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UFC 297: Sean Strickland vs. Dricus Du Plessis Free Picks, Predictions, and Analysis

Arnold Allen (+160) vs. Movsar Evloev (-190)

While the name might be familiar to the casual UFC fans, Arnold Allen has been a problem in the featherweight division dating back to 2015. Joining the promotion with a win over Alan Omer, Allen rattled off 10 straight wins to start his UFC stint prior to an April loss to Max Holloway. It’s not like he’s been dodging the best, either, knocking off Sodiq Yusuff, Dan Hooker, and Calvin Kattar in the three fights prior. 

He’ll be looking to get back on track against the undefeated Movsar Evloev this week, in what many consider his toughest test to date. Evloev joined the UFC in 2019 via M-1 and has picked up wins in his first seven fights. Most recently, he ground out a decision win vs. Diego Lopes in May. 

I have these guys nearly identical on paper, and with the tougher opponent history in the UFC, I even give Allen a slight edge with his striking being superior. I’ll gladly take the plus money for this one. 

Pick: Arnold Allen (+160 at BetMGM Sportsbook)

Neil Magny (+205) vs. Mike Malott (-250)

Neil Magny is a guy who has bounced around the welterweight division in the UFC for more than a decade now, joining in 2012 via the Ultimate Fighter. His results have been a mixed bag, especially as of late, as he comes into this one 4-4 over his past eight fights. A closer look shows two of his past three wins were split decisions, both fights that were controversial decisions, at that. 

Mike Malott, on the other hand, will be making his Pay-Per-View Main Card debut, joining the UFC via Dana White’s Contender Series in 2021. Including that first-round win, Malott has rattled off four straight wins in the UFC, all of which have come inside two rounds. 

With his home Canadian crowd behind him, look for Malott to come out aggressive and keep his streak of 100% inside-the-distance finishes intact.

Pick: Mike Malott – Inside the Distance (-180 at DraftKings Sportsbook)

Sean Strickland (-130) vs. Dricus Du Plessis (+110)

It’s been a relatively quick rise through the middleweight ranks in the UFC for South African Dricus du Plessis, who comes into Saturday’s title fight in just his seventh fight with the promotion. The rise has been impressive, however, as his three fights leading up to this one have all finished inside three rounds. Most recently, he made light work of UFC legend Robert Whittaker in the second round back in July.

On the other side of this middleweight title clash, Sean Strickland comes in following the biggest win of his career, a dominating decision win over former champion Israel Adesanya. No one, maybe not even Strickland himself, saw that kind of performance coming, as he controlled that fight from start to finish. 

As we see often in this sport, however, I think the emotions put into that fight and the subsequent drama in the time since is too much to overcome for Strickland. Facing a composed and methodical Du Plessis, I think Strickland struggles to maintain his own composure and gets caught in the process. 

Pick: Dricus Du Plessis (+110 at DraftKings Sportsbook)

Johnny Covers

Johnny has been covering the sports betting markets and handicapping UFC for the better part of the past decade. Along the way, he has written for publications such as Oddschecker, Betting Pros, Sportsbook Review, Yardbarker, and many more. Johnny runs giving out free UFC analysis and picks on every card, going 56% in 2021, 65% in 2022, and trending at 60% for 2023. He has also made multiple appearances on UFC's official betting show "On the Line" along side head MMA oddsmaker at Circa Sportsbooks Nick Kalikas and professional sports bettor Gianni the Greek .