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UFC 254 betting picks and Main Card preview

UFC 254 Main card preview and betting picks

The final fight card on UFC Fight Island will be highlighted by main card bouts including Alexander Volkov vs. Walt Harris, Robert Whittaker vs. Jared Cannonier, and the main event championship fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje. But while the second half of the main card of UFC 254 is loaded with veterans, plenty of young fighters will be on display in the first three bouts of the main card this Saturday. We have taken a look at the UFC 254 betting and give our free picks. You can read our picks for the Volkov v Harris fight here.

(Betting odds via BETMGM Sportsbook)

Middleweight: Phil Hawes (-235) vs. Jacob Malkoun (+200)

Phil Hawes (8-2-0) and Jacob Malkoun (4-0-0) will both be making their UFC debuts in this bout. Hawes’s two losses came back in 2016 and 2017; in four fights since June of 2019, Hawes has earned four straight first-round stoppage wins with three knockouts and one submission win. The Australian Malkoun has only four professional fights under his belt with two wins by knockout and two wins by decision.

Hawes has more experience and more explosive knockout power. While a Malkoun upset certainly isn’t out of the question, we’ve seen enough from Hawes over the last 16 months to roll with the 31-year-old as the betting favorite here.

Phil Hawes by Knockout

+100 @ Bovada

Women’s Flyweight: Lauren Murphy (-228) vs. Liliya Shakirova (+193)

Lauren Murphy (13-4-0) entered the UFC with an 8-0 record before going a disappointing 2-4 in her first six fights with the promotion. But Murphy has found her footing over the last year in the octagon with a three-fight winning streak. She’ll look to extend that winning streak against Liliya Shakirova (8-1-0) who will be making her UFC debut coming off of three straight wins.

Murphy was originally supposed to take on Cynthia Calvillo in this spot. While Calvillo might have given her trouble, the newcomer Shakirova will likely be outmatched in this one.

Lauren Murphy by Decision

-161.29 @ Bovada

Light Heavyweight: Magomed Ankalaev (-310) vs. Ion Cuțelaba (+260)

Magomed Ankalaev (13-1-0) fell victim to a triangle choke submission in his UFC debut to snap a 9-0 start to his professional career. Ankalaev has bounced back nicely with four straight wins including three knockouts. One of those knockout wins came against Ion Cutelaba (15-5-0), who fell to 4-4 in the UFC with that loss.

Fight fans and Dana White were upset by how quickly referee Kevin MacDonald stopped the last fight between these two light heavyweights just 38 seconds into the first round. White promised the fans a rematch, and after Cutelaba was forced to pull out of a previously scheduled rematch due to COVID-19, UFC fans will finally get to see this bout at UFC 254. Expect the same result.

Magomed Anakalaev by Technical Knockout

+100 @ Bovada
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