LAS VEGAS — The slam dunk best bet of the entire UFC Vegas 35 card at Apex on Saturday is one that, alas, you won’t find on a betting board anywhere.
But when featherweight contenders Edson Barboza and Giga Chikadze meet in the five-round main event, it’s almost a guarantee given their styles that at least one of them won’t be able to walk without assistance following the bout.
These might be the two most brutal kickers in the UFC, and they’re meeting in a bout that will be critical for positioning in the crowded featherweight division. Barboza is ranked ninth and Chikadze 10th.
At BetMGM, Barboza is -115 and Chikadze is -105. The prop bets for this card haven’t been posted yet, but the play here is something to do with the under.
I like Chikadze to win the fight, though it’s a coin flip, but he has a vicious liver kick that is capable of ending the fight in an instant. Barboza has fight-ending power, as well, but generally, he needs to wear an opponent down over time before getting the finish.
Both, though, rely heavily on kicks in their arsenal and most of what they do works off of the kicks. Both are coming off vicious knockouts. Chikadze established himself as a legitimate contender on May 1 when a liver kick just 1:03 in felled the very tough Cub Swanson.
Barboza is coming off a dramatic KO of Shane Burgos on May 15 at UFC 262 that was Fight of the Night.
Barboza probably has beaten better opposition. Including his days at lightweight, he has wins over Beneil Dariush, Gilbert Melendez, Anthony Pettis, Paul Felder, Dan Hooker and Burgos, among others.
Swanson stands at this point at Chikadze’s signature victory.
But Chikadze is more consistent than Barboza. Chikadze enters the bout on an eight-fight winning streak in which he has had four finishes. In his last eight, Barboza is 3-5, though his opposition has been far better. His five losses in that span have been to Dan Ige, Felder, Justin Gaethje, Kevin Lee and Khabib Nurmagomedov.
So I’ll wager one unit on Chikadze to win, laying the -105 with the hope of scoring a $100 profit. I’ll also lay two units on the fight going less than five full rounds, though I have yet to see odds on the total yet.
Other plays for UFC Vegas 35
• I’ll take the +125 and bet $100 on Daniel Rodriguez to win over Kevin Lee.
• I will lay the -140 on Jamall Emmers to defeat Pat Sabatini.
• I will lay the -200 on Alessio Di Chirico to defeat Abdul Razak Alhassan. I also like this fight to go less than the distance.