Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:00 AM
UFC on ESPN+ 1 - Best Bets
fT.J. Dillashaw (16-3 MMA, 12-3 UFC) is looking to join The Double-Champ Club (three fighters are in it, including Conor McGregor, Daniel Cormier and Amanda Nunes; B.J. Penn is as well, but he didn’t hold the belts simultaneously like the aforementioned trio) at Barclays Arena in Brooklyn on Saturday night when he takes on Henry Cejudo for the former gold-medalist-winning wrestler’s flyweight belt in the UFC on ESPN+ 1 main event.
Dillashaw, the reigning bantamweight kingpin, apparently made the weight cut rather easily, as he was the first fighter on the scales Friday morning and hit his mark with room to spare at 124.6 pounds. As of early Friday night, most books had Dillashaw installed as a -225 favorite with Cejudo at around +190 on the comeback (risk $100 to win $190). The total was 4.5 rounds (-130 to the ‘over,’ +100 to the ‘under’)
Dillashaw has won eight of his past nine fights since dropping a split decision to Raphael Assuncao back in October of 2013. The only defeat during this stretch was a split-decision setback against Dominick Cruz on Jan. 17 of 2016.
The former Team Alpha Male member initially won the 135-pound strap by shocking Renan Barao as a +500 underdog with a fifth-round knockout win at UFC 173. He defended his strap successfully twice, including a fourth-round KO of Barao in a rematch in July of 2015. Then Dillashaw dropped the razor-thin decision to Cruz.
Before getting a shot to regain his belt, Dillashaw won a rematch with Assuncao by unanimous decision at UFC 200 and won another UD over John Linker at UFC 207.
Dillashaw, who split from TAM when he sided with his head coach Duane ‘Bang’ Ludwig over TAM Founder Urijah Faber, saw former teammate Cody Garbrandt win the bantamweight strap from Cruz. This set up a grudge match between Garbrandt and Dillashaw that sported a ton of bad blood.
Garbrandt nearly finished Dillashaw at the end of Round 1. However, he was saved by the bell and got back into a groove in the second stanza. In a wild flurry of haymakers from both fighters, Dillashaw floored Garbrandt and finished the job with a sequence of strikes in the UFC 217 co-main event.
The rematch was scheduled for UFC 227 last August. Once again, Dillashaw won by first-round KO and earned a Performance of the Night bonus. Now he’ll try to add another belt to his collection on Saturday.
Cejudo (13-2 MMA, 7-2 UFC) won a gold medal in freestyle wrestling at the 2008 Bejiing Olympic Games. Then he turned his focus to mixed martial arts. He won his first four UFC fights to earn a shot at Demetrious Johnson’s flyweight championship, but Johnson finished Cejudo by KO less than three minutes into the opening round at UFC 197.
Cejudo dropped his next fight to Joseph Benavidez by split decision at the finale of TUF 24. He responded with back-to-back victories, however, to garner another shot at Johnson. Cejudo took advantage this time and won a split decision to become the flyweight kingpin.
This is most likely going to be his only title defense, however, because the promotion is planning on shutting down the division in 2019.
Prediction: I’m not in the business of laying prices North of -150, so I can’t back Dillashaw at the current price. Now for bettors who like to play UFC parlays, I think Dillashaw should be a part of any parlay combination. During my Games Galore 60 podcast on Thursday, sharp MMA handicapper GambLou pointed out how this fight is correlated with the side and total. I agree, too. If you like Dillashaw, you like the ‘under’ also because we’re talking about a fighter who has KO’d Garbrandt and Barao twice apiece and has 11 career finishes. Cejudo, on the flip side, wants to turn this into a wrestling match that’ll go the distance. So for those bullish on Cejudo, you like the ‘over’ also. With Dillashaw clearly having no issues for his unprecedented weight cut, my thinking is that he’s going to be able to keep the fight standings, and that’s bad news for Cejudo, who will be overmatched on the feet. Therefore, I’ll suggest 1.5 units on Dillashaw for a +180 payout to win by KO. Also, let’s go with one unit on Dillashaw to win inside the distance for a +155 return. Finally, let’s put one-half unit on ‘under’ 4.5 rounds for a +107
-- I like Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone for one unit and a +160 return in his return to lightweight to face Alexander ‘The Great’ Hernandez, who has won his first two UFC fights and has been talking loads of trash to Cerrone, who has more career UFC wins (21) than any other fighter in the promotion’s history. Cerrone recently became a father and it seems to have sharpened his focus, as he’s off a sensational performance in a first-round submission win over Mike ‘Platinum Perry, who didn’t tap and sustained a broken arm. Cerrone is back at 155 after spending three years at welterweight. ‘Cowboys is 8-1 in his last nine fights in the lightweight loop. Let’s also go with one-half unit on ‘under’ 1.5 rounds for a +130 payout.
-- Let’s go with one-half unit on Yancy Medeiros as a +420 underdog vs. Gregor Gillespie. Medeiros is 3-1 in his last four fights, including KO wins over Alex ‘Cowboy’ Oliveira and Erick Silva. Gillespie is undefeated, but this is a step up in class in facing Max Holloway’s teammate from Hawaii.
-- Let’s go with Belal Muhammad for one unit as a +160 underdog ([...]) against Geoff Neal.
Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.