Prime Picks: UFC 236 ‘Holloway vs. Poirier 2’

By Adam Martin Apr 11, 2019
Editor’s note: The views and opinions expressed below are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of, its affiliates and sponsors or its parent company, Evolve Media.

The ordering process for Ultimate Fighting Championship pay-per-views has changed: UFC 236 is only available on ESPN+ in the U.S.

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After a brief break in what’s been a busy schedule to begin 2019, the Octagon returns to State Farm Arena in Atlanta this Saturday for UFC 236. The event is headlined by two interim title fights featuring Max Holloway vs. Dustin Poirier at lightweight and Israel Adesanya vs. Kelvin Gastelum at middleweight. Additionally, there’s a host of other intriguing matchups up and down the card. The sportsbooks are offering odds on all 13 scheduled bouts, and my top plays are below in the UFC 236 edition of Prime Picks.

Jalin Turner (-125)

One fighter who immediately stands out for a bet is Turner, who takes on Matt Frevola in what should be an exciting lightweight bout. Turner had a rough Ultimate Fighting Championship debut when he was knocked out by Vicente Luque, but that matchup has to be put in context as he fought up a weight class at welterweight on short notice against one of the most underrated fighters at 170 pounds. Dropping back down to his natural lightweight class in his last fight, “The Tarantula” showed why he’s such a highly-touted prospect with an impressive first-round KO over Callan Potter. At 6’3” and with all eight of his career victories coming by stoppage, it’s easy to see why the 23 year-old is one of the most intriguing prospects in the division. The fact he’s been knocked out 3 times in just 12 career fights is concerning, and the reason he’s only a short favorite here to beat Frevola, who is 0-1-1 in the promotion thus far. Frevola does come from a good camp at Serra-Longo and had a decent outing in a draw against Lando Vannata his last time out, but the knockout loss he suffered to Marco Polo Reyes in his debut could be indicative of what happens here against Turner. Frevola is far too hittable to stand and trade with a technician, and it could lead to him getting knocked out again. At -125 odds, give me Turner in this spot all day.

Alexandre Pantoja (-160)

In flyweight action, I predict Pantoja defeats Wilson Reis. With a 20-3 record, including a 4-1 mark inside the Octagon, “The Cannibal” is one of the most underrated fighters at 125. The 28-year-old Brazilian is a well-rounded mixed martial artist with an improving striking game to go along with solid grappling chops. He’s finished 14 of his fights, including an impressive rear-naked choke over Yuta Sasaki his last time out. If the division sticks around in the UFC, a couple more wins could see Pantoja earn a title shot. It all starts here with a win over the veteran Reis, who saved his job in the UFC with a decision win over Ben Nguyen his last time out. Prior to the victory, Reis had lost three straight bouts and was finally showing signs of being 34, which is old for the flyweight division. Reis does have a winning record of 7-5 inside the promotion thanks to his solid wrestling game, but the fact he has no career knockout wins and 10 by submission shows that he’s mostly a one-trick pony. If he can’t get the takedown, he loses. Pantoja can stuff his shots, keep the fight standing, and make life miserable for Reis on the feet. At -160, give me “The Cannibal” to beat the veteran by decision.

Ovince St. Preux (-110)

In a rematch between light heavyweights trying to stay relevant, I like St. Preux to beat Nikita Krylov at pick ‘em odds. Frankly, I’m surprised the line is set so low considering that when these two fought in 2014, “OSP” easily dispatched Krylov with a Von Flue choke. Although St. Preux has been quite inconsistent since then and has struggled to rack up a win streak, he’s mostly been fighting the top light heavyweights in the world and for the most part, has been competitive in his fights with an 8-7 in the UFC record since the first Krylov fight. Meanwhile, his opponent has gone 9-2 since the two first met, but most of the fighters “The Miner” beat in that timeframe are aging veterans on their way out of the sport. In his two losses, he was submitted by Misha Cirkunov and Jan Blachowicz, which shows that he hasn’t improved his submission defense. Krylov does have the advantage of being the younger fighter by eight years, and he’s taken less damage throughout his career, but I don’t trust him on the mat against a submission ace. I think St. Preux fights smart here by taking Krylov to the ground and getting another submission victory.

Dwight Grant (+105)

For a dog pick, I have my eye on Grant to beat Alan Jouban. To me, this is a spot where you have to fade Jouban against a power puncher in Grant. Jouban is 36-years-old now and hasn’t fought since February 2018, when he knocked out Ben Saunders. Prior to that, “Brahma” was finished in two straight fights, including a vicious knockout loss to Niko Price. Jouban is a tremendous striker and has 11 knockout wins to his credit, but he’s also taken quite a bit of damage in his career and has been knocked out three times. As he gets older, I expect his chin to continue to crumble and matchups against guys with legitimate KO power like Grant are chances to fade Jouban. Although Grant had a poor UFC debut in a split decision loss to Zak Ottow, he showed why there’s so much hype behind him with a brutal win over Carlo Pedersoli Jr. in his last bout. Out of his nine career wins, seven of them have come by knockout, and both his career losses came by decision. At age 34, Grant is no spring chicken himself, but he’s taken far less damage than Jouban has and training with all the elite fighters at American Kickboxing Academy should give him a big confidence boost. At +105 odds, give me Grant as an underdog.

Adam Martin is a mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the sport since 2011. He is currently the lead odds analyst for as well as the lead staff writer for Adam is also the co-host of “The Parting Shot Podcast” on iTunes. His favorite fight of all time is Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio Rua and he wishes Pride never died. Adam is based out of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and he is a graduate of the University of Toronto and Centennial College. Get in touch with him on Twitter @MMAdamMartin.
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