Saturday’s UFC 273 event is absolutely stacked. There are two title fights at the top of the card—Alexander Volkanovski vs. “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung for the UFC featherweight title, and a rematch between Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan for the UFC bantamweight title. Super prospect Khamzat Chimaev is also on the card, taking on former title challenger Gilbert Burns.
Sterling won the title from Yan in March 2021 in controversial fashion. Yan was ahead on the scorecards and appeared in line to take a decision win, but Sterling absorbed an illegal strike late in Round 4, which rendered him unable to continue. Due to the illegal strike, Sterling was declared the winner, and the title changed hands.
Khamzat Chimaev vs. Gilbert Burns
Chimaev has monstrous offensive wrestling, thoroughly and brutally manhandling opponents. In Chimaev’s most recent fight against Li Jingliang, he so easily ragdolled Jingliang with a bodylock that Chimaev decided to yell at UFC president Dana White while he was holding Jingliang in the air. This type of thorough dominance is incredibly rare in the UFC, and Chimaev is one of the most exciting prospects the UFC has ever seen.
Chimaev has unbelievable metrics through four UFC fights. Chimaev is landing just under nine significant strikes per minute and has absorbed just one total significant strike in four UFC fights. This gives Chimaev an incredible significant strikes landed to absorbed ratio of 112:1.
Gilbert Burns is a huge step up in competition for Chimaev. Burns is a world champion in jiu jitsu, so it will be very difficult for Chimaev to submit Burns or advance to positions on the ground that would make a finish easy. As a world champion in BJJ, Burns’ submission defense is excellent, as is his positional game on the ground. Chimaev will have a difficult time taking Burns’ back or getting into a dominant top position, which is how he has finished his opponents by submission.
Instead, it is much more likely that Chimaev will win this fight either by KO/TKO or decision. Chimaev has showcased one-punch knockout power, most notably in his win over Gerald Meerschaert, and Burns is coming off a recent knockout loss to Kamaru Usman. A decision win is also a realistic outcome—if Chimaev can record takedowns but cannot advance to strong positions to help him finish the fight, we could see Chimaev win a decision based on takedowns, close-distance striking volume and control time.
Eliminating the submission finish against a world champ in jiu jitsu and taking Chimaev to win by decision or KO/TKO takes Chimaev down from a heavy -550 to a much more reasonable -150. Since it will be difficult for Chimaev to submit Burns, this is an appealing trade-off.
Alexander Volkanovski vs. Chan Sung Jung
Like Khamzat Chimaev, Volkanovski is a gigantic favorite on the moneyline, sitting at roughly -700, which is one of the higher marks you’ll see in a men’s title fight. Like Chimaev, looking at other DraftKings Sportsbook bets besides the moneyline could be a way to extract better value for a fight that Volkanovski is highly likely to win.
Volkanovski is extremely tough and durable, and his toughness was best on display in his most recent fight against Brian Ortega. Ortega had Volkanovski in a tight mounted guillotine choke that a lot of fighters would have tapped to, but Volkanovski managed to survive the choke and escape the bad position.
Volkanovski later found himself in a triangle choke and managed to escape that submission attempt as well. Volkanovski’s toughness and durability give him more margin for error.
Volkanovski has been a decision machine. All four of Volkanovski’s last four fights have been decision wins. Five of Volkanovski’s last six fights have gone to decision, and seven of Volkanovski’s last nine UFC fights have gone to decision. Chan Sung Jung is also tough and durable, which is how he got his nickname “The Korean Zombie”. Between these two fighters, their last six fights combined have gone to decision.
A fight between two very tough fighters at a lighter weight class is a recipe for a long fight, and taking the fight to end in a decision is an appealing consideration at -150.
Get a 25% profit boost on the Dan Le Batard UFC 273 Parlay! Opt in at the DraftKings Sportsbook Promos page!
Tecia Torres vs. Mackenzie Dern
As a world champion in jiu jitsu, Mackenzie Dern is an incredible grappler once the fight hits the mat, but she lacks strong offensive wrestling to get the fight to the ground where she can utilize her biggest strength. Dern has converted just 10% of her takedown attempts, a very poor rate. Dern is also averaging just 0.54 takedowns per 15 minutes, which is also poor.
While Dern’s striking has improved a lot since her MMA debut, Torres is still the better striker, and if Dern cannot get this fight to the ground, Torres should be in a good position to win. Torres has blazing fast hands and will be primed to outstrike Dern on the feet. Torres to win by decision (+150) is also an option at plus money, as Dern has never been finished in her MMA career and just went five full rounds with striker Marina Rodriguez in a decision loss.
DraftKings is hosting a big UFC 273 fantasy MMA tournament that pays out $600,000 in total prizes, including $200,000 to first place. Set your DraftKings fantasy MMA lineups here: UFC $600K UFC 273 Special [$200K to 1st].
Aljamain Sterling vs. Petr Yan
The popular public opinion is that Yan was dominating the first fight before getting unlucky with a disqualification late in Round 4. However, their first fight was closer than the mainstream public tends to acknowledge. Sterling actually outlanded Yan in total significant strikes in the fight, 97 to 86. Sterling is longer than Yan, carrying about a four-inch reach advantage, and Sterling had success from distance, particularly with body work off kicks. Sterling outlanded Yan 79 to 64 in distance strikes and was able to connect with a hard flying knee in Round 1. Yan did outland Sterling in headshots, 48 to 40, which tends to get the attention of judges more than bodywork. Yan also recorded a knockdown, which Sterling was unable to do.
Sterling ran a fast pace in the first fight, throwing way more striking volume than Yan. Sterling attempted 230 significant strikes, compared to just 137 for Yan. Sterling’s fast pace seemed to take a toll on his gas tank.
Sterling is capable of fighting a more composed fight in the rematch and conserving his gas tank by picking his spots from distance, which could result in a lengthy, measured fight that goes to decision. Taking the fight to end by decision also allows margin for error in picking the winner.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
All views expressed are my own. I am an employee of DraftKings and am ineligible to play in public DFS or DKSB contests. The contents contained in this article do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups.
If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, crisis counseling and referral services can be accessed by calling 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) (IL/IN/MI/NJ/PA/WV/WY), 1-800-NEXT STEP (AZ), 1-800-522-4700 (CO/NH), 888-789-7777/visit ccpg.org/chat (CT), 1-800-BETS OFF (IA), 1-877-770-STOP (7867) (LA), 877-8-HOPENY/text HOPENY (467369) (NY), visit OPGR.org (OR), call/text TN REDLINE 1-800-889-9789 (TN), or 1-888-532-3500 (VA).
21+ (18+ NH/WY). Physically present in AZ/CO/CT/IL/IN/IA/LA/MI/NH/NJ/NY/OR/PA/TN/VA/WV/WY only. Eligibility restrictions apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for full terms and conditions.