UFC 290 Preview

UFC 290 FeatherWeight

The UFC 290 featherweight championship will be on the line on Saturday when defending champion Alexander Volkanovski faces interim champion Yair Rodriguez in the main event of UFC 290. The main UFC 290 fight card starts 10 p.m. ET from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Volkanovski, 34, is coming off a rare loss, a unanimous decision to Islam Makhachev in the lightweight championship in February. Rodriguez, 30, defeated Josh Emmett in a second-round submission for the interim featherweight crown in February. Volkanovski is a -370 favorite (risk $370 to win $100), while Rodriguez comes back at +290 in the latest UFC 290 odds from Caesars Sportsbook. The co-main event features a flyweight matchup between Brandon Moreno (-210) and Alexandre Pantoja (+175).

UFC 290: Volkanovski vs. Rodriguez preview 

Since turning pro in 2012, Volkanovski has been a dominant figure. He has compiled a 25-2 record, going 12-1 in the UFC, and is unbeaten at the featherweight division at 10-0. He has been at the head of the division since defeating Max Holloway by unanimous decision at UFC 245 in December 2019 and has successfully defended his crown four times. A former rugby player in Australia, Volkanovski has won 22 of his past 23 bouts.

His 10 wins in a row at featherweight are the longest active streak in the division and he is tied for the second-longest in featherweight history with Arnold Allen behind Holloway’s 13. Volkanovski is among the top pound-for-pound fighters in UFC, ranked No. 2 in all divisions. He trails only heavyweight champion Jon Jones.

Rodriguez is a formidable opponent, having won three of his last four bouts, including two in a row. Since turning pro in October 2011, he has compiled a 16-3-1 mark, including 10-2-1 in the UFC. He has won six matches by knockout, five of those coming in the first round. He uses an array of punches and kicks, which have been hard to duplicate.

Since an accidental eye poke to fighter Jeremy Stephens, which led to a no contest in September 2019, Rodriguez’s lone loss has been to Holloway, a unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs. Rodriguez in November 2021. He followed that up with a TKO win over Brian Ortega at UFC on ABC: Ortega vs. Rodriguez in July 2022, before defeating Emmett.

Top UFC 290 predictions

One of Marley’s top UFC 290 picks: He is backing Robert Whittaker (-380) to defeat Dricus Du Plessis (+300) in a battle of middleweights.

Whittaker, 32, is 25-6 as a professional, including 15-4 in UFC. He has registered 10 wins by KO/TKO with five wins coming by submission. He has two first-round finishes and is the former UFC middleweight champion. He has won four of his last five bouts and is 13-2 in his last 15. Whittaker’s only losses since 2014 have come versus middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, and they are also his only losses at 185 pounds.

Du Plessis, 29, has compiled a 19-2 record as a professional, including 5-0 in the UFC. He has eight wins by KO/TKO and 10 by submission. He is on a seven-fight winning streak and is 15-1 in his past 16 bouts. He is averaging 6.72 significant strikes landed per minute, best in UFC middleweight history with a minimum five fights. He has a 2.99 strike differential, also best in UFC middleweight history. 

Du Plessis can keep this fight close with volume. He has big power, and he can mix in takedowns. I do think he can keep the fight much closer than these odds indicate and I wouldn’t want to trust the judges holding a -380 Whittaker ticket if this does go the distance. At these odds it’s dog or pass on the ML for me, but Whittaker is the better fighter, and I will take him to win two or all three rounds,” Marley told SportsLine.

How to make UFC 290 picks

Marley has strong picks for Volkanovski vs. Rodriguez and every other bout on the UFC 290 card. He’s also backing a fighter who has a “big edge on the ground,” to emerge with a dominant victory. 

Who wins UFC 290: Volkanovski vs. Rodriguez, and how exactly does each fight end? Watch Live Scorecard on UFC: https://www.ufc.com/scorecards

UFC 290 odds, fight card

Alex Volkanovski (-370) vs. Yair Rodriguez (+290) 
Brandon Moreno (-210) vs. Alexandre Pantoja (+175)
Robert Whittaker (-380) vs. Dricus Du Plessis (+300)
Jalin Turner (-280) vs. Dan Hooker (+230)
Niko Price (-230) vs. Robbie Lawler (+190)
Jack Della Maddalena (-900) vs. Josiah Harrell (+600)
Yazmin Jauregui (-380) vs. Denise Gomes (+300)
Jimmy Crute (-130) vs. Alonzo Menifield (+110)
Tatsuro Taira (-1000) vs. Edgar Chairez (+650)
Vitor Petrino (-230) vs. Marcin Prachnio (+190)
Cameron Saaiman (-550) vs. Terrence Mitchell (+400)
Jesus Aguilar (-140) vs. Shannon Ross (+120)
Esteban Ribovics (-140) vs. Kamuela Kirk (+120)

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