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UFC 231: Max Holloway vs Brian Ortega Predictions & Betting Tips

Max Holloway vs Brian Ortega predictions, betting tips and odds for UFC 231 at Soctiabank Arena, Toronto, Canada. Our expert tipsters have previewed every fight on the main card so read on to view our picks!

The Ultimate Fighting Championship returns to Canada on Saturday where a great night of fights are lined up which will lead to Max Holloway once again defending his UFC Feathweight Championship against rising star Brian Ortega.

The big night of fights gets started on the UFC Fight Pass at approximately 11:00pm with four fights being featured. It’s the light-heavyweight’s that see us into the televised prelims as Devin Clark from ‘Dana White: Looking for a Fight’ season 1 aims to earn his 4h win in the UFC against knockout artist Aleksandar Rakic in what promises to be an explosive bout.

Immediately following the traditional four fight prelims will begin on BT Sport 3, An array of ranked fights are featured which focus on numerous top 10 fighters hoping to earn a victory to push them further up their divisions rankings. It’s the women that see us into the main card as 3rd ranked women’s strawweight Claudia Gadelha faces off against the 11th ranked Nina Ansaroff where the Brazilian will hope to get a win to earn her a title shot.

Finally, the main card will get underway straight after the prelim action on BT Sport with 5 great fights making up a very strong card! In the co-main event we see the UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship up for grabs where two top fighters face off as former UFC Strawweight Champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk squares off against Valentina Shevchenko before the UFC Featherweight Championship is on the line when Max Holloway tries to hand Brian Ortega his first professional defeat.

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Max Holloway (19-3-0) v Brian Ortega (14-0-0)

The featherweight division has always been one of the most competitive throughout the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s history with Aldo reigning supreme for many years; however after the featherweight king fell there has been a changing of the tide in the division and now two of its brightest stars face off in a rescheduled bout from the planned UFC 226 meeting. As noted they were previously set to meet and it was at this stage last time around when the fight was cancelled when Max Holloway was pulled from the fight due to ‘concussion like symptoms’, this was the second time in a row that Holloway had been pulled out of fights during fight week with him being pulled from UFC 223 also due to the severity of his weight cut. Now however a year after he previously fought in the octagon he returns to make his second defence of the UFC Featherweight championship against one of the brightest prospects in the UFC who has been taking the division by storm. Brian Ortega has proved that he deserves this championship opportunity, since entering the promotion he has remained undefeated finishing every fight impressively, his victory at UFC 222 against Frankie Edgar proved that he is the real deal and on Saturday night you can expect these two young fighters to put on a show.

Max Holloway is one of the best talents within the UFC; his talent and credentials so far during his career speak for themselves and this is during a stint where he hasn’t even reached his peak. His skill set and fight IQ at the age of 27 years old is remarkable. Currently he boasts one of the longest current win streaks in the UFC with 12 straight fights won, this run has helped him bulldoze through former challengers, top ten opponents alongside Pettis & Aldo respectively for the interim and unification championships. Saturday night he will face another impressive 27 year old who is on his own unbeaten run of 14 straight fights where somebodies run must end. Holloway is primarily a striker and last time out that proved effective against Aldo, he utilised his striking and distance to dictate the fight and neutralise the former champion. The output of Holloway in both of his fights against Aldo helped him to eventually stop the Brazilian making him the second Hawaiian to hold a belt within the UFC. It is likely that Holloway will try dictate the distance again in this bout, he’s facing a very creative grappler who will be wanting to get this fight to the group and implement his impressive Jiu-Jitsu so by dictating the distance it will help Holloway to keep the fight standing and avoid the takedowns. That will be Holloway’s gameplan throughout this fight to keep it on the feet, on the ground is where Ortega is at his best whilst on the feet is where Holloway has found 47% of his victories; if he can keep the fight on the feet this is the champions fight to lose.

One of the fastest rising stars in the featherweight division has been the Californian Brian Ortega, after joining the UFC as an unbeaten professional in 2014, he’s continued that undefeated run winning 6 straight fights all by stoppage. It’s his last three fights which have shown just how impressive Ortega is as he’s been able to stop three elite fighters in Moicano, Swanson & Edgar. Most surprisingly his most recent victory over Frankie Edgar came by knockout which nobody expect due to Ortega’s success on the ground which is highlighted through his 50% win percentage coming from submissions. The American’s jiu-jitsu is one of the most appreciated within the UFC due to him having a black belt under Rener Gracie who is one of the best Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners in the world and this accolade only supports Ortega’s skills. Although the American’s skills on the ground are evident this is never where he seems to take the fight however, within his UFC bouts he’s not successfully managed 1 takedown, it has always been his opponents that have taken him down prior to being stopped. Therefore we shouldn’t expect Ortega to search for the takedown in this fight either, although he is at a disadvantage on the feet he has power as shown with his knockout of Frankie Edgar but he does absorb 5.27 significant strikes per minute which is an extremely high amount. Against a fighter like Max Holloway who averages 6.2 significant strikes per minute and holds a relentless pace Ortega can’t allow to take too many strikes and therefore he needs to look at taking this fight to the ground if he wants to earn the victory.

This promises to be an exciting fight between two fighters within the UFC on long unbeaten runs and one of those has to end; this is a classic striker vs submission specialist match up and it comes down to which is better at imposing their speciality. If every round started on the ground you’d favour it being Ortega that imposed his jiu-jitsu but with the fight starting on the feet every round in mixed martial arts this favours Holloway as Ortega would have to get Holloway down to begin demonstrating his elite jiu-jitsu. Ortega is never one to search for the takedown and when he has it’s found him very little success with only 14% being successful, whilst Holloway has been able to defend 83.33% of the takedown attempts on him. The volume and intensity that Holloway has each round will be a big issue for Ortega with the amount of shots he has landed with him and we feel that as the fight goes on this will definitely begin to impact the fight and ultimately earn Holloway the victory; however Ortega is more than easily capable of ending this fight with one opening to grab Holloway’s neck and it would be no surprise for him to shock everyone here.

Prediction: Max Holloway to Win

Betting Tip: Will Fight go the Distance – No

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Valentina Shevchenko (15-3-0) v Joanna Jedrzejczyk (15-2-0)

In the co-main event of UFC 231 we see the UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship up for grabs after it was stripped for The Ultimate Fighter winner Nicco Montano who successfully defeated Roxanne Modafferi in the finale to become the champion almost a year ago. Both of the fighters competing for this championship have previously fought at flyweight in other organisations however with the flyweight division only just being introduced within the UFC it caused both of the fighters to pursue the title in other divisions. For Joanna Jedrzejcyk it was the strawweight division where she captured the title and established herself as one of the top female fighters within mixed martial arts, however after losing the title to Rose Namajunas and controversially losing the rematch she now returns to flyweight in the hope of becoming the first female fighter to have held belts in two female weight classes. Meanwhile Valentina Shevchenko has been competing in the UFC’s Bantamweight division were only one woman was capable of beating her: Amanda Nunes, who is the current champion of that division and it can be argued that Shevchenko won the last meeting between the pair at UFC 215. However, now both fighters have their eyes on the UFC Flyweight belt and only one of them will be able to take it home with them after Saturday night.

Valentina Shevchenko is a fighter who likes to do her talking on fight night whilst in the lead up to the title fight with Amanda Nunes we saw her come out of her shell this time against Joanna who is a prolific trash talker she has not entertained that part of the build-up. Against Nunes it could have been a part of the gameplan to wind her up so that she would come out aggressively so that she would tire early and then the momentum would sway; in the fight we saw exactly that which made the decision of the fight so controversial as either fight could have taken home the victory. To earn her rematch with the champion Shevchenko had produced impressive performances against Holm and Pena, controlling both fights and earning an impressive stoppage against Pena which helped her stand out as a worthy contender. The muay thai fighter is extremely versatile, securing 4 wins by knockout and 7 by submission shows her ability to mix up and not just relay on her muay thai and kickboxing which she has a background in. These fighters both share that background and it won’t be the first time they have met in a combat sport,  they have met on three previous occasions in amateur muay thai and kickboxing in which Shevchenko won all three; although this was a long time ago it will fill Valentina with confidence to know Joanna is yet to beat her. In this fight Valentina will be the stronger fighter having moved down from bantamweight, in the face offs there has been a significant size advantage for Shevchenko and with her favouring the stand-up she will want to use that to fight from distance, Joanna is known for her striking so if she’s able to do damage without taking any it will advantage her within this bout.

It’s always been clear to many mixed martial arts fans that Joanna Jedrzejczuk is one of the most talent women’s mixed martial artists there is, her exciting and aggressive fighting style has helped her to earn many fans throughout her UFC stint and whilst she is no longer the queen of the UFC Strawweight division she still remains as popular with the fans. The weight-cut whilst at 115 was a significant problem for Joanna and the public was very aware of this, it was always going to be a matter of time until she moved to the flyweight division and now is her opportunity to do so. After losing the title and coming up short in the judges eyes during the rematch the polish native still continued to stay active facing off against Teicia Torres where likewise when she faced Carla Esparza she was able to stuff all the takedowns and make her opponents pay for those attempts. Valentina is a fighter that averages 1.82 takedowns per fight which highlights her ability and favouritism towards mixing up her game plan but with Joanna defending 82.83% of takedown attempts on her she will favour being able to keep this fight standing where she excels through her extremely high output. How Joanna will enter this fight nobody knows due to moving up in weight and facing a fighter that her coaches have successfully beat before however she should utilise her striking as that is her best tool, Shevchenko may have the reach but Joanna is more than capable of using her explosiveness to get inside the distance and cause damage.

This has the potential to be one of the greatest fights in women’s fighting as both fighters are extremely entertaining and possess a great background in striking disciplines which should be a spectacle to watch as it unfolds in the octagon. The fact that Shevchenko has the physical advantage in this fight is extremely important especially within the grappling exchanges, Joanna has amazing technique to stop the takedown and she’s utilized that perfectly in her previous fights however Valentina also possess great technique but also has the physical advantage to impose her technique more. This fight I feel will definitely take place on the feet but if Valentina feels she is losing the fight or taking damage she will take it to the ground where 47% of her wins have come, with Joanna not usually getting put on her back too this would be a dangerous position for her to be in. Overall, Valentina has the slight advantage due to the strength and wrestling however Joanna is massively priced and it would be no surprise to see her work away at Valentina for 5 rounds with her phenomenal striking but that seems less likely than the former option.

Prediction: Valentina Shevchenko to Win

Betting Tip: Shevchenko to Win

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Alex Oliveira (19-4-1) v Gunnar Nelson (16-3-1)

Many fighters have become popular within the United Kingdom due to their association with former UFC Lightweight & Featherweight champion Conor McGregor but none more so than the Icelandic Gunnar Nelson who has been a prominent figure in McGregor’s career as a training partner. His exciting fighting still has seen only 3 of his UFC fights be decided by decision too which helps fans get excited by him stepping in the octagon as they thoroughly expect a great fight. The same is said for Alex Oliveira last year he was involved in one of the most memorable fights of the last 12 months when he faced off against Yancy Medeiros in a bout which he unfortunately lost to knockout which stopped his 4 four fight win streak. There’s many new contenders emerging in the 170 pound division and these fight will allow for one of those men to hopefully emerge with the prospect of facing a top 10 opponent; both of these fighters have been prominent members in the rankings of the welterweight division and with an impressive performance here they could break back into the top 10 of the division.

Prior to UFC 218 Alex Oliveira had put together a string of impressive wins which saw him go four undefeated and get matched up with fellow knockout artist Yancy Medeiros; following the three finishes Oliveira had produced in his last three fights fans expected this to be a great fight and it truly delivered however unfortunately for the Brazilian he was unable to get the finish in that fight and his unbeaten run was halted. Oliveira always seems to hit an obstacle when he looks impressive and has a win streak going, last time out it was Donald Cerrone and this time it was Yancy Mederios however that’s not stopped him coming back looking impressive after back to back finishes once again over two top fighters. Primarily a striker but possessing a good ground game, Oliveira has been finished 84% of his victories which has helped him to gain recognition within the UFC as he’s now known for his exciting fighting style. In this matchup he will want to keep the fight on the feet, Gunnar’s skill on the ground is evident so to have the most success Oliveira needs to defend the takedown which he hasn’t been too successful with throughout his career.

Gunnar Nelson is a man who expresses very little in the build-up to fights, he’s a man who likes to get in the octagon and let his fighting do the talking which is exactly what he will intend to do this Saturday night when he returns to the octagon over a year after his last bout which was July, 2017. There was some controversy however regarding that fight, Nelson lost via first round knockout but it appeared as though an eye poke in an early exchange affected the Icelandic and ultimately had some part in him suffering the defeat. That is now in the past and with new talent emerging in this division Nelson will be clawing to get back in to the win column and set up fights with some of the new top 10 fighters in the weight class. This is a match up that favours Gunnar Nelson, the three defeats he have faced have mostly come from fighters who advantage the ground game apart from Ponzinibbio; Oliveira although has an impressive ground game with this submission attempts doesn’t have the greatest wrestling defence which Nelson will be able to exploit. Although there is the submission threat from Oliveira he doesn’t possess the same tools as former Jiu-Jitsu World Champion Gunnar Nelson who has won 69% of his thoughts by submitting his opponents, the only person who has neutralised Nelson’s unbelievable ground game is Maia who himself is a brilliant practitioner of Jiu-Jitsu. It’s evident for Nelson to have success he will rely on his ground game but to close the reach advantage he will need to be light on his feet and use that awkward karate style he possess’ to close the distance and get the takedown.

The main card is full of exciting bouts and this want does not deviate from that norm, these fighters have only been to the judges in 22% of their collective 35 victories showing their desire to find the finish within their fights. This is a fight where you could argue that Oliveira has the better skill set all around, he is a great stand up fighter which is evident through the amount of finishes he gets through strikes but he also possess a great ground game where he is very active searching for the submission. However it’s Nelson that has the best skill within his arsenal and that is his grappling which through his credentials that were stated earlier we can see evidence of. It’s hard to see Oliveira avoiding the takedown over 3 rounds due to Nelson’s movement and how he closes the distance, when this fight goes to the ground it is completely in Gunnar’s control and we expect him to impose his Jiu-Jitsu to find a finish.

Prediction: Gunnar Nelson to Win

Betting Tip: Gunnar Nelson to Win

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Jimi Manuwa (17-4-0) v Thiago Santos (19-6-0)

If there’s one fight in this card that you’d put your money on not seeing the judges decisions it would be this one, with only 6% of Manuwa’s 17 wins going to the judges and 26% of Santos’ 19 wins going to judges it would be very hard to see. Only one of both of these fighters last 5 bouts have seen a decision also which shows they are both full of confidence at the moment and finishing opponents at ease which makes this match up a very exciting one, especially with Thiago Santos looking more at home since his move to the Light Heavyweight division. His impressive debut in the division in September of this year proved exactly why some fighters are better at a weightclass closer to their natural weight, Santos faced off against a promising young fighter Eryk Anders who stepped up on short notice to face him but came carrying a serious threat; Santos completely neutralised his opponent and did enough damage that after the 3rd round Anders couldn’t make it to his corner leading to the fight being stopped. Meanwhile Manuawa for the first time in his career is on a two fight losing streak which he will not have expected especially after being in contention to fight for the title, therefore this fight has a lot of implications for the Brit.

Since 2015 Jimi Manuwa has only lost three fights, one to Anthony Johnson in 2015 and one to his teammate Oezdemir earlier in the year and most recently Jan Blachowicz; despite these losses though the Brit has continued to show why he deserves to be in the top 5 within the division and this bout helps him to return there. His knockout defeats to Johnson and Gustafsson showed that he has trouble with powerful punchers and that was only reinforced in his previous performance against Oezdemir in which he was finished within the first exchange. However prior to this in March 2017 Manuwa delivered an impressive knockout against Corey Anderson which saw him deal with a wrestler easily, this followed up his spectacular knockout of OSP and he’ll be looking to mirror them performances again to get back into the win column. Manuwa is an extremely dangerous striker which has helped him finish 88% of his fights by knockout which shows he has real one punch knockout power and recently he’s successfully incorporated this into his striking. The key for him to winning this fight therefore is keeping this fight standing and being patient with his shots, Thiago Santos is new to the division and Manuwa will likely have a strength and size advantage therefore his patience is key as he will be able to dictate the range and find that shot which is capable of ending the fight.

The Brazilian has always been a fighter that has lingered around the top 10 in the division at middleweight and having always been stopped when getting close to pushing further into the rankings he found it time to move up to Light Heavyweight were he had the opportunity to reignite his career against fresh competition and his debut couldn’t have got him off to a better start highlighting that he has power at the higher weight class which is capable of stopping the 205ers. Knockout power has always been something that Santos has possessed prior to his first round loss to David Branch which halted his four fight winning streak he had won all of his fights up to his last defeat by knockout with none of those fights going past the half way point of the second round. It was following this defeat however that Santos made the decision to move up to the next weight class due to the weight cut and also his inability to move through the rankings. Now however he has the chance to defeat the number 7 ranked light-heavyweight to surge through the rankings of his new division but he faces a great power puncher who he will need to neutralise to stand a chance. Manuwa has had problems with power punchers himself and with the Brit down on confidence Santos may favour the stand-up battle where he will be able to test his chin and see if it has recovered after the Oezdemir defeat. We think that Santos will infact do this, either way this fight is not going to the judges but Manuwa has always struggled with power punchers and Santos will stand and trade with him. Manuwa isn’t radiating confidence at the moment with back to back defeats so we expect him to be hesitant and careful in this fight due to the risk of getting three fights winless but we believe this will infact cost him.

Prediction: Thiago Santos

Betting Tip: Thiago Santos to Win

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Type of Bet: Tournament Preview. Sports: UFC.
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