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Best bets for UFC Fight Night 173

UFC favorites have been cashing at a torrid pace, but Lou Finocchiaro stays the course.

The handicapper is an underdog bettor who has been keeping his head above water during the favorites’ recent 70 percent run by hitting a few winners at big prices.

Finocchiaro (@GambLou) sees no reason to stray from his fundamentals.

“I’m going to fire on the ‘dogs,” he said. “I do sense that the betting public is getting so chalk-friendly that we’re going to be getting some good prices.”

Finocchiaro is backing three underdogs for Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 173 card at the Apex facility in Las Vegas.

Derek Brunson +290

First up, Finocchiaro is taking a shot on Derek Brunson in the main event against Edmen Shahbazyan.

The 22-year-old Shahbazyan is 11-0, and he opened at around -250 and is now -350 in the middleweight bout.

“He has looked impressive, although he has beaten some dubious competition,” Finocchiaro said.

The veteran Brunson, 36, “has fought a who’s who of the division and has beaten most of them,” Finocchiaro said.

Included in that list of foes were future champions Robert Whittaker and Israel Adesanya. Brunson lost to both before they won their titles, and he knows he’s being positioned in a similar way for Shahbazyan, Finocchiaro said.

“He knows he’s a measuring stick, and he’s having none of it,” Finocchiaro said.

Brunson has fought better competition and has a better wrestling base, Finocchiaro said, and he’s backing the underdog for a half-unit at +290.

Randy Brown +175

A similar “crossroads” fight is also on the main card in the welterweight division.

Vicente Luque has been on a tear, winning seven of his last eight fights to move up to the No. 11 ranking in the division.

“He’s tough, physical, straight ahead, just bangs it out,” Finocchiaro said. “But he’s reckless, and he takes too much punishment.”

Randy Brown has lost two of his last five fights, but he can quickly get back in the mix in the division with a victory.

“If Randy Brown wins, he takes Luque’s spot,” Finocchiaro said.

Brown is four inches taller and will be able to combat Luque’s standup game and maintain top position on the ground, Finocchiaro said.

He’s backing Brown for a full unit at +175.

Frankie Saenz +220

Finocchiaro wasn’t happy when he saw Jonathan Martinez come in four pounds overweight for his bantamweight bout against Frankie Saenz.

“He’s clearly gaining an advantage, a clearly unethical advantage,” Finocchiaro said.

Still, he likes Saenz’s wrestling ability — being the primary training partner for former UFC bantamweight and flyweight champion Henry Cejudo — and his experience.

Finocchiaro is betting a full unit on Saenz at +220.

Contact Jim Barnes at jbarnes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0277. Follow @JimBarnesLV on Twitter.

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