UFC 231

Holloway x Ortega

Shevchenko x Jedrzejczyk

Picks, Parlays, and Predictions

Two Titles in Toronto

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Picks

Ortega x Holloway
Shevchenko x Jedrzejczyk
Oliveira x Nelson
Bochniak x Dawodu
Santos x Manuwa
Gadelha x Ansaroff
Eye x Chookagain
Anders x Theodorou
Aubin-Mercier x Burns
Lima x Laprise

Parlays

“Top Three” EDITION
Ortega (-110)
Shevchenko (-350)
Oliveira (+100)
$2.31 to win $9.03

“The Six” EDITION
Holloway (-110)
Bochniak (+148)
Gadelha (-320)
Anders (+103)
Santos (-186)
Aubin-Mercier (-120)
$6.66 to win $230.17

Predictions

Holloway x Ortega

for the Featherweight Championship

We’ve finally reached an appropriate impasse at featherweight. Reigning champion, and Hawaii’s native son, Max Holloway has looked unstoppable in his last 12 performances. His tenacity and durability are unmatched and his pressure-heavy striking guarantees an action-packed fight. Not only does he have masterful technique, he’s entertaining both inside and outside of the octagon. It is what it is. Ghoul-faced Brian Ortega has been gifted the antithetical style. Ortega is eerily calm, doesn’t mind losing rounds, and is a grappling phenom. The undefeated prospect also managed to knock out Frankie Edgar in his last performance. Nobody saw that coming. We’re accustomed to seeing Ortega grab necks and squeeze hard enough to make the crowd cringe. His grip strength appears otherworldly and it seems like he’s only getting better. This fight was originally scheduled a few months back but it was suddenly cancelled when Holloway started showed signs of delirium. Those issues still haven’t been directly addressed, which is concerning for the champ. Regardless, Holloway can, and will, kickbox circles around his competition. Especially against someone as hittable as Ortega. I just worry about the strength difference and general weirdness about Holloway’s health. We also haven’t seen Max grapple in a while and the big question is what happens if Ortega can score takedown amid a barrage of strikes. If this fight hits the mat, the champ, just like anyone else in the division, could find himself in trouble. The long arms and neck of Holloway will be juicy targets for a determined Ortega. Plus, I’m still not sold that Max is back at 100%. This fight pivots on a lot of unreliable X-factors, but it’s guaranteed to be the night’s most entertaining, and skillful, matchup.

Official Prediction:
Ortega eventually grabs ahold of one of Holloway’s limbs and transmutes it into a golden belt.

Shevchenko x Jedrzejczyk

For the Women’s Flyweight Championship

Shevchenko is prepared for any scenario inside or outside of the Octagon. Valentina has traveled the world with her team competing in Muay Thai, boxing, kickboxing, and MMA bouts in over 12 countries in the last 14 years. That’s impossibly Mortal Kombat of her. As if that wasn’t enough, Shevchenko is also a competitive marksman and a Russian folk dancer, certifying her as a top-tier pick for any apocalyptic draft. Her only legitimate losses in MMA have come from the claws of “The Lioness” Amanda Nunes, who is arguably the greatest female fighter today. Even so, both were relatively close decisions at a higher weight class.

All glory to the mighty Joanna Champion. I can wax poetic about the UFC’s Polish princess, but watching a compilation of her performances would be quicker and far more potent. Say what you want about the women’s divisions, but they usually make for fun and competitive fights. Especially when world-class talent is involved. In championship bouts, both male and female, Joanna holds the record for the highest, second highest, third highest, and fourth highest strike differentials. Outlanding an opponent by 142 strikes is both hilarious and concerning. While she may no longer be the strawweight champion, Joanna should still be considered one of the best in the world.

At 30/31 years old, both of these women have made a lifelong commitment to fighting. However, there are two factors that have me worried for Jedrzejczyk: (1) Valentina has beat her in three different Muay Thai bouts and all signs point to matchup becoming a striking contest, (2) Joanna is moving up in weight and Valentina is moving down. With a definite size advantage and an apparent striking advantage, this should be Shevchenko’s chance to shine unless the weight cuts were really starting to affect Joanna. I also can’t shake the image of Valentina almost murdering Priscila Cachoeira in her 125 debut. As much as I hate to admit it, I think the women’s flyweight division belongs to multi-talented Kyrgyzstani. I can only hope Joanna makes her work for it.

Official Prediction:
After two cancelled chances at gold, Shevchenko takes her frustration out on my favorite Polack.