UFC predictions, picks and best bets for UFC 257

Dec 7, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; Makhmud Muradov (red gloves) after winning his fight against Trevor Smith (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Capital One Arena.
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Matthew Lowrimore


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Matthew has been with Pickswise for a while now, covering a wide variety of sports. His main passions are college football and UFC, and those are the sports he has covered the most. Matthew uses a variety of methods to handicap games, including stats, trends, injuries, and situational factors. His goal is to consistently give out winners and will put in the research to try and achieve this. For Matt Lowrimore media enquiries, please email contact@pickswise.com.

We are back in Abu Dhabi on Fight Island for UFC 257. The Main Event will feature a Lightweight fight between two of the top contenders, including the return of Conor McGregor.

We’ll share our UFC 257 best bets here but head over to our main UFC 257 predictions homepage if you want picks for every fight on the main and preliminary card. Please gamble responsibly when following our MMA picks and predictions.

UFC 257 Best Bets

Main Card

Makhmud Muradov Money Line (-146)

Andrew Sanchez comes into this fight 13-5 in MMA. He is 5-3 in the UFC and is coming off a knockout win over Wellington Turman. Sanchez is averaging 4.57 significant strikes per minute. He is absorbing 4.92 strikes and has been knocked out twice in the UFC. His grappling is decent as well, averaging 2.16 takedowns per every 15 minutes. However, his takedown accuracy is 32 percent, while he defends takedown 100 percent of the time.

Makhmud Muradov comes into this fight with an MMA record of 24-6. His UFC record is 2-0 and he most recently beat Trevor Smith back in December of 2019. This was a fight he won by knockout. Muradov is averaging 4.97 significant strikes per minute. He is absorbing just 2.57 strikes per minute, has a striking defense of 64 percent and has not lost by KO/TKO since 2016. His grappling is less prominent, averaging 0.51 takedowns per every 15 minutes and 0.5 submission attempts during the same time period. He does only land takedowns 25 percent of the time and like his opponent, he defends takedowns 100 percent of the time.

Muradov appears to be the more complete fighter here. His striking defense will likely be able to hold up when this fight is standing up and his perfect takedown defense will keep this fight off the ground. Because of that, backing Muradov would be my play.

Preliminary Card

Amir Albazi Money Line (-102)

Zhalgas Zhumagulov comes in as a very small favorite. He is 13-4 in MMA and 0-1 in the UFC. His UFC debut took place in July of 2020 and he lost to Raulian Paiva by unanimous decision. He is averaging 4.40 significant strikes per minute, while absorbing 3.47 strikes per minute. He also averages 2.00 takedowns per every 15 minutes, but lands them just 18 percent of the time.

Amir Albazi is coming off his UFC debut win, beating Malcolm Gordon by submission back in July of 2020. He is now 13-1 in MMA. Albazi is averaging 2.55 significant strikes per minute, but has a stellar striking defense of 81 percent. He is absorbing just 0.81 strikes per minute so far in the UFC. His grappling is already looking to be elite, averaging 3.19 takedowns per every 15 minutes and landing them 100 percent of the time. He also averages 3.2 submission attempts per every 15 minutes and has yet to be taken down.

Albazi is a much more balanced fighter, so even though his striking does not look quite as good, his grappling should be more than enough. Because of his takedown ability, backing Albazi would be my play.

Sara McMann Money Line (-132)

Julianna Pena comes into this fight 10-4 in the MMA and 5-2 in the UFC. Her only UFC loss came against Valentina Shevchenko back in 2017. This was a loss by submission and her only loss by finish in the UFC. She is a decent striker, averaging 2.80 strikes per minute. She is only absorbing 1.73 strikes per minute, and her striking defense is 51 percent. As for grappling, Pena is averaging 2.73 takedowns per every 15 minutes. Her takedown accuracy is 52 percent. Her takedown defense is far worse at 28 percent, which is going to be the biggest issue here.

Sara McMann enters this fight with an MMA record of 12-5. She is coming off a win against Lina Lansberg. This was a win by unanimous decision in a fight that took place back in January of 2020. McMann is averaging 2.39 significant strikes per minute. He is landing here strikes with an accuracy of 46 percent. She is also absorbing just 1.86 strikes per minute. Her striking defense is 47 percent and she has been knocked out just once in her career. Grappling is much more McMann’s style, averaging 4.51 takedowns per every 15 minutes. Her takedown accuracy is 63 percent and her takedown defense is 66 percent.

Both these ladies will likely look to take this fight to the ground. McMann has five submission wins in her career, while Pena has lost two of her last three fights by submission. Pena’s takedown defense has not looked good at all, so my pick would be McMann to win this fight.

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