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Judges' Cards: UFC 274 Oliveira vs. Gaethje Expert Picks

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Judges' Cards: UFC 274 Oliveira vs. Gaethje Expert Picks
Justin Gaethje celebrates after his decision victory over Michael Chandler in their lightweight bout during the UFC 268. Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images via AFP.

Charles Oliveira battles Justin Gaethje for the lightweight title as the main event on a loaded UFC 274 card on Saturday. Our experts offer up their top picks for UFC 274: Oliveira-Gaethje below.

Saturday’s UFC 274 card takes place at Footprint Center in Phoenix, AZ. The main event will see Justin Gaethje try to take the lightweight belt away from Charles Oliveira. Rose Namajunas defends her women’s strawweight strap belt against Carla Esparza in the penultimate fight of the night.

Editor’s note: Oliveira was stripped of his title after failing to make weight on Friday. If he wins on Saturday, the lightweight title will be vacated. Gaethje can still claim the belt with a victory.

Check out our expert UFC 274: Oliveira-Gaethje picks (picks made by Kyle Smith and Themistoklis Alexis).

UFC 274: Oliveira-Gaethje Expert Picks

(Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook as of May 6 at 1 p.m. ET.)

UFC 274: Oliveira-Gaethje Locks

Oliveira-Gaethje to go the distance: No (-450 via DraftKings)

When the UFC’s most prolific finisher squares off with quite possibly the division’s hardest hitter, it’s unlikely the bout will see the judges' scorecards. Oliveira holds the UFC record for most submissions (15), and most finishes (18). Meanwhile, the brick-fisted Gaethje has closed out five of his six victories inside the Octagon via KO/TKO. - Smith

SEE ALSO: Oliveira vs. Gaethje Odds and Picks

With a whopping 49 stoppages in 55 wins between them, Saturday’s headliners won’t need the full five rounds to determine the world’s preeminent lightweight. Whether Oliveira claims a limb to defend his crown or Gaethje’s relentless pressure, leg kicks, and hooks earn him a 20th career knockout, Saturday's title clash will be a veritable festival of ultraviolence. The only unknown isn’t if, but how this matchup will end before the final horn. - Alexis

UFC 274: Oliveira-Gaethje Underdog Picks

Lauzon (+160 via DraftKings)

When both men were in their primes, I would have picked Donald Cerrone to violently banish Joe Lauzon to the shadow realm. Unfortunately, time is undefeated, and Cowboy’s once granite chin has almost completely abandoned him. Cerrone has lost via TKO/KO in four of his past six bouts. That isn’t to say that the 37-year-old Lauzon is out there snatching souls, but I think he still has a little more tread on his tires, and he proved he still had some pop when he polished off Jonathan Pearce with strikes in his last bout on Oct. 18, 2019. - Smith

Gatto (+128 via FanDuel Sportsbook)

She may be the underdog in her dance with Tracy Cortez, but Melissa Gatto can preserve the “0” on her record in more ways than one. Gatto has claimed half of her eight pro scalps by submission, and with Cortez likely to pursue takedowns early and often, odds are we’ll see her create scrambles and sweeps to gain dominant positions and work to add to her total. Should the pair stay upright, I expect the rangy Gatto to ride her 3.5-inch edge in reach, keep her foe at the end of her punches, and maybe even put Cortez away with a two-piece or a nasty kick to the body. - Alexis

UFC 274: Oliveira-Gaethje Prop Picks

Oliveira to win by KO/TKO/DQ/Submission (-120 via DraftKings)

This goes hand-in-hand with my betting lock. Oliveira is a venomous finisher and has stopped his opponent in nine of his last 10 bouts. I’m done doubting “do Bronx” at this point, and I expect him to retain the title in a violent fashion. - Smith

Saint Preux by KO/TKO (+250 via FanDuel)

Ovince Saint Preux needed all of 34 seconds to lay waste to Shogun Rua back in 2014, and only a filthy casual would think he won’t repeat the feat on Saturday. Long removed from his days as a frightening purveyor of violence in Pride, the 40-year-old Rua has now racked up many miles and succumbed to strikes in each of his last four losses. Even if Rua’s second dance with Saint Preux runs longer than the first, a looping haymaker from the Haitian's power left side is bound to leave the brittle veteran counting the lights sooner or later. - Alexis

SEE ALSO: Chandler vs. Ferguson Odds and Picks

UFC 274: Oliveira-Gaethje Bold Predictions

Lauzon to win by TKO/KO in Round 1 (+1000 via DraftKings)

Part of this was covered in my upset pick. With Cerrone’s failing chin leading to TKO/KO losses in four of his past six bouts, three of those trips to the land of wind and ghosts were booked in the opening stanza. He’s also a notoriously slow starter, who relishes in a good old-fashioned firefight. Lauzon isn’t an unstoppable terminator, but he does have the requisite skill to catch a fading Cowboy in the absolute downside of his career. It’s a longshot, but it’s well worth the chase at +1000. - Smith

SEE ALSO: Namajunas vs. Esparza 2 Odds and Picks

Williams by KO/TKO in Round 1 (+500 via FanDuel)

Khaos Williams’ fast hands have earned him three knockouts in four UFC victories, and I’m banking on him to live up to his name yet again, this time at Randy Brown’s expense. The long-limbed Brown has matured nicely over his promotional stint but is the slight underdog in a matchup that began as a pick ’em. Williams can annihilate many a welterweight with a single haymaker, and the 5-1 payout on an early fight-ending blitz is just too compelling to pass up. - Alexis

Where to Bet on UFC 274

Here are our top-rated sportsbooks for odds boosts:

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