MMA Best Bets: Cole's Picks, Odds, and Predictions for UFC 288

MMA Best Bets: Cole's Picks, Odds, and Predictions for UFC 288

This article is part of our UFC Picks series.

The UFC heads to the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey for UFC 288 on Saturday, May 6. In the main event of the pay-per-view card, Aljamain Sterling looks to defend his bantamweight title against former flyweight and bantamweight champ, Henry Cejudo.

Below, I'll share my favorite play, an underdog, a prop and a two-fighter parlay. All odds are via the DraftKings Sportsbook and are accurate as of the post date of this article.

Weight Class: Welterweight

Gilbert Burns (22-5) vs. Belal Muhammad (22-3)

The co-main event of the pay-per-view card is a five-round fight that was made on short notice after Charles Oliveira vs. Beneil Dariush was pushed back a week. What is an interesting wrinkle of this fight is that it comes just after Ramadan ended and Muhammad was hoping for this scrap to be at 185lbs, but it will happen at 170.

Burns and Muhammad are very similar as both are very good grapples with their striking have both improved and both have solid cardio. On the feet, Burns does have more power which could be the difference as they are nearly identical in all the other stats.

Ultimately, I do worry about what Muhammad's training camp has been like, especially with him wanting this to be at 185lbs. It will be a back-and-forth fight, but I like Burns to win a decision here.

UFC 288 Best Bet: Gilbert Burns -125

Weight Class: Bantamweight

Aljamain Sterling (22-3) vs. Henry Cejudo (16-2)

Aljamain Sterling is the current bantamweight champion and to see him as a slight underdog is a surprise given Henry Cejudo hasn't fought in three years.

Although Sterling's reign has been full of controversy, Cejudo's reign at 135lbs wasn't exactly dominant as he beat Marlon Moraes who gassed out badly after beating up 'Triple C' and he then TKO'd Dominick Cruz in his first fight in years.

Cejudo is no doubt the better wrestler, but Sterling has unique takedowns so I do think he can catch Cejudo off guard at points. Then, on the feet, I think Cejudo will have a hard time with his range and timing due to the time off. Sterling is also very active on the feet and is hard to hit and I think he can win the early rounds and edge out a decision.

UFC 288 Best Bet: Aljamain Sterling (-105)

Weight Class: Middleweight

Ikram Aliskerov (13-1) vs. Phil Hawes (12-4)

Ikram Aliskerov is a highly-touted fighter, as his lone loss is to Khamzat Chimaev. He's a pure finisher, a great grappler and has legit one-punch KO power.

Hawes, meanwhile, was a touted prospect for quite some time, but he kept on falling short right before the UFC. He lost on TUF 23 to Andrew Sanchez, was submitted by Louis Taylor in WSOF and was knocked out by Julian Marquez on the Contender Series. After getting into the UFC, he started out strong but has since lost two of his last three and both by KO (Roman Dolidze and Chris Curtis).

The problem with Hawes is he is there to be hit, and his cardio leaves a lot to be desired. Hawes will have a hard time getting Aliskerov down, and on the feet, I expect the Russian to land big shots and KO Hawes, similar to what Dolidze did. Taking ITD is the better play, however, as there is a chance he clubs-and-subs him.

UFC 288 Best Bet: Ikram Aliskerov ITD (-110)

Weight Classes: Bantamweight & Middleweight

Daniel Santos (10-2) vs. Johnny Munoz Jr. (12-2)
Claudio Ribeiro (10-3) vs. Joseph Holmes (8-3)

For my parlay, I'm taking Daniel Santos and Claudio Ribeiro to get their hands raised on Saturday at UFC 288.

Santos is a brawler who had a close fight against Julio Arce before scoring an upset knockout win over John Castaneda in a one-sided fight. Munoz, meanwhile, is 2-2 in the UFC, and the loss against Tony Gravely is a concern, as he was caught early and finished. Santos is a great striker and has power. I expect him to come out aggressive and land big shots to finish Munoz Jr. early, similar to the Gravely fight.

The other leg is the second fight of the night (this parlay is the first two fights of the night), and I like Claudio Ribeiro to beat Joseph Holmes. Holmes is someone I was high on coming into the UFC, but he has disappointed early. He doesn't throw much volume and can be taken down (though Ribeiro isn't known for his wrestling).

Riberio may be coming off a KO loss to Abdul Razak Alhassan in a crazy fight, but he showed off great striking and crazy power in that fight. I expect the Brazilian to land the better shots and either get a KO or just piece up Holmes like Pickett did to win a decision.

UFC 288 Best Bets: Daniel Santos & Claudio Ribeiro parlay (+139)


UFC 288 Best Bets:

Here is a recap of my best bets for this weekend's UFC 288 event:

For up-to-date information on the latest odds and props from multiple sportsbooks, check out the UFC odds page on RotoWire.

If you're in Ohio where legal betting just launched, check out Ohio sports betting promos. Sports betting is also officially live in the state of Massachusetts. To get the most bang for your buck when selecting a sportsbook as a new customer, check out these Massachusetts Sports Betting Promos.

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Cole Shelton
Cole Shelton is a full-time sports writer focusing on MMA.
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