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Picks for UFC 235 – Askren Defeats Lawler in Debut

Dylan Bowker

by Dylan Bowker in Mixed Martial Arts

Feb 25, 2019 · 2:37 PM PST

Ben Askren MMA fighter
Ben Askren makes his UFC debut on Saturday, March 2. Photo from @ThePlanetMMA (Twitter)
  • UFC 235 goes on Saturday, March 2nd live from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas
  • There’s a solid opportunity to bet on a Light-Heavyweight underdog on this card 
  • See our three best bets for the event

Many argue that UFC 235 is the biggest card the promotion has put on in 2019. It features the Light-Heavyweight GOAT, one of the most anticipated arrivals in recent UFC history, a big Welterweight championship co-feature, and so much more!

If you’re simply looking for the odds for all main card fights, see our UFC 235: Jones vs Smith Odds & Predictions.

We’ll be taking a deeper dive into the card to find the three smartest bets you can make for Saturday, March 2nd’s big event.

Magomedsharipov Trounces Stephens

This is a compelling crossroads fight in the Featherweight division.

Stephens is the stalwart of the division who has made a name for himself as a feared knockout artist. Magomedsharipov is the surging contender who has captivated everybody with his comprehensive, well-rounded game.

Magomedsharipov vs Stephens Odds

Fighter Book 1 Odds Book 2 Odds
Zabit Magomedsharipov -250 -250
Jeremy Stephens +195 +210

*All odds taken 2/25

Magomedsharipov is part of a wave of Dagestan MMA fighters who have been taking over the MMA sphere the last few years. Zabit has tremendous grappling versatility as evidenced by his last finish via kneebar, securing an anaconda choke in UFC competition, etc.

Magomedsharipov also has a versatile striking game that ranges from crisp boxing combinations to spinning back kicks and everything in between.

Conversely, Stephens has big wins over fighters like Gilbert Melendez, Renan Barao, Dennis Bermudez, Sam Stout, and Rafael Dos Anjos. Stephens trains out of a great gym (Alliance MMA) but is 3-3 in his last 6, coming off of a tough stoppage loss to Jose Aldo last time out.

Jeremy is a strong contender but I think Zabit secures a statement win over Stephens. Magomedsharipov all day.

Pick: Magomedsharipov (-250)

Askren Finesses Lawler

Former 170 lb titlist/monolith of violence Robbie Lawler welcomes one of the most highly-anticipated debutant fighters in recent years.

Ben Askren held Welterweight titles in ONE Championship and Bellator, prior to being part of that history-making trade involving Demetrious Johnson between ONE and UFC.

Askren vs Lawler Odds

Fighter Book 1 Odds Book 2 Odds
Ben Askren -280 -255
Robbie Lawler +220 +215

Funky is a former Olympic wrestler with a grappling style all his own, but Lawler could be a great foil for that. Much is made of Lawler’s unparalleled resolve and his striking game, but he’s a tremendous grappler in his own right.

A product of the Miletich Fighting System, Lawler has a great track record for stuffing takedowns. Askren is an elite-level grappler, though, and can create takedown opportunities from the most unconventional of positions.

The first round will be a key indicator but I see Askren grinding out Lawler.

Askren has unrelenting forward pressure, eventually gets a grip on his opponent, and Ben dismantles people with his ever-developing ground and pound techniques. I see Funkamania running wild.

Pick: Askren (-255)

Cirkunov Upsets Walker

This is a Light-Heavyweight tilt with divisional importance at 205 lbs. Walker is presently ranked at #15, per UFC’s ranking system, and Cirkunov is #14.

Many are high on Walker due to the volatile nature of his recent wins but I’m leaning towards Cirkunov here.

Cirkunov vs Walker odds

Fighter Book 1 Odds Book 2 Odds
Johnny Walker -140 -135
Misha Cirkunov +110 +115

I think Misha has had a stronger schedule in terms of caliber of UFC competition so far. I think Cirkunov has also been able to learn from tough losses against Oezdemir and Glover to galvanize himself and grow as a martial artist.

This was my read from Cirkunov’s last outing which resulted in him notching a first-round submission win over Patrick Cummins. The win came via arm triangle choke on the heels of those two aforementioned first-round stoppage losses.

Cirkunov is the type to deal well with adversity and do well in mentally/emotionally taxing situations.

If the victor in this fight gets an attention grabbing W, they can justifiably call out a top ten opponent. I think the person who secures that win is Misha Cirkunov.

Pick: Cirkunov (+115)

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