UFC 291 Moneyline Bets: Top 3
UFC 291 MONEYLINE BETS: TOP 3 – UFC 291’s headline act already promises to be a battle for the ages. But here are three other fights that pique my interest – particularly when it comes to smart picks.
Matthew Semelsberger (11-5) vs Uros Medic (8-1)
Coming in with 9 knockdowns in 8 UFC fights, Semelsberger is one of the hardest hitters in the UFC. He has also been very active since joining the promotion in August 2020, and will make his walk to the Octagon for the ninth time since then.
Semelsberger has improved lately, rounding out his skills and being more technical with his striking. Admittedly, his ground game could still use a little work. But if he continues to knock opponents down at the rate he is, he will come out victorious by knockout often.
Medic successfully bounced back from his first professional loss by finishing Omar Morales in the second round in his last fight. Unfortunately for Medic, he has been out since May last year due to reinjuring his hand in October. He got it surgically repaired in March and I feel that could be too quick of a turnaround for him.
At his best, Medic picks opponents apart on the feet and eventually puts them away with his sniper-like power. His ground game isn’t too shabby, but I think his overconfidence from coming out of a regional promotion like Alaska FC will work against him in the UFC. If he has trouble putting opponents away and they provide enough resistance,
The Pick: Matthew Semelsberger -200
This is the perfect matchup to put Medic’s glass cannon narrative to test. However, I expect Medic to fold under the pressure like he did against Jalin Turner.
A hard hitter like Semelsberger will find the chin of Medic and put him away. I think there’s a good reason as to why Semelsberger’s lean has steamed from the -130 range to -200. You can also back that the fight doesn’t go to decision prop to cover a possible Medic finish as well. Regardless, I fully expect Semelsberger to uncork another bomb and put Medic away within two rounds.
Roman Kopylov (10-2) vs Claudio Ribeiro (11-3)
After starting his run with the promotion 0-2, Kopylov has delivered on back-to-back knockouts to even his UFC record. On the regional scene he was a sniper with his striking, doing a great job of sticking and moving until he eventually finished his opponents.
He found it hard to implement that style against Roberson and Duraev, but was able to against strikers like Di Chirico and Soriano. Kopylov’s cardio is also a bit of a concern for me, as I don’t like his body language late in fights. But it doesn’t seem to matter, considering both of his last two wins came in the second and third round.
Ribeiro, in my opinion, is the poor man’s Michel Pereira, who fights later on this card. He is unorthodox and flashy with his striking but very reliant on early finishes to get his hand raised. We saw him get worn out by Alhassan earlier this year, before being knocked out in the second round. Yet, he managed to stuff takedowns from Holmes and knock him out in R2.
I don’t think Holmes is UFC caliber though, which is why he is no longer in the UFC. For that reason, I wouldn’t put too much stock into that win for Ribeiro. He is dangerous early, but if you can avoid his power strikes, he will wear himself out.
The Pick: Roman Kopylov -200
This should be a great stylistic matchup for Kopylov. I think he can remain safe enough in the striking realm early while chipping away at Ribeiro from distance and counters. His bodywork should start to pay off around the 7-to-8-minute mark of this fight, which is when he can start letting his combinations go with more emphasis. That will eventually open up a knockout opportunity for him. A little chalky, but Ribeiro only has a puncher’s chance in this fight.
Michael Chiesa (16-6) vs Kevin Holland (24-9)
Looking to avoid a career-worst three-fight losing streak, Chiesa returns after taking off 2022 to rehab some injuries. Chiesa has taken losses to Vicente Luque and Sean Brady lately but seemed to be coming on strong in the latter half of the Brady fight.
At his best, Chiesa is a very strong grappler who can control opponents with relative ease. His performances against Neil Magny and Rafael dos Anjos were very impressive. His striking will likely always remain average, but luckily his wrestling and BJJ are high level.
He’s still a fan favorite and will always have the favor of the UFC brass, considering the eyeballs he brings. But I’m not sure if the title will be in his future. That’s why he’s on the wrong end of an underdog pick for these UFC 291 moneyline bets.
After knocking out Santiago Poniznibbio with a broken hand, Holland takes on his first grappler since Khamzat Chimaev. The big knock on Holland over the last few years has been his grappling defense. Yet, outside of Chimaev, we hadn’t really seen him face a strong wrestler who could test his improvements.
It’s clear that Holland prefers keeping fights in the upright position where he can let go with his sniper-like striking style. He throws with stinging power and in combinations that hurts his opponents. He is a BJJ black belt, but it hasn’t worked out that well for him against guys that are looking to grapple him.
Until Holland proves he has indeed improved his takedown defense and defensive grappling, I’ll happily take an underdog shot on any fighter I believe has a grappling edge over him.
The Pick: Michael Chiesa +125
Chiesa, although closer to the end of his career at this point, is still a high-level grappler who can put opponents through the grind. He will be at a disadvantage on the feet and in recent activity level, but he’s shown he can successfully impose his will on better strikers and drag them to the mat. I’m expecting just that here, and a fight where Chiesa grinds over 15 minutes to get his hand raised by the judges.