Ilia Topuria will challenge Alexander Volkanovski for the featherweight title at UFC 298 on Feb. 17, but now there's a twist. After Volkanovski lost via first-round headkick to Islam Makhachev at UFC 294, the odds have shifted.
Once a heavier favorite, Volkanovski is now just a -175 favorite for his latest title defense. Topuria is a +150 underdog at UFC 298.
Alexander Volkanovski vs Ilia Topuria Betting Odds
Odds as of Nov. 15
Our odds calculator suggests Volkanovski's -175 status awards him a 63.64% implied chance of victory, with a $100 bet paying out $157.14. At +150, Topuria gets a 40% chance and a $100 bet cashes $250.
Volkanovski vs Topuria Betting Preview: Is El Matador A smart Underdog Bet?
This fight should be fast and violent. But will Volkanovski, who's inching toward UFC all-time elite status, drop his 145-pound belt to a brawler like Topuria? Let's find out. And, yes, I think the result of UFC 294 changes things.
How To Bet Volkanovski
By now, UFC fans know the Aussie's game well. Volkanovski is powerful and deceptive on the feet while pairing that with relentless offensive and defensive wrestling. He's refined defensively, has a strong chin (yes, he still does), and is very comfortable going the full five rounds.
Basically, Volkanovski has the skill set to defeat every style of fighter. But how will he get it done vs Topuria? We know the Spaniard can go 25 minutes when he leads the dance, but backpedaling for five rounds is very different.
If I'm betting the chalk, I'll take Volkanovski to win inside the distance. The short, stocky Australian is constantly in motion, even while he's defending. He constantly switches stances to advance his striking, and when he gets in tight, a takedown to ground-and-pound is always available.
Topuria is fierce, but he's also very young and inexperienced. No featherweight fights like Volk, and I'll bet "El Matador" gets confused at times by the Aussie's deceptive advances.
How To Bet Topuria
Topuria's hands are crazy fast. The 26-year-old keeps a nice tight boxing guard and then wings with insane power, speed, and accuracy. His compact strength has generated several noteworthy UFC knockouts (none better than Jai Herbert in March 2022), and there's reason to believe he could sit Volk down with a punch.
Nobody will argue that Volkanovski is a superior pure puncher than Topuria. But there's more to MMA than hand speed, and that's where Volkanovski takes over. "Alexander The Great" defends himself better and is far smarter with Octagon usage.
Take Topuria as a straight-up underdog, if you're inclined. Beyond that, maybe take a prayer on him to win by decision (TBD) because even with Topuria's heavy hands, I don't think he KOs Volkanovski. Of course, a headkick might do the trick. Too soon?
Volkanovski vs Topuria Betting Pick
Heck, let's stir things up and bet Topuria straight-up. The Spaniard's value (+150) isn't as great as it once was, but there's a strong chance Topuria takes care of business.
I love Volkanovski, but his loss at UFC 294 opened a whole new reality. After that bout, the featherweight champ talked about being in a dark place mentally, especially in between fights. I hope he gets the help he needs, but in the meantime, I'll fade him.