The UFC returns to Boston with a bang this Saturday as the TD Garden prepares for a highly anticipated bantamweight main event with Aljamain “Funk Master” Sterling defending his crown against the ever-popular Sean “Sugar” O’Malley.
The formidable Weili Zhang contends with a new challenger boasting a 7-2 UFC record in Amanda Lemos for the co-main event, both of whom are looking to walk out of Boston with the women’s strawweight gold.
Let’s waste no more time and dive right into the most noteworthy betting picks for the UFC Vegas 292 main and co-main event.
Top UFC 292 Picks:
UFC 292 Bantamweight Championship Bout
Saturday, August 19, 2023 – 11:50 PM EDT at TD Garden
The Serra-Longo Fight Team out of New York has provided a fair amount of top UFC prospects, but the success of their star pupil Aljamain Sterling (23-3-0 pro-MMA) will be difficult for those attempting to follow his steps.
Regarded as one of the greatest bantamweight fighters in UFC history, Sterling is the division’s champion, and he ran through the division starting in 2018 until the gold was around his waist. The likes of Petr Yan, T.J Dillashaw, Cory Sandhagen, and Henry Cejudo couldn’t match the in-octagon skills of “Funk Master,” and he now owns the most wins in UFC bantamweight division history (14).
This weekend, however, will present a unique challenge for Sterling, as he faces a fan favorite in Sean “Sugar” O’Malley (16-1-0). The Arizona native boasts a Hall of Fame-worthy highlight reel aged just 28; it could be argued that he hasn’t even entered his prime-fighting years.
Behind an 8-1 UFC record, O’Malley has undoubtedly earned his right to challenge for the title, and he already owns the superstar status outside of the cage due to a flamboyant personality, a large fan base, and a strong social media presence.
Sterling vs. O’Malley: Fight Tape Analysis
Your typical striker vs. grappler matchup is expected this weekend, and the defending champion has unquestionably proved his worth as one of the bantamweight’s best wrestlers. Not only has Sterling collected the longest total fight time in UFC bantamweight history (1 hour, 8 minutes), but he’s also outclassed the former two-division champion and Olympic wrestling gold medallist, Henry Cejudo.
However, when discussing striking bases, there aren’t many 135lb-fighters that can match the skills of O’Malley. With a long frame and reach to match, O’Malley has bullied most of his opponents with incredible lateral movement, swift combinations in and outside of the pocket, and punching power capable of stopping most fighters at this weight class inside the distance.
Both fighters have displayed excellent cardio in the past; this factor could be the difference-maker this weekend. I expect Sterling to succeed in his double and single-leg takedowns, but we cannot neglect the get-up ability of O’Malley.
As Sterling is used to being the bigger man, he’s easily dictated whether or not the fight will stay standing or not. I don’t believe he’ll easily achieve this on Saturday because the underdog has proved on multiple occasions that he possesses the skillset to compete with wrestlers.
UFC 292 Main Event Odds & Prediction
The UFC pricing at the top sportsbooks believes Sterling is the rightful favorite, and while I agree with this position, I don’t agree with the line.
A +200 moneyline price on a fighter that’s displayed consistent diversity as a mixed martial artist and has overcome some of the world’s best is absurd. The striking threat is real, and O’Malley can force Sterling into a lethargic state as he has to work for consistent takedowns.
UFC Pick: Sean O’Malley ML (+200) at Bet365 [1u returns 2u profit]
UFC 292 Women’s Strawweight Co-Main Event Bout
Saturday, August 19, 2023 – 11:25 PM EDT at TD Garden
The most successful fighter in Chinese MMA returns this weekend, and Weili Zhang (23-3-0) is also highly favored to successfully defend her strawweight crown and remain the division’s champion.
Amanda Lemos (13-2-1) has displayed formidable skills during her UFC tenure, with a 7-2 promotion record to back it up. She’s won 5 of her 7 UFC bouts via KO/TKO or submission and is a proven finisher with powerful strikes or sleek submissions.
Zhang vs. Lemos: Fight Tape Analysis
While Lemos deserves such an opportunity, the one time she faced a championship-caliber opponent in Jessica Andrade, she was forced to submit in the first round. This won’t bode well versus the likes of Zhang, who’s consistently competed and succeeded at the UFC’s highest level since 2019.
Rose Namajunas is the lone UFC fighter to overcome the strong grappler and noteworthy striking of Zhang, and I don’t believe Lemos owns the crucial MMA traits that can dethrone the champion.
Lemos enjoys bullying the opposition, but this won’t happen with Zhang opposite her in the octagon. Whether it’s a striking battle or grappling-based, I don’t expect the champion to falter in these areas.
UFC 292 Co-Main Event Odds & Prediction
The current UFC odds have placed Zhang as the betting favorite, but the moneyline price is too steep for us to take advantage of.
However, with 4 of her last 6 UFC victories ending via KO/TKO or submission, it’s a trend that’s highly probably to be replicated this weekend. Andrade, a lesser-caliber opponent, choked Lemos; she’s also 36 years old and hasn’t proven herself to own the best cardio.
As the younger and more experienced fighter with stopping ability in a five-round bout, backing Zhang to win by KO/TKO or submission shows excellent value at -125, especially when the moneyline has drifted beyond -300.
UFC Pick: Weili Zhang by KO/TKO or Submission (-125) at Bet365 [1.25u returns 1u profit]