UFC 286 Justin Gaethje vs Rafael Fiziev Picks and Predictions: "Ataman" Takes Out Gaethje in the Big Smoke

Rafael Fiziev has won six fights in a row and is currently -225 chalk against former lightweight champ Justin Gaethje for UFC 286 in London. Find out why we're backing the Muay Thai specialist in our Gaethje vs. Fiziev betting picks.

Last Updated: Mar 18, 2023 12:46 PM ET Read Time: 4 min

Justin Gaethje vs. Rafael Fiziev is scheduled for three rounds in the lightweight division as the co-main event of UFC 286, which takes place tonight at the O2 Arena. 

This fight is a certified banger, pitting two of the best strikers in the lightweight division against each other in a fight that will require a parental advisory violence warning. UFC odds favor the once-beaten Fiziev at -225, while former title challenger Gaethje is currently a slight +190 underdog.

Here are our picks and predictions for Fiziev vs. Gaethje at UFC 286 in London.

Justin Gaethje vs Rafael Fiziev fight odds

Justin Gaethje vs Rafael Fiziev method of victory odds

Method of Victory Justin Gaethje Rafael Fiziev
To win by KO/TKO +320 +140
To win by Points +750 +240
To win by Submission +2,600 +1,900
Draw +5,000 +5,000

Odds courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook on March 16, 2023.

Justin Gaethje vs Rafael Fiziev picks

Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.

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Justin Gaethje vs Rafael Fiziev betting preview

Gaethje must be experiencing deja vu. After decisively losing a title fight, he gets put in a grinder against a fellow striker in a fight that is likely to become a war of attrition. Unlike his war with Michael Chandler, he’s up against a fighter with momentum in Fiziev. Though this figures to be another rough night, Gaethje might have to rely on something besides grit to win.

Fiziev has performed exceptionally to earn this fight. As an emerging bruiser quickly working his way up the ranks, he possesses impressive power and offensive awareness, and he isn’t afraid to get touched up. He has wins over Rafael dos Anjos, Brad Riddell, and Bobby Green, to go along with five straight fights where he received post-fight bonuses.

The Azerbaijani police officer turned Muay Thai kickboxer turned UFC standout faces his toughest test yet on Saturday. He lands 4.81 significant strikes per minute at 50% accuracy and works behind heavy hands and debilitating kicks. While by no means a defensive specialist, Fiziev is agile enough to slip shots and doesn’t forget to target the legs and body as part of his offense.

Gaethje has been a staple of the lightweight elite for the last few years. Though he’s gone 2-2 in his last four, his losses both came in title fights. Known for his savage brawls, Gaethje is a whirlwind striker who keeps the activity high and fights with consistent pressure. He’s endured some tough fights over the years, but he’s come out of those fights on top for the most part.

While his grit has made him a fan favorite, he’ll need guile to win here. Gaethje lands 7.46 significant strikes per minute at 60% accuracy and has a great ability to draw his opponents into prolonged exchanges. He has won all of his fights inside the distance since joining the UFC.

Whatever happens, there is a guarantee for carnage. Fiziev and Gaethje absorb as many strikes as they deliver, and neither has a ground game to shift the fight to a different level. While this is a step up for Fiziev, Gaethje cannot afford his third loss in five fights.

Justin Gaethje vs Rafael Fiziev tale of the tape

Justin Gaethje   Rafael Fiziev
34 Age 30
5-foot-11 Height 5-foot-8
155 lbs Weight 155 lbs
69.5 inches Reach 71 inches
23-4 (19 KO) Record 12-1 (8 KO)

Justin Gaethje vs Rafael Fiziev UFC prediction and best bet

Much like a Humanities degree we never used from college, Gaethje has NCAA wrestling credentials we seldom see. We bring this up because if anything can sway the fight in his favor, it’s taking Fiziev to the ground and limiting his activity. Because Gaethje uses his wrestling more for defensive purposes, he'll need to slug it out with a bigger striker like Fiziev.

Fiziev has better one-shot power than Gaethje and targets the body, which doesn’t bode well for Gaethje’s utilization of a high guard. These two will trade, but if Fiziev controls the distance and Gaethje doesn’t check his kicks, it’ll get ugly fast. Gaethje has also been punished in his recent fights, only really winning by simply outlasting his opponents in fights where he’s absorbed 100+ strikes.

We’ll take Fiziev’s stiffer strikes to wear down Gaethje in London. 

Prediction: Fiziev moneyline (-225 at DraftKings)

These two are known for finishing fights. In Gaethje’s case, he either draws the stoppage or is victimized by one. We’ve seen Fiziev get rocked and stopped, so it’s logical to assume this one ends inside five rounds. 

Despite the long odds, Gaethje is a live dog in a tough fight, which muddies the water when looking for a good pick. We’ll end up settling on the fight not going the distance at -190.

Pick: Fight to not go the distance (-190 at DraftKings)

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