UFC Picks: How To Bet On The Clutchest Match At Fight Night 89

Friday, June 10, 2016 6:11 PM GMT

As long as they can avoid that giant sinkhole, Rory MacDonald and Stephen Thompson will fight June 18 in Ottawa. The Canadian is a slight underdog on the UFC odds board.

Like the song says, another one bites the dust. Michael Bisping put away Luke Rockhold in the first round at last week's UFC 199, taking the Middleweight strap as a +550 underdog. Good thing we picked both sides here at the home office. Since this was an arbitrage play, we didn't add the result(s) to our official UFC pick count below. But we hope you were able to grab some of that “free” money. We'll continue looking for these spots going forward.

Next up: UFC Fight Night 89, live on Saturday, June 18 from TD Place Arena (that's the Civic Centre) in my former hometown of Ottawa. It's the first time the UFC has done a show in Canada's capital, and as you might expect, they've stacked the card with Canuck talent – including the main event between British Columbia's Rory MacDonald and South Carolinian Stephen Thompson. At press time, Thompson is a very slim favorite at most locations on our UFC odds board. Others have it as a pick 'em.

We the North
Ever since Georges St-Pierre hung up the gloves – perhaps temporarily – in 2013, MacDonald (18-3 lifetime, 9-3 UFC) has been Canada's poster boy for MMA. He always seems to be on the cusp of greatness; MacDonald has beaten the likes of Nate Diaz (–111), Demian Maia (+200) and B.J. Penn (+220), but he's also lost a pair of matches to Robbie Lawler, including his last fight for the Welterweight title at UFC 189.

That was a hell of a fight, too. MacDonald went in as a –195 favorite after opening at –140, and he and Lawler went hammer and tong, with Lawler prevailing by TKO in the fifth round after barely surviving the fourth. It was the consensus Fight of the Year for 2015. But it was also last July. MacDonald hasn't competed since then, due in part to lengthy and failed contract negotiations with the promotion.

The 5th Dimension
Meanwhile, Thompson (12-1 lifetime, 7-1 UFC) has been building his CV. “Wonderboy” has won six straight fights, including his first-round TKO of Johny Hendricks (–333) at Fight Night 82 in February. This was a beatdown of epic proportions. Thompson used his height and reach advantage, and his 5th-degree (!) black belt karate skills, to overwhelm Hendricks and earn his third performance bonus in four fights. This is the real deal, folks.

Thompson isn't the bigger fighter in this matchup, though. Both he and MacDonald stand 6-foot, with the Canadian holding a slight one-inch reach advantage. MacDonald is also a much better defensive fighter than Hendricks, having trained extensively with St-Pierre at Tristar Gym in Montreal. And MacDonald has the extra motivation of his impending free agency, coupled with the expected birth of his daughter next month.

This is a close call. Too close, and there's no arbitrage to bail us out, so we're hitting the props market. MacDonald is +462 at Sportbet to win by KO/TKO, with any other result priced at –785. We'll take the latter; either a Thompson KO/TKO or a MacDonald decision seems very likely. Enjoy the Beaver Tails, and may the Octagon be with you.

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Free UFC Pick: Any other result than MacDonald by KO/TKO (–785)
Best Line Offered: at Sportbet
Record: 7-0 ML, 1-1 Totals (+8.50 units)