The UFC is finally back, and the first pay-per-view of the year is just around the corner.
Most MMA fans are already looking ahead at future pay-per-view cards in UFC 299 and UFC 300 but UFC 297 has a lot to offer with the promotion's return to Canada. Budding fan-favorite Sean Strickland attempts his first title defense in a shocking rivalry with Dricus Du Plessis in the main event with the co-main event crowning the first women's bantamweight champion since Amanda Nunes' retirement.
The main card also features Canadian prospects Mike Malott and Marc-Andre Barriault with more countrymen on the prelims.
If you're looking to get in on the action from a betting perspective in the UFC's first pay-per-view event of the year, look no further with the best and worst options on Jan. 20.
All odds according to DraftKings Sportsbook. Odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.
Mayra Bueno Silva is UFC 297's best bet
With Amanda Nunes recently retired and no other visible star in the division, the seas have parted perfectly for Silva to become a UFC champion. Silva is not a star herself, but she is the best finisher in the bantamweight division and has appeared to be the best overall fighter thus far.
Though Pennington can be a tricky matchup due to her defensive prowess, she has fallen flat in every major moment in her career thus far. If Silva can get the fight down, she will have the biggest advantage in the fight. Pennington is an excellent boxer but is just a BJJ purple belt while showing holes in her defensive grappling in fights with Nunes, Miesha Tate, Holly Holm, Bethe Correia and even Jessica Andrade.
Silva averages an impressive 1.6 submission attempts per 15 minutes and has never failed an attempt in the UFC. Seven of her 10 professional wins are by submission, not including her last no-contest fight with Holm. She has shown an ability time and again to find a submission the second her opponent provides an opportunity. Pennington will have to be perfect for 25 minutes to win the belt in her second attempt.
Yohan Lainesse is UFC 297's worst bet
Yohan Lainesse -150
Lainesse may have the crowd behind him at UFC 297, but people may have forgotten how much hype Sam Patterson had entering his octagon debut. Now moving up to welterweight to compete in the division for the first time, Patterson is getting an excellent matchup to showcase his true skill set.
While Lainesse certainly has power, that is practically his entire game. In three UFC fights so far, Lainesse has landed just 65 significant strikes. He arguably should be 0-3 in the promotion, as in his lone UFC win, Lainesse got out-struck by Darian Weeks 49-24. Patterson is a much more active and diverse striker than any other opponent Lainesse has fought.
The ability for Lainesse to knock Patterson out is certainly there, especially with the latter getting knocked out by Yanal Ashmouz in his UFC debut as a heavy favorite. But at 6'3", the argument could be made that Patterson should have been a welterweight the entire time and could benefit from an extra 15 pounds.
Though it is hard to trust Patterson after his debut blunder, there is no reason to bet on Lainesse at -150.