- What: UFC 291 Pay-Per-View Card
- Co-Main Event: Jan Blachowicz vs. Alex Pereira
- Date: Saturday, July 29, 2023
- Location: Delta Center in Salt Lake City, UT
- Time: Early Prelims (6:00 p.m. ET) Prelims (8:00 p.m. ET) Pay-Per-View (10:00 p.m. ET)
- How to Watch: Early Prelims (ESPN+), Prelims (ABC, ESPN), Main Card (ESPN+ PPV)
A notable rematch headlines UFC 291 on July 29 in Salt Lake City. In the main event of the ESPN+ streaming pay-per-view card, two former UFC interim lightweight champions, Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje, face off. The UFC BMF title is on the line in the much-anticipated rematch. Before that fight, two ex-UFC champions, Jan Blachowicz and Alex Pereira face off in the light heavyweight co-main event. Here is some background on the UFC 291 PPV co-main event fighters, before we discuss the betting breakdown for the UFC 291 card.
Jan Blachowicz (29-9-1) is the ex-UFC light heavyweight champion. The 40-year-old is the No. 3 fighter in the official UFC light heavyweight rankings. Blachowicz is coming off a December draw against the No. 2 ranked 205-pounder, Magomed Ankalaev. He held UFC gold from September 2020 through October 2021, with one title defense.
Alex Pereira (7-2) has not fought at light heavyweight in the UFC. He makes his 205-pound UFC debut in the UFC 291 co-headliner. Pereira, who won the UFC middleweight title with a November 2022 knockout of Israel Adesanya, is coming off an April knockout loss to Adesanya in what was Pereira’s first attempted title defense. Pereira was a former two-division Glory kickboxing champion before moving to MMA full-time in 2021.
UFC 291 co-main event: Jan Blachowicz vs. Alex Pereira betting picks
|To Win UFC 291 Co-Main Event|
Jan Blachowicz vs. Alex Pereira betting breakdown
While the matchup between Jan Blachowicz and Alex Pereira is not exactly a pure wrestler vs. striker matchup, it could turn into that type of fight. Blachowicz, who has an enormous advantage over Pereira in experience, showed that he can negate the striking skills of a UFC champ moving from middleweight to light heavyweight. Blachowicz did that in his UFC 259 decision win over then-UFC 185-pound champion Israel Adesanya. During that contest, Blachowicz scored one takedown in each of the final three rounds. The then-UFC light heavyweight titleholder easily held Adesanya on the mat for 7:06 of the last 15 minutes of that contest.
With Pereira being a more powerful and dynamic striker, expect Blachowicz to look to take the fight to the mat much earlier, especially since this is a three-round fight. To put things bluntly, Blachowicz’s best bet to earn the win at UFC 291 is to get the fight to the mat and keep it there.
Size will not be an advantage for Blachowicz, as Pereira is both taller than him and has a longer reach. However, experience in MMA and reps at light heavyweight will be an advantage for Blachowicz. He’s been a pro MMA fighter since 2007, which is five years before the 36-year-old Pereira had his first pro kickboxing bout.
Jan Blachowicz vs. Alex Pereira: Who has the edge?
We already know Pereira is the bigger fighter, but what about stats? The ex-middleweight kingpin is an active and accurate striker, landing 5.23 significant strikes per minute and connecting on 59 percent of his attempts. Those numbers are much higher than Blachowicz’s 3.41 and 49 percent. However, the ex-light heavyweight champ gets hit far less than Pereira at 2.81 significant strikes absorbed per minute to his opponent’s 3.76. With the amount of power Pereira packs in his strikes, don’t be surprised if Blachowicz tests Pereira’s light-heavyweight takedown defense abilities early.
In short, the striking advantage in this contest goes to Pereira, but the wrestling, grappling, and submission game favor Blachowicz.
Jan Blachowicz vs. Alex Pereira: What’s at stake?
With the recent news that UFC light heavyweight champion Jamahal Hill has vacated his title due to a torn Achilles tendon, the UFC could make this a title fight in the days leading up to UFC 291. Short of that, the winner of this fight could be in line for a shot at the vacant title. That bout would likely come against ex-champion, and No 1. ranked UFC 205-pounder Jiri Prochazka, who is recovering from a shoulder injury that forced him to vacate his crown.
Best Bets for UFC 291 co-main event: Jan Blachowicz vs. Alex Pereira
There are several bets to consider for the matchup between Jan Blachowicz and Alex Pereira. If you favor the striking of Pereira, the best bet, in that case, is to pick the Brazilian fighter to win via knockout. However, if you’re on the side of Blachowicz, the UFC 291 co-main event betting pick is for the Polish fighter to win via decision or submission. AAfter all, we must remember that he has nine career submission victories, two of which came with the UFC. My best betting picks for the fight are Blachowicz to win via decision, thanks to his superior wrestling. On the off chance the fight gets moved to a five-round contest for the title, that betting pick remains the same, Blachowicz to win via decision.
Best UFC 291 co-main event betting pick: Jan Blachowicz to beat Alex Pereira via decision.
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