Upcoming Match-ups

Picks for UFC on ESPN (Ngannou vs Velasquez) – Bet Barao as an Underdog

Renan Barao UFC
Renan Barao will take on Luke Sanders at UFC on ESPN: Ngannou vs Velasquez. Photo from @BloodyElbow (Twitter)
  • UFC on ESPN: Ngannou vs Velasquez goes Sun, Feb 17th with the main card at 7 PM EST
  • Renan Barao is listed as an underdog against Luke Sanders?!
  • See our three bets for this card

UFC on ESPN Ngannou vs Velasquez goes in Phoenix on Sunday, Feb 17th. ESPN will be broadcasting the event live from Talking Stick Resort Arena.

The top of the marquee bout pits the division’s most foreboding KO artist taking on one of the all-time great heavyweights who’s returning after a lengthy hiatus.

UFC on ESPN Ngannou vs Velasquez features the big boys but there’s a lot of intriguing lighter-weight showcases that bolster the prelims and main card. Here are the most compelling bets that I see on this event.

Velasquez Steamrolls Ngannou

Fighter Odds at Bovada Odds at BetOnline
Cain Velasquez -200 -193
Francis Ngannou +160 +168

*All odds taken 2/11

The main event Heavyweight tilt is a captivating clash of styles.

It’s the quintessential matchup between one punch-out artist and a high-level wrestler with grinding forward pressure. Though Cain is coming back after nearly three years on the sidelines, I still see him notching the win here.

Francis is a deadly competitor but his aptitude for defending takedowns is still suspect after his Stipe Miocic loss. Cain is the arguably the most effective Heavyweight wrestler in MMA for the last several years and has fight-finishing ground-and-pound capabilities.

I can see Cain grinding out a late TKO finish or getting a one-sided unanimous decision.

Cain is also a Heavyweight that landed a spinning wheel kick fluidly and effectively in his last outing at UFC 200, though. So you never really know with him, but I predict a triumphant return.

Pick: Cain Velasquez

Kron Chokes Out Caceres

Fighter Odds at Bovada Odds at BetOnline
Kron Gracie -340 -320
Alex Caceres +260 +270

Another bout with the dynamic of a supremely talented fighter coming off a long stretch of inactivity. Kron has not fought since his memorable rear naked choke finish of Tatsuya Kawajiri at Rizin’s NYE 2016 show.

Gracie has made huge leaps between fights in terms of quality of opponents and the skills he brings to the table.

All circumstances considered, Caceres is a good opponent for Kron’s UFC debut. Kron is just a prodigy, though. Being the son of the legendary Rickson Gracie means preternatural BJJ talent and also a bad night for Alex on February 17th.

I think Kron submits Caceres inside the distance.

Pick: Kron Gracie

Underdog Barao Upsets Sanders

Fighter Odds at Bovada Odds at BetOnline
Renan Barao +150 +145
Luke Sanders -185 -170

Despite Renan Barao having one of the most dramatic declines in MMA history, I still don’t see him losing to Luke Sanders. For me, this is a solid underdog bet.

Luke was a pretty buzzed about prospect a few years back but has done little since, in my estimation, to make me believe he’ll beat a former UFC Bantamweight titlist in Barao.

It’s strange to see a former pound-for-pound ranked talent in Barao to be an underdog in this fight. I would take advantage of that by placing a bet on Renan.

Pick: Renan Barao

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A part-time writer and full-time broadcaster, Dylan has hosted MMA talk shows Lights Out and Pure Fight Radio with featured guests like Jens Pulver, Roy Nelson, Miesha Tate, and covered some of the biggest MMA promotions like Rumble in the Cage, Unified MMA, and King of the Cage.