UFC 286 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Justin Gaethje vs. Rafael Fiziev: The KO Bet for Co-main Event (Saturday, March 18)

UFC 286 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Justin Gaethje vs. Rafael Fiziev: The KO Bet for Co-main Event (Saturday, March 18) article feature image

Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC lightweight Rafael Fiziev of Kazakstan

Justin Gaethje vs. Rafael Fiziev Odds

Gaethje Odds
Fiziev Odds
1.5 (-176 / +138)
The O2 Arena in London
6:30 p.m. ET
Odds as of Saturday and via FanDuel.

The UFC 286 co-main event in London on Saturday features a fantastic pairing at lightweight with Justin Gaethje vs. Rafael Fiziev.

Although we haven't seen Gaethje since his failed title bid opposite Charles Oliveira back at UFC 274, the fan-favorite appears to have been training hard ahead of his return this weekend.

Not only will Gaethje be looking to get back in the win column, but he'll also be defending his top-five contender ranking from Fiziev, who is looking to break through.

Fiziev may have already beaten a former champion in Rafael dos Anjos back in July, but potentially adding a name like Gaethje to his resume in a pay-per-view setting is priceless.

Tale of the Tape

Avg. Fight Time9:3711:53
Weight (pounds)155 lbs.155 lbs.
Reach (inches)70"71"
Date of birth11/14/19883/5/1993
Sig Strikes Per Min7.464.81
SS Accuracy60%50%
SS Absorbed Per Min7.854.86
SS Defense55%50%
Take Down Avg0.000.36
TD Acc0%40%
TD Def75%92%
Submission Avg0.00.0

Like most high-level affairs at 155 pounds, this fight has potential fireworks written all over it.

Aside from the fact that both men prefer handling their business on the feet, each fighter also has a knack for turning defense into offense.

Although Gaethje initially stormed onto the scene like your classic bull in a china shop, the 13-year pro has steadily sharpened his striking techniques and tactics under the tutelage of Trevor Wittman.

A coach who reinforces fundamentals and helps his fighters find their power, Wittman has trained some solid countering triggers into Gaethje.

Whether Gaethje is countering off inside parries or slipping to the outside to hit uppercut-hook returns, the former WSOF champion has become a much more dynamic threat in the pocket.

Fiziev, on the other hand, has a slightly different style to his counters.

Although Fiziev is more than capable of hitting an uppercut-hook return on his own, the native of Kyrgyzstan prefers to counter in combination, punctuating his presence with hard kicks and body assaults.

Should Fiziev exercise his on-paper edge at kicking range, then don't be shocked to see Gaethje start to turn up the temperature and forge his way into the pocket for some of his classic dirty boxing.

An unforgiving clinch fighter, Gaethje has the hip triggers to stop deep takedown attempts while still maintaining the aggressive wherewithal to throw uppercuts and leg kicks in small spaces.

The potential problem, however, is that Fiziev is not exactly a slouch in this space either.

An experienced muay Thai coach and competitor who was also a national champion in combat sambo, Fiziev appears to be quite comfortable when it comes to framing and finding brutal body knees inside of the clinch (which could be something to look for given the success fighters like Oliveira and Eddie Alvarez had with said techniques).

Gaethje vs. Fiziev Pick

The oddsmakers and the public are seemingly favoring the Tiger Muay Thai product, listing Fiziev in the neighborhood of -225 and Gaethje +190 as of this writing at books such as DraftKings and Bet365.

Although I can understand taking a stab at Gaethje at nearly 2-1 odds, I can't help but feel like this is a bad matchup for the American.

Aside from the fact that Gaethje's shelling sensibilities facilitate Fiziev's brutally persistent bodywork, I'm not sure that the American has ever faced a high-caliber striker in his prime who can punish him at kicking and clinch ranges like "Ataman" can.

Add in the fact the Fiziev fights just as well from southpaw with a nasty switch-kick to boot, and I suspect that Gaethje's propensity to dip heavily to his power side will run him into something nasty this Saturday.

You can take a look at plus-money offerings on "under 1.5 rounds" if you're worried about a Gaethje upset and want a potential hedge, but I'm gonna keep it simple and stick to my read of Fiviez by knockout, which FanDuel has at +145.

Pick: Fiziev by knockout (+145) | Bet to +105

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