UFC 290 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Alexander Volkanovski vs. Yair Rodriguez: Back Favorite in Featherweight Title Fight (Saturday, July 8)
Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images. Pictured: UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski of Australia
Alexander Volkanovski vs. Yair Rodriguez Odds
Undisputed UFC featherweight gold is on the line on Saturday night in Las Vegas at UFC 290 as interim champion Yair Rodriguez faces reigning titleholder Alexander Volkanovski.
Rodriguez captured his interim belt with a win over Josh Emmett at UFC 284. It was the same night that Volkanovski lost a competitive decision to lightweight champion Islam Makhachev in pursuit of double-champ status.
Saturday's UFC 290 main event will mark the sixth five-round fight for Rodriguez in his past seven bouts and the seventh consecutive five-round fight for Volkanovski.
Volkanovski sustained his first loss since 2013 and the second loss of his career against Makahachev. The Australian will now return to featherweight, where he looms over the division.
Volkanovski has defended the 145-pound strap four times (twice against Max Holloway) but still has some work to do to clean out the division. A potential challenge from bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling presents an intriguing test too.
There are plenty of exciting fights left for Volkanovski at featherweight – including rising contender Ilia Topuria – but the exciting Rodriguez will get his chance on Saturday.
Below, I'll provide my analysis and projections for Saturday's UFC 290 title fight (ESPN+ PPV, with main-event walkouts at approximately 11:55 p.m. ET) and utilize those factors to bet on the UFC 290 main event of Volkanovski vs Rodriguez.
Tale of the Tape
|Avg. Fight Time||17:28||13:11|
|Weight (pounds)||145 lbs.||145 lbs.|
|Date of birth||9/29/1988||10/6/1992|
|Sig Strikes Per Min||6.35||4.78|
|SS Absorbed Per Min||3.40||4.03|
|Take Down Avg||1.52||0.79|
Volkanovski is typically shorter than his opponents and is accustomed to navigating a reach discrepancy against taller and longer kickboxers. Although the reach in this matchup is even at boxing distance, Rodriguez should have an edge at kickboxing range with his long legs and diversity of strikes.
Volkanovski typically spams leg kicks and feints from the outside against his opponents to create openings for his punches, but he'll have to be mindful of Rodriguez's dynamic kicking game if he tries to strike from the outside.
The Aussie will find much more success in the pocket, where he owns the better hands and can neutralize the leg reach discrepancy.
Volkanovski is clearly the better boxer, and if he can hammer Rodriguez with leg kicks early and eventually immobilize the challenger, Volkanovski should be able to put his hands on a very hittable opponent (53% striking defense).
Volkanovski is the far more efficient striker: 56% accuracy, 59% defense; 115 combined number vs. 46% accuracy, 53% defense, 99 combined for Rodriguez). Per minute, Volkanovski out-lands his opponents by 2.95 strikes, a 74-strike differential throughout a 25-minute fight.
Conversely, Rodriguez has a +0.75 strike differential per minute, a 19-strike advantage over 25 minutes.
The champion has excellent cardio and consistently pressures his opponents, and he overwhelms their decision-making process with feints and movement.
I would still favor Volkanovski in an extended striking fight, but I couldn't quite get to the current moneyline pricing.
If Volkanovski has shown one potential weakness, it's his chin. Like Kamaru Usman, who had been wobbled on several occasions before getting knocked out by Leon Edwards, Volkanovski has been knocked down or wobbled in the past (most notably by Chad Mendes and Max Holloway).
While Rodriguez doesn't have the same level of punching power or precision as those two fighters, he could catch Volkanovski with an elbow, head kick or flying knee and put the champion on skates. Rodriguez has an unorthodox offensive game – and he might land hard and heavy on Volkanovski at some point during the fight.
Still, unless he lands a fight-altering shot, I have difficulty seeing Yair winning this fight consistently unless his takedown defense (63% career) has drastically improved. Volkanovski retains all of the grappling upside in this fight and can seemingly land takedowns at will – and posture up for some vicious ground and pound – if he decides to change levels.
If Volkanovski grapples, he can justify his substantial favoritism. Volk should still be the superior striker if he doesn't – or can't wrestle successfully. Still, those exchanges could give Rodriguez an opportunity to knock him out or keep the fight relatively competitive.
By nature of Yair's style – which sometimes causes him to slip and fall to the canvas after throwing a wild technique – Volkanovski could also have a couple of chances for free top time during the fight if he capitalizes on those mistakes.
Volkanovski vs. Rodriguez Pick
I projected Alexander Volkanovski as a -411 favorite (80.4% implied odds) in this matchup and would bet his moneyline at -363 (78.4% implied) or better, at a 2% edge compared to my number.
Additionally, I would use Volkaonvski as a parlay piece up to -386, at a 1% edge compared to my projection.
I don't see value in the total or any winning method props. I expect the fight to reach a decision 45% of the time (+122 implied odds), in line with the betting market, and I don't see value on Volkanovski to win by decision (projected +149), knockout (projected +211) or submission (projected +1143).
Rodriguez is highly durable with solid cardio, and Volkanovski is more of an attritional finisher than a power puncher, so I expect this fight to go longer; still, given the potential mismatch in the grappling, Volkanovski has a chance for a positional TKO on the mat.
If you're betting on the underdog, I would rather play Rodriguez inside the distance (+450) than bet on his moneyline. Volkanovski is the vastly superior minute-winner in the fight.
Lastly, keep an eye on the live betting markets; I would add more on the Volkanovski side if you can find a better live price than the pre-fight line, especially if he hasn't started implementing the wrestling by then.
The Pick: Alexander Volkanovski (bet to -360 or parlay to -386) | Live bet Volaknovski at a better price