UFC 286 represents a rare fight card where the co-main event might actually be more exciting than the main event. That notion will be put to the test March 18 when lightweights Justin Gaethje (23-4, 6-4 UFC) and Rafael Fiziev (12-1, 6-1 UFC) duke it out in a guaranteed thriller.
Fiziev, ranked sixth, is the -225 favorite, while Gaethje, ranked third, comes in as the +187 underdog.
UFC 286: Justin Gaethje vs Rafael Fiziev Betting Odds
Odds as of March 17
Our odds calculator tells us Fiziev’s -225 odds translate to an implied win probability of 69.23 percent, and a $10 bet on him pays out $14.44. Gaethje’s +187 odds equate to a 34.84 percent chance of victory with a $10 bet paying out $28.70.
For more information on how these numbers work, including the Gaethje vs Fiziev odds, head over to our How to Bet on UFC page. Also, visit our main UFC betting news page for all the latest news from inside the Octagon.
UFC 286: Gaethje vs Fiziev Preview
Let’s take a closer look at this 155-pound war.
What Gaethje Does Well
For starters, Gaethje always finds a way to inflict an ungodly amount of punishment on his opponents, while remarkably absorbing an equal amount of damage. It’s thrilling and agonizing at the same time to watch. Saturday’s bout vs Fiziev could end up being one of the best fights of the year.
But how does Gaethje win? I anticipate this one following a similar blueprint to the Michael Chandler fight at UFC 268. “The Highlight” can set the tone early with his destructive leg kicks, which Fiziev almost certainly won’t be prepared for. Once he compromises his opponent’s base, then he can lean in and wing it. The punishment over the years adds up, but I have faith in Gaethje’s chin and cardio in this fight.
The 34-year-old doesn’t always fight smart, but his intangible toughness as a brawler might carry him in this fight.
What Fiziev Does Well
The 30-year-old is a bundle of electricity in the Octagon. He’s technical, strong, good at wrestling and, like Gaethje, very capable of unorthodox flying strikes. Once “Ataman” smells blood and engages, his opponents don’t stand a chance. That’s where I see Fiziev’s advantage in this fight — he has to engage Gaethje first.
Fiziev needs to snipe (watch for head kicks and lunging body punches), then get in tight and rip off combos. Basically, fight his fight and watch for leg kicks while being aware of the pace. This is a three-rounder, but with the way Gaethje induces violence, the Kyrgyzstani will have to manage his gas tank.
Gaethje vs Fiziev Pick
I’ve rarely ever been so excited for a co-main event. This one should be bonkers. And because of the crazy, unpredictable nature of this fight, I’m leaning toward the underdog Gaethje at +187. These guys are going to stand and trade, meaning either fighter could go out. I wouldn’t be surprised if either one scored a knockout.
I’ll snipe some value on Gaethje for this fight. Additionally, I imagine the fight finishes inside the distance (-225), but the value there isn't great. My rounds pick will be UNDER 2.5 at -165.
Pick: Gaethje to win (+187); UNDER 2.5 rounds (-165)
Check out our other UFC 286 previews, including picks on Kamaru Usman vs Leon Edwards, Gunnar Nelson vs Bryan Barberena, Jennifer Maia vs Casey O’Neill and Roman Dolidze vs Marvin Vettori.
UFC 286: Full Card & Betting Odds
Odds as of March 17