UFC 273: Volkanovski vs. Korean Zombie Odds, Predictions and Pre-Weigh-In Hype

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistApril 7, 2022

UFC 273: Volkanovski vs. Korean Zombie Odds, Predictions and Pre-Weigh-In Hype

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    Two intriguing title fights with lopsided odds headline UFC 273 from VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.

    First, Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling will run it back for the bantamweight title. The champion Sterling is facing long odds despite already holding the belt. He won by disqualification in their first fight when Yan unleashed a knee to Sterling while he was on the mat.

    In the main event, Alexander Volkanovski will put his featherweight crown up against fan-favorite "Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung. The champion comes in as a heavy favorite but faces an always-dangerous opponent in Zombie.

    Elsewhere on the card is a huge test for rising star Khamzat Chimaev. He'll see Gilbert Burns in his biggest UFC test to date.

    Here's a look at the loaded pay-per-view card and the latest comments from the fighters.

Fight Card, Schedule and Odds

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    Handout/Getty Images

    Main Card (ESPN+ PPV at 10 p.m. ET)

    • Alexander Volkanovski (c) (-720) vs. Chan Sung Jung (+500)—featherweight title bout
    • Aljamain Sterling (c) (+360) vs. Petr Yan (ic) (-490)—bantamweight title bout
    • Gilbert Burns (+385) vs. Khamzat Chimaev (-525)
    • Mackenzie Dern (-115) vs. Tecia Torres (-105)
    • Vinc Pichel (-130) vs. Mark Madsen (+110)


    Prelims (ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET)

    • Ian Garry (-365) vs. Darian Weeks (+280)
    • Jairzinho Rozenstruik (-150) vs. Marcin Tybura (+130)
    • Aspen Ladd (+160) vs. Raquel Pennington (-190)
    • Mickey Gall (+170) vs. Mike Malott (-200)


    Early Prelims (UFC Fight Pass at 6 p.m. ET)

    • Aleksei Oleinik vs. Jared Vanderaa
    • Anthony Hernandez (-190) vs. Josh Fremd (+160)
    • Piera Rodriguez (-120) vs. Kay Hansen (+100)
    • Julio Arce (-190) vs. Daniel Santos (+160)


    Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.

Volkanovski Expects Eye-Opening Performance

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    Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images

    Alexander Volkanovski is really putting together a case to be called the greatest featherweight of all time.

    That's a lofty designation in a division that has featured Jose Aldo, Conor McGregor and Max Holloway. But the Aussie has beaten Aldo once, Holloway twice and actually defended the belt unlike McGregor.

    One knock against his resume is a lack of finishes, though. Volkanovski has yet to get a finish in a title fight, and five of his six latest victories have come by way of decision.

    That includes a split decision with Max Holloway. This was supposed to be the third matchup of the two all-time greats, but an injury forced Holloway off the card and this fight was made.

    Volkanovski views it as his opportunity to create some highlights, as he explained to Cole Shelton of BJPenn.com:

    "I do think it will be an eye-opener. I do think this one will be exciting, but I'm expecting to go out there and really put my hands on him and do work. I can finish him anywhere, I can submit him, ground-and-pound, knock him out on the feet."

    As tough as the Korean Zombie is, he has been knocked out in the past. George Roop, Jose Aldo and Yair Rodriguez have all been able to finish him. However, that's a tall task even for Volkanovski.

    Prediction: Volkanovski via decision.

Sterling Ready to End Frustrating Layoff

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    Jeff Bottari/Getty Images

    The ending to the first Yan-Sterling fight was frustrating for everyone.

    For the fans, it was an unsatisfying ending. For Yan, it was a boneheaded mistake that cost him the title. For Sterling, it wasn't the way he'd like to win the title, and the subsequent wait to prove himself has been difficult.

    It's been more than a year since Sterling won the belt. He was supposed to fight Yan in October of 2021, but issues from his neck surgery caused the fight to be delayed until now.

    "When your hands are tied and you can't do anything because you're physically unable to for a period, it gets very, very frustrating," he said, per E. Spencer Kyte of UFC.com. "But at the end of the day, going out there, righting the wrong, it's going to be very, very satisfying."

    While the odds here reflect a lopsided matchup, that doesn't necessarily correspond with what we saw in the first fight. Sterling won the first two rounds before Yan had turned the tide before the disqualification.

    This should be a more competitive fight than the odds indicate, although Yan's advantage on the feet and ability to take Sterling down give him the edge.

    Prediction: Yan via decision.

Chimaev Planning to Call Out Usman

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    Chris Unger/Getty Images

    UFC 273 is a moment of truth for the Khamzat Chimaev hype train. The undefeated fighter is a perfect 4-0 in the UFC, absorbing just one significant strike in five rounds of fight, per UFC Stats.

    With two submissions and two knockouts, Chimaev has only seen the second round in a fight once. Now, he enters as a sizable favorite against a proven veteran in Gilbert Burns.

    Burns' only loss since late 2018 has come against reigning champion Kamaru Usman. The same Usman who has proved to be a dominant champion and could ultimately fight the 27-year-old.

    Usman and Burns are also training patterns. So there's a possibility that Usman will be in Burns' corner Saturday night. Chimaev looks forward to that because he plans on setting up a title fight after beating Burns.

    "I hope he will be there. So when I knock [Burns] out, I'm gonna go to [Usman], 'Jump in, you are next.' So I can beat them both, same night," he told Farah Hannoun of MMA Junkie.

    The hype train may keep rolling, but the odds on this fight are far too wide for how good Burns is. This should be a great fight with the underdog giving it a much better effort than the odds would indicate.

    Prediction: Chimaev via decision.


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