One of the main card bouts at UFC 186 is a three-round catchweight (215lbs) bout between Rampage Jackson and Fabio Maldonado. According to the current betting lines available at 5Dimes Sportsbook, Jackson is a -300 favorite (bet $300 to win $100) while Maldonado is a +220 underdog (bet $100 to win $220). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened up Rampage at -315 and Maldonado at +235, and Rampage remains a sizeable betting favorite. I agree with Rampage being the betting favorite here as I’m picking him to win this fight. Here’s why. Rampage (35-11) is making his return to the UFC for a second stint after going 3-0 over in Bellator with wins over King Mo, Joey Beltran and Christian M’Pumbu. The 36-year-old American is the former light heavyweight champion and is one of the most popular 205lbers to ever compete in MMA. During his first stint in the UFC, Rampage went 7-5 with wins over the likes of Wanderlei Silva, Chuck Liddell and Dan Henderson with losses to Glover Teixeira, Rashad Evans, Forrest Griffin, Ryan Bader and Jon Jones. Rampage has been fighting in MMA for 15 years and has competed in nearly every major organization, including the PRIDE Fighting Championships where he first became a star. He has been fighting a long time and with his personality and exciting fighting style he’s one of the most popular fighters in the sport. As far as his skillset goes, Rampage prefers to sprawl and brawl, using his wrestling in reverse to keep his fights standing and use his boxing to outpoint and knock his opponents out. He has 16 wins by T/KO, which shows how hard he hits. The biggest issues with Jackson are his motivation and mental state following his contract fallout with Bellator. There was complications getting him to compete at UFC 186 and while he is now fighting for sure, there was for a while question marks surrounding his inclusion on the card, which is why this fight is now being contested as a catchweight as it was re-booked on very short notice. Skill-for-skill Rampage should beat Maldonado, but with all of the question marks he’s not the lock to win this fight like some may say. Maldonado (22-7) is 5-4 in the UFC with wins over Hans Stringer, Gian Villante, Beltran, Roger Hollett and James McSweeney with losses to Stipe Miocic, Teixeira, Igor Pokrajac and Kyle Kingsbury. The 35-year-old Brazilian is known as a warrior who is always in standup, “Fight of the Night”-type wars. He stands in the pocket and trades with his opponents in nearly every single one of his fights. Offensively, Maldonado has some very smooth, technical boxing. He works the boxing very well and has a nice jab. He doesn’t have one-punch KO power, but he accumulates blow and wins his fights by volume. As for his wrestling, he has okay takedown defence, but even when he gets taken down he is rarely controlled and usually is able to stand up and get the fight back on the feet, where he is at his biggest advantage. He also has surprisingly good cardio and despite his flabby body type he always goes the full three rounds and is always game in the third stanza of his fights. Maldonado is known for having an iron chin, having only been stopped once with strikes by Miocic and once by Teixeira due to a doctor stoppage. However, all that damage is adding up and at his current age, his chin could very well be going. He is offensively a very gifted talent but defensively he is flawed, and going up against a powerful puncher like Jackson, it’s not surprising he’s the underdog in what should be a standup war that favors his opponent. This is going to be a standup war, not doubt about it. Neither guy likes to wrestle (at least anymore), instead preferring to stand and bang, and that’s exactly how I see this fight playing out. Ultimately it comes down to where Rampage is in his career. If he shows up in decent shape with decent cardio, he should absolutely tool Maldonado on the feet and either outpoint Maldonado to a decision win or possible even knock the Brazilian out. However, if Rampage shows up to this fight out of shape and unmotivated, Maldonado will have a chance to wear on Rampage if he’s able to survive the early onslaught. I wouldn’t count Maldonado out of this fight completely, and the fact Rampage was removed from the card and then put back on it makes the fight all sorts of weird, but at the end of the day I have to lean towards the former UFC light heavyweight champion to pick up the win in his UFC return. Having said that, the betting line is overvaluing Rampage in this fight and I just don’t see enough value to play him considering the question marks surrounding him. The pick is still Rampage by decision in a “Fight of the Night” candidate, but no bet considering the question marks surrounding him heading into the fight.