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UFC 292 Staff Picks – Will Sterling Defend His Belt?

UFC 292 Staff Picks – Will Sterling Defend His Belt?

UFC 292 STAFF PICKS – WILL STERLING DEFEND HIS BELT? – Two belts will be on the line at UFC 292 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. Weili Zhang will defend her strawweight belt against Amanda Lemos in a highly anticipated matchup and Aljamain Sterling will attempt to suffocate Sean O’Malley on his way to a bantamweight defense.

While much of the card features some heavy chalk, the Godzilla Wins Staff has your picks for UFC 292. 

The prelims will start at 8:00 pm EST on ESPN+ and the main card will be available for purchase on PPV.


Chris Weidman vs. Brad Tavares

Records: Weidman (15-6-0), Tavares (19-9-0)

Weight Class: Middleweight

Reach Advantage: Weidman, 4 in.

Odds: Weidman (+210), Tavares (-260)

Staff Picks

Trent: Weidman. This fight is closer than the odds suggest so I would opt for the underdog. On the feet, this should be competitive, but Weidman has the better wrestling.

Nate: Weidman. I think this comes down to if you think Weidman is washed after his injury. I think this is a good spot for him and he should be able to wrestle with Tavares who has struggled against elite ground games. Good spot for the underdog. 

Staff Picks: Weidman 2, Tavares 0

Marlon Vera vs. Pedro Munhoz

Records: Vera (20-8-1), Munhoz (20-7-0)

Weight Class: Bantamweight

Reach Advantage: Vera, 5.5 in.

Odds: Vera (-180), Munhoz (+155)

Staff Picks

Trent: Vera. He never really got going against Sandhagen but the takedown threat may have made him hesitant. He won’t have to worry about that in this matchup and should be faster than Munhoz. Kicks up the middle and his reach advantage should help him stay out of range. 

Nate: Munhoz. Maybe I’m just a fan of underdogs, but Vera has always been a slow starter. That will likely hurt him in a three-round fight since he gives away the first so often. Munhoz should be able to wrestle with him and has the cardio to match Vera. 

Staff Picks: Vera 1, Munhoz 1

Da’Mon Blackshear vs. Mario Bautista

Records: Blackshear (14-5-1), Bautista (12-2-0)

Weight Class: Bantamweight

Reach Advantage: Blackshear, 3 in.

Odds: Blackshear (+175), Bautista (-210)

Staff Picks

Trent: Bautista. Respect to Blackshear for taking this matchup against a tough opponent only one week removed from his last fight, but he may have bit off more than he can chew. Bautista is better in all areas and will probably win via unanimous decision. 

Nate: Bautista. This is a tough spot for Blackshear who is one week removed from a spectacular twister submission against Jose Johnson (only the third time in UFC history a twister was used for a submission). Now he’s cutting weight for the second time in as many weeks and it’s fair to worry about the gas tank. I don’t love laying the price here, so I’d lean towards just betting the over 2.5 rounds since I think both men will be game for the challenge. I do think that Bautista has more skills to win points than Blackshear. 

Staff Picks: Bautista 2, Blackshear 0

FUN My Pillow

Neil Magny vs. Ian Garry

Records: Magny (28-11-0), Garry (12-0-0)

Weight Class: Welterweight

Reach Advantage: Magny, 5.5  in.

Odds: Magny (+370), Garry (-490)

Staff Picks

Trent: Garry. I don’t love this side for betting, but he should get the win. Magny should be able to take him down, but Garry does well at getting back to his feet. He has the speed advantage and has too many weapons in the standup for Magny. 

Nate: Magny. This isn’t the greatest opponent for Garry. Magny has the cardio and wrestling skills to give Garry all he can handle. This is too mispriced for a fight where Magny has a clear path to victory with his ground game. 

Jack: Magny. Yeah, yeah. Magny took the fight 1.5 weeks and is staring at the sunset of his career. I still think he has a little left in the tank and has played gatekeeper to the top of the Welterweight division for a long time. Garry isn’t a strong matchup, so I like taking the plus money here. 

Staff Picks: Magny 2, Garry 1

Zhang Weili vs. Amanda Lemos

Records: Weili (23-3-0), Lemos (13-2-1)

Weight Class: Women’s Strawweight – Title Fight 

Reach Advantage: Lemos, 2 in.

Odds: Weili (-330), Lemos (+260)

Staff Picks

Trent: Zhang. She is the better grappler and should be trying to control Lemos on the mat. Lemos is a skilled kickboxer who could pose a threat when striking but usually gets controlled by her opponents. Lemos has never experienced a title fight, as well, and her cardio will be tested. 

Nate: Lemos. Weili has a funky striking style, but it will leave her exposed against a skilled counter-striker like Lemos. Lemos is every bit as good as Weili if these two stay on their feet. Don’t be surprised if Lemos puts Weili down with a powerful counter-punch or a knee. 

Jack:  Zhang. Lemos has one way to win: KO. Weili is far superior in the clutch and, if she can stay disciplined, she should be able to utilize those takedowns and get the win. 

Staff Picks: Zhang 2, Lemos 1

Aljamain Sterling vs. Sean O’Malley

Records: Sterling (23-3-0), O’Malley (16-1-0)

Weight Class: Bantamweight – Title Fight – Main Event

Reach Advantage: O’Malley, 1 in.

Odds: Sterling (-250), O’Malley (+205) 

Staff Picks

Trent: O’Malley. Sterling has a path to victory via wrestling and securing back position, but O’Malley has a path to victory similar to Marlon Moraes when he knocked out Sterling. O’Malley’s ground game is underrated. He uses the fence to get back to his feet, which will help stop Sterling from taking his back. On the feet, he is clearly better and has deadly accuracy. Watch for more knees and elbows from O’Malley in this fight. 

Nate: Sterling. If Sterling can close the range on O’Malley, it will be a tough night for the rising star. Sterling is much better on the ground and hasn’t had any trouble getting his opponents to the mat. Sterling has only been knocked out once in his career, so I’m not worried about a miracle blow from O’Malley (who tends to win with volume rather than brute force). Sterling wins here and moves up in weight afterwards for the next challenge. 

Jack: Sterling. The chalk isn’t so bad when you consider how superior Sterling is in the clinch than O’Malley. Unless O’Malley catches Sterling with a dangerous counter early, Sterling should be able to dominate on the mat and take the win. 

Staff Picks: Sterling 2, O’Malley 1

Prelim Fight Money Maker

Trent: Moroz. She is fighting Karine Silva, who she beat via armbar on her way to the UFC in 2014. Silva has improved her grappling since then, but Moroz is the better striker and has more experience. Silva is overpriced due to her consecutive first round finishes so the value lies with Moroz.

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