Petr Yan Wins By Decision (+125)
I was big on Yan in their first meeting last year. I knew Sterling had a tremendous wrestling pedigree but, I think too many people were overlooking Yan’s skills and ability to fend off the takedowns. While I thought he may struggle and give up some I was still shocked at how well Petr Yan did against the takedown attempts. Sterling was just one of seventeen on takedown attempts and Yan was a perfect seven of seven. Sterling’s biggest mistake was going crazy in the opening rounds and blowing his cardio tank far too early. He never recovered from it and Yan has a gas tank that is second-to-none. While Yan ultimately made a foolish mistake with the illegal knee, he was well on his way to either finishing Sterling or winning a clear unanimous decision.
I have no choice but to back Yan here again, but his money line is way too steep. I can understand why some are taking a shot on the big underdog odds with Sterling as maybe he plays a more patient approach in trying to kick from range and narrowly win rounds against Yan early on. We know Yan is a slow starter but once he finds his rhythm and timing, he becomes extremely deadly and accurate midway through the fight. If Sterling does decide a slower, more methodical approach it could allow Yan to get a hot start early too. This fight mainly falls on how Sterling game plans for this, but I still see Yan getting his hand raised in the end by either late finish or a decision. He is just the clear better fighter and honestly one of the best in the world right now and it is hard to pick against that.
Khamzat Chimaev Wins By TKO (-105)
This is Chimaev’s first real test, and it still is not a true test at the same time. He has one of the biggest hype trains in a long time and it is against a bunch of nobodies and journeymen which he ran through with ease. Burns is a great fighter and has done exceptionally well since his return to welterweight. Beating the likes of Woodley, Maia, Thompson, and challenging for the title against Usman which he ended up falling short to. This is just a matchup style which benefits Chimaev as he can and should be able to take Burns down with not much resistance. He must keep caution dealing with Burns’ jiu-jitsu, but he should be able to get a finish on the ground with strikes here. I do not even think a submission is out of the question, but Chimaev’s top game is so good that Burns might just wilt under the nonstop pressure and strikes from above.