UFC 231 odds and picks: Why Max Holloway is the play over Brian Ortega
UFC 231 odds and picks: Why Max Holloway is the play over Brian Ortega
The Octagon heads north of the border, hosting a pair of championship bouts at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario, Canada for UFC 231.
The Octagon heads north of the border, hosting a pair of championship bouts at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario, Canada for UFC 231. Featherweight champion Max Holloway makes his long-awaited return, looking to tie Jon Jones and Georges St-Pierre for the longest active winning streaks in the UFC. He’ll face undefeated challenger Brian Ortega, bringing together two of the most promising young fighters on the roster. Also on the card is a women’s flyweight championship between former bantamweight title challenger Valentina Shevchenko and former strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk. It’ll mark the fourth time the two women meet inside professional competition. Below, we take a look at Saturday’s complete card, with odds courtesy of Bovada. ## UFC 231 odds and picks, main card ## Champion Max Holloway (-130) vs. No. 1 Brian Ortega (EVEN) Let’s try this again: Five months removed from their original main event at UFC 226, Max Holloway and Brian Ortega will finally take to the center of the Octagon Saturday night in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. UFC 231 will mark the end to the longest drought in Holloway’s professional fighting career, with the champion making his return now 12 months following the first defense of his featherweight championship last December. It’s been a rough 2018 for the 26-year-old titleholder, with injuries uncharacteristically forcing Holloway out of UFC 222, 223 and 226. Ortega hasn’t been much more active than his Hawaiian counterpart, competing just once this year, a stunning first-round knockout of former lightweight champion and featherweight contender Frankie Edgar. The undefeated Southern California native has stuck to his plans of waiting for the champion to make his return, finally getting his chance to prove himself the best featherweight on the planet. __Play and win:__ [UFC 231 free contest](https://betchicago.chalkline.com/games/ufc-231) Nicknamed “T-City” due to his affinity for the triangle choke, Ortega has quickly established himself as more than a submission grappler. Knockout wins over Edgar, Clay Guida and Thiago Tavares (the first two of which are notorious for their durability) have forced the division to recognize Ortega as a complete fighter with several avenues for victory. That concept likely isn’t lost on the champion, who’s regularly made the division’s elite look like far less than such. While he’s not as consistent as a finisher as Saturday’s title challenger, Holloway’s pressure is second to none at 145 pounds. Rarely ever seen backing away, Holloway’s volume-heavy stand-up game is going to be a real problem for Ortega. Despite owning some impressive victories of late, Ortega’s early struggles against better strikers in Edgar and Cub Swanson could prove to be his undoing against Holloway. __Pick:__ Holloway ## No. 1 FLW Valentina Shevchenko (-360) vs. No. 1 SW Joanna Jedrzejczyk (+270) The first of two title fights on the docket for UFC 231, Valentina Shevchenko and Joanna Jedrzejczyk get their latest chance at Octagon gold. Both fighters who established themselves in different weight classes, Shevchenko and Jedrzejczyk look to take advantage of a fresh slate at 125 pounds. Shevchenko comes into the contest [looking](https://www.mmaweekly.com/valentina-shevchenko-believes-joanna-jedrzejczyk-in-for-rude-awakening-at-flyweight) to make it 2-0 at flyweight, now getting her chance at the belt following a cancelled opportunity against former titleholder Nicco Montano at UFC 228. “Bullet” likely won’t have as much success here as she did in her divisional debut, a two-round drubbing of a clearly overmatched Priscilla Cachoeira earlier this year. But there’s a good case to be made that she’ll be the one to walk out of the Octagon with her first promotional title. While Shevchenko is listed as the smaller of the two, the former bantamweight is accustomed to competing against far larger opponents. What’s more, Shevchenko also already has three victories over Jedrzejczyk in professional kickboxing. That may be enough to spell disappointment for the former strawweight champion. Jedrzejczyk won’t have the striking advantage she’s grown used to inside the cage. Nor will she have an edge in the grappling department, with Shevchenko’s size and submission acumen likely to play a role in this fight’s outcome. __Pick:__ Stay away ## No. 7 LHW Jimi Manuwa (+175) vs. No. 15 MW Thiago Santos (-225) A fairly large fighter for the 185-pound class, Thiago Santos looks to make a home at 205, facing off against one of the biggest hitters the division has to offer. He’ll face Jimi Manuwa in what will be Santos’ first real test at light heavyweight. Santos was previously scheduled to face Manuwa earlier this year, before the injury bug bit the British slugger to delay this matchup of heavy hitters. “Marreta” went on to remain on the Sept. 22 card, stopping Eryk Anders in what was little more than a light heavyweight matchup between two traditional middleweights. Size likely won’t be a negative factor for Santos here, holding 2 inches of height and likely a few pounds of weight against “Poster Boy.” That said, his position as the betting favorite certainly is a curious one. He’s yet to face a true light heavyweight in his UFC career, and he’s now tasked with beating a man who has 15 career knockouts to his name. What’s more, of Manuwa’s four losses, three of those have come against title challengers. He’s used to fighting the elite of the elite, making him an intriguing pick for Saturday’s card. __Pick:__ Manuwa ## No. 13 Alex Oliveira (+115) vs. No. 14 Gunnar Nelson (-145) Iceland native Gunnar Nelson returns to the Octagon Saturday night, making his first appearance since a devastating defeat to Santiago Ponzinibbio last summer, and just his fourth walk to the cage in the last three years. He faces former lightweight contender Alex Oliveira, looking to bounce back from the first stoppage defeat of his professional career. Nelson is a submission specialist who’s more than capable of holding his own with some of the better strikers in the division, holding black belts both in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Goju-ryu karate. The soft spoken fighter has yet to pick up a victory over a big-named opponent, falling short in all three of his tries against Ponzinibbio, Demian Maia and Rick Story. The UFC’s other “Cowboy” doesn’t quite fall into that category of upper-echelon fighters, but that’s not to say Oliveira isn’t a talented welterweight, currently holding a 4-1 record over his last five spanning back to March of last year. Less than a year removed from the biggest win of his career, a second-round submission over former interim champion Carlos Condit, Oliveira looks to showcase his well-rounded skill set against another fan favorite in Nelson. Oliveira isn’t as refined of a tactician as Nelson, but the long layoff may come back to haunt “Gunni” here. __Pick:__ Oliveira ## Hakeem Dawodu (-185) vs. Kyle Bochniak (+150) Calgary, Alberta, Canada native Hakeem Dawodu looks to make it two in a row inside the Octagon in Saturday’s main card opener, facing off against five-fight UFC veteran Kyle Bochniak. Dawodu has yet to capture the violent magic that made him a compelling prospect coming into his UFC debut earlier this year, currently sitting at 1-1 inside the Octagon. He’s more than two years removed from his most recent stoppage victory, forcing us to question how much of a finisher the 27-year-old striker truly is against the deeper waters MMA has to offer. Making matters slightly worse for Dawodu’s hopes for a finish is the fact that he faces Bochniak, a fighter who’s never been stopped, and the same man who [withstood](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSg7-F0kWdQ) an absolute onslaught from Zabit Magomedsharipov earlier this year. With so many unknowns surrounding a slight betting favorite in the fight game, it’s worth taking a chance on the underdog in Bochniak here. __Pick:__ Bochniak ## UFC 231 odds and picks, prelims ## No. 3 Claudia Gadelha (-305) vs. No. 11 Nina Ansaroff (+235) __Pick:__ Stay away ## Katlyn Chookagian (-170) vs. Jessica Eye (+140) __Pick:__ Eye ## Eryk Anders (-115) vs. Elias Theodorou (-115) __Pick:__ Theodorou ## Olivier Aubin-Mercier (-145) vs. Gilbert Burns (+115) __Pick:__ Aubin-Mercier ## Devin Clark (+375) vs. Aleksandar Rakic (-550) __Pick:__ Stay away ## Brad Katona (-260) vs. Matthew Lopez (+200) __Pick:__ Stay away ## Chad Laprise (-325) vs. Dhiego Lima (+250) __Pick:__ Stay away ## Carlos Diego Ferreira (-375) vs. Jesse Ronson (+285) __Pick:__ Stay away __More:__ [BetChicago UFC 231 coverage](https://www.betchicago.com/ufc-231-odds-holloway-ortega-shevchenko-jedrzejczyk) | [UFC 232 opening odds](https://www.betchicago.com/ufc-232-odds-jones-gustafsson)2018-12-05T20:40:09.613Z2018-12-06T12:00-07:00