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UFC 254: Robert Whittaker vs. Jared Cannonier odds, picks and prediction

Joe Williams
Sportsbook Wire

In a middleweight bout on the main card, Robert Whittaker and Jared Cannonier meet at UFC 254 Saturday at the UFC's Fight Island facility in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The early prelims kick off at 11 a.m. ET on ESPN+, followed by the main card set for 2 p.m. ET on Pay-Per-View.

Whittaker (22-5) is looking to fight his way back to the top of the division. He won the interim middleweight championship at UFC 213 over Yoel Romero, but lost his strap at UFC 243 against Israel Adesanya at UFC 243. Whittaker rebounded with a unanimous decision win over Darren Till last time out on July 25, positioning "The Reaper" well for another championship run. However, he obviously cannot have a hiccup in this bout.

Cannonier (13-4) might not land as many punches as Whittaker, trailing 4.51 to 3.72 in significant strikes landed per minute, but he is much more accurate with a 51.35 to 40.25 significant strikes-accuracy percentage. "The Killa Gorilla" has registered three consecutive knockout victories, defeating Jack Hermansson, Anderson Silva and David Branch. Whittaker will have to be very careful on defense, avoiding stepping into a fight-ending blow.

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Robert Whittaker vs. Jared Cannonier betting odds

Odds via BetMGM; access USA TODAY Sports' betting odds for a full list. Lines last updated Friday at 7:11 p.m. ET.

The books have this one as basically a coin flip, although WHITTAKER ( +100) probably should be favored in this one. There has been a lot of late movement on Cannonier (-121), and this has gone from pick 'em to Whittaker as a bit of an underdog. Take advantage. He is a much more well-rounded fighter with that championship experience to tap into. And Whittaker has a burning desire to get back to the top of his division.

WHITTAKER BY KO/TKO, DQ or SUBMISSION ( +310) is worth a small-unit wager, as I just don't see this one going to the judges. Backing UNDER 2.5 ROUNDS ( -117) should also be part of your bet slip.

If you think the fight is too close to call, and just want to bet the fight finish, playing KO/TKO/DQ ( -125) is a decent wager, and you can just sit back and enjoy the brawl, regardless of winner.

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