Saturday, May 21, 2022

UFC 273 predictions — Alexander Volkanovski vs. Korean Zombie: Fight card, odds, prelims, expert picks

The latest PPV offering from UFC is about as loaded up as possible. UFC 273 features a pair of title fights and a battle between a rising star and a former title challenger. It all goes down from the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida, on Saturday night. 

The main event sees featherweight king Alexander Volkanovski look to defend his crown against Chan Sung Jung. It will be Volkanovski’s third title defense since earning the strap in a win over Max Holloway in 2020. This will be Jung’s second opportunity at the 145-pound title after an unsuccessful attempt back in 2013.

The co-main event sees a title rematch at bantamweight. Champion Aljamain Sterling and interim titleholder Petr Yan have unfinished business to settle from their first meeting. The two battled in March 2021 to crown an undisputed champion, but a blatant illegal knee from Yan in the fourth round left Sterling unable to continue and declared the winner by disqualification. Sterling has not fought since then while recovering from neck surgery as Yan has continued to dominate, dismantling Cory Sandhagen over five rounds in October.

Can’t get enough boxing and MMA? Get the latest in the world of combat sports from two of the best in the business. Subscribe to Morning Kombat with Luke Thomas and Brian Campbell for the best analysis and in-depth news, including a complete preview of UFC 273 below.

With so much happening on Saturday night, let’s take a closer look at the full fight card with the latest odds from Caesars Sportsbook before we get to our staff predictions and picks for the PPV portion of the festivities.

UFC 273 fight card, odds

  • Alexander Volkanovski (c) -700 vs. Chan Sung Jung +500, featherweight title
  • Petr Yan -490 vs. Aljamain Sterling (c) +370, bantamweight title
  • Khamzat Chimaev -490 vs. Gilbert Burns +370, middleweights
  • Mackenzie Dern -115 vs. Tecia Torres -105, women’s strawweights
  • Vinc Pichel -125 vs. Mark Madsen +105, lightweights
  • Ian Garry -360 vs. Darian Weeks +280, welterweights
  • Jairzinho Rozenstruik -160 vs. Marcin Tybura +135, heavyweights
  • Raquel Pennington -190 vs. Aspen Ladd +160, women’s bantamweights
  • Mike Malott -190 vs. Mickey Gall +160, welterweights
  • Aleksei Oleinik -110 vs. Jared Vanderaa -110, heavyweights
  • Anthony Hernandez -200 vs. Josh Fremd +170, welterweights

  • Piera Rodriguez -120 vs. Kay Hansen +100, women’s strawweights
  • Julio Arce -195 vs. Daniel Santos +165, bantamweights

With such a massive main event on tap, the crew at CBS Sports went ahead with predictions and picks for the main card. Here are your pick makers: Brent Brookhouse (Combat sports writer), Brian Campbell (Combat sports writer, co-host of “Morning Kombat”), Shakiel Mahjouri (writer), Michael Mormile (producer) and Brandon Wise (senior editor).

UFC 273 picks, predictions

Volkanvoski (c) vs. Jung Volkanovski

Volkanovski

Volkanovski

Volkanovski

Volkanovski
Sterling (c) vs. Yan Yan Yan Yan Yan Yan
Chimaev vs. Burns Chimaev Chimaev Burns Chimaev Chimaev
Dern vs. Torres Dern Dern Dern Dern Dern
Pichel vs. Madsen Pichel Pichel Pichel Madsen Madsen
Records to date (2022) 7-8 7-8 7-8 9-6 8-7

Volkanovski vs. Jung

Campbell: Simply put, this is a potentially disastrous style matchup for Jung. “The Korean Zombie” had enough trouble dealing with the movement of Brian Ortega in his wide 2020 defeat that the thoughts of a footwork and feint wizard like Volkanovski dancing around him make it easy to understand why the odds are so wide. In Jung’s favor, however, is the fact that he showed legitimate improvement in both his patience and timing in a five-round win over Dan Ige last June. But unless Jung can establish a very legitimate threat of the takedown like he did against Ige, this could be a long night.  

Brookhouse: Jung is a fan favorite for good reason. He has a style that is very fun to watch and that allows for action-first bouts. Unfortunately, it’s just an awful style with which to approach Volkanovski. Jung is going to find himself walking into a lot of clean shots and likely being overwhelmed on the ground. It’s hard to imagine there’s a place this fight could go that would work out well for Jung. Expect a one-sided fight here.

Sterling vs. Yan

Campbell: Leading on two of three scorecards entering the fourth round, Petr Yan appeared to be on his way toward his first bantamweight title defense at UFC 259 until an illegal knee created a bottleneck atop the division for 13 months. It’s hard to imagine the rematch going too much differently as Yan’s multi-faceted stubbornness — which includes hard punching, strong takedown defense and an iron chin — should still be too much for whatever advantages Sterling might own on the ground. Yan has also been busier, having defeated Cory Sandhagen in October for the interim crown after Sterling pulled out with neck issues.

Brookhouse: Setting aside Sterling’s inactivity, the biggest red flag here is how little Sterling was really able to do on the ground in the first fight. Yan just appeared to be the better fighter in ways that were very visible throughout that fight. I will say the odds seem a little out of whack and Sterling is much more of a live dog than the numbers suggest. This may be surprisingly close, but Yan’s style is better for a five-round battle.

Chimaev vs. Burns

Campbell: Is the Chimaev hype for real? If his recent first-round destructions of Gerald Meerschaert and Li Jingliang are any indication, the answer appears to be loud and affirmative. Burns represents as difficult a test as Chimaev might face before eventually fighting for his first UFC title yet despite a decided disadvantage in experience for Chimaev, it might not matter. Burns is certainly game and skilled enough to likely extend Chimaev beyond the second round for the first time in his career but it’s hard to expect more than that. Unless Chimaev self destructs in way that’s hard to see coming, his combination of length, power and creativity on the ground make this a potential uphill battle for everyone — maybe even for defending champion Kamaru Usman, too.

Brookhouse: Burns is a completely different animal from anyone Chimaev has faced in his career to this point. That said, Chimaev may also be special in ways Burns has never faced, and Burns has faced some elite fighters. This is, in reality, the moment we really and truly find out how good Chimaev really is. Burns has skills everywhere and he can catch and finish anyone in a hurry. That said, Chimaev is overwhelming in his attack. He has power, wrestling and submissions that meet with his relentless attack to create a very hard-to-crack style.

Who wins Volkanovski vs. The Korean Zombie? And what other picks do you need to see? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed top picks on UFC 273, all from the insider who’s up more than $10,000 on MMA picks the past two years, and find out. 

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