On Saturday December 8th, UFC 231: Holloway vs Ortega comes to us live from the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The main event of the night is a featherweight title fight between champion Max Holloway and Brian Ortega. The co-main event for the night is a women’s flyweight title fight between Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Valentina Shevchenko.
In total, UFC 231 will have 13 fights. The opening round of prelims can be seen on UFC Fight Pass, while the second round of prelim fights will be televised on Fox Sports 1. As usual, the main card fights can be seen on PPV.
With that said, let’s step inside the MMA betting octagon to examine the latest UFC betting odds, the scheduled fight matchups, potential UFC betting value, winning picks, fight predictions and more.
UFC 231 Preliminary Card: UFC Fight Pass
UFC 231 will air the following preliminary bouts on Fight Pass beginning at 6 PM ET. The following MMA betting odds are courtesy of BetOnline:
Aleksandar Rakić (-550) vs Devin Clark (+420)
Aleksandar Rakić (10-1) is on a ten fight win streak and has won two straight in the UFC. However, both of those wins have come via decision, which was the first time he has ever gone to the scorecards in his career. 7 of Rakić’s 10 career wins have come via TKO/KO. His only loss was a submission.
Devin Clark (9-2) debuted inside the octagon back in July 2016, and has gone 3-2 since then. His last fight was in April of this year and he won via unanimous decision, which increased his career wins via decision to 5 total. Clark is giving up three inches in reach and four inches in height to his opponent.
I believe this fight is tailor made for Rakić as he is the better fighter of the two. Online betting sites also feel the same as they made him one of the biggest favorites of the night. Rakić will win via KO/TKO in the early portion of this fight.
Brad Katona (-186) vs Matthew Lopez (+161)
Brad Katona (7-0) had an impressive showing at TUF 27 and some believe that he’s poised to make a solid run in the featherweight division, should the UFC keep this weight class. Katona has proven that he can grind out victories with his toughness, determination and skillset. 4 of Brad’s 7 career wins have come via decision.
Matthew Lopez (10-3) is an exciting fighter, but seems to burn out quickly after pushing the intensity to near-max efforts. He’s lost two straight fights and dropped his UFC record to 2-3. Lopez is in dire need of a win and has a 4+ inch reach advantage on his opponent, but will he be able to take advantage of it?
UFC appears to be putting Lopez in a tough situation as he will be facing an opponent that can hang in the stand-up and ground game. I’m going with Katona to grind out a win via decision.
Chad Laprise (-340) vs Dhiego Lima (+280)
Chad Laprise (13-3) is a big favorite in this bout largely due to his recent success in the welterweight division. Laprise has gone 3-1 in his last 4 fights and looks to keep winning via knockouts. For his career, 7 of his 13 victories have come via TKO/KO. Another 5 have come via decision. If he doesn’t stop the fight early, then it’s going the distance where he wins on points. Laprise will have a 4 inch height and reach advantage.
Dhiego Lima (12-7) has lost three straight fights and all in different manners: decision, submission and TKO. Lima has solid fight skills and will be a tough challenge, but he seems to lack the elite level of ground game to really succeed in the UFC.
I don’t envision a scenario where Lima gets the win here. Laprise will take this one easily, probably via TKO.
Carlos Ferreira (-475) vs Kyle Nelson (+325)
Does anyone want to fight Ferreira? Initially, this fight was supposed to be John Makdessi vs Carlos. However, John pulled out less than two weeks ago. Veteran Jesse Ronson was then scheduled to fight Ferreira, but he was pulled from the fight after the commission said he was too heavy to safely make the weight cut. Now, newcomer Kyle Nelson will take on Ferreira on 4 days’ notice.
C. Ferreira (13-2) is a big favorite for this fight and rightfully so. He’s on a two fight win streak and has gone 4-2 inside the octagon. Carlos is a grinder that will look to tap out his opponent or control the fight and win via the scorecards. 6 of his 13 wins have come via submission and another 5 have come via decision.
Kyle Nelson (12-1) is a relative newcomer to the masses and most likely will be a stepping stone for Ferreira to boost his stock more. Without knowing too much on Nelson, I think the smart bet here is on Ferreira.
UFC 231 Preliminary Card: Fox Sports 1
The second round of preliminary fights will begin at 8 PM ET and air on Fox Sports 1. The following UFC betting lines are courtesy of BetOnline:
Claudia Gadelha (-305) vs Nina Ansaroff (+255)
Claudia Gadelha (16-3) has gone 5-3 inside of the octagon and won her last fight in June over Carla Esparza via split decision. Gadelha is a shredded 115 pound beast. She might give up an inch or two in height and reach, but she is a grinder that could take this fight early if Nina isn’t careful.
Nina Ansaroff (9-5) has won three straight fights after dropping her first two UFC fights in 2014 and 2016. Nina last fought in July and won via unanimous decision. Ansaroff has the advantage in striking and could light up Claudia if she doesn’t respect Nina’s stand up skills.
I believe this fight is a lot closer than what MMA oddsmakers think. Nina’s line of +255 is actually very appealing considering how solid of a fighter she is. This fight will most likely go the distance as 10 of Claudia’s fights have gone to the judges and 7 of Nina’s have as well. With that said, judges can be fickle at times and a decision could go either way. I’m going to play it safe and take Claudia, but Nina definitely has some betting value here.
Jessica Eye (+147) vs Katlyn Chookagian (-167)
Jessica Eye (13-6) has won two straight fights, but still has a 3-5-1NC record in the UFC. 14 of her 19 fights have gone the distance. She’s gone 9-5 when seeing the scorecards. Eye is giving up a few inches in height and reach to her opponent, and will look to get inside that reach if possible.
Katlyn Chookagian (11-1) has won 3 straight fights and holds a 4-1 record inside the octagon. Katlyn has gone the distance in 9 of her 12 career fights with a record of 8-1 when seeing the scorecards. Katlyn appears to be the better striker, but Eye might have an edge in wrestling.
When it comes to a battle of who can outwork the other, I like Katlyn to be victorious. This fight will be another one that goes the distance and be close throughout.
Eryk Anders (+115) vs Elias Theodorou (-135)
Eryk Anders (11-2) has already fought twice in the last 3 ½ months going 1-1. He stepped in on short notice to take on Santos, which he lost late in the 3rd round via TKO. But, Anders proved his toughness. And, it’s that toughness that might be too much for his opponent to handle in this fight. Since joining the UFC, Anders has gone 3-2. His other loss came to Lyoto Machida via split decision. 7 of Anders 11 wins have come via TKO/KO.
Elias Theodorou (15-2) has won two straight fights, which has boosted his UFC record to 7-2. Elias is a grinder who will try to control his opponent with a clinch and maybe even some dirty boxing against the fence. Theodorou has also been known to kick at a distance, which isn’t always popular with the fans. 8 of his 15 wins have come via decision.
I like Anders in this one. I think he’s too strong for Elias to control with a clinch. I also like Anders’ striking skills over Theodorou’s non-existing boxing skills. Anders could get a TKO in this fight if Elias isn’t careful. More than likely, it will go the distance and I feel that Anders will get decision win as he outworks Elias all fight long.
Gilbert Burns (-105) vs Olivier Aubin-Mercier (-115)
Gilbert Burns (13-3) lost a slugfest against Hooker in July, but still has a 6-3 record inside the octagon. Burns is highly skilled in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which gives him the utmost confidence on the mat. 7 of his 13 victories have come via decision. But, it’s his KO power that has caught the attention of MMA fans and his opponents. Burns KO’d 2 of his last 3 opponents in the 2nd round.
Olivier Aubin-Mercier (11-3) is a Canadian and will certainly have the crowd on his side. Olivier lost his last fight in July via unanimous decision, which snapped his 4 fight win streak. He does possess top-notch Judo skills, which have helped him score 8 submission wins in his career.
With both fighters being solid grapplers, I believe this fight will be determined on their feet and I have to give that edge to Burns. I believe he will either out-strike Olivier to a unanimous decision or score a TKO in the middle of the fight.
UFC 231 Main Card on PPV
The main card of UFC 231 will begin at 10 PM ET and air on PPV. The majority of online betting sites have the following fighters listed as the favorites:
Thiago Santos (-220) vs Jimi Manuwa (+185)
Thiago Santos (19-6) vs Jimi Manuwa (17-4) should be a fight where fireworks pop off as these two men combine to have 28 TKO/KO victories. Santos has won his last two fights and 6 of his last 7. During that span, he scored 5 TKO/KO’s. Santos has a reach advantage, but a slight height disadvantage.
Manuwa has lost his last two fights, which is unchartered waters for the British fighter with a 6-4 record inside the octagon. Jimi is the more desperate of the two fighters and fresher as he hasn’t fought since March. Santos fought in September in a physical fight against Eryk Anders, who he defeated.
Santos has moved up to light heavyweight, while Manuwa is a seasoned fighter in this weight class. These two were supposed to fight in September, but it didn’t happen. Now that they’re going to fight this weekend, the matchup seems a little off when looking at the odds.
Santos is definitely a scary striker with punches and kicks. He also has a huge advantage on the ground over Manuwa, but Jimi has better boxing skills and can definitely KO Santos if Thiago tries to stand up and fight for 3 rounds.
I really love Manuwa’s odds here. This fight should be closer in odds, but Vegas and online UFC betting sites feel that Santos is a big favorite. I think there’s money to be made on this fight and I’m going with Manuwa to get the win. Santos hasn’t faced a true light heavyweight yet, and it might prove too much for him on Saturday.
Alex Oliveira (+114) vs Gunnar Nelson (-134)
Alex Oliveira (19-5-1) has been on a tear as of late. The “Cowboy” has gone 6-1 and 1 NC in his last 8 fights. He’s moved up in the welterweight rankings and is poised for some big-time fights. Oliveira has a 4 inch reach advantage for both punching and kicking. 12 of his 19 wins have come via KO/TKO with his last fight in September ending via KO in 39 seconds.
Gunnar Nelson (16-3-1) hasn’t fought in 17 months and he lost that fight. He prefers taking the fight to the ground as he’s scored 12 of his 16 wins via submission. Nelson is also a capable striker due to his black belt in Karate. He’s proficient in striking and deadly on the ground.
This fight is going to be an exciting one. Oliveira will go hunting for Nelson’s chin, while Gunnar will look to choke out Alex. Nelson’s best chance at winning is to get Oliveira off his feet. I think Gunnar is an exciting fighter and his return has been a long time coming. With that said, I’m curious as to what shape he will be in after the long layoff. I would like to pick him to win, but I have to go with the more conditioned fighter in Oliveira.
Kyle Bochniak (+145) vs Hakeem Dawodu (-170)
Kyle Bochniak (8-3) comes into this matchup at a height and reach disadvantage. He’s also lost 3 of his last 5 fights, which has him at 2-3 inside the octagon. This will be his second tough fight in a row and I’m not sure he will be able to match up with his Canadian opponent. 4 of Kyle’s 8 wins have come via decision, but I don’t see this fight going to the judges.
Hakeem Dawodu (8-1-1) is an aggressive prospect who seems to have learned from his loss to Henry 9 months ago. He came back and defeated Arnett 4 months later via decision. 6 of his 8 wins have come via KO/TKO and I expect him to push the action, which Kyle will love to participate in.
I believe this will be a wild frenzy from the opening bell and I expect someone to get a brutal KO/TKO in this fight. With that said, I give Dawodu the edge in a brawl and I’m taking him to win this fight.
Joanna Jędrzejczyk (+285) vs Valentina Shevchenko (-350)
Jędrzejczyk (15-2) rebounded from a two fight losing streak to win in July via unanimous decision over Torres. Prior to her losses, Joanna was 14-0 and the former UFC strawweight champ with 5 title fights. She’s a decorated fighter with a solid career and highly respected among her peers, pundits and fans. 10 of her 15 career wins have come via decision.
Shevchenko’s (15-3) only two losses in the last 8 years have come to Amanda Nunes and both were by decisions. Surprisingly, 7 of her 15 wins have come via submission. She’s a dangerous striker with kickboxing and Muay Thai background. She’s a bigger fighter, stronger and just better overall.
There’s a growing thought that this fight could turn into a kickboxing contest, which favors Valentina who has already defeated Joanna in this discipline on 3 different occasions. Valentina is destined to be a champ in the UFC and that begins this weekend. I expect her to win the belt and dominate this division for the foreseeable future.
Max Holloway (-110) vs Brian Ortega (-110)
Brian Ortega (14-0, 1 NC) has amassed an impressive resume by defeating the likes of Edgar, Swanson, Guida and others. Ortega is one of the most dangerous grapplers in the division and will definitely be a handful for Holloway. 7 of his 14 wins have come via submission. Don’t sleep on his striking abilities either, as he knocked out Edgar in the first round of their fight in March.
Max Holloway (19-3) has won 12 straight fights including two in a row over Jose Aldo. However, Max did miss some time due to injuries. He hasn’t fought in a year and cutting down to this weight has some pundits thinking it’s too much for his overall health. Nevertheless, the champ is still one of the pound-for-pound best in the world.
This is going to be an exciting fight between two great, young fighters looking to be the best. Holloway has proven his overall greatness with this fight streak and defeating Aldo twice. Max also has shown that he can go the distance with success as he’s gone 8-2 when seeing the scorecards.
However, I don’t see this fight going the full 5 rounds. Both fighters thrive off pressure. Holloway likes to apply the pressure and Ortega likes to counter it.
When these two men meet in the middle of the octagon, it’s going to be an epic battle. I wish I didn’t have to pick a winner and I certainly hope that this fight can spark a trilogy between the two. With that said, I’m going with the champ. Until he’s dethroned, I have to stick with Holloway.
UFC 231 Best Betting Value
Based on each fighter’s career, UFC 231 matchup, and the MMA betting lines, I believe the following combatants offer solid betting value:
- Nina Ansaroff (+255) might not win the fight against Claudia Gadelha, but she definitely has the potential to win. In fact, this fight is a lot closer than oddsmakers think. Additionally, most MMA pundits feel this fight will go the distance, which gives Nina a puncher’s chance of winning.
- Eryk Anders (+115) is the underdog in his fight, but I actually feel he’s going to win. Anders is too strong and skilled to succumb to Theodorou’s clinch and kick tactics.
- Jessica Eye (+147) will face Chookagian in a fight that’s also destined to go the distance. However, she might not come out on the winning side of the scorecards unless she can control the fight on the ground with her wrestling skills. Her odds to provide value and are worth a hard look at, especially in an expected close fight.
- Gilbert Burns (-105) is the slight underdog in a very even matchup of two superb grapplers in their respective disciplines. The one thing Burns has an advantage in is his knockout power and I think that will make the difference in this fight. I do believe Burns will win.
- Jimi Manuwa (+185) is a big underdog to Santos, but he’s an elite striker in the light heavyweight division and we know how Santos likes to stand and fight. These odds are just too good to pass up.
- Alex Oliveira (+114) is a small underdog that offers a positive return on your bet. He’s already 2-0 this year and has elite level striking skills. If he can stay on his feet then he’ll punch his way to victory over the returning Gunnar Nelson.
Final Thoughts on UFC 231: Holloway vs Ortega
The main event of the night is going to be a blast. It’s one of the best fights the UFC can book, and I don’t think it’s getting the proper respect that it’s owed. With that said, I believe UFC 231 will be memorable because of Holloway vs Ortega. Another fight I’m looking forward to seeing is the semi-main event. I believe Shevchenko is going to be a star and a champ for years to come.
Lastly, don’t blink during the Santos vs Manuwa fight or you might miss the KO. It’s going to be explosive and possibly earn knockout of the night honors. Get ready Canada and fight fans around the world because UFC 231 is going to be a thrilling night of MMA action.
UFC 231 Betting Recap
- Aleksandar Rakić (-550)
- Brad Katona (-186)
- Chad Laprise (-340)
- Carlos Ferreira (-475)
- Cláudia Gadelha (-305)
- Katlyn Chookagian (-167)
- Eryk Anders (+115)
- Gilbert Burns (-105)
- Jimi Manuwa (+185)
- Alex Oliveira (+114)
- Hakeem Dawodu (-170)
- Valentina Shevchenko (-350)
- Max Holloway (-110)