After a long (almost) three months, the UFC returns to their home state of Nevada to host this Saturday’s UFC Fight Night: Woodley vs Burns. The event, which was finally approved just this past Wednesday by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, will be held in the company’s UFC Apex gym, as will June 5th’s UFC 250 pay-per-view.
While this weekend’s fight card isn’t the best, at least on paper, it does feature an interesting fight atop the card. In it, former UFC Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley returns to action for the first time since losing his title in March of 2019. He’ll be facing the red-hot Gilbert Burns, winner of five-straight and seven of his last eight. Despite looking nothing like himself in his title loss to Kamaru Usman, Woodley is the betting favourite in this one at
1/2.* At 38 years old, there is a chance than T-Wood could be washed up, but my guess is that his last fight was just an aberration. His strong wrestling should be enough to keep the grappling of Burns at bay, and he has the striking power to turn his lights out, so he’s my pick.
The co-main event, if you consider it as much, is a beefy heavyweight battle, pitting Augusto Sakai against Blagoy Ivanov. This is currently a pick ‘em, with both men at
20/23. For what it’s worth, I’m leaning towards Sakai, as he’s won five-straight, four via (T)KO, while Ivanov has had an up-and-down UFC career thus far.
As for other “big” names on the card, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ace Mackenzie Dern returns following her first professional MMA lose with a bit of a bounce back matchup against Hannah Cifers. Dern’s strength and grappling should be too much for Cifers – I like her to win via submission at
More Betting Tips for UFC Fight Night on May 31st
Another “name” fighter fighting on Saturday is also a betting underdog I’m recommending. Katlyn Chookagian, fresh off losing to UFC Women’s Flyweight Champion Valentina Shevchenko, is a
21/20 underdog to Shevchenko’s sister, Antonina Shevchenko. Yes, she’s fighting sisters in back-to-back matches – quite a unique occurrence. As for this matchup with Antonina, Chookagian should benefit from the fight occurring in an empty gym, bereft of fans. She’s basically a point fighter, relying on the volume of her strikes to win fights via decision, rather than putting opponents’ lights out with power shots. The empty arena aspect comes into play because she’s also quite a loud fighter, punctuating all of her strikes with shrieks (whether they land or not). All that noise, and at least the illusion of strikes landing, could be enough to sway the judges to give her the nod. Considering she’s won 10 of her 13 professional fights via decision,
13/10 for her winning by points could be a wise way to go.
Brandon Royval v Tim Elliot
Another number I’m liking for Saturday night is Brandon Royval at
27/20 in his flyweight fight against grizzled veteran Tim Elliott. While this is Royval’s UFC debut, he has extensive experience on the regional circuit, winning LFA’s Flyweight Championship, while also having fights in Combate and WSOF. Elliot is a difficult matchup due to his herky jerky, odd fighting style, buy Royval is no walk in the park himself – he’s pretty wild in the cage. He’ll also enjoy a four-inch reach advantage over Elliot as well as being six years less long in the tooth. As for technical ability, he’s a very dangerous striker as well as a grappler, equally vicious off his back or on top. Royval wins quite a few fights via submission, and Elliot has been tapped out twice in recent fights, so Royval to win by submission at
7/2 is worth a look.
Jeff Fox’s Tips for UFC Fight Night
|WOODLEY v Burns|
|SAKI v Ivanov|
|DERN v Cifers|
|CHOOKAGIAN v Shevchenko|
|ROYVAL v Elliot|
Where to watch: BT Sports 1 is showing UFC Fight Night from midnight BST Saturday May 30th into Sunday 31st. The feature event of Woodley vs Burns is due to start after 4am UK time.
*All odds quoted were correct at time of publication.