones has owned the division since winning the belt at the age of 23 on March 19 of 2011, when he destroyed Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua by third-round KO. He went on to defeat other former champions like Rampage Jackson, Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans, Vitor Belfort and Daniel Cormier, who won the strap when Jones was stripped following his arrest on hit-and-run charges.

Reyes (12-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC) has surged up the 205-pound rankings and into a title shot in less than three years with the promotion. Nine of his 12 victories have come via first-round finishes, including seven knockouts and a pair of submissions.

UFC 247 Betting Odds per DraftKings (NJ & PA only)
Subject to Change
Jon Jones -455
Dominick Reyes +340

Reyes, who played college football at Stony Brook, an FCS school, has four first-round KOs since joining the UFC. He destroyed former middleweight champion Chris Weidman his last time out, ruining the Long Islander’s LHW debut with a KO at the 1:43 mark of the opening stanza in the UFC Boston main event. Reyes garnered the second Performance of the Night bonus of his career, the first since his promotional debut when he finished Joachim Christensen with punches in merely 29 seconds.

UFC 247 Betting Odds per DraftKings (NJ & PA only)
Subject to Change
Jon Jones By Decision +225
Dominick Reyes By Decision +1100
Tie (Draw) +5000

Unlike most of Jones’s former opponents not named Ovince St. Preux and Alexander Gustafsson, Reyes has similar size compared to Jones. Both stand 6-foot-4, although Jones does enjoy a 7.5-inch reach advantage thanks to his 84.5-inch reach.

Reyes’s other UFC wins have come over Volkan Oezdemir (split decision), OSP (unanimous decision), Jared Cannonier (first-round KO) and Jeremy Kimball (first-round rear-naked choke). OSP is the only common foes these fighters share, as Jones also disposed of the former Tennessee Volunteers football player by UD at UFC 197.

UFC 247 Best Bet - Jones-Reyes Prediction:

Other than the controversial “loss” on Jones’s record when he was disqualified for using 12-to-6 elbows, he’s had his hand raised every time he’s ever stepped foot in the Octagon. A win over Cormier was later changed to a no-contest, but Jones has never legitimately lost. On that note, it’s clearly not wise to go against him. However, he’s too expensive to bet on the straight price that’s North of -400. I’m ok with Jones in a parlay, and I’ll include him in one that I’ll fill out down below. With that said, I do think Jones is going to get a tough test from Reyes, who is brimming with confidence and has the power to close the show if he can catch Jones at the right time. In the end, though, Jones will be too much, but don’t be surprised if this scrap is a lot more interesting than most expect it to be.

Prediction: Jon Jones (Only in a parlay, not a straight bet)

Valentina Shevchenko vs. Katlyn Chookagian

In the co-main event, women’s flyweight champ Valentina Shevchenko (18-3 MMA, 7-2 UFC) will take on Katlyn Chookagian. As of Thursday afternoon, most books had Shevchenko listed as a favorite in the -1250 to -1400 range. Chookagian was +700 to +800 on the comeback. The total was 4.5 rounds (‘over’ -185, ‘under’ +165).

Shevchenko’s only career losses have come to women’s double champ (of the bantamweight and featherweight divisions) Amanda Nunes in extremely close fights. One was a split decision and another was a narrow UD. Her only other defeat came against Liz Carmouche when the doctor stopped the bout after Round 2.

Shevchenko avenged that loss her last time out, cruising to a UD victory over Carmouche at UFC Uruguay last August. The Muay Thai specialist has won four fights in a row, winning the vacant 125-pound strap by beating former strawweight queen Joanna Jedrzejczyk by UD at UFC 231.

Shevchenko successfully defended her belt for the first time by scoring a sick head-kick KO win over Jessica ‘Evil’ Eye in Round 2 of their UFC 238 match. Shevchenko has other notable scalps over Holly Holm, Sarah Kaufman and Julianna Pena.

Chookagian (13-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) has won back-to-back fights by UD since dropping a split decision to Eye at UFC 231. All eight of her UFC bouts have gone the distance, but this is her first five-round fight for the promotion. She has gone five rounds once in 2016 when she beat Isabelly Varela to win the vacant CFFC women’s flyweight belt.

Chookagian moved up to bantamweight and won the CFFC’s belt with a 45-second KO (knee) win over Stephanie Bragayrac, prompting the UFC to sign her. Both of her UFC losses have come by split decision, with the other coming against Carmouche. She has wins over Alexis Davis, Joanne Calderwood and Jennifer Maia.

Chookagian will have a four-inch height advantage and a 1.5-inch edge in reach.

UFC 247 Best Bet - Shevchenko-Chookagian

These odds are some of the richest in UFC history. Just off the top of my head, I can remember more expensive prices on Rousey a few times and Anderson Silva when he faced Stephan Bonnar. I don’t see Chookagian winning, so the side is a pass for me. I’d say include Shevchenko in a parlay, but it wouldn’t add hardly any value. I’ll go with one unit on ‘under’ 4.5 rounds for a +165 return.

Prediction: Under 4.5 rounds

Derrick Lewis vs. Ilir Latifi

Derrick ‘The Black Beast’ Lewis (22-7-1 MMA, 13-5 UFC) is poised to welcome Ilir Latifi to the heavyweight division. As of Thursday afternoon, most books had Lewis installed as a favorite in the -240 neighborhood. Latifi, the Swede who is moving up after back-to-back losses at LHW, is available for a +185 payout. The total was 1.5 rounds (‘over’ -125, ‘under’ +105).

Lewis avoided a three-fight losing streak by capturing a split-decision win over Blagoy Ivanov at UFC 244. His two previous defeats had come against former heavyweight champions Junios dos Santos and Cormier.

Lewis owns a 10-3 record since October of 2015. His victims have included the likes of Gabriel Gonzaga, Roy ‘Big Country’ Nelson, Travis Browne, Marcin Tybura, Francis Ngannou and Alexander Volkov.

Latifi (14-7-1 MMA, 7-5 UFC) had won five of his last six fights until his recent two-fight skid. His most notable victories in the Octagon have come over Sean O’Connell, Gian Villante, Tyson Pedro and OSP. On Dec. 29 of 2018, Latifi dropped a UD to Corey Anderson and then lost by second-round KO to Oezdemir last August.

UFC 247 Best Bet - Lewis-Latifi

This won’t be a walk in the park for Lewis, as Latifi has extremely heavy hands. However, I liked what I saw in Lewis’s last fight, his first since getting a nutritionist, losing a bunch of weight and starting to take his craft more seriously. I like the prop bet for Lewis to win by TKO/KO at a -125 price for two units. Also, let’s get one unit on ‘under’ 1.5 rounds for a +105 return.

Prediction: Derrick Lewis win by TKO/KO

UFC 246 - Bonus Best Bets and Predictions

-- Let’s go with one unit on ‘under’ 1.5 rounds at a -105 price in the heavyweight clash between Juan Adams and Justin Tufa.

-- I’ll go with one unit on Mirsad Bektic at a -130 price to beat Dan Ige in a featherweight scrap on the main card.

Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.


  
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