UFC 290 Best Bets, Odds, Projections: Our Top Picks for Volkanovski vs. Rodriguez, Moreno vs. Pantoja & More (Saturday, July 8)

UFC 290 Best Bets, Odds, Projections: Our Top Picks for Volkanovski vs. Rodriguez, Moreno vs. Pantoja & More (Saturday, July 8) article feature image

Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC 290 headliner and UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski of Australia

Check out our UFC 290 best bets ahead of Saturday night's ESPN+ PPV event at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

The UFC returns to pay-per-view for tonight's 13-fight card, which features two title fights, a possible title eliminator and a can't-miss retirement fight, among other bouts.

Prior to the ESPN+ PPV main card (10 p.m. ET), UFC 290 prelims are available on regular ESPN+ and UFC Fight Pass (6 p.m. ET) and then ABC and ESPN (8 p.m. ET).

So where should be looking to place your UFC 290: Volkanovski vs Rodriguez bets? Our MMA experts have pinpointed four fights and five picks on tonight's UFC 290 card that present betting value.

You can find their analysis and picks on those matches plus Sean Zerillo's projections below using odds from BetMGM.

Moneyline Projections

Prop Projections

Billy Ward: Jimmy Crute vs. Alonzo Menifield

Staff Writer at The Action Network

Fighter walkouts: Approx. 7:55 p.m. ET

This fight opened as close to a pick'em, which felt like massive value on Jimmy Crute. He’s now in the -130 to -150 range, so it’s worth digging in to find a better way to play this one.

First, let’s make the case for Crute. His fight with Alonzo Menifield is a rematch from their UFC 284 draw, with Menifield taking the first two rounds but dropping the third while also losing a point due to some fence-grabbing.

At first glance, that sounds like Menifield should be the A side here, but it’s not that simple. Crute won the vast majority of their opening round the first time, but he got clipped in the closing seconds to give the round to Menifield. While Crute didn’t win more rounds, he certainly won more minutes in that fight.

He’s also eight years younger, making it relatively reasonable to assume that their careers are trending in opposite directions. While Menifield isn’t washed by any stretch, we’ve still probably seen his best work already.

Crute was also returning from a fairly significant knee injury prior to their last fight. Ring rust could explain a bit of his early struggles – and he’s probably a step quicker as the bad knee fades further into the rearview mirror.

Menifield is still extremely dangerous in the early goings, though, which is why I expect Crute to play it a bit safer early on. You could certainly take a more aggressive stance with this one – Crute and over 1.5 rounds at plus-money for example. I’m fine with taking the safer route, though, with -105 odds on Crute to win at any point past the first 150 seconds of the fight.

The Pick: Jim Crute & Over 0.5 minutes SGP (-105 at DraftKings)

Sean Zerillo: Jalin Turner vs. Dan Hooker

Senior Writer at The Action Network

Fighter walkouts: Approx. 10:25 p.m. ET

Jalin Turner is on a mission to take out the entire Australian and New Zealand MMA scene, with finishes over Josh Culibao, Jamie Mullarkey and Brad Riddell already on his resume.

The large lightweight came in a couple of pounds over the 155-pound limit at Friday's weigh-ins, and it's a wonder that Turner can fight in the weight class at all, standing 6-foot-3 with a 77-inch reach. Both Turner and Hooker (6-foot-1, 75-inch reach) typically have a size advantage at 155 pounds, and both will see rare size parity in the other on Saturday.

That might be to Hooker's advantage. Turner has porous striking defense (43%), but smaller opponents can rarely capitalize and land head strikes because they have to do a lot of work to get inside the pocket against him.

Still, Turner is the younger man – both in age and fight years. Hooker has been through several wars and has seemingly slowed to the point where he made a regrettable decision to move down to 145 pounds, where Arnold Allen quickly finished him. Hooker's once-legendary chin has seemingly cracked, and it seems likely that Turner can put him on skates – or threaten a deep submission – at some point early in this fight.

"The Tarantula" is one of the most dangerous fighters at 155 pounds with a 100% finish rate, but he's a bit of a glass cannon too (three knockout losses), and cutting all that weight to make 155 takes a toll on his gas tank. He has a well-rounded game, and his only significant deficiency is takedown defense; that's something Hooker can exploit, particularly as both fighters tire.

If Turner doesn't finish the fight early, Hooker should be able to make this a close and competitive bar brawl, in which he lands knees in the clinch and looks to drag Turner to the mat.

Overall, I expect a hectic pace – particularly early – and for both fighters to find openings to hurt their opponent, if not finish the fight.

I would lean toward Turner inside the distance (projected -156, listed -160) or by KO/TKO (projected +179, listed +195) in the winning method market. And I certainly prefer those props to his moneyline.

I would bet the Unders in this matchup, however, setting the fight to end inside the distance 75% of the time (-302 implied odds). Bet the Under 1.5 Rounds to -110 or the Under 2.5 Rounds to -220.

The Picks: Under 1.5 Rounds (-106 at FanDuel) | Under 2.5 Rounds (-220 at DraftKings)

Dann Stupp: Brandon Moreno vs. Alexandre Pantoja

Senior Editor at The Action Network

Fighter walkouts: Approx. 11:25 p.m. ET

My pick for the UFC 290 co-main event basically comes down to this: Brandon Moreno vs. Alexandre Pantoja should be lined much more closely than it currently is.

We'll get into some of the technical aspects of the fight that have me leaning toward Pantoja, but first, we'll do some very simple math.

As I usually do, I'll handicap the fight and put together my own percentage chance of each fighter winning the fight. And for me, I would give Pantoja about a 45% chance to upset flyweight champion Moreno to claim the title.

Using the Action Network odds calculator, that would put Pantoja's fair odds at +122.

However, as of this writing, multiple sportsbooks are offering Pantoja at +175 (36.4%), so for me, the play is clear: the Pantoja moneyline.

So, back to the original premise: Does Pantoja win this fight at least 45% of the time? I think Action Network's Dan Tom made a very compelling argument for the underdog in our Moreno vs. Pantoja breakdown. In addition to Pantoja likely being the fresher fighter, he will likely have a big grappling edge, as well as a serious ground-and-pound and submission threat.

Moreno has been one of the sport's feel-good stories. He's also sharpened his skills in all areas while showing remarkable composure in firefights. I'm just not sure that's a game he can play against wildman Pantoja, who will be especially dangerous in the first few rounds of this five-round co-main event.

Ultimately, I think Pantoja will jump out to an early lead that he can maintain. Or, after Moreno's remarkable run of durability, Pantoja can finally put away the champ to become the new king of 125 pounds.

Either way – decision or stoppage – the straight moneyline play on Pantoja has us covered.

The Pick: Alexandre Pantoja (+175 at Caesars)

Tony Sartori: Alexander Volkanovski vs. Yair Rodriguez

Staff Writer at The Action Network

Fighter walkouts: Approx. 11:55 p.m. ET

The featherweight title is on the line in the UFC 290 main event with Alexander Volkanovski defending the 145-pound strap against interim titleholder Yair Rodriguez.

The second-best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet, Volkanovski dared to be great in his latest bout against lightweight champ Islam Makhachev by going up a weight class and attempting to join Connor McGregor, Amanda Nunes, Daniel Cormier and Henry Cejudo in "champ-champ" lore.

While he came up short in a great effort, that loss should not be in any way used against Volkanovski and his legacy. He is still the No. 2 P4P behind Jon Jones and remains perfect at 145 pounds since joining the UFC. A balanced mixed martial artist, Volkanovski can handle himself both on the feet and on the mat, though it is his striking and fight IQ that separate him from the rest of the division.

A tactician on the feet, Volkanovski has landed a whopping 6.35 significant strikes per minute at 56% accuracy in the UFC. While he does not possess the most devastating power, he picks you apart every second while avoiding taking a lot of damage.

Therefore, it is not surprising that eight of his past 11 wins came via decision. At +145, this is the avenue we will take in this scrap against Rodriguez.

I am a huge Rodriguez fan; he is fun to watch, will stand and bang with anyone, and is not afraid to stand in the pocket. With that said, I am not sure he is ready for this fight, especially considering it is likely to be a striking match against the best tactician in the division.

Yes, Rodriguez beat Josh Emmett for the interim title while Volkanovski took his shot at Makhachev. But prior to that, Rodriguez was just 3-2-1 over six fights, and the Brian Ortega win didn't mean much as Ortega threw out his own shoulder four minutes into the fight.

The other two wins came against Jeremy Stephens and "The Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung, two guys who do not currently crack the top-7 contenders in the division. I do have faith in Rodriguez's chin, however, given that he survived five rounds against Max Holloway en route to a unanimous-decision loss.

The Pick: Alexander Volkanovski via decision (+140 at BetRivers)

How would you rate this article?

This site contains commercial content. We may be compensated for the links provided on this page. The content on this page is for informational purposes only. Action Network makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the information given or the outcome of any game or event.