UFC 296 Predictions, Odds and Preview

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We have identified the best UFC 296 predictions for Saturday’s fight card. There are two title fights on the card. Leon Edwards will fight Colby Covington for the welterweight title, while Alexandre Pantoja will fight Brandon Royval for the flyweight title. Paddy Pimblett is also fighting on the main card.

This is the last UFC fight card of the year. The UFC doesn’t have another event scheduled until January 13th. The good news is that this fight card is stacked with ranked fighters and big names.

There are 12 fights scheduled for UFC 296 and we have released our expert UFC 296 predictions.

UFC 296 Preview

When: Saturday, December 16th 2023

Where: T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas

Time: 6:30 PM ET (Early Prelims) / 8:00 PM ET (Prelims) / 10:00 PM ET (Main Card)

Watch: UFC Fight Pass / ESPN+ / Pay-Per-View

There are 16 ranked fighters on the card this weekend. Shavkat Rakhmonov is the biggest favorite on the card against Stephen Thompson. A lot of the fights are expected to be close based on the odds.

The UFC 296 weigh-ins just finished and everyone made weight, which is a welcome surprise. All 12 of the fights on the card will go on as scheduled and we’re in for a great night of fights to close out the year.

Expert UFC 296 Predictions

The two title fights are going to be awesome and could go either way. Covington and Royval are both live underdogs to win a belt on Saturday night. There are several big favorites on the card and we’ll need to attack those fights by looking for value in alternate markets, such as the method of victory.

We have made UFC 296 predictions for all of the main card fights and some of the prelims action.

The night will get started with an awesome matchup at heavyweight between Martin Buday and Shamil Gaziev. That fight should set the tone for the rest of the night. Let’s jump into my UFC 296 predictions.

Leon Edwards vs. Colby Covington Prediction

  • Fight Odds: Edwards (-165) vs. Covington (+135)

Edwards (21-3-0-1) is coming off two consecutive wins against Kamaru Usman. Covington (17-3) has two losses against Usman, but he’s coming off a win last year against Jorge Masvidal.

Edwards averages 2.80 SLpM, 2.40 SApM and 1.26 takedowns per 15 minutes. Covington averages 4.10 SLpM, 3.05 SApM and 4.05 takedowns per 15 minutes. Covington will want to take this fight to the mat, but will he be able to keep it on the mat? Edwards has the edge in striking despite throwing less volume.

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Alexandre Pantoja vs. Brandon Royval Prediction

  • Fight Odds: Pantoja (-190) vs. Royval (+150)

Pantoja (26-5) is already 33 years old and could be past his prime. He’s on a four-fight winning streak. He has a submission win against Royval (15-6) back in 2021. Has Royval improved since then?

Royval has won three consecutive fights since losing to Pantoja, including two stoppage wins.

Pantoja averages 4.41 SLpM, 3.81 SApM and 1.75 takedowns per 15 minutes. Royval is averaging 3.45 SLpM and 2.63 SApM. Royval only has 39% takedown defense, which could pose a problem. Pantoja is going to look for takedowns and submissions. Login to Sports Hub to get my UFC 296 predictions.

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Shavkat Rakhmonov vs. Stephen Thompson Prediction

  • Fight Odds: Rakhmonov (-610) vs. Thompson (+410)

Rakhmonov (17-0) is 5-0 in the UFC since joining the promotion in 2020. All of his wins have come by stoppage (four submissions and one KO). Thompson (17-6-1) is 1-2 in his last three UFC fights.

Thompson is coming off a TKO win against Kevin Holland last December. This is a hill too big for the UFC veteran. Thompson is only 4-5 in his last nine fights. Thompson averages 4.20 SLpM and 3.04 SApM. Rakhmonov averages 4.45 SLpM, 2.61 SApM and 1.49 takedowns per 15 minutes.

Thompson may not be winning fights, but he’s durable. He has only been stopped once in his career and that was against Anthony Pettis (KO) in 2019. Bet over 1.5 rounds for your UFC 296 predictions.

Best Bet: Over 1.5 Rounds (-170)

Tony Ferguson vs. Paddy Pimblett Prediction

  • Fight Odds: Ferguson (+260) vs. Pimblett (-335)

Ferguson (25-9) hasn’t won since 2019 against Donald Cerrone. He has lost six fights in a row and four of those were by stoppage. Pimblett (20-3) is 4-0 in the UFC, with three wins coming by stoppage.

Pimblett averages 4.19 SLpM, 3.48 SApM and 0.97 takedowns per 15 minutes. Ferguson averages 4.98 SLpM and 4.26 SApM. Ferguson has some power (12 TKO/KO wins), but Pimblett has never been KOed. Pimblett will win this fight, but the big question is how will he win this fight, as his ML odds aren’t great.

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Josh Emmett vs. Bryce Mitchell Prediction

  • Fight Odds: Emmett (+170) vs. Mitchell (-230)

Emmett (18-4) has lost his last two fights against Yair Rodriguez and Ilia Topuria. Mitchell (16-1) also has a loss against Topuria, but he has since bounced back with a win against Dan Ige by decision.

Mitchell averages 2.34 SLpM, 1.64 SApM and 3.51 takedowns per 15 minutes. Mitchell is going to look to take this fight to the mat constantly. He has landed 17 takedowns in his last four fights. Emmett averages 4.07 SLpM and 4.66 SApM. His problem in this fight is that he has 46% takedown defense.

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Cody Garbrandt vs. Brian Kelleher Prediction

  • Fight Odds: Garbrandt (-190) vs. Kelleher (+150)

There are some toss up fights on the prelims that are tough to call, but I’m confident in adding Garbrandt (13-5) to my UFC 296 predictions. Garbrandt is just 2-5 in the UFC since 2017, but he’s coming off a win against Trevin Jones (Decision) earlier this year. Kelleher (24-14) is on a two-fight losing streak.

Garbrandt averages 3.00 SLpM and 3.89 SApM, while Kelleher averages 3.36 SLpM and 4.61 SApM. Both fighters eat more shots than they land. Garbrandt still has power in his hands, but Kelleher has only been KOed once. This fight might go the distance, but I expect Garbrandt to land the better shots.

Best Bet: Cody Garbrandt ML (-190)

That wraps up my UFC 296 predictions, let’s take a look at the odds next.

UFC 296 Odds

Here are the UFC 296 odds for all 12 scheduled fights:

Leon Edwards (-165) vs. Colby Covington (+135)

Alexandre Pantoja (-190) vs. Brandon Royval (+150)

Shavkat Rakhmonov (-610) vs. Stephen Thompson (+410)

Tony Ferguson (+260) vs. Paddy Pimblett (-335)

Josh Emmett (+170) vs. Bryce Mitchell (-230)

Alonzo Menifield (+230) vs. Dustin Jacoby (-290)

Irene Aldana (-170) vs. Karol Rosa (+140)

Cody Garbrandt (-190) vs. Brian Kelleher (+150)

Casey O’Neill (-180) vs. Ariana Lipski (+150)

Tagir Ulanbekov (-165) vs. Cody Durden (+135)

Andre Fili (-165) vs. Lucas Almeida (+135)

Martin Buday (-130) vs. Shamil Gaziev (+100)

How to Access UFC 296 Predictions

We have multiple MMA experts that have already started releasing UFC 296 predictions. All you need to do is open a free Sports Hub account to access all of our UFC 296 predictions for Saturday night.