In Big Play
Alexander Volkanovski is a heavy -400 favorite vs. Yair Rodriguez in a UFC featherweight title fight on Saturday in Las Vegas. Photo/CBS Sports

Expect a crowd at T-Mobile Arena on Saturday night.

But it won’t be for professional hockey.

Rather it will be for UFC 290 with Alexander Volkanovski battling Yair Rodriguez for the featherweight championship.

VSiN noted that Volkanovski played championship team rugby in his youth and said that he was “constructed like a fire hydrant.” VSiN also noted that Rodriguez has a black belt in Taekwondo and referred to him as “an explosive, destructive, flamboyant switch stance striker.”

Volkanovski (25-2-0) is generally a -345 favorite. Rodriguez (16-3-0) is +285.

The total rounds is 4.5 with Over at +105 and Under at -125.

The contrasting odds are partially because of Volkanovski’s dominance at featherweight, MMA Junkie reported. He has never lost at 145 pounds in the UFC and has four title defenses, twice against Max Holloway, and once against Brian Ortega and Chan Sung Jung, the website noted.

“The betting line in terms of Yair Rodriguez and Alexander Volkanovski, it’s predictive in nature because essentially it tells you by the nature of the money line what the probability is of a guy like Yair Rodriguez would win the fight,” analyst Jon Anik told MMA Junkie Radio, the website reported. “And I just feel like he has a better chance than he is being given by the oddsmakers, by the sharps out there.”

One thing you can assuredly bet on — there will be a crowd of crazed UFC fans at T-Mobile, which generally has a capacity of 20,000 for such events.

And be patient on professional hockey. The beloved Vegas Golden Knights open the regular season on Oct. 10 with the Seattle Kraken in town. The defending Stanley Cup champions are -170 with the total at 5.5.


— When the stars come out: Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game is on tap for Tuesday. The highly popular home run derby is Monday.

The National League’s offense will be powered by former league MVP Freddie Freeman of the Los Angeles Dodgers along with Luis Arraez of the Miami Marlins, who has flirted with hitting .400. Notable elected American League stars such as Aaron Judge, Shohei Ohtani, and Mike Trout may not be on the lineup card because of injuries. But Randy Arozarena of the Tampa Bay Rays and Marcus Semien of the Texas Rangers will get their moments.

The home run derby will likewise bring out familiar names. The pairings are:

— No. 1 Luis Robert (White Sox) vs. No. 8 Adley Rutschman (Orioles)
— No. 5 Arozarena vs. No. 4 Adolis Garcia (Rangers)
— No. 2 Pete Alonso (Mets) vs. No. 7 Julio Rodriguez (Mariners)
— No. 6 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Blues Jays) vs. No. 3 Mookie Betts (Dodgers)

Rodriguez has his bat poised. “July 10. See you in Seattle,” he reportedly tweeted.

Odds have not yet been posted for either the game or the derby. But considering the American League may be missing its big guns, we’ll make the senior circuit a -120 favorite with a total of 8.5 or nine.

The first pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m. at the Mariners’ home field, T-Mobile Park in Seattle.

— Riding the Aces? It was the Las Vegas Aces vs. the Dallas Wings on Wednesday and you could have almost scripted the results. Coming off their emotional 102-84 win over Eastern Conference leader Connecticut Sun last Saturday, the Aces were predictably flat in the first half, and the Wings bolted to a 51-42 lead. Imagine coach Becky Hammon’s halftime comments.

The Aces rallied in the second half, outscoring the Wings 23-16 in the third period and 24-15 in the final quarter. When the horn sounded, the Aces won, 89-82 — but it was the Wings who at +12 scored the cover and took down the cash for bettors.

“It’s not always a bad thing to walk into a fight and get punched,” Hammon told reporters after the game. “You’ve got to be able to take it.”

That leaves the Aces with a WNBA-dominant 16-1 mark — but only 9-8 against-the-spread. That is, if you’re counting on them for gasoline money or lunch money, prepare to be running on fumes or listening to your stomach growl.

They get a rematch with Wings on Friday night in Arlington, Texas. The Aces are -8.5.

— Something different: Aussie rules matches are among events on tap for Friday. In one match, the Brisbane Lions are -83.5 vs. the West Coast Eagles with the total at 186.5.

Aussie Rules, also called Australian rules football, is a contact sport played between two teams of 18 players on an oval field, often a modified cricket ground.

We’ll be back next week for a report on that match.

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