The Footprint Center in Phoenix has already been a focal point in the world of sports this spring with the Suns on an impressive run in the NBA postseason, and now it will play host to a world-class MMA event. UFC 274 will take place in downtown Phoenix on Saturday, and it was originally supposed to feature two title fights as co-main events. However, Charles Oliveira missed weight on Friday and was stripped of his UFC Lightweight Championship ahead of his bout with Justin Gaethje. Gaethje can still win the title with a victory, but Oliveira cannot retain. The main UFC 274 fight card begins around 10 p.m. ET.
Caesars Sportsbook still lists Oliveira as the -140 favorite (risk $140 to win $100), while Gaethje is coming back at +120 in the latest Oliveira vs. Gaethje odds. The UFC 274 odds from Caesars also list Rose Namajunas at -200 as she defends the women's strawweight title against second-ranked challenger Carla Esparza (+175) in the co-main event. Before locking in any UFC 274 picks, make sure you check out the MMA predictions and betting advice from SportsLine expert Andrew Gombas.
Gombas is a former NCAA wrestler who taps into his experience on the mat to dissect the X's and O's of MMA matchups in a manner that sets him apart from other MMA analysts. He started the MMA handicapping service MMA Knockout Bets in 2018 and has shown a profit every year since.
With more than 1,400 selections tracked by the third-party monitoring service Bet MMA, he has shown a 6 percent return on investment for his followers. Over the past two years, his followers have netted a profit of more than $10,000.
In January, Gombas kicked off the 2022 UFC season in memorable fashion by telling SportsLine members to back Calvin Kattar (+200) against Giga Chikadze (-240) in a battle of ranked featherweight contenders in the main event. Kattar dominated to win a unanimous decision and give his followers an easy winner. Anyone who has followed Gombas already has seen massive returns.
Now, with UFC 274 in sight, Gombas has studied the card from every angle and released his top MMA picks. You can only see Gombas' UFC 274 picks at SportsLine.
UFC 274: Oliveira vs. Gaethje preview
The main event certainly lost some luster after Oliveira missed weight, but it will still showcase what is arguably the most talent-rich division in the promotion, and the combatants feature contrasting fighting styles along with different dispositions outside of the cage.
Oliveira (32-8-1) has made a well-documented transformation from borderline journeyman to world champion in the past five years. A loss at UFC 218 in December 2017 to Paul Felder was his third in the past four and he was building a reputation as a fighter who lacked durability and resilience.
But the 32-year-old Brazilian has since gone on a tear that has seen him finish nine opponents while winning 10 straight. The lone non-stoppage in that span was a lopsided decision against Tony Ferguson in December 2020.
He'll now take on one of the UFC's most violent finishers in Gaethje (23-3), whose preferred MMA strategy is having both he and his opponent trade flat-footed haymakers until one of them loses consciousness.
He gets his way most of the time, which is why the former World Series of Fighting champion is on the short list of the UFC's most popular fighters. The 33-year-old Arizona native secured his second title shot with a decision victory over former Bellator champion Michael Chandler at UFC 268 in November. The wild three-round brawl earned Fight of the Year accolades from numerous MMA outlets. You can only see who to back at UFC 274 at SportsLine.
UFC 274 predictions
We'll share one of Gombas' UFC 274 predictions here: He is going with Michael Chandler (-400) to get his hand raised against Tony Ferguson (+320) in a battle of explosive lightweights that is one of the most anticipated fights on the main card.
An unusual storyline exists in this matchup because both ranked fighters are coming off lopsided losses to both Oliveira and Gaethje in the past couple years as their title aspirations came up short. The winner can rejoin the title picture, while the loser might be relegated to top-10 gatekeeper status.
The No. 5-ranked Chandler (22-7), 36, is the former Bellator champion who was immediately thrown into the title mix upon joining the UFC in January of last year. His first fight was a quick knockout of journeyman Dan Hooker, followed by the loss to Oliveira in a title shot and a subsequent loss to Gaethje in a title eliminator last November.
The No. 7-ranked Ferguson (25-6), 38, is a former interim champion who once boasted a 12-fight win streak in perhaps the UFC's toughest division. But a devastating stoppage loss to Gaethje at UFC 249 in May 2020 started a downward spiral that has seen him lose three straight fights.
"I think Chandler will elect to strike with Ferguson because he is the more explosive fighter. I believe Ferguson is past his prime and predict that Chandler gets it done," Gombas told SportsLine.
How to make UFC 274 picks
Gombas also has strong picks for Oliveira vs. Gaethje and other fights on the UFC 274 card. He's also backing a fighter who "will get takedowns early and often" on the way to a dominant victory. Those expert UFC 274 picks are only available at SportsLine.
Who wins Oliveira vs. Gaethje? And what other picks do you need to see? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed top picks on UFC 274, all from the insider who's up more than $10,000 on MMA picks the past two years, and find out.
UFC 274 fight card, odds (via Caesars Sportsbook)
Charles Oliveira (-140) vs. Justin Gaethje (+120)
Rose Namajunas (-200) vs. Carla Esparza (+175)
Michael Chandler (-410) vs. Tony Ferguson (+320)
Ovince Saint Preux (-230) vs. Mauricio Rua (+190)
Donald Cerrone (-175) vs. Joe Lauzon (+150)
Khaos Williams (-120) vs. Randy Brown (+100)
Norma Dumont (-220) vs. Macy Chiasson (+180)
Blagoy Ivanov (-150) vs. Marcos Rogerio De Lima (+125)
Brandon Royval (-260) vs. Matt Schnell (+210)
Francisco Trinaldo (-110) vs. Danny Roberts (-110)
Tracy Cortez (-175) vs. Melissa Gatto (+150)
Kleidison Rodrigues (-300) vs. CJ Vergara (+240)
Loopy Godinez (-170) vs. Ariane Carnelossi (+145)
Journey Newson (-160) vs. Fernie Garcia (+135)
Andre Fiahlo (-360) vs. Cameron Vancamp (+280)