UFC 197 Picks: Jon Jones Is Among Our Top Main Card Selections

Swinging Johnson

Thursday, April 14, 2016 6:36 PM UTC

Thursday, Apr. 14, 2016 6:36 PM UTC

Ovince Saint Preux will battle Jon Jones in a light heavyweight title elimination bout but there are other enticing matches to include in our UFC picks as well.

Ovince Saint Preux (19-7, 9 KO’s, 5 Subs) vs. Jon Jones (21-1, 9 KO’s, 6 Subs)
When it comes to martial combat virtually anything can happen, particularly when the participants are world class fighters. We have all heard about the invincible Iron Mike Tyson getting busted up by a 33-1 underdog named Buster Douglas. We recently saw Holly Holm shock the world when she stunned Ronda Rousey. It happens, and one day Jon Jones may be on his back looking up at the rafters wondering what hit him.

But it hasn’t happened yet and though OSP is one tough hombre it should be noted that he is 3-2 over his last five matches and both defeats came against top flight fighters at 205 in Ryan Bader and most recently Glover Teixeira. It should also be noted that Jon Jones submitted Bader and manhandled Teixeira en route to a unanimous decision. The question is how screwed on is Jones’s head in light of his highly publicized travails and will that affect his performance inside the Octagon? I think he will be just fine come April 23rd.

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Free UFC Pick: Jon Jones -470 
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

***Visit Our Props Page For Jon Jones vs. Ovince Saint Preux***

Henry Cejudo (10-0, 4 KO’s, 0 Subs) vs. Demetrious Johnson (23-2-1, 4 KO’s, 9 Subs)
Many pundits have proclaimed Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet. It is hard to argue, considering his undefeated reign at 125 pounds and his seven title defenses since he won the inaugural UFC Bantamweight strap via split decision over Joseph Benavidez in September of 2012.

But his opponent Henry Cejudo brings an Olympic gold medal wrestling pedigree to the table and one that may be a bit too daunting for the champ. Johnson is a takedown artist and Cejudo knows better than anyone how to defend takedowns. Cejudo displayed vastly improved striking in his most recent bout and will hold a height and reach advantage over the diminutive Johnson.

That of course, will be nothing new to the champion, who stands just 5’3”, but if he cannot take Cejudo to the mat it may prove more vexing than in any other battle he has fought inside the cage. We will go with the challenger and the underdog as we look to cash an upset in our UFC picks.

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Free UFC Pick: Henry Cejudo +330
Best Line Offered: at WagerWeb


Edson Barboza (16-4, 10 KO’s, 1 Sub) vs. Anthony Pettis (18-4, 7 KO’s, 8 Subs)
The former UFC Lightweight champion has had two consecutive setbacks; losing his title to Rafael dos Anjos and dropping a split decision to Eddie Alvarez in his most recent match.

No shame in losing to either but some would say the split against Alavarez could have easily gone the other way. Pettis will get healthy against a tough as nails Barboza who is a fairly one dimensional fighter, though if he gets his Muay Thai groove on it could be a short night for “Showtime”.

That won’t happen as Pettis is too seasoned and has an excellent submission game which is absent from Barboza. In this one we will back the former champ and lay the lumber.

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Free UFC Pick: Anthony Pettis -165
Best Line Offered: at BetDSI


Rafael Natal (21-6, 4 KO’s, 8 Subs) vs. Robert Whittaker (15-4, 7 KO’s, 1 Sub)
This one isn’t as lopsided as the UFC odds makers would lead you to believe. As of this writing they have installed the budding middleweight as high as a -350 favorite but both recently fought a common opponent in Uriah Hall and both won by decision.

While I respect Whittaker’s power I cannot overlook the experience that Natal brings to the table. This is a value bet as I believe Whittaker has the ability to make this a short night but Natal is riding a four-fight win streak and exploded against jiu-jitsu specialist Kevin Casey in his last bout with a third round TKO that Sapo dominated from box to wire.

Though the 25-year-old Whittaker has youth on his side against the 33-year-old veteran of the MMA wars, I can envision the Brazilian taking this to the mat and making life miserable for the native New Zealander.

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Free UFC Pick: Rafael Natal +280 at Pinnacle.com.
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

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