The Octagon makes its debut at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, New York, this Saturday for UFC Fight Night 152. The card features 13 bouts and the sportsbooks are offering betting odds on all of them. Below are my top plays in the UFC Rochester edition of Prime Picks.
Kevin Lee (+100)In the main event, I’m leaning towards Lee (17-4) to get his hand raised over Rafael dos Anjos (28-11) in his welterweight debut. As an underdog, I see some value in Lee. This move up to welterweight was a long time coming. Lee went 10-4 as a lightweight, including a TKO win over Edson Barboza, and at one point was ranked in the top-five and even fought for the interim title against Tony Ferguson. But difficult weight cuts drained him, and after losing to Ferguson and Al Iaquinta in bouts where he looked good early but faded late, he decided to get a fresh start up at welterweight. This is a smart move for Lee, who at 26 has plenty of time to make another run for the belt at 170. He is an impressive wrestler with a high-pressure style and the ability to finish fights in devastating fashion on the mat. The Ultimate Fighting Championship is throwing him in there with the wolves in the form of dos Anjos, and while this won’t be an easy fight by any means, it’s one I favor Lee to win. “RDA” is 34 now and although he had an amazing run as a lightweight where he was champion, he hasn’t fared quite as well since moving up to welterweight, going 3-2 in the division and losing back-to-back fights to Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington. Sure, those are two of the best fighters in the division and there’s no shame in losing those fights, but it’s the way dos Anjos lost to them that makes me like Lee here. If Lee can pressure his foe and push him against the fence just like Usman and Covington did then he can win this fight. Considering the age advantage, Lee should be favored here. At +100, I tend to favor Lee as an underdog.
Trevin Giles (-150)For a short favorite, give me Giles (11-0) to beat Zak Cummings (22-6) in a middleweight bout. Giles is one of the top middleweight prospects in the UFC with 10 of his 11 pro victories coming by stoppage, including back-to-back knockouts over Antonio Braga Neto and James Bochnovic in the UFC. He also has a notable split decision win over Ryan Spann from his time in LFA. The problem with Giles is that he hasn’t fought since December 2017, but considering he is just 26-years-old I don’t expect the layoff to hurt him all that much. The UFC clearly likes what they see from Giles and are giving him a stern test here in the form of Cummings, who has taken over as a gatekeeper at middleweight. At 34, Cummings is far more experienced than Giles and has a winning record of 7-3 inside the Octagon. But for the most part he has beaten lower-level fighters and has lost anytime he’s stepped up in competition. He’s a well-rounded, yet limited fighter. Cummings is the perfect test for Giles at this point of his career, but it’s a test Giles passes, and I like the -150 odds on him.
Charles Oliveira (-365)For the parlay bettors, Oliveira (26-8, 1 NC) should be able to defeat Nik Lentz (30-9-2, 1 NC) in the pair’s trilogy match. These two rivals have met twice previously, fighting to a No Contest in 2011 (overturned due to an illegal knee leading to the finish) and in 2015, when Oliveira submitted Lentz with a guillotine. Considering the high-level Oliveira has been fighting at recently, I see no reason why he can’t finish Lentz again. Oliveira is the UFC’s all-time leader in submission wins with 13, and he’s currently riding a four-fight win streak with those four wins coming by submission, winning a Performance of the Night bonus in all of those bouts. Oliveira’s last performance against David Teymur, in particular, was extremely impressive as he showed off improved striking. At 29 it appears that Oliveira has really rounded out his game as he looks to make a run for the lightweight belt. Before he does that, he will have to get by Lentz again. Lentz has been one of the toughest grinders in the UFC lightweight division for years and is currently riding a two-fight win streak into this fight. But at 34 he hasn’t evolved a ton and is still someone who mainly fights to decisions, and his grappling-heavy game plays right into the strengths of Oliveira. I’m a little surprised the UFC booked this trilogy fight as Oliveira should win in impressive fashion yet again. At -365, give me Oliveira to get the win.
Davi Ramos (-445)For the parlay bettors, I favor Ramos (9-2) to beat Austin Hubbard (10-2). I’m not exactly sure what the UFC was thinking putting this matchup together. Ramos has looked fantastic in the UFC for the most part. After dropping a decision to Sergio Moraes on short notice in his UFC debut, he’s since won three straight fights by submission over John Gunther, Nick Hein and Chris Gruetzemacher. You’d think at 32 the UFC would give him a step up in competition against a ranked fighter, yet for whatever reason he’s taking on an Octagon newcomer here in the form of Hubbard, who was the Legacy Fighting Alliance lightweight champion. Hubbard is a solid prospect and has a lot of untapped potential but considering how dominant Ramos has been as of late I find it impossible to pick against him here. Give Ramos’ incredible submission skills, there’s a good chance he finishes this contest by submission. At -445, Ramos should be a target of those who prefer to put together a parlay.
Adam Martin is a mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the sport since 2011. He is currently the lead odds analyst for Sherdog.com as well as the lead staff writer for MMAOddsbreaker.com. Adam is also the co-host of “The Parting Shot Podcast” on iTunes. His favorite fight of all time is Dan Henderson vs. Shogun Rua and he wishes Pride never died. Adam is based out of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and he is a graduate of the University of Toronto and Centennial College. Get in touch with him on Twitter @MMAdamMartin.