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UFC on Fox 28: Picks & Predictions for Barao vs Kelleher & more

Trevor Dueck

by Trevor Dueck in Mixed Martial Arts News

Feb 22, 2018 · 4:57 PM PST

Jeremy Stephens after beating Doo Ho Choi at UFC Fight Night
Jeremy Stephens, seen here celebrating after beating Doo Ho Choi, headlines UFC on FOX 28. Photo by UFC (YouTube).
  • Will Brian Kelleher upset Renan Barao at UFC on FOX 28 (Sat., Feb. 24, 8:00 p.m. ET)?
  • Can Alex Perez continue his six-fight win streak vs Eric Shelton?
  • Which fighters offer the best value for MMA bettors?

Let there be knockouts! That could be the catchphrase for this weekend’s UFC on Fox 28, which sees two featherweights who love to bang — Jeremy Stephens and Josh Emmett — meet in the main event, aiming to get one step closer to a title shot.

The card also features an important women’s strawweight title eliminator bout between Jessica Andrade and Tecia Torres and a light heavyweight showdown between the hard-hitting Ovince Saint Preux and Ilir Latifi. Speaking of hard-hitting, don’t blink when Mike Perry and Max Griffin square off because that fight could steal the show.

When it comes to betting, however, the value lies deeper on the card, in a couple of the preliminary fights.

Renan Barao fighting Michael McDonald at UFC on Fuel TV.
Renan Barao (L), who fought Michael McDonald (R) at bantamweight, will now drop to 135 pounds to face Brian Kelleher. Photo by MMA Fanatics (YouTube).

RENAN BARAO (-152) vs. BRIAN KELLEHER (+132)

Renan Barao (34-5) has looked like a shell of his former championship self with lackluster performances against Phillipe Nover, Jeremy Stephens and Aljamain Sterling, guys he would have dominated back in the day. Now the former UFC bantamweight champion is dropping down to 135 pounds to see if he can find some success. His biggest foe may be the weight cut.

Barao just doesn’t seem to have the same fire or fighting IQ he once possessed …

Brian Kelleher (18-8) has a history of cashing in as an underdog, including whooping Poland’s Damian Stasiak last October and earning “Fight of the Night” honors in the process. Kelleher is a well-rounded fighter who greatest strengths are pushing the pace and having the stamina to do it over three rounds.

Barao just doesn’t seem to have the same fire or fighting IQ he once possessed and which allowed him to compete at the highest level. The brutal weight cut and having to face a guy who fights at such a high speed is a recipe for another loss. Kelleher’s +135 moneyline is worth a small bet.

SUGGESTED BET POTENTIAL PAYOUT
$25 on Brian Kelleher (+132) $33 profit

 

ALEX PEREZ (-140) vs. ERIC SHELTON (+110)

On paper, this looks like a close fight, and it probably will be. Alex Perez (19-4), who submitted C.J. de Tomas with a gorgeous anaconda choke in his UFC debut, is riding high on a six-fight winning streak. Meanwhile, Eric Shelton (11-4) has been fighting tough competition and dropped split decisions to Alexandre Pantoja and Jarred Brooks in his first two UFC appearances. He finally came up with a well-earned win back in November against Jenel Lausa.

This is a pretty evenly matched fight as both men are solid on their feet and have strong submission grappling. The main difference is that Shelton has fought world-class competition, and more than held his own, which is something we haven’t seen Perez do yet. Shelton should be able to edge out Perez in the striking and takedown battles to win a close decision.

SUGGESTED BET POTENTIAL PAYOUT
$25 on Eric Shelton (+110) $27.50 profit
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