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UFC Fight Night Bets, Picks: Expert Predictions for Chookagian vs. Shevchenko, More

UFC Fight Night Bets, Picks: Expert Predictions for Chookagian vs. Shevchenko, More article feature image

Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images. Pictured: Kyrgyz mixed martial artist Antonina Shevchenko.

  • Saturday's UFC Fight Night prelims have a fight that's garnering a lot of betting attention.
  • Katlyn Chookagian ( +115) and Antonina Shevchenko (-139) will match up in the final fight on the undercard.
  • Our crew previews how they are betting that matchup and more below.

Saturday’s MMA action will be the first to take place in Las Vegas as this card will be held at the UFC APEX. While the main event between Tyron Woodley and Gilbert Burns is getting most of the attention, our combat staff is seeing value further down the card.

The six-fight preliminary card is set to start at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN+ with the main card following at 9 p.m. ET.

Check out our favorite bets below.

Sean Zerillo: Katlyn Chookagian vs. Antonina Shevchenko

Betting Analyst, The Action Network

For the unaware, the UFC is using a smaller, 25-foot-cage, as opposed to their standard 30-foot-cage on Saturday night — which should help to ensure more action.

That should help to liven things up in the final fight on the preliminary card, as Chookagian looks for revenge against the other Shevchenko sister; after getting knocked out by Flyweight champion Valentina in February.

Antonina is much more of a pure kickboxer than her world-class sister, and doesn’t pose any threat as a wrestler, so this should be more of a pure striking matchup as Chookagian, who would have the edge on the ground, is 0-for-17 at takedown attempts in the UFC.

This is the only crowd projection that I went against for Saturday, but I do like Shevchenko to win this fight in the smaller cage.

She has displayed an excellent strike differential (+2.98) through three UFC fights, with significantly better accuracy than Chookagian (57% to 32%), who has a negative differential (-0.38) and prefers to fight from a distance.

The Pick: Shevchenko -130 (has since moved to -140)

[Bet now at PointsBet. NJ and IN only.]

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Malik Smith: Blagoy Ivanov vs. Augusto Sakai

Editor, The Action Network

Saturday’s main event will garner much of the attention on this card and rightfully so, but the co-main event is where I’m looking for some potential value. Augusto Sakai enters this bout on a three-fight win streak, which includes a stoppage win within a minute in his most recent match with Marcin Tybura. Blagoy Ivanov is coming off a split-decision loss to Derrick Lewis where he took some the type of shots few men in the heavyweight division can handle.

Ivanov is the smaller fighter in this matchup (5-foot-11), but Sakai has about the same height (6-foot-3) and reach advantage (77 inches) that Lewis did so I don’t think it will be as much of a factor here. Ivanov did a pretty good job of neutralizing some of Lewis’ power and I think he can do that against Sakai as well by getting him on the ground as much as possible.

As for the odds, depending on the book this fight is either a pick’em or Ivanov is a very slight underdog. But PointsBet is the only book that has Ivanov at plus money. I’ll take a flier on Ivanov in a fight that clearly can go either way.

The Pick: Ivanov +105

[Bet now at PointsBet. NJ and IN only.]

Dann Stupp: Katlyn Chookagian vs. Antonina Shevchenko

MMA Managing Editor at The Athletic

While it would be easy to read a little too much into this matchup and point to a possible revenge factor, I’m picking Katlyn Chookagian over Antonina Shevchenko for a pretty straightforward reason: She should be the favored fighter in this women’s flyweight bout, which closes out the UFC on ESPN 9 preliminary card.

Chookagian was on a 5-1 run, which included back-to-back wins over notables Jennifer Maia and Joanne Calderwood, before a third-round TKO title loss to Antonina’s younger sister, UFC titleholder Valentina Shevchenko, in her most recent bout. For tonight’s matchup with the elder Shevchenko sister, Chookagian inexplicably opened as the underdog and has remained there, currently with a +120 line.

While her resume — 10 decision victories in an overall 13-3 career record — might not make it obvious, Chookagian does pack some decent power in her fists. She’s also capable of keeping a fight upright. Although she’s willing to take a few more shots than she probably should while there, she should maintain a comfortable edge and grind away to win rounds.

Shevchenko (8-1) got a nice boost in the 125-pound division’s pecking order with a recent submission win over Lucie Pudilova, but Chookagian is a significant step up in competition from Shevchenko’s usual foes. The only other time she stepped up for a similar challenge, she dropped a split decision to seasoned vet Roxanne Modafferi.

In this matchup, I’m going with the more seasoned fighter, the one who’s faced more top-tier opposition, and who has shown her ability to win rounds and grind out an edge on the scorecards. Give me Chookagian, who should make it 1-1 against the Shevchenkos with a victory tonight.

The Pick: Chookagian +112

[Bet now at PointsBet. NJ and IN only.]

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