The most entertaining UFC Bantamweight battles the division’s most winningest champ this Saturday (August 19th, 2023) when “Suga” Sean O’Malley challenges Aljamain Sterling for the 135-pound strap. TD Garden in Boston, Mass., will also see Strawweight queen, Zhang Weili, look to add another highlight-reel finish to her resumé against top contender, Amanda Lemos, and crafty veteran Neil Magny steps up on short notice to challenge up-and-coming contender Ian Machado Garry.

Here are our staff’s favorite free picks on the UFC 291 card (for daily best bets visit our subscription page)…

Aljamain Sterling (-265) vs. Sean O’Malley (+215)

The UFC 292 main event features UFC bantamweight Aljamain Sterling against the division’s top contender and massive fan favorite personality, “Suga” Sean O’Malley. Sterling is a sizable -265 betting favorite and we think he will successfully defend his title for the 4th consecutive time — and ultimately announces his move up to Featherweight (145 lbs.) to challenge pound-for-pound No. 1, Alexander Volkanovski for double champ status.

Sterling should have a gigantic advantage in the grappling department, and we fully expect him to utilize wrestling as his main path to victory in this fight. While “Suga” Sean is extremely tough and he should put up a good fight, ultimately all of the takedowns will be too much for him to overcome. Look for Sterling to win this fight, retain the title and look for him to get the job done by decision

Free Pick: Aljamain Sterling via DEC (+180) at MyBookie

UFC - Aljamain Sterling

Marlon “Chito” Vera (-185) vs. Pedro Munhoz (+154)

This is a fight that we really love the favorite in…. Pedro Munhoz is coming off a great performance against Chris Gutierrez where he showed his takedown offense and ground game to win round one, and then he controlled the pace and pressure on the feet in rounds two and three to get the win. 

The issue for Gutierrez was the missed opportunities and him being extremely tentative while being on his back foot the whole time… “Chito” Vera won’t let that happen, and he certainly won’t be tentative.  Everything that Munhoz does good, Vera does a little better and his only loss in the previous five fights came via split decision to one of the division’s top contenders in Cory Sandhagen.  Munhoz got the win last time out, but he lost to fellow veterans Dominick Cruz and Jose Aldo before that, and we believe he loses here in this one. It’s a pretty steep price at -185, but we think Vera absolutely rolls here.

Free Pick:  Marlon “Chito” Vera (-185) at BetOnline

UFC - Marlon Vera

Ian Machado Garry (-485) vs. Neil Magny (+370)

Garry is a polarizing fighter these days as he’s 12-0, and only 25 years old, and as he’s getting older, he’s progressing nicely, as would be expected. His striking was fantastic against Daniel Rodriguez as he got a first-round KO, but it wasn’t a lucky KO.  He used strikes and kicks to get Rodriguez to bite on a faint and landed a beautiful head kick. He’s fighting Magny, who is stepping in on short notice, and if Magny is in true fight shape we like his chances here.

Garry has been training for the striking of Geoff Neal, and Magny can use his clinch and takedown game to frustrate Garry. Neil Magny has seen it all in the UFC, and while Garry is younger and quicker, we are not ruling out a smart, veteran performance.  Magny’s last two losses were to grapplers (Gilbert Burns and Shavkat Rakhmonov), but he’s beaten strikers Phil Rowe, Daniel Rodriguez, Max Griffin, and Geoff Neal in his last four wins. We definitely aren’t laying the -485 on Ian Garry in this fight, be we think Magny is worth a sprinkle on the moneyline.

Free Pick:  Neil Magny (+370) at MyBookie

UFC - Neil Magny

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