UFC 296: Edwards vs. Covington Predictions, Analysis, and Free Picks
YTD Premium Record: 263-178 (60%)
The end of the 2023 UFC calendar year has finally arrived, as we’ll have nearly a month off before the next UFC card. I’ll be using that time to make some wholesale changes for the better on here, so be on the lookout for those in early 2024.
For those who have been along for the ride these past 18 months, I can’t express how appreciative I am. Hopefully, I’ve made you some dough along the way.
Onto business, though, as I’m not exaggerating when I say this UFC 296 card (on paper) might be one of the best I have ever seen. There are multiple fights on the early prelims I could see being on a main card, and if Saturday night lives up to half its potential, we’re in for a real treat.
Let's get into it.
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Before we dive in, here is a quick recap of how PPV cards now differ in coverage and what’s included behind the paywall:
Full access to analysis and selections for my favorite plays on the Main Card
Picks w/ confidence level for every single fight on all three cards
Modeled odds for every single fight on all three cards
Dashboards for every single fight on all three cards
Let’s cash some tickets.
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Location: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, NV
Early Prelims: 6:00 PM EST - ESPN+
Prelims: 8:00 PM EST - ESPN2/ESPN+
Main Card: 10:00 PM EST - ESPN+ PPV
Tagir Ulanbekov vs. Cody Durden
With a 14-2 record overall and 3-1 record with the UFC, Ulanbekov comes in to this one considered to be one of the hottest prospects in the flyweight division. It’s been more than a year, however, since Ulanbekov last stepped into the octagon, withdrawing from a fight against Jake Hadley in August for undisclosed reasons.
Hadley still fought on that August Nashville card though, taking on Ulanbekov’s opponent in this one in Cody Durden. As a nearly 2/1 underdog, Durden stepped in on short notice to win that via a dominant performance (unanimous decision), handing Hadley his second loss and picking up his fourth straight win in the process.
Since 2020, Durden has only lost to the undefeated Muhammad Mokaev, and I think comes into this fight the better fighter nearly everywhere. Add in the more than a year of ring rust from Ulanbekov, and I like Durden to grind out another decision win.
Pick: Cody Durden (+145 at BetUS) to risk 1 unit
Alonzo Menifield vs. Dustin Jacoby
This fight immediately follows the Ulanbekov/Durden fight, and is another one I think the wrong guy is favored. Both 35 years old, the time is now for both to make a run in the shallow light heavyweight division and I think Menifield is in a better position to do just that.
Joining the UFC in 2020 via DWCS, Jacoby was on his way to do just that, winning his first six fights with the promotion before running into Khalil Rountree Jr. in October of last year. Dropping that fight via split decision, he’d then lose his next fight via unanimous decision to Azamat Murzkanaov. He did get back on track in August, taking out Kennedy Nzechukwu in the first round via TKO.
Menifield joined the UFC in 2019 and has since shown flashes of potential, but been the model of inconsistency. Losing two bad fights in 2020, Menifield has gone 5-1 in the time since, winning his last three coming into this one all within two rounds.
With nearly the same amount of fights at LHW, the metrics between these two are what tip the scales toward Menifield for me. As of Saturday, he has 56% more knockdowns and 55% more takedowns per 15 minutes in the octagon, in addition to edges in takedown accuracy, fewer absorbed shots, and striking accuracy.
I like for Menifield to be aggressive early, and look to take advantage of a slower Jacoby from the jump.
Pick: Alonzo Menifield (+205 at BetUS) to risk 1 unit
Main Card (+ Co-Main & Main Selections)
All Fights - Picks w/ Confidence Levels & Modeled Odds
YTD Premium Record: 263-178 (60%)
Prelim & Main Card - Dashboards (not found above)
*All odds as of the day of posting.