Sunday, April 14

Match Card, Predictions, & Betting Odds

Highlights

  • Fans can expect an exciting undercard for UFC 296, featuring notable bouts such as Randy Brown vs. Muslim Salikhov and Cody Durden vs. Tagir Ulanbekov.
  • Salikhov may struggle in a stand-up fight, as he lacks the endurance for a full 15-minute fight at the highest level. Brown is favored to win this exciting welterweight clash.
  • Cody Durden’s impressive winning streak makes him a formidable opponent, but Ulanbekov is expected to come out on top in this flyweight bout, thanks to his experience and higher level of competition.


Fans are less than a month out from UFC 296 and the return of Leon Edwards. ‘Rocky’ has been out of the cage since his trilogy with Kamaru Usman in March, where he defeated ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ by unanimous decision. Cageside that night was Colby Covington, who was named the next title challenger.

While the welterweight title clash is taking most of the focus, the entire card is very solid. Undercard bouts include the flyweight title bout between Alexandre Pantoja and Brandon Royal, as well as Tony Ferguson vs. Paddy Pimblett.

Note: All UFC 296 odds were provided via BestFightOdds.

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13 Randy Brown (-192) vs. Muslim Salikhov (+160)

Prediction: Randy Brown

Randy Brown

Muslim Salikhov

6’3″

5’11”

17-5 (Pre-Fight Record)

19-4 (Pre-Fight Record)

This welterweight clash is currently expected to open the UFC 296 early prelims. For his part, ‘Rude Boy’ has won five of his last six outings, with the sole loss to Jack Della Maddalena. Meanwhile, ‘King of Kung Fu’ enters the bout having lost two of his last three.

If this fight stays on the feet, Salikhov will likely have some success. However, he seemingly doesn’t have the gas for a 15-minute fight at the highest level. Meanwhile, Brown only appears to be getting better with each fight. He is the favorite to get a win in this exciting bout.

12 Cody Durden (+136) vs. Tagir Ulanbekov (-162)

Prediction: Tagir Ulanbekov

Cody Durden

Tagir Ulanbekov

5’7″

5’6″

16-4 (Pre-Fight Record)

14-2 (Pre-Fight Record)

This flyweight bout is going a bit under the radar, which is a massive shame. Cody Durden is riding a four-fight winning streak and has, frankly come out of nowhere. Meanwhile, Ulanbekov is 3-1 in the UFC to this date.

This will be a close affair, but we’re expecting Ulanbekov to pull out of the win here. Durden is tougher than a two-dollar steak, but this is a big step-up in competition.

11 Martin Buday (-180) vs. Shamil Gaziev (+150)

Prediction: Shamil Gaziev

Martin Buday

Shamil Gaziev

6’5″

6’4″

13-1 (Pre-Fight Record)

11-0 (Pre-Fight Record)

For whatever reason, every card must feature a low-profile heavyweight fight, and this is UFC 296’s. Martin Buday has a couple of wins inside the UFC octagon, but against low-level competition. Meanwhile, this will be the undefeated Gaziev’s debut.

Gaziev hasn’t faced anyone of a high caliber, but on paper, seems to be the real deal. Expect some fun exchanges in this one, but the newcomer is to pull out the winner.

10 Alonzo Menifield (+142) vs. Dustin Jacoby (-170)

Prediction: Dustin Jacoby

Dustin Jacoby

Alonzo Menifield

6’0″

6’4′”

19-7 (Pre-Fight Record)

14-3-1 (Pre-Fight Record)

This light-heavyweight battle on the prelims should be a striker’s delight. ‘Atomic’ is riding a four-fight unbeaten streak, while the former Glory kickboxer is coming off a knockout win over Kennedy Nzechukwu in August.

On the feet, Menifield has the power to catch Jacoby. That being said, there’s nothing that the former kickboxer hasn’t seen before. Furthermore, Menifield has shown issues as the fight progresses, and given Jacoby’s tough chin, it might be a rough night for him.

9 Casey O’Neill (-180) vs. Ariane Lipski (+150)

Prediction: Casey O’Neill

Casey O’Neill

Ariane Lipski

5’6″

5’6″

9-1 (Pre-Fight Record)

16-8 (Pre-Fight Record)

Casey O’Neill was seen as the UFC’s next big thing at flyweight until her loss to Jennifer Maia in March. Still holding a 9-1 record, ‘King’ will now return to the cage to face the rising Ariane Lipski.

While O’Neill is coming off the first loss of her career, she is still the superior fighter here. Expect her to get a big bounceback win against the Brazilian at UFC 296.

8 Cody Garbrandt (-218) vs. Brian Kelleher (+180)

Prediction: Cody Garbrandt

Cody Garbrandt

Brian Kelleher

5’7″

5’6″

13-5 (Pre-Fight Record)

24-14 (Pre-Fight Record)

Cody Garbrandt has had a rough time since winning the UFC bantamweight title in December 2016. Since then, ‘No Love’ is 2-5, and barely a conversation in the division. This fight against ‘Boom Boom’ is somewhat of a tune-up, but could go wrong if he doesn’t take it seriously.

That being said, if Garbrandt is even a fraction of what he used to be, he will win. It doesn’t help that Kelleher has suffered from unknown medical issues for over a year.

7 Irene Aldana (-185) vs. Karol Rosa (+154)

Prediction: Irene Aldana

Irene Aldana

Karol Rosa

5’9″

5’7″

14-7 (Pre-Fight Record)

17-5 (Pre-Fight Record)

Irene Aldana has been unseen since a title loss against Amanda Nunes in June at UFC 289. Now back, the former title challenger will face the rising prospect Karol Rosa. The Brazilian is entering her late 20s and seemingly in her prime.

That being said, this fight is way too soon for Rosa. Aldana should score a nice comeback win here, especially if this bout stays on the feet.

6 Josh Emmett (-166) vs. Giga Chikadze (+140)

Prediction: Giga Chikadze

Josh Emmett

Giga Chikadze

5’6″

6’0″

18-4 (Pre-Fight Record)

15-3 (Pre-Fight Record)

Josh Emmett is tough, and that was seen in his last two performances against Yair Rodriguez and Ilia Topuria. In each of those outings, he was completely battered, and his defeat to ‘El Matador’ is among the most lopsided UFC losses ever.

When there’s smoke, there’s fire. Emmett is the favorite here, but Giga Chikadze is the safer pick. He’s the bigger man, the better striker, and also younger. If he can avoid the big right, it should be a good night for him in this featherweight tilt.

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5 Vicente Luque vs. Ian Machado Garry

Prediction: Ian Machado Garry

Vicente Luque

Ian Machado Garry

5’11”

6’3″

22-9 (Pre-Fight Record)

13-0 (Pre-Fight Record)

This battle of former teammates promises to be a striker’s delight. Both men are coming off major victories. Luque last defeated Rafael dos Anjos in August. Meanwhile, Garry destroyed Neil Magny that same month at UFC 292.

On paper, this is set to be a statement win for Ian Machado Garry. He’s the much cleaner striker of the two, and Luque will have to make this one dirty to have a shot.

4 Tony Ferguson (+210) vs. Paddy Pimblett (-298)

Prediction: Paddy Pimblett

Tony Ferguson

Paddy Pimblett

6’0″

5’10”

25-9 (Pre-Fight Record)

20-3 (Pre-Fight Record)

Tony Ferguson is a UFC legend, and that can’t be taken away from him. That being said, one can’t overlook his six-fight losing streak, and his ongoing personal issues.

Paddy Pimblett isn’t exactly as good as the UFC wants him to be, but he should pick up a victory here. Likely by way of stoppage.

3 Shavkat Rakhmonov (-500) vs. Stephen Thompson (+380)

Prediction: Shavkat Rakhmonov

Shavkat Rakhmonov

Stephen Thompson

6’1″

6’0″

17-0 (Pre-Fight Record)

17-6 (Pre-Fight Record)

‘Wonderboy’ deserves props for accepting this matchup. Shavkat Rakhmonov has seemed unstoppable since his UFC debut in 2020. Standing at an undefeated 17-0, he will now look to add Stephen Thompson to his highlight reel.

You can never count Thompson out, especially with his striking That being said, Rakhmonov likely won’t keep the fight there for long in this one. Expect the young phenom to pick up a win.

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2 Alexandre Pantoja (-218) vs. Brandon Royval (+180)

Prediction: Alexandre Pantoja

Alexandre Pantoja

Brandon Royval

5’5″

5’9″

26-5 (Pre-Fight Record)

15-6 (Pre-Fight Record)

This flyweight title fight may wind up as the greatest fight of the night. Alexandre Pantoja and Brandon Royval are two of the most entertaining fighters in thier division, and their first outing in August 2021 was wild. Famously, the Brazilian champion won by submission.

Expect Pantoja to go 2-0 in the series here. He’s the more well-rounded man, and he’s also far more proven at the top level, and in five-round fights.

1 Leon Edwards (-125) vs. Colby Covington (+105)

Prediction: Leon Edwards

Leon Edwards

Colby Covington

6’0″

5’11”

21-3 (Pre-Fight Record)

17-3 (Pre-Fight Record)

The main event of UFC 296 is a welterweight title clash between Leon Edwards and Colby Covington. While many don’t believe ‘Chaos’ deserves a title shot, there’s no doubt he’s one of the best welterweights on the planet.

That being said, he’s been very inactive over the last few years and is approaching his late 30s. ‘Rocky’ has spent the last two training camps training for Kamaru Usman as well, which should pay dividends. The champion will likely retain here.

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