The UFC will make its highly anticipated return to Stockholm, Sweden with the country’s favorite fighting son scheduled to compete in the main event for the upcoming UFC Fight Night 153 card. Former UFC Light Heavyweight title contender Alexander Gustafsson will throw down with another legitimate contender from the division in Anthony Smith in the main event of a fight card that looks pretty good on paper. We took the time to break down which fighters the smart money is on to win outright. Here is a look at the best bets on the main card for UFC Fight Night 153.
Light Heavyweight Bout
(18-5) Alexander Gustafsson vs. Anthony Smith (31-14)
The last time that Gustafsson competed in his hometown back in May of 2017, he scored a memorable fifth-round knockout win over Glover Teixeira in a bout that earned Fight of the Night honors. Now “The Mauler” is looking to score another memorable victory as a substantial favorite versus Smith. Gustafsson, who is coming off a TKO loss to Jon Jones back in December, is looking to re-establish himself as one of the top UFC light heavyweight fighters. Gustafsson has lost to Jones twice now with his other two losses coming versus Daniel Cormier and Anthony Johnson. So what can we expect from him versus Smith?
Well, Gustafsson will have the height and reach advantage. He will also have the hometown crowd on his side. However, Smith is still a very dangerous fighter having pushed the champion Jones the distance in a five-round title fight that took place at UFC 235 back in March. Smith has ended each of his last six victories via stoppages, including five wins by either knockout or TKO. An excellent striker that has proven he can stand against some of the best the division has to offer, Smith could be somewhat overlooked heading in to this matchup. Considering his substantial talent level and the fact that he is very capable of winning this bout outright, it might make sense to put some money on Smith in a fight that could go either way. Smith is an attractive underdog at +175 odds. The smart money is on the underdog to find a way to get the job done and shock all of Sweden with the upset win at UFC Fight Night 153.
Light Heavyweight Bout
(15-4) Volkan Oezdemir vs. Ilir Latifi (14-6-1)
It feels like just yesterday Oezdemir was considered a rising star in the UFC following three straight wins in the Octagon. However, Oezdemir has followed up that 3-0 start with three straight losses, falling to Daniel Cormier, Anthony Smith and Dominick Reyes in his last three tilts. Coming off a split decision loss to Reyes in his last bout, Oezdemir is focused on getting back on track with a statement win over another light heavyweight fighter that seems stuck at just a tier below the elite level.
Latifi had his two-fight win streak snapped in a unanimous decision loss to Corey Anderson at UFC 232. However, he is still 5-2 in his last seven fights and will be a favorite of the home fans in his native Sweden. With the sports betting line as close as it is, it’s clear this tilt could go either way. Latifi is a very intriguing betting option, but we will lean towards Oezdemir as a very talented fighter that is being somewhat overlooked following three very difficult losses. The smart money is on Oezdemir to force his way back in to the win column with a statement victory over Latifi.
Light Heavyweight Bout
(17-5) Jimi Manuwa vs. Aleksandar Rakic (11-1)
Teeing up a trio of light heavyweight bouts to spotlight the main card for this event is this showdown between Manuwa and Rakic. As is the case with Oezdemir, Manuwa is being somewhat overlooked following three straight losses. However, unlike Oezdemir we aren’t nearly as confident in Manuwa bouncing back with a victory at UFC Fight Night 153.
Manuwa is now 39-years-old and he is facing a very tough matchup versus a rising star in Rakic, who is 3-0 in the UFC. Rakic is coming off a statement knockout win over Devin Clark, which offered a bit of insight in to his long-term potential. This event in Sweden will provide another platform for Rakic to move one step closer to his ultimate goal of contending for a championship. Look for Rakic to improve to 4-0 in the UFC with another statement win.
Women’s Bantamweight Bout
(19-7-1) Tonya Evinger vs. Lina Lansberg (8-4)
The Lansberg camp is hoping that a return to Sweden can help provide a bit if a boost for the 37-year-old Karlstad native. Lansberg has alternated between wins and losses in each of her last seven fights, including a decision loss to Yana Kunitskaya in her most recent bout. Now she gets an excellent opportunity against another veteran fighter in Evinger, who has recorded just one win since 2016. Evinger is coming off TKO losses to Cris Cyborg and Aspen Ladd in her last two trips inside the Octagon.
The smart money is on Lansberg to continue her recent trend of alternating between wins and losses by recording an important victory in front of her Swedish supporters in this bantamweight fight.
(22-8) Stevie Ray vs. Leonardo Santos (16-3-1)
The main card for UFC Fight Night 153 will get underway with a lightweight showdown with major implications. The Scotsman Ray is coming off a decision win over Jessin Ayari that could very well have saved his career. Now he has been matched up against the veteran Santos, who will be fighting for the first time since he beat Adriano Martins by split decision at UFC 204 all the way back in October of 2016. It’s incredibly difficult to gauge what should be expected of Santos following such a long layoff. What we do know is that he hasn’t fought in nearly three years and now at 39-years-old he is stepping back inside the Octagon to compete at the highest level. While we aren’t about to completely discount the veteran Santos, Ray is the younger, promising fighter that is doing everything he can to keep his career going at this level. All things considered, the smart money is on Ray to find a way to get the job done and win this showdown to open up the main card for UFC Fight Night 153.