Best UFC 302 Co-Main Event Betting Picks: Sean Strickland vs. Paulo Costa

  • What: UFC 302 Co-Main Event
  • Who: Sean Strickland vs. Paulo Costa
  • Date: Saturday, June 1, 2024
  • Location: Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey
  • Time: Early Prelims (6:15 p.m. ET), Prelims (8:00 p.m. ET), Pay-Per-View Card (10:00 p.m. ET)
  • How to Watch:  Early Prelims (ESPN+) Prelims (ESPN2, ESPN+), Main Card (ESPN+ PPV)

The first of two UFC pay-per-view events in June takes place on Saturday, June 1, when UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev puts his title on the line against Dustin Poirier. Meanwhile, in the co-main event, UFC middleweight contenders Sean Strickland and Paulo Costa face off in an important matchup.  Here is some background on the UFC 302 co-main event fighters before we look at the betting breakdown for the PPV card.

Sean Strickland (28-6) is a former UFC middleweight champion. Currently the No. 1 ranked fighter in the official UFC 185-pound rankings, Strickland is coming off a title-losing split decision setback to Dricus du Plessis in January.

Paulo Costa (14-3), an ex-UFC middleweight title challenger, is the No. 7 fighter in the UFC’s middleweight division. Costa last competed in February when he dropped a unanimous decision to ex-UFC middleweight titleholder Robert Whittaker.

Before we look at the best bets for the Strickland vs. Costa scrap on the UFC 302 PPV card, check out the best UFC betting sites and where you can find our betting pick for the main event of UFC 302, Islam Makhachev vs. Dustin Poirier.

UFC 302 co-main event: Sean Strickland vs. Paulo Costa betting picks

FightersBetOnline ReviewBovadaBetUS ReviewMyBookie Review
Paulo Costa+185+175+175+172
Sean Strickland-220-215-215-226

Sean Strickland betting breakdown

In Sean Strickland, we have a striker who uses a high-volume approach and forward pressure to wear down his foes. Strickland doesn’t have single-strike knockout power, but his cardio is top-notch, his willingness to keep moving forward is admirable, and the strength of his chin is noteworthy. Additionally, while Strickland employs a rigid stance, his striking defense is high-level, which allows him to rack up points while rarely taking a clean blow to his upright chin. All those traits will come into play when the former champ faces Paulo Costa at UFC 302.

Because of his stance, Strickland can be hit, and that’s where the danger lies for him in this matchup. If Costa tags him cleanly, the former title challenger has the power to end the fight in a heartbeat, something we saw when Alex Pereira put Strickland away in June 2022. However, Costa is not as talented or patient as Pereira in the striking department.

Strickland averages 5.91 significant strikes per minute with an accuracy of 41 percent. His striking defense is 62 percent, and he gets hit 4.33 times per minute. The ex-champ averages 0.85 takedowns per minute with a takedown rate of 64 percent. His takedown defense is 77 percent. Strickland has 11 career knockouts, four wins by submission, and 13 decision victories. He has been knocked out twice and lost four times on the scorecards.

Sean StricklandTO BEAT PAULO COSTA
★★★★★
-220
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Paulo Costa betting breakdown

Paulo Costa has not been an active competitor. The last time he fought more than once in a year was 2017, when he went 3-0 with three knockouts under the UFC banner. His loss to Whittaker came in February, which is an incredibly quick turnaround for Costa. That will help him more than hurt him against Strickland, especially considering the quality of competition he faced in his three-round scrap with Whittaker.

Costa looked excellent against Whittaker. He put on a complete 15-minute performance, and even though he lost, the defeat raised his stock in the eyes of many fans. His reward for that performance is a tough matchup against another former champ in Strickland. For his size, Costa is a heavily-muscled middleweight, he has better than average cardio, but where he excels is in his power and output. Costa can end a fight with one punch and he is one of the more active fighters in the division. In addition, he is more accurate than Strickland. That power and accuracy combine to equal damage, which is the first thing judges look for when scoring a fight. That’s what made the difference in the Du Plessis vs. Strickland contest.

Costa’s offensive striking is excellent, he has a high output of 6.20 significant strikes landed per minute and he connects on 58 percent of his attempts, but his defense is lacking. He gets tagged a whooping 6.38 times per minute and avoids 47 percent of the output of his opponent. Costa averages 0.45 takedowns per minute with a takedown accuracy of 75 percent. His takedown defense is very good at 80 percent.

Costa has 11 wins via knockout, one submission victory, and two decision nods in his career. He has one knockout loss and two decision setbacks.

Paulo CostaTO BEAT SEAN STRICKLAND
★★★★★
+175
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Best Bets: UFC 302 co-main event: Sean Strickland vs. Paulo Costa

I like the betting odds on Paulo Costa in his three-round matchup against Sean Strickland. This is an excellent striking matchup and it will come down to who controls the pace, location and output of the fight. Dricus du Plessis set the blueprint to follow in how to beat Strickland. If he follows that plan, he will have success in this fight. However, if Strickland can do his thing, march forward and keep Costa on his back foot, Strickland will likely get the win. The betting pick here is for Paulo Costa to beat Sean Strickland by decision, with a value bet on Costa picking up a knockout.

Paulo CostaTO BEAT SEAN STRICKLAND
★★★★★
+175
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Trent Reinsmith

Trent is a professional sports journalist specializing in UFC, MMA, and esports coverage. His work has been featured in prestigious publications such as USA Today Sports, Vice, Bloody Elbow, Fight! Magazine, UFC 360, and Narratively. Trent's connection to MMA dates back to the early days when he and his friends pooled their resources to purchase the pay-per-view broadcast of UFC 1. He also has extensive experience in esports, particularly League of Legends and Counter Strike, dating back to the game's launch.