Tom Aspinall, Mackenzie Dern among top picks


UFC 295 predictions, best bets, odds: Tom Aspinall, Mackenzie Dern among top picks to consider

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UFC 295 took a hit when heavyweight champion Jon Jones suffered an injury that forced him out of his planned title defense against Stipe Miocic. Despite the loss of the planned main event, the card features some compelling and evenly-matched fights, including a pair of championship bouts on top when the promotion returns to Madison Square Garden in New York.

In the main event, the vacant light heavyweight title is up for grabs when former champion Jiri Prochazka clashes with former middleweight champion Alex Pereira. Prochazka never lost the belt but was forced to vacate due to a shoulder injury. An injury to Jamahal Hill, who won the title after Prochazka vacated, left the belt up for grabs once again, setting up this bout that sees Pereira as a slight -115 favorite.

The pair of heavyweights set to clash could usher in the new era of the division. Sergei Pavlovich and Tom Aspinall are both vicious finishers with neither man going beyond the six-minute mark of a fight in their UFC careers. Because of their immense power and skills, the fight is a virtual pick'em at the betting window.

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 The undercard features what could be some fun action matchups. Brazilians Mackenzie Dern and Jessica Andrade link up in a strawweight contest. Andrade, the former champion in the division, has fallen on hard times with three straight losses in 2023 all by stoppage. Lightweight strikers Benoit Saint-Denis and Matt Frevola should produce fireworks. And Pat Sabatini and Diego Lopes kick off the PPV when they clash in the featherweight division.

As with every UFC pay-per-view event, there will be plenty of action at sportsbooks around the country. As always, we are looking at each main card fight to identify the "best bet" for each bout. After a 2-2 result at UFC 294, our record for the year now stands at an even 28-28.

Let's take a look at what we've identified as our choices for the best bets on the UFC 295 pay-per-view main card.

This is a sticky fight to me. According to the odds, both men are most likely to win by submission, which makes sense given that both have 12 submission victories on their resume. Where it gets tricky is that neither man has a submission loss, so they've both been dominant in applying their grappling. Lopes is a bit more dangerous on his feet but Sabatini has the better wrestling and can probably impose his will to force the fight to the ground. The question is whether either man can trap the other in a submission once Sabatini puts the fight on the floor. The odds suggest the fight won't go the distance (-190) but I'm not so sure this doesn't become a three-round grind on the ground, so we'll go with the slight favorite to score the win on the strength of his wrestling.

Matt Frevola vs. Benoit Saint-Denis

Under 1.5 rounds (-143)

After four of his first five fights in the UFC went to decision, Frevola has not seen the second round in his four most recent bouts. Three of Saint-Denis' five UFC bouts have checked in at under 1.5 rounds. The matchup iis a good mix of fighters looking to find a quick finish. If you want a slightly higher risk, Saint-Denis is +155 to win by KO, TKO or DQ. Frevola has two knockout losses on his ledger, one in an even one minute and the other in just seven seconds. Saint-Denis can finish fights quickly and Frevola has gotten drubbed out of fights fast in the past.

Mackenzie Dern vs. Jessica Andrade

Mackenzie Dern to win by submission (+115)

This is Andrade's fifth fight in 2023. That usually indicates a fighter is on a good run and looking to continue their momentum. Instead, Andrade has lost her three most recent fights, all by stoppage. Dern is an incredibly accomplished submission grappler and won four of her first seven UFC fights by submission. The submissions haven't been coming for Dern as of late, however, with a 2-2 run in her four most recent outings, all going to the judges' scorecards. Andrade has four submission losses in her career, two of which came during her current three-fight skid. This feels like the perfect fight for Dern to get back to basics and dominate on the ground before finishing with a submission.

Sergei Pavlovich vs. Tom Aspinall

Tom Aspinall money line (-120)

You have to go all the way back to June 2017 to find a Pavlovich fight that went past the opening round. In fact, only three of his 19 career fights have hit the five-minute mark and he has five wins that came in less than one minute. Not to be outdone, Aspinall has six fights that ended in less than one minute and three that went past the opening round. This all adds up to a wild situation where this interim heavyweight championship fight has +500 odds for the fight ending in the first minute of the fight, the "favorite" of the time of finish lines. The fight going past 1.5 rounds is +165, which is somewhat appealing since this is a five-round fight and it would make sense for both men to not dump their entire tank on chasing a quick finish. Still, Aspinall's more diverse game makes his money line a slightly more appealing bet.

Jiri Prochazka vs. Alex Pereira

Over 1.5 rounds (-150)

Only three of Prochazka and Pereira's nine UFC fights have ended in under 1.5 rounds. Both men are dynamic and dangerous, with the ability to finish a fight in a flash. Still, both men are also tough as nails and highly skilled. In such an even fight, it's hard to throw a bet at either man straight up or any method of finish unless you feel you have a truly good read on the bout. I don't have that feeling, but I do think the fight happens at a high pace and lasts more than one and a half rounds before either man takes over or gets the finish. Barring someone landing an early bomb, this feels like the best available line for the fight.

Who wins UFC 295: Prochazka vs. Pereira, and how exactly does each fight end? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed picks on every fight at UFC 295, all from the MMA expert who profited more than $6,200 in 2022, and find out.

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