Insider Insight: Fight Game expert Ron Kruck says UFC 290 offers plenty for bettors to consider

June 29, 2023

Next Tuesday might be the official holiday, but let’s be real – most Americans are poised and ready for not doing anything related to “work” for the next nine days. And while July 4 is the holiday, there’s another one taking place just four days later.

UFC 290.

That’s right, on Saturday, July 8 – just about the time the Independence Day hangover subsides – the best-of-the best in the fight game will descend upon T-Mobile Arena, which resides in the biggest big bout city in the country. Vegas, baby, Vegas. Could there be a better way to cap the country’s nine-day “break”?

The 13-fight event will culminate with a pair of monster headlining fights: First, a UFC Flyweight Championship bout between current two-time champion Brandon Moreno and Alexandre Pantoja; and finally, a UFC Featherweight Championship unification bout between current champion Alexander Volkanovski and interim champion Yair Rodríguez.  

In order to get properly prepped for the action in the octagon, we turn to none other than SuperBook Sports Insider Ron Kruck, the voice of LFA and a longtime follower of the fight game. Here’s what he had to say:

SuperBook Sports: Let’s start with the end – the big one – Volkanovski versus Rodriguez. Can you set the stage for this gem?

Ron Kruck: It’s fitting that during UFC International Fight Week we get an intriguing main event between an Australian and Mexican fighter, two of the top featherweights on the planet. The underdog Rodriguez enters the octagon with a 15-3 record and has won two in a row since suffering a defeat to former champion Max Holloway back in 2021. He is dangerous everywhere, with five of his wins coming by way of knock out and four by submission. He can finish an opponent in an instant. If Rodriguez is to pull off the epic upset he’ll need to use his unpredictable, unorthodox fighting style to keep Volkanovski guessing and possibly land a crazy kick or submission out of nowhere to stun the Aussie. Rodriguez has a height advantage of 5 inches over Volkanovski, but despite being the taller athlete, he has only a 1-inch reach advantage. The X-factor in this title fight arrives after Volkanovski suffered his first defeat since 2013 just this past February while trying to compete as a lightweight. Has Volkanovski put the unsuccessful run at two titles in two different weight classes behind him? Since champ is no longer considered invincible, Rodriguez may be getting his shot at the right time. However, Alexander Volkanovski could jump right back in the division he has owned for so long and pick up right where he left off, dominating his opponents. Volkanovski has long been considered one of the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet for a reason, and I expect him to look to prove he still is one of the fiercest men to ever enter the octagon at UFC 290.

SBS: Volkanovski is a massive favorite at -430. Is there a scenario in which you see Rodriguez doing what few think he can?

Kruck: Despite coming off an unsuccessful attempt to add the lightweight strap to his collection and loss to 155-pound title champ Islam Makhachev, Volkanovski is a massive favorite because he is 25-2, had won 22-consecutive fights before the loss to Makhachev. Volkanovski is in the conversation to be considered the GOAT of the featherweight division. Rodriguez has earned his interim title and No. 1 ranking in the division but will be facing the toughest test of his career. Our guys behind the counter at the SuperBook at the Westgate know what they are doing in making Volkanovski the big favorite, but I’m sure there will be some betters who are willing to take a chance on the tough Rodriguez at +330. If you like Rodriguez, there’s obviously value there.

SBS: When you look at UFC 290 across the board, how do you approach the event from a betting standpoint?

Kruck: There are some massive favorites on this card, so if you don’t want to lay the lumber on a fighter who is a big favorite, I suggest putting together a same-event parlay to shorten the odds. One fight that has caught my attention that doesn’t have huge odds is the co-main event and the flyweight championship match-up between champion Brandon Moreno and No. 2 ranked Alexandre Pantoja. 

SBS: What do you like about that one?

Kruck: The champ comes in as the -160 favorite and the comeback on the challenger Pantoja is +140. This is actually a trilogy fight between Moreno and Pantoja, and a revenge bout for the title holder Moreno. Remember, Pantoja holds a dominant 2-0 record over the champ. Pantoja choked out Moreno via a rear naked choke on “The Ultimate Fighter Season 24” back in 2016, and then beat Moreno again in the rematch in 2018 when he earned a unanimous decision victory at UFC Fight Night 129.  That loss led to Moreno’s brief UFC release and move to the LFA. Those factors alone should provide more than enough motivation for the champion to avenge those defeats to Pantoja. But I also believe he is facing a different Moreno than he did five years ago, and Moreno has evolved as a fighter since that time. I’m going to go with the champ Moreno to defend his belt and get revenge on his nemesis at UFC 290.

SBS: When you look down the card, are there any underdogs you particularly like?

Kruck: There are a few live underdogs on this card, but I am going to go 100 percent with my heart on this one and pick the UFC veteran and former champion Robbie Lawler to get his hand raised in his retirement fight against the uber-tough Niko Price in what should be an absolute banger. Lawler, a 45-fight vet, may be 41-years old but he can still knock your head off with one clean shot. And if the MMA gods want him to go out with a signature victory, this is the opponent to do it against. Price will stand and trade with Lawler to the delight of all MMA fans, and with a combined 41 career KOs between these two, odds are good someone is going to sleep. I’ll take the odds with “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler at +210.

SBS: Any last words of advice for fight fans?

Kruck: Fights and fireworks! What more could fight fans want? UFC International Fight Week and UFC 290, going down in the fight capital of the world of Las Vegas on July 8 is as good as it gets. Make sure you get in on the action by going to or download the app, sign-up and be a part of one of the UFC’s biggest PPVs of 2023. Enjoy the fights everyone!