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Last Updated May 04, 2022, 06:27 AM

UFC 273 Picks, Predictions, Odds

UFC 273 is set to take place on Saturday, April 9 from the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena located in Jacksonville, Florida, USA. Early prelims begin at 6:00 p.m. ET on ESPN+, while the main card is set to begin at 10:00 p.m. ET and can be viewed on ESPN+ PPV. Let's go over the betting odds, best bets and fighting analysis for the top fights on Saturday's card.

Alexander Volkanovski has won 23 of his last 24 fights. (Getty)

Alexander Volkanovski vs. Chan Sung Jung Picks

Dominant featherweight champion, Alexander Volkanovski, is looking to cement his legacy by taking on long-time ranked UFC contender, Chan Sung Jung.

This is a fight that will take place on the feet for the most part. Both fighters can wrestle offensively, however they rarely rack up a lot of control time on the ground. Alexander did grapple a lot in his early UFC days, but it seems like he has become more of a striker as a champion. He has only landed three takedowns in his last five outings.

I will get straight to the point: On the feet Jung may have a puncher’s chance, but technique and overall skill goes to Volkanovski. Just going by the striking metrics Volkanovski has a huge advantage. He lands over two punches more every minute while absorbing less on average, compared to Jung.

This means that while Jung may land a big shot here and there, all the action in between will be controlled by Volkanovski. 

I honestly don’t mind laying the chalk on Volkanovski. I see him dictating the dance here and landing every strike in the book to win rounds. After 25 minutes the champion retains his title 49-46.

Best Bet: Volkanovski By Decision or Technical Decision (-138)

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Aljamain Sterling vs. Petr Yan II Picks

Time to settle the score once and for all. In the first fight we saw Sterling pushing a high pace early, subsequently resulting in him completely gassing out in round two. His composure was definitely not on point.

Petr Yan is a bit of an enigma in the octagon. He usually hangs back in the early rounds and lets his opponent lead the dance. He does this so that he can download data and come on strong late in the fight. This is the exact approach he took against Sterling in the first fight, and also how he managed to beat Cory Sandhagen handily in his most recent time out.

Sterling’s striking game is not clean enough to hang with a guy like Yan, meaning he needs takedowns to win here. However, given the fact that Yan was tossing Sterling around quite easily in the first fight, I don’t see any way that Sterling wins this fight. There are always lucky punches in combat sports, but the weight class being bantamweight decreases the tiny probability of even that happening. 

This is an uphill battle for Sterling. If he pushes the pace too much he will gas out again. If he tries a more patient approach he will be marched down and beaten up. I think his only shot at winning is to go all out for a round or two and try getting Yan’s back. If he can’t, then he’s lost anyways. Championship rounds against Yan are hell for his opponents - we’ve seen that consistently in Yan’s UFC run. All things considered Yan is Sterling superior in every way. I would be very surprised if we don’t get Buffer saying ‘and new’ this weekend.

Best Bet: Petr Yan By KO, TKO, DQ or Submission (+137)

Gilbert Burns vs. Khamzat Chimaev Picks

Possibly the biggest hype train in MMA at the moment, Khamzat Chimaev, gets his biggest test to date in Gilbert Burns. Chimaev is a grappler who can do it all, Burns is a grappler too but mostly submission oriented. I’ve always believed that Burns is one of the rare examples of a fighter being stuck between weight classes. He is not big enough for most guys at welterweight, however the cut to 155 is too draining for him. 

In this fight he is greatly outsized by Chimaev who is a guy that relies on strength and power to win. We have seen Burns being borderline chinny in the past and Chimaev’s striking is very dangerous. I would not be surprised if he straight up starches Burns on the feet before the feet even hits the ground.

However, should the fight end up there I see Khamzat dominating too. Jiu jitsu works the best if you’re the aggressor or if you at least have some openings to work. The way that Khamzat grapples leaves very little room for opponents to find submission opportunities - he shoots very low and level changes too quick for someone like Burns to react with a guillotine. On the ground back takes are his thing, and you can’t really submit someone who is on your back.

Burns will have opportunities to work if Khamzat becomes complacent to sit in guard and take time off the clock. I would be very surprised if we see that out of Chimaev though, as he has shown that killer instinct in all of his outings thus far. He has a 100% finish rate. I think the power and sheer aggression will be too much for the already undersized Burns. Chimaev extends his unbeaten run to 11-0. 

Best Bet: Khamzat Chimaev by KO, TKO, DQ or Submission (-163)

Gilbert Burns has seen four of his last six fights go the distance. (Getty)

Mackenzie Dern vs. Tecia Torres Picks

Dern versus Torres, or submission grappler versus Muay Thai striker. Mackenzie Dern would be such a wrecking ball in the women’s strawweight division as well as at women’s flyweight if she just learned to wrestle. Once on the ground Dern is flawless and extremely dangerous, however she has always had a hard time getting the fight there.

You might be wondering how her UFC run has seen her beat four opponents via submission if her wrestling is as bad as I claim. Well, let’s deconstruct her wins: Cooper was a knockdown-submission situation, good on her, but will she knock down Torres? Hannah Cifers and Randa Markos both willingly went on the ground with Dern and paid the price for it - two cases of poor fight IQ there. The Nina Nunes win is Dern's only ‘legitimate’ win from a wrestling standpoint: she got a submission off of an actual takedown.

In fights where Dern fails to secure takedowns she does not do well. Her striking is quite green. Marina Rodriguez pieced her up in her most recent time out, as did Amanda Ribas. Both of these girls were clever enough to remain standing and ward off any incoming wrestling attacks from Dern. As long as Tecia Torres doesn’t let Mackenzie Dern pull guard she should be fine striking with a far slower and more plotting Dern.

I’m actually surprised that the line has changed as much as it has in Dern’s favor - the betting market seems to like her chances in this matchup, and I couldn’t disagree more.

First of all, the weight cut for Dern to strawweight is rough, and that stuff always impacts fighters’ performances in the cage. Second of all, Torres has never been finished in any combat sport she has ever competed in, be it Muay Thai or MMA. This is a girl that has fought the who's who of her division: Marina Rodriguez, Zhang Weili, Joanna, Andrade, Namajunas. Not only has Torres never been finished, she has never been knocked down. That's durability and credible defense right there, folks.

If this fight goes the distance I think Tecia will be the victor. Her striking is far more evolved to MMA, plus after the first round Dern’s composure tends to fall off a cliff. Her combinations become predictable and her footwork is not fluid at all.  At these odds I’m rolling with Torres. Dern might get a takedown but Torres is savvy enough to avoid getting finished: it's what she's been doing all of her career. 

Best Bet: Tecia Torres To Win Fight (+100)

Vinc Pichel vs. Mark Madsen Picks

Unbeaten Danish prospect and former olympic wrestler, Mark Madsen, takes his next step toward the divisional rankings. He faces grizzled veteran Vinc Pichel at UFC 273. The story of this fight will be wrestling: Can Madsen take Pichel down, and more importantly, keep him down? I definitely think so. Pichel does have some grappling accolades to his name, however he is usually content on giving up takedowns in fights because he believes he can reverse position and end up on top. That will not work against Madsen.

In Pichel’s last four fights he’s been taken down 15 times. That spells disaster for the guy against Madsen. Now, he hasn’t been controlled a whole lot in most of those fights, but who else has the top control of Madsen? The guy that is closest to Madsen’s skill set is Gregor Gilespie who absolutely demolished Pichel with consistent takedowns and smothering top strikes. There just is a difference between your average joe, Austin Hubbard, taking you down and being able to hold you down for a minute, and Madsen taking you down and holding you down for the entire duration of that round.

On the feet is where Pichel will have chances, however seeing as Madsen has moved to train at Fight Ready with former two-time champion Henry Cejudo, I think we will see an evolved Madsen this weekend.

In Madsen’s controversial outing against Guida, fans slammed him for not implementing his wrestling and being in a fight that was too close against an aged veteran like Guida. I’ll look at the other side of the coin here, and actually praise Madsen for improving his striking to the point of him being able to outpoint a difficult guy like Guida over the course of three rounds. Considering Madsen’s non-existent striking against Hubbard, it’s clear that he is making huge improvements to his MMA game. He is not just surviving on the feet anymore, he can do some work there.

Pichel is probably still the better striker, but Madsen’s ground game is seriously top notch. It does not get better than this. Prior to the Guida fight Madsen was also going through a lot of stress with a sick wife and lasting injuries from a broken jaw he suffered against Hubbard. This time out he is 100% focused and has had no such complications outside of the cage. I think we will see a version of Madsen who is ready for the top ten this weekend.

The betting line boggles my mind. I think we are getting value due to Madsen’s most recent outing, however if his worst performance is a split-decision win over Clay Guida I think his ceiling is high enough to beat a guy like Pichel who isn't exactly on the young side either. After tonight we may not be able to get plus money on Madsen again.

Best Bet: Mark Madsen To Win Fight (+110)

Ian Garry vs. Darian Weeks Picks

In the featured preliminary bout of UFC 273 Ireland’s new prospect, Ian Garry, takes on UFC newcomer Darian Weeks.

Garry is supposedly the guy people are calling the new Conor McGregor, but so far I’m not seeing the skills to justify such a comparison.

Garry is a striker, and a pretty good one at that, however his foot work is raw, as is his defensive capabilities. 

The grappling leaves a lot to be desired, and I think a guy like Darian Weeks will be able to grind on him and win the wrestling exchanges.

Garry’s debut was supposed to be a blowout. The UFC matching him up against one of the most undersized middleweight with zero wins in the organization is purposefully done to make him look good. What ended up happening was Garry actually getting beat in that first round up until he landed a nice counter punch to close the show. It was a nice shot, but everything leading up to that was very criticizable. 

Weeks had a decent showing in his own debut against UFC veteran Bryan Barberena, in a fight he took on just a few days’ notice. In hindsight, sure, that’s a fight you have to win if you’re Weeks, however given Barberena’s most recent outing I think the loss has aged better than it could’ve. 

Unbeknownst to most, Weeks also has had experience on the boxing scene as well as on the wrestling scene. We are looking at a well rounded guy here, and with a fully focused training camp I think we will see him shine. In that Barberena fight I don’t believe we saw the best of him.

You’ve gotta be careful fading prospects though, and I do think that Garry is a prospect, or at least can be in the future. A common pitfall is focusing too much on the negatives of the guy you’re fading while forgetting to ask the question: “Is the opponent even good enough to get the job done?”

In this case, I think Weeks is good enough to serve as a fade of Garry. With the price tag on Darian it won’t hurt the bankroll too much to sprinkle a little something on him.

Best Bet: Darian Weeks To Win Fight (+300)

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