UFC 259 best bets: Back a former champ to end skid
Jeff Bottari / UFC / Getty

UFC 259 takes place Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The event features a trio of title fights, including the light heavyweight main event between defending champion Jan Blachowicz and middleweight king Israel Adesanya.

"The Last Stylebender" is moderately favored to capture his second UFC belt, currently sitting at -240 on theScore Bet. There isn't quite enough value at that price, so I'm staying away from the fight altogether.

With that, here are the two best bets for the pay-per-view card.

Dominick Cruz (+115) vs. Casey Kenney

Mike Roach / UFC / Getty

Cruz, one of the greatest bantamweights of all time, is set to return to the Octagon in Saturday's featured preliminary bout.

The former 135-pound champion hasn't competed since a TKO loss to Henry Cejudo in a short-notice title fight last May. He's riding a two-fight skid, but there's good reason to think Cruz will pick up his first win since 2016 in the clash against Kenney.

It's understandable that the oddsmakers pegged Cruz as the underdog since he hasn't been victorious in almost five years, but he should, realistically, be the favorite. The 35-year-old has only lost to championship-caliber competition throughout his 25-fight career: Cejudo, Cody Garbrandt, and Urijah Faber. He avenged the 2007 defeat to Faber twice.

Kenney seems to have a lot of promise, but the 29-year-old has never come close to fighting someone on Cruz's level. This is his biggest test, but it's not one he'll pass.

Cruz's best days may be behind him, but he is still extremely unorthodox and tricky to figure out. Kenney has a relatively aggressive style, which will be to Cruz's advantage. Expect the former champ to use his movement and footwork to avoid Kenney's biggest shots and confuse him. Cruz can also rely on his takedowns if needed. But if the fight stays standing, Cruz will land enough counters to win a decision.

Song Yadong (-145) vs. Kyler Phillips

Cooper Neill / UFC / Getty

Song is one of the hottest prospects in the bantamweight division, and he'll look to continue his streak against fellow up-and-comer Phillips.

The 23-year-old opened as a -190 favorite, but the public has bet that down to -145 as the fight has neared. I think the oddsmakers were right in putting Song where they did, so there's a lot of value on him at this cheaper price.

Song is two years younger than his opponent, but he has a lot more MMA and UFC experience. This will be his seventh Octagon appearance compared to Phillips' third. Song's also fought the better competition, as he edged out Marlon Vera in 2020 and took Cody Stamann to a majority draw the year before.

This fight has the potential to be full of action, but Song's power advantage and more refined boxing will lead him to victory. As the stronger and more aggressive fighter, Song will be able to break through Phillips' reach advantage and pummel him with shots. Phillips is the better grappler, but Song is skilled enough in the wrestling department to keep the fight on the feet, where he'll either bully the 25-year-old en route to a decision or find a late finish.

Here are the full odds from theScore Bet for UFC 259 on March 6:

Main card

  • Israel Adesanya (-240) vs. Jan Blachowicz (+190)
  • Amanda Nunes (-1250) vs. Megan Anderson (+750)
  • Petr Yan (-120) vs. Aljamain Sterling (-110)
  • Islam Makhachev (-370) vs. Drew Dober (+290)
  • Aleksandar Rakic (-170) vs. Thiago Santos (+140)

Preliminary card

  • Casey Kenney (-145) vs. Dominick Cruz (+115)
  • Song Yadong (-145) vs. Kyler Phillips (+115)
  • Askar Askarov (-135) vs. Joseph Benavidez (+105)
  • Kai Kara-France (-150) vs. Rogerio Bontorin (+120)

Early preliminary card

  • Jordan Espinosa (-130) vs. Tim Elliott (+100)
  • Carlos Ulberg (-200) vs. Kennedy Nzechukwu (+250)
  • Sean Brady (-210) vs. Jake Matthews (+170)
  • Amanda Lemos (-210) vs. Livinha Souza (+170)
  • Uros Medic (-175) vs. Aalon Cruz (+145)
  • Mario Bautista (-240) vs. Trevin Jones (+190)
Comments
UFC 259 best bets: Back a former champ to end skid
  Got something to say? Leave a comment below!
Daily Newsletter
Get the latest trending sports news daily in your inbox