Here's a preview and picks for UFC 224 in Rio de Janeiro

Posted May 13, 2018

The night's headline act will see dominant bantamweight champion Nunes return to fight in Brazil for the first time since capturing the gold back in 2016.

Lyoto Machida is listed as a -275 favorite, putting Belfort as a 2.35 to 1 underdog. Gastelum has the striking power and wrestling ability to win this fight. All but one of the 10 writers side with the champion. There has been a great deal of speculation about her work ethic considering she is already famous and successful in the jiu-jitsu world and has expressed a desire to make a big splash and retire young now that she is in MMA full-time. It might be better to sit this one out as a bettor and just enjoy the spectacle. These two both deserve their respective rankings and for that reasoning alone, I think that Jacare squeeks out the win.

This should be the top fight on the card as two talented middleweights square off. Oddsmakers have Souza (25-5) as the favorite with odds of -145 to win.

John Lineker and Brian Kelleher will have a bantamweight bout.

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Check below for breakdowns, odds and picks on every fight from Las Vegas Sun's Ray Brewer (31-12 year to date), ESPN Radio's Steve Cofield (28-15), KSNV's Randy Howe (27-16) and Las Vegas Sun's Case Keefer (23-20).

It aired on pay-per-view (PPV) following preliminary-card bouts on FX and UFC Fight Pass. Nunes is unsafe on the feet and has done away with her cardio issues. "If it's a rival or a friend, you have to step in and fight and get the job done", said Nunes. Gastelum showed some serious weaknesses when faced with a strong grappler when he lost to Chris Weidman via arm-triangle in the third round.

That's a strategy that could backfire as he may want to proceed with caution when he engages with Jacare lest he finds himself in the submission artists grasp to be taken down and submitted. Given the "home-field" advantage, I do think he will walk away the victor here at UFC 224, but I wouldn't be shocked to see Kelvin catch Souza cold.

Pennington's gas tank can't be challenged, having averaged 13:07 of fight time per UFC bout.

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Dern debuted in the UFC in March and beat Ashley Yoder by split decision.

According to Fightmetric, Nunes outlanded Pennington in total strikes 152-to-79.

Pennington historically has a fantastic chin. Ultimately, I believe this will go to a decision and Nunes will win in Brazil. Pennington has moved from +350 to +600.

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