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Max Holloway to halt Brian Ortega hype train? Get our best bets for UFC 231 on Saturday night

Leigh Copson 7 Dec 2018
Max Holloway (credit:Credit by bettingpro)

UFC 231 predictions for Saturday, December 8. Who will win the mouth-watering UFC featherweight title fight between Max Holloway and Brian Ortega, and can Joanna Jedrzejczyk avenge her three kickboxing losses to Valentina Shevchenko when they meet in MMA for the first time? Read on for all of our free predictions and betting tips for UFC 231.

Max Holloway v Brian Ortega

This is what combat sports should be all about – no amateur dramatics, just the two best fighters in their weight class going head-to-head for the biggest prize on offer. Max Holloway is on top of the world right now, riding a 12-fight win streak that has made him the featherweight champion of the UFC, but standing opposite him on Saturday night will be Brian Ortega, an unbeaten phenom who has charged up the rankings thanks to a string of stoppage wins. Christmas really has come early for fight fans – but who will be champion by the end of this mouth-watering contest? 

Holloway has come a long way since suffering back-to-back decision defeats at the hands of Dennis Bermudez and Conor McGregor back in 2013. Since that loss to the former two-weight champion he has grown leaps and bounds while embarking on a 12-fight win streak that has seen him impressively dispatch of some big names. His last two outings saw him stop former champion Jose Aldo via strikes and while it can be said that the Brazilian has not been the same since being taken out in 13 seconds by McGregor, he is still one of the best featherweights on the planet.

There is one big, dark cloud hanging over the champion though – his health. This bout was originally scheduled for July of this year but was shelved following concerns for Holloway, who had been showing concussion-like symptoms during media appearances in the run up to the fight. We still do not have any definitive answers for what was wrong with the featherweight champion, and that is a worrying thought because his next opponent is a wrecking ball.

Ortega said it himself – he is not a points-scoring fighter, he wants to get inside the Octagon and stop his opponent to leave no doubt. He has had no problems doing that during his time in the UFC with all seven of his fights being wrapped up inside the distance (his debut fight became a No Contest after he failed a drug test), and his most recent outing was his most impressive to date as he became the first man to stop Frankie Edgar, finishing the former lightweight champion with strikes in the first round. But he is not just a heavy-hitter, Ortega also has slick submission that have helped him to three of his victories inside the UFC, so ‘T-City’ is a man who can get it done on the feet or on the ground. But does he have enough about him to beat Holloway?

This is a massive question to answer. If Holloway is over his health problems then it is hard to bet against him – this is the best version of ‘Blessed’ we have ever seen. But if he is not over those issues then he could be there for the taking against a ruthless opponent in Ortega. The challenger is one of the best grapplers in the sport and his striking skills have been developing at a rapid rate since he first showed up in the UFC. So as you can see, this really is a tough one to call and that is reflected in the fact that the bookmakers are struggling to separate the two men – both are 10/11 in the Winner betting at bet365.

So because of this I am going to avoid the calling a winner and instead go to the Total Rounds market where you can get a decent price on Over 3.5 Total Rounds. Both men are extremely talented with cardio for days and neither man has been stopped in their professional MMA careers, so it feels almost inevitable that this bout will make it to the ‘championship rounds’ on Saturday night. The price is hardly lucrative and it may not be a ‘sexy’ pick, but when you consider how close this fight is to call in terms of a winner and how it will be won, this seems like a much more solid bet to place on the main event.

Joanna Jedrzejczyk v Valentina Shevchenko

Joanna Jedrzejczyk bounced back from her back-to-back defeats at the hands of Rose Namajunas with a decision win over Tecia Torres in July, and her latest trip to the Octagon will see the former women’s strawweight champion make her flyweight debut against an opponent she is very familiar with in Valentina Shevchenko.

Before embarking on their mixed martial arts careers these two women met on three separate occasions in the world of kickboxing, and on all three occasions it was Shevchenko who had her hand raised at the end of the contest. So can Jedrzejczyk reverse that trend to make a successful debut in the flyweight ranks or will Shevchenko inflict yet another defeat on the Polish fighter? I simply have to go with the latter.

In my opinion Shevchenko is the better all-round fighter out of these two women, she will have a clear size advantage and she has shown to be durable by going the distance with the likes of Amanda Nunes (twice) and Holly Holm. Jedrzejczyk, meanwhile, was stopped via strikes at flyweight, so it feels like she is playing a dangerous game here by moving up a weight class. Shevchenko can stop her in the stand-up and if they hit the mat she can out-grapple the Pole and submit her, so for me backing Shevchenko to win via stoppage is the way to go.

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Max Holloway to halt Brian Ortega hype train? Get our best bets for UFC 231 on Saturday night

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