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UFC 273 betting picks: Predictions for Volkanovski vs The Korean Zombie, Petr Yan, Khamzat Chimaev and Mark Madsen

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Ben Fowlkes

MMA Expert

Co-Main Event Podcast. Previously: The Athletic, USA Today & Sports Illustrated.

WhenSaturday, April 9, 10pm
Volkanovski odds-700
Korean Zombie odds+540
TVESPN+ PPV

UFC 273 goes down in Jacksonville, Fla, on Saturday night, and on paper it looks like a bit of a throwback to the days when the world’s top MMA promotion used to load up these events so that the value to fans was in the aggregate rather than one big name.

Two title fights on the main card, one of them a grudge match with a bitter history, plus a big step up in competition for one of the most hyped prospects in years? That ought to be a good night of fighting – not that oddsmakers are expecting any of the top three bouts to be all that competitive. So how does the savvy gambler approach such an event, where the underdog odds are big but risky and the favorites are mostly cost-prohibitive?

Start at the top, with featherweight champ Alexander Volkanovski (-720) taking on “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung (+500). I’m not foolish enough to say that Jung has no chance in any fight against a man of flesh and blood, but it’s still hard to talk myself into thinking he wins this. He’s a hard-headed, creative fighter, and he thrives in chaos, but in Volkanovski he faces one of the toughest, most resilient, and smartest champs in the UFC. Maybe that explains why he’s the biggest favorite on the entire card.

Then there’s the bad blood rematch between bantamweight champ Aljamain Sterling (+360) and interim champ Petr Yan (-490). Sterling captured the title last year when Yan’s attacks flowed well outside the rules and he got himself disqualified due to a blatantly illegal knee strike, but since then Sterling hasn’t fought at all as he’s struggled to return from a pretty serious neck surgery. Was Yan on his way to winning that first fight before he cheated so bad he lost? Probably. Could Sterling still surprise him with a better game plan in the rematch? Absolutely.

Lastly, there’s the one-man wrecking crew Khamzat Chimaev (-510), bringing a ton of hype and momentum into his first major test against former welterweight title contender Gilbert Burns (+375). If it’s a live underdog you seek, Burns is probably it. He’s got more big fight experience than Chimaev, who’s been beating people so quickly that it’s tough to get a read on him, and he’s good everywhere with several ways to finish. The smart money says Chimaev’s size, strength, and pace still carry the day, but if you want to get crazy and you’re comfortable with some risk to get the bigger payoff, consider Burns.

If you absolutely hate risk but also don’t see the point in betting on a 5-1 favorite for paltry payouts, consider lumping all three favorites together in a parlay, which will get you respectable -152 odds. If you want to spice things up even more, considering adding Mark Madsen to that parlay, since +105 underdog odds on him against Vinc Pichel is actually pretty tempting.

As for me, I think it’s Sterling vs. Yan where you can find some value, but I can’t quite convince myself to pick Sterling, especially in a fight this tough after a year on the shelf. That neck surgery is no joke, and it’s borderline insane to expect him to be right back to championship caliber in his first fight back. Those are all points in Yan’s favor, though I suspect Sterling is still too tough for him to put away (within the bounds of the unified rules).

UFC 273 fight pick and predictions

Yan via decision (+110)

UFC 273 parlay picks

  • Alexander Volkanovski (-720)

  • Petr Yan (-490)

  • Khamzat Chimaev (-510)

  • Mark Madsen (+105)

UFC 273 full undercard and prelims

Volkanovski vs The Zombie will hit our screens after an incredible night of UFC 273 fights from Florida. Here's the full running order:

  • Volkanovski vs The Korean Zombie

  • Aljamain Sterling vs Petr Yan

  • Gilbert Burns vs Khamzat Chimaev

  • Mackenzie Dern vs Tecia Torres

  • Ian Garry vs Darian Weeks

  • Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs Marcin Tybura

  • Aspen Ladd vs Raquel Pennington

  • Mickey Gall vs Mike Mallot

UFC 273 live stream

A UFC 273 stream can be found by logging on to ESPN.com on your laptop, phone, Smart TV or Amazon Fire Stick. The main event starts at 10pm ET on Saturday April 9.

UFC bets explained

To win fight

This is the most straightforward bet you will find at UFC betting sites. Which of the fighters do you think will emerge victorious from the Octagon? Simply make your choice after studying the form and the odds available and place a wager in line with your judgment.

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