Israel Adesanya
FILE - In this Feb. 10, 2019, file photo, Nigeria's Israel Adesanya poses as he fights Brazil's Anderson Silva in their middleweight bout at the UFC 234 mixed martial arts fights in Melbourne, Australia. Adesanya challenges champion Jan Blachowicz of Poland for the light heavyweight title in the main event of UFC 259 on Saturday in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill, File)


Patrick Werkmeister

From the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, 14 action-packed fights will take place as the UFC hosts it’s 271st event. This card is absolutely loaded with thrilling action featuring a riveting championship bout in the middleweight division. While the main event will be electrifying, this entire card should have exciting MMA bouts. It will once again be another volatile night in the UFC for this slate, and here’s what I like.

Jared Cannonier by KO/TKO (+120)
In this exciting middleweight division matchup, Derek Brunson looks to keep his win streak alive against Jared “Tha Killa Gorilla” Cannonier. Cannonier opened up as a -125 ML favorite but is currently favored at odds of -180. Last time these two fought, Brunson was able to defeat Darren Till via Submission in the third round, whereas Cannonier won by unanimous decision against Kelvin Gastelum. It was just the third victory via decision in Cannonier’s star studded MMA career but the purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu will surely look for the knockout in this one, where he has 10 wins by that method in his career. The Texas native comes into this one at the heightened age of 37, however, Derek Brunson is a seasoned fighter at the age of 38. Cannonier has shown vast improvement in every area from grappling to striking in each fight. However, at +120, these odds have exceptional value given Cannonier’s thunderous knockout power. With Brunson being the more one-dimensional fighter, if Cannonier can shut down his ground game then there’s little doubt Cannonier will walk away with the victory. Cannonier is the more well-rounded fighter and should show major adjustments from the last fight now that he’s had a full camp. Take him to bounce back with a knockout victory.

Tai Tuivasa ML (+158)
In the penultimate fight of the evening, heavyweight legend Derrick Lewis looks to defend his hometown versus young sensation Tai Tuivasa. The opening line favored Derrick Lewis at -185 odds, and he is currently favored at -180. This will be the first meeting between these two heavyweights, and this will be a home fight for Lewis given he is a Houston native. In his last fight he defeated Chris Daukaus by 1st round knockout, whereas Tuivasa also won via knockout vs Augusto Sakai. With the experience edge in this fight going to Lewis, it will be difficult for Tuivasa as the challenger to gain the momentum necessary to win the title. However, with the style of these two fighters, someone is going to get knocked out and Tuivasa might just get lucky enough to come out on top. These odds of +158 for a straight up Tuivasa victory have tremendous value, where this match is really just a coin flip. During the weigh-ins, they themselves made it very clear someone will get knocked out. Neither fighter has the durability to make this a full three-round fight but they do have the ability to end this fight early. With this in mind, play it safe and take the scrappier Tuivasa to possibly end this fight with a devastating knockout.

Israel Adesanya by KO/TKO (+195)
For this Middleweight Championship match, 32-year-old phenom “The Last Stylebender”, Israel Adesanya, looks to defend his title against rival Robert Whittaker. The Last Stylebender opened up as a -185 ML favorite and is currently favored at whopping odds of -300. Last time out Adesanya humiliated Marvin Vettori by unanimous decision. Similarly, Whittaker is coming off of a convincing unanimous decision victory over Kelvin Gastelum. Both fighters come into this one very skilled with a wide gap separating them from the rest of the division. In-between each fight, Adesanya has shown vast improvement in every area from grappling to striking where he recently took a shot at the light heavyweight division title. At +195, these odds have exceptional value since that’s how Israel won the last time these two fought at UFC 243. However, if Whittaker fixed his approach and knows the blueprint to defeat Adesanya then he could be a live dog. Still, Adesanya is the more imposing and well-rounded fighter and should have a field day and pepper Whittaker. Take him to win by knockout in stylistic fashion since he has been pumping on all cylinders.

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