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An ex-Financial Trader, Gugabe broke into MMA/Sportsbetting after discovering he has a clear edge. With 10+ years of watching MMA and close to that spent doing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, to go with a 2-0 amateur heavyweight MMA record and a national Jiu-Jitsu championship, Gugabe is the man to follow for all of your UFC bets.

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Max Holloway v Alexander Volkanovski

The first fight was an upset for the title, but I’ve got a feeling that the rematch is going to be a lot closer than the first bout. Whilst the first bout was a clear decision win, the striking margins were pretty damned narrow and I think that we’re going to see a significantly quicker tempo in this fight compared to the first one.

Holloway struggled as a result of allowing Volkanovski time and space to work the legkicks in the early rounds of their first fight, and I feel that we probably see a quicker start from the Hawaiian in the rematch. It’s also notable that there’s a strong possibility that the arena temperature will be higher than usual, as per the conditions in the last major card out of Abu Dhabi.

I think Holloway’s the fighter with the deeper gastank, and that this will favor both of my bets in what will likely be an ultra-high volume striking match. The best way to diffuse a legkicker is to crowd, and I believe that Holloway will be intelligent enough to repeat the approach he took to Jose Aldo in those fights to nullify the legkicks.

I also feel that the over’s getting a bit too much credit in this particular bout. The first fight was a hard-contested striking match with little-to-no stalling time, and I think that this bout will be a repeat of that. When you combine Holloway’s legendary chin starting to dwindle from A++++ to merely A-level, the high likelihood of oppressive heat in the arena and my belief that the tempo of this fight will be even higher than the first fight, I think there’s some value in the $3.00 for this fight to end inside the distance.

I do believe this fight will work out to be appointment viewing, as it’s likely going to be one of the highest-tempo contests in UFC history unless Volkanovski revives his wrestling game.

Prediction

Holloway KO3

Betting Strategy

BACK – Max Holloway for 1.5 units at $2.90

BACK – Ends Inside The Distance 1.5 units at $2.80


Jessica Andrade v Rose Namajunas

It’s unusual you see a fighter go from $1.60 to $2.80 in a rematch after winning the first bout, but I can broadly follow the market’s logic here. Andrade has always been rather liable to getting hurt in the first round, which Zhang managed to capitalize on in Andrade’s fight after the first Namajunas fight.

A lot of people also felt that Rose was getting the better of the first contest before the insane slam KO. Andrade’s also got a massive cardio edge here, and will lose the benefit of rounds 4 & 5 making it impractical for Rose to win a decision.

However, I think the market’s going a bit far here. We’re looking at a situation in which Rose still likely only has 7 minutes of success, and is a 115-pound woman who most likely needs a KO or a big knockdown in order to save her from Andrade picking this up.

I feel that Andrade taking over from R3 onwards is a far greater certainty than Rose either getting the finish in R1, or piling on enough damage to pick up enough of a lead. In the first match, the slam KO might have been a crazy outlier moment… but Rose had also clearly slowed down in the second stanza and Andrade was continuing to gain momentum.

Tape’s all there on the first fight, but I generally feel Andrade’s win condition is a lot more consistent and repeatable in the form of just bullish aggression and strong cardio than Rose most likely needing big moments/knockdowns to pull this off. It’s definitely possible Rose takes her out, but I’m always going to hit minutes over moments.

Prediction

Andrade by Decision

Betting Strategy

BACK – Jessica Andrade for 1.5 units at $2.62

BACK – Draw for 0.25 units at $67


Volkan Oezdemir v Jiri Prochazka

Kind of a confusing line here, honestly. I’ve never been huge on Volkan Oezdemir but he’s rounded out into a gatekeeper to the Light Heavyweight elite and he’s now facing a UFC debutant who’s been losing minutes to sub-par competition on the Rizin scene.

Jiri Prochazka’s best asset is his power, but he’s also rather low volume, doesn’t check legkicks, can gas and is at a noted disadvantage in strength of schedule in this fight. I’m not going to go absolutely wild since it is still Light Heavyweight, land of strange outcomes, and Jiri can legitimately swing for the fences… but I don’t see much of a win condition for him outside of a huge KO on a historically-durable opponent.

Oezdemir should run away with minutes here, considering he’s fairly high volume for LHW and is a consistent legkicker. Oezdemir’s prone to gassing, but I don’t really think Jiri’s got much of a chance to outlast him considering the gulf in attrition work and that Jiri’s also prone to slowing down dramatically.

Prediction

Oezdemir KO2

Betting Strategy

BACK – Volkan Oezdemir for 3 units at $1.66


Alexander Romanov v Marcin Tybura

Bit of a confusing price here. Romanov’s an ultra-raw Heavyweight prospect off the regionals who’s got no real skillset aside from raw size and aggression. Tybura’s a bit of a flake, but he’s legitimately pretty damned skilled in the majority of areas in the game.

There’s a real chance of Tybura just deciding to wilt inside the first 2 minutes, but there’s a huge gulf in strength of schedule, grappling ability and experience which should support Tybura not being anywhere near the current essentially-evens price point.

I wouldn’t rate Romanov especially better than a fighter like Sergei Spivak, especially since his regional performances displayed little-to-no striking defense and a game that tended to rely on big takedowns into dominant ground and pound. Tybura’s a legitimately elite grappler by heavyweight standards, who’s struggled with fragility on the feet, but Romanov’s actually not that big a standing threat despite his intimidating pressure and aesthetic.

There’s a very good chance Tybura’s simply the superior grappler here, and if that’s the case I can’t see a realistic path to victory for Romanov outside of a shock-and-awe bumrush.

Betting Strategy

BACK – Marcin Tybura for 2.5 units at $1.95

BACK – Marcin Tybura by Submission for 0.5 units at $13

Kyle Daukaus v Brendan Allen

This fight should be an interesting one, in that both men are attempting to impose the same nebulous, submission-hunting noodly grappling game on their opponent. Neither’s an especially effective striker, especially defensively, and both tend to forego a lot of other considerations in favor of just forcing a grappling match. So I can’t really understand why Daukaus is priced at $3.40 at this junction.

There’s a good chance this fight ends up being a high-volatility scrambling match, but I don’t think Allen’s really better at that gameplan as to justify such a strong favorite price.

I also feel a bit more trust in Daukaus’ output and positional sensibility. Allen sells out position for submission at the drop of a hat, and can even be pretty reticent to throw ground and pound. They’re both defensive void in just about every phase, but I trust Daukaus to at least put up offensive volume standing and to throw ground and pound when he’s happened into top position. We’ve got tape of Daukaus using wrestling back-rides to solid effect, whilst Allen’s a lot more focused on BJJ submission hunting.

The pricing’s probably been determined by a combination of Daukaus being a UFC debutant, and Allen being 2-0 in the UFC so far. I do feel that Allen’s success has been more a product of him high-rolling a volatile style against two rather inconsistent opponents. Holland was winning the majority of the grappling exchanges and indeed had a round banked, whilst Tom Breese just didn’t look like he felt like being a Pro MMA fighter at this point in his career.

Nothing in Allen’s style suggests to me that he should be a 1.3~ favorite against a semi-legitimate grappler. I think Daukaus’ style is a bit better to win minutes with if this reaches a decision, and thus I have to lean him at the obscene $3.40 price point.

Prediction

Noodly grappling fest

Betting Strategy

BACK – Kyle Daukaus for 1.5 units at $3.40

BACK – Kyle Daukaus by Decision for 0.5 units at $7.10


Takashi Sato v Ramiz Brahimaj

Hard to be 100% confident of where Ramiz Brahimaj is currently at so far as the progression of his game, as he’s only fought for 55 seconds in the last 2 years. But, based on what we saw in the fights prior to that limited action, I don’t think he owns much of a process. He’s never won a fight that’s gone past six minutes, and it’s largely due to his lack of striking defense, cardio or abilities beyond flinging himself at his opponents and diving straight for submissions.

Takashi Sato’s not a pinnacle of process, but he hits obscenely hard (and Brahimaj seems really, really open to getting blasted), has reasonable grappling abilities and has actual cardio.

Whilst it’s possible that Brahimaj’s ‘fling yourself at your opponent and hope for the best’ tactics work out here, or he’s leveled himself up significantly sight unseen in the intervening years, I don’t think that’s something you can reasonably expect. This is a mid-tier regional fighter who lacks minute-winning process against somebody who’s sufficiently well-rounded to pick him off down the middle as he charges in.

Prediction

Sato Ko1

In-Play Betting Strategy

BACK – Takashi Sato for 2 units at $1.73

Jim Miller v Roosevelt Roberts

I’ll be the first to admit I’ve never really seen ‘it’ when it comes to Roosevelt Roberts. I admire his tallness, but otherwise I feel like he’s got a few issues in the form of being rather allergic to pressure, and his grappling being the classic ‘Tall Man opportunistic grappling’ where he tends to struggle in actual extended exchanges even if he can hit some nice snapdown front chokes.

On the other hand, Jim Miller’s showing his age, but I actually rather liked what he showed in his loss against Scott Holtzman. He got undone by his cardio, which is reasonable at his age, but Holtzman is a rather great pressure/cardio fighter, whilst Roberts has seemed rather gassy and noodly as a whole.

I just can’t really make sense of the current 3.0 pricepoint for Miller. Roberts has generally had issues with pressure, such as in his fight with Vinc Pichel where I was rather large on Pichel for various reasons. Miller’s developed an effective infighting power-striking come-forward repertoire in his dotage.

I do like some of Roberts’ boxing, but even then he tends to be rather sparing with his actual output volume. There’s the age consideration, but I felt like Miller looked reasonable just four months ago against a fighter who I’d consider better than Roberts, especially as a matchup for Miller.

I feel Roberts might have marginal advantages with distance striking, nebulous ‘youth’ advantages, and as generally the fresher face in the sport. But I’d have this pretty close to a dead-heat.

Prediction

Miller by Submission Round 2

Betting Strategy

BACK – Jim Miller for 2.5 units at $3.00


Marc-Andre Barriault v Oskar Piechota

Piechota looked like a great prospect when he first burst onto the scene in the UFC. He’s an intelligent grappler, savvy striker and a great offensive threat. It was, therefore, a total shame when he proved to be rather fragile, and have about seven minutes of cardio before the soul fell out of his body when he was fighting any sort of semi-stiff opposition. He’s the sort of guy that I’d generally just fade against any warm body who’s going to be existing in his direction for more than a round.

Speaking of which, I consider Marc-Andre Barriault to be a warm body who is capable of existing in his opponents’ direction for 15 minutes. He’s had a rocky road to his UFC tenure so far, going 0-3 in a series of actually rather-competitive decisions. I’ve bet against him in every fight of that run, but he’s generally actually impressed me on his tenacity and ability to hang in there.

He’s essentially come up against guys who I’d consider to be fringe ranked opposition, and may even function well as the ‘gatekeeper’ for that kind of tier. He’s essentially a solid C+ in every area, with no major lapses, but also no real abilities that enable him to push up against being ranked. But even being able to hang with guys like Jotko and Sanchez speaks well of his abilities going forward.

So there are two plays I have in mind for this fight. I believe that the fight not going to a decision should be priced a lot closer to $1.50 instead of the coinflip you can currently get it at. Piechota is an aggressive sub hunter for the seven minutes before all of the karate falls out of his body, and Barriault is an aggressive, come-forward heavy hitter in all phases of the fight.

The main way I can see this going to a decision would be a conservative Piechota ‘lay and pray’ decision, but I don’t have faith in Piechota having the cardio or the sensibility to pull that off with any frequency.

I also believe that there will be a good opportunity to hit Barriault in-play, most likely during the break between rounds 1 and 2. Piechota will most likely be looking good for the first round of this bout, and it will also help insulate bettors from the ‘Piechota dominates dominantly to a first-round submission’ outcome that I feel is fairly live.

Prediction

Piechota by Sub1, or Barriault by comeback KO on a gassed Piechota

In-Play Betting Strategy

BACK –  Barriault after Round 1, depending on price. Follow me on twitter at @Gugabed as I will probably be providing my opinions on when exactly the pivot hits.


Frank Camacho v Matt Frevola (CANCELLED)

This is going to be a war. But it’s one I feel like Frank Camacho wins at a reasonable clip considering his size, power, durability and defensive edges. Whilst Camacho was last seen getting subbed fairly easily by Beneil Dariush, I don’t think that this matchup poses anywhere near the same issues for him. Frevola might be a willing and aggressive fighter but he isn’t an especially sophisticated grappler and to my eye, he has some durability issues along with striking defense lapses.

So I feel that Camacho will most likely be winning the majority of the fight that is conducted on the feet. Frevola has the aggression to hit takedowns but has rarely been able to turn them into either meaningful, extended hold-down time or submissions.

Frevola has also been badly hurt in the majority of his UFC bouts thus far, even if he has only been stopped once. I feel Camacho is an adequate enough grappler to not get subbed, stuff reasonable takedowns, and generally get the better of the standing action by a wide margin.

Prediction

Camacho by KO2

Betting Strategy

BACK – Frank Camacho for 2.5 units at $2.00

Jessica Eye v Cynthia Calvillo

This should be an interesting bout. Calvillo’s probably got the more immediate upside in the form of a submission win, but I feel that Eye should be the minute winner down the stretch in this one. Calvillo’s a great grappler, but not necessarily a major takedown threat, and lacks a strong depth of game in her striking.

Eye’s maybe historically been a bit over-maligned, especially after starting her UFC career 2-5 at Bantamweight, but it should also be considered that this is a woman who fought at Strawweight for years, versus one that was maybe a little bit small to make it at Bantamweight.

So in a 25-minute WMMA fight, I’ll usually lean the minute-winning fighter to take a decision. Calvillo’s also never been an especially incredible offensive wrestler, and Eye is fairly hard to control.

Prediction

Eye 49-46

Betting Strategy

BACK – Jessica Eye to win for 2 units at $1.85


Marvin Vettori v Karl Roberson

This fight has now been booked what feels like five times, albeit cancelled and rescheduled at different junctions due to a combination of injuries, weight-misses, COVID & everything else. But I still feel that it’s a fairly favorable matchup for Vettori in a lot of ways, provided that he takes it upon himself to grapple.

Roberson’s been submitted fairly easily every time he’s been granted by a sophisticated grappler, and whilst Vettori might lack the branding of a Glover Teixeira or a Cezar Ferreira, I feel that his grappling game is more than effective enough to make his sub prop a worthwhile play.

If this ends up being a kickboxing match, I feel that Roberson’s live enough I wouldn’t recommend playing Vettori’s moneyline. My view of this fight is essentially that if Vettori grapples enough to justify his ~$1.45 priceline, there’s a fairly high likelihood that the submission line at 7 looks like a steal. If he ends up getting into a kickboxing match, $1.45’s probably not going to look like an incredible line and therefore I’d rather be sitting on a $7 than on a $1.45 in this junction.

Betting Strategy

BACK – Marvin Vettori by submission for 1.5 units at $7.00


Christian Aguilera v Anthony Ivy

This fight has escaped from the regionals, but there’s a good chance of Aguilera at dog odds being a Genie in a Bottle. Anthony Ivy’s gameplan is… throwing himself at his opponent and attempting to action a series of unusual submissions, something that I feel might get him into dirty spots against a fighter like Aguilera.

Whilst Aguilera’s presenting a fairly large question mark in the form of his defensive grappling, as he’s largely avoided grappling exchanges in his last half-decade of tape, I feel that Ivy’s untrustworthy to provide a clinical, strong performance without getting Hurt.

Aguilera is no Beautiful technician, but atleast he’s reliable to come forward and fall in line with his aggressive, punch-swinging gameplan. There is a good chance that his process being to actually do something that functions will leave Ivy with a haunted heart.

It’s hard to really recommend a deep play on this fight as it’s what I would usually consider to be a low-level coinflip, but there ain’t no other man I’d take apart from Aguilera. His lack of grappling tape also might conceal that he keeps getting better, and is hiding significant change in his ability to deal with grappling.

Prediction

Aguilera KO

Betting Strategy

BACK – Christian Aguilera to win for 1 unit at $2.62

Amanda Nunes v Felicia Spencer

This card’s a little odd in that the title fight’s probably overshadowed in terms of divisional relevance, general interest and the rest by other parts of the card, but it should be a solid showcase for Amanda Nunes’ skillset. Felicia Spencer is otherworldly tough, having taken a complete shellacking at the hands of Cris Cyborg in their contest last year, but I feel that the initial first five-minute burst of Amanda Nunes is unparalleled in WMMA history when it comes to finishing ability.

Cyborg learned that first hand in her contest with Nunes, one that I feel Cyborg probably walks with surprising ease if she hadn’t decided to get into the proverbial ego-driven swinging match to start the bout.

So the question of this fight, in my eyes, will be one of Nunes’ tempo. I feel that Nunes has historically shown a tendency to either go completely ballistic in the first round, or set a relatively relaxed pace. This is due to her history of issues with her gastank, even in her recent bout against Germaine De Randamie there was a notable cardio drop off as she moved into later rounds.

Spencer is gritty, tough and has no functional striking defense. Her win condition is most likely the old ‘Boxcar Homer’ approach, in which she elects to exist in Nunes’ direction till Nunes gets tired. Unfortunately for Spencer, I don’t think that she’s going to be able to absorb the punishment that’s going to be coming her way in response to the approach. But it is possible that she weathers the storm and wins on pure aggression against a visibly-fading Nunes.

Prediction

Nunes via Round 1 brutality

Betting Strategy

BACK – Amanda Nunes Round 1 for 2 units at $3.25


Sean O’Malley v Eddie Wineland

This should largely be a striking match, and as such, I don’t think there’s much of a coherent way that you can support Malley being such a gigantic favorite. Eddie Wineland’s generally been a tough out in the UFC over the course of a long career and has rarely if ever been completely outgunned in striking contests.

Whilst it’s true that Malley’s fresh on the block, exciting and all of those other vibes… I just can’t see how you make a coherent argument for him being this big a favorite when he’s got defensive holes, some previous cardio lapses, and Wineland is historically such a steady bastion pf the Bantamweight division.

Even factoring in the age-gap, I just can’t see how anybody plays Malley past 1.6. He’s a volatile, high-variance striker at the best of times and has shown some issues with defense at the UFC level.

Wineland hits very hard so far as boxing’s concerned, this should generally be a close bout in a lot of respects. I’ve got an annoying feeling that Wineland puts up a brave performance in a razor-thin loss, but I just generally cannot see how anybody justifies this pricing for Malley here.

Prediction

Close decision

Betting Strategy

BACK – Wineland to Win for 2 units at $5.00


Devin Clark v Alonzo Menifield

Light Heavyweight is a bizarre decision. There aren’t many guys who I’d consider fundamentally sound all-rounders, and Clark is one of the few. He’s also got a tendency of being finished in hilarious fashion after gassing a bit by fighters who are less-sound than him but nonetheless have moments of pure athlete that override his technical dominance.

So the question must be asked. Why am I choosing to once-again sacrifice my money on the altar of Devin Clark? I know in the depths of my soul that Clark will win the first however-many minutes with ease, grace, panache, and style before inevitably slowing down a bit and getting made into hay.

But, nonetheless, I feel that Clark at 2.7 is in no way justified at this point. Menifield’s crushed Vinicius Moreira, who seems like a lovely guy, but nonetheless isn’t really capable of hanging in the UFC. He KO’d Craig, but it was a bit of a bizarre turn of events in which Craig was actually proficiently out striking him before toppling over on a missed spin kick and getting pounced upon.

I don’t really think Menifield has many strings to his bow. He’s a good athlete, definitely. But an almost-complete void of process at this point. Clark has a great chance of grounding him for long stretches, and should also be considerably busier standing.

Menifield’s win condition is probably a singular moment of violence, which is definitely live, but I can’t mark his lack of process with enough seriousness that I think he warrants his current 1.45~ price point.

Prediction

Devin Clark by decision

Betting Strategy

BACK – Clark to Win for 1 unit at $2.70


Evan Dunham v Herbert Burns

Another battle of process vs durability, though Dunham’s also got the burden of age on top of it all. I don’t especially rate Burns’ ability in any phase.

He’s a capable grappler in terms of career achievements, but way too guard-reliant to have it as a core skillset in the UFC, along with Dunham being capable of stifling in that phase. And he’s not great on the feet by any means. There’s very little defensive process, along with a striking game that usually seems to consist of hail marys.

Evan Dunham retired recently but was planning this comeback before Coronavirus which is at least a partly-promising sign. He should have size on Burns, and I believe he’s generally the sounder fighter as a whole.

The main issue is that he has a glowing weak point when it comes to body shots. Another fight that my pick will likely be winning the minutes in until he gets slain in a singular moment of violence, but sometimes you just have to bet the process.

Prediction

Dunham Decision

Betting Strategy

BACK – Dunham to Win for 2 units at $3.20

Tyron Woodley v Gilbert Burns

This fight’s fascinating to me since it kind of highlights one of the big issues of Tyron Woodley’s game. He’s not a fighter that tends to win minutes outside of singular moments of explosion, and thereby tends to produce a tempo that lulls himself, his opponents, and spectators to sleep.

But Gilbert Burns presents a level of hit-ability that might just let him get away with his style of ‘wait 4 minutes, explode into some massive bombs, deactivate again till your stamina bar refills’. But I personally feel that the value’s likely on Gilbert Burns at middling dog odds in this spot.

Burns will likely double Woodley up on standing output, especially with his use of rangy leg kicks. Woodley’s not especially proficient at checking them, and they’ll tend to add up quickly in a bout where Woodley will most likely find it difficult to counter the range-finding, low-commitment shots.

Burns is a good enough grappler that I don’t feel confident in Woodley being able to snatch rounds through takedowns, especially considering that Woodley tends not to wrestle with any especially high volume or tenacity due to fear of his own gas tank.

Burns, however, hasn’t really demonstrated an incredibly deep gas tank at this junction. He’s definitely busier than Woodley since precious few people in the sport of MMA are not busier than Woodley, but the way that Woodley responds to offense via bursting in as hard as possible tends to be enough to sometimes lull his opponents into the hypnotic tempo of a staring match.

Even with that considered, I don’t think it’s wholly appropriate for Woodley to be a favorite, especially considering he’s now 38, hasn’t fought in a year, and has historically been so reliant on bursts of quickness.

Prediction

Burns by tepid, yet clear decision

Betting Strategy

BACK – Burns to Win for 1 unit at $2.60

BACK – Burns Decision for 1 unit at $6.50


Tim Elliott v Brandon Royval

Process is integral to success in the UFC, especially as you head down towards the lighter weight classes. I cannot see Brandon Royval manifesting any real UFC success as he is an almost-complete void of process. He throws crazy flying strikes standing, then he attempts to hit guard submissions off his back when he is either placed there, or ends up there on his own behest. If Elliott wasn’t occasionally prone to diving into submissions, I would be placing a maxbet on him at the current 1.6 price point.

But, nonetheless, the famously-durable Elliott is now confronted with a challenge that is a shell of the one he faced against Louis Smolka years ago in a fight he completely dominated in grappling. I feel that it’d require an epic brainfart for him to lose a bout to somebody so limited, or for Royval’s wild rolling of the proverbial dice to hit on a singular fight-winning moment. It’s rare at Flyweight to see such a considerable gap in game soundness.

As such I’m happy to play both Elliott to win, and what is essentially a soft hedge of the Inside The Distance line. I can’t see Royval being able to win rounds against Elliott’ sheer relentless tempo, and I feel EllIott eventually finds his own sub. Especially considering Royval can be rather prone to gassing. I don’t think Royval will ever win a round within the UFC due to his lack of real ability to win minutes.

Prediction

Elliot by Submission Round 2.

Betting Strategy

BACK – Elliot to Win for 2.5 units at $1.60

BACK – Doesn’t go the distance for 1.25 units at $1.80

Edson Barboza v Dan Ige

Edson Barboza’s come down to Featherweight after a long tenure as a fairly-big lightweight. His struggles in the past have included being pressured with boxing, his fragile chin, and people who match him for speed.

Dan Ige isn’t anybody who I’d consider an incredible talent, but he’ll make a beeline for his opponents with savvy boxing and intelligent pressure. He’s also susceptible enough to being kicked in the face and/or body that Barboza’s glass cannon tendencies will likely manifest themselves at some point.

I’m advocating for a play on ends Inside The Distance as I feel that both of these men are notably defensively open, and the striking-based matchup should be such that it forces a KO. Ige as an underdog also likely has strong value, but I feel covering a possible Barboza KO situation is more valuable than covering for Ige decision.

They will likely meet in the middle, bombs will be slung, and I feel that the KO should be significantly shorter than the current underdog line on ITD suggests. Ige KO at 8’s also seems pretty striking value to my estimation.

Prediction

Ige KO1

Betting Strategy

BACK – Dan Ige by KO for 1 unit at $8.50

BACK – Fight ends Inside The Distance for 1.5 units at $2.10


Nate Landwehr v Darren Elkins

Darren Elkins is one of my favorite fighters of all time. He’s a testament to the ability of grit, wrestling and willpower to triumph over being a minus-athlete. Unfortunately, he’s also gotten to the point where I feel that he’s generally untrustworthy to take any real punishment whatsoever.

Nate Landwehr’s a crazy, wild man who pretty much just constantly throws offense without major regard for his own safety, and who is consequentially difficult to just coral safely for the 15 minutes that Elkins is most likely going to need to in order to come out this with a win.

Elkins has notably slowed down, was never really proficient defensively aside from his ability to maintain top position in grappling matches, and doesn’t even seem to still have the legendary cardio he used to possess. This is coupled with his chin having deteriorated immensely from when he pulled off the best comeback in UFC history against Mirsad Bektic.

I feel that Landwehr barely needs to string together any coherent offense in order to badly hurt Elkins, and that he has enough crazy mongoose about that he should be able to find his moment sooner or later.

There’s likely going to be moments of wrestling top control from Elkins, but I don’t really trust Elkins to apply a sufficiently suffocating level of pressure in order to ward off the KO for the whole stanza.

Prediction

Landwehr by KO. Elkins please retire.

Betting Strategy

BACK – Nate Landwehr by KO for 2 units at $4.00

Andrei Arlovski v Philipe Lins

This is a fairly technically-skilled fight for the lower end of Heavyweight, though both men are a bit hamstrung by their lack of athleticism and durability. Heavyweight is a strange place in which technical ability is frequently defeated by the forces of uncoordinated swanging and banging.

Derrick Lewis is a testament to this frequency of punching winning out over process, but I digress. I think Lins and Arlovski are both quite similar in what they’re trying to do, but Arlovski’s still a little bit more sound in a lot of what they’re trying to attempt.

They’re both fairly high volume heavyweights, albeit Lins can be rather reluctant to get into extended exchanges. They’re also decently fit by divisional standards, which isn’t saying a hell of a lot. Neither’s especially powerful for a heavyweight, despite occasional knockouts and both are a bit fragile at this point in their careers.

In my opinion, you’re going to get a fairly slow-paced outside kickboxing battle out of this fight, and I’m happy to favor Arlovski in that kind of exchange. He’s a bit more productive in terms of offence and has beaten way better competition.

I’m happy to take Arlovski at 2.30~ for what I’d consider a fairly close fight, but one that nonetheless favors him. Especially considering Arlovski should have the grappling edge if the fight ever meanders to that destination.

Betting Strategy

BACK – Arlovski at $2.30 for 2 units


Alexander Hernandez v Drew Dober

I’ve never especially rated Alexander Hernandez. His main asset coming into the UFC was a combination of pretty-good athleticism, and sheer exuberance on the front foot. He may have gotten the win over Trinaldo in his last outing, a decision that was generally held to be dubious by the wider public, but it seems that Donald Cerrone literally managed to knock that aggression out of Hernandez’ being.

I’d say that Hernandez’ best original comparison was Colby Covington, in a lot of ways, but he lacks the depth of skill in wrestling that Covington brings to the fray, and based on the Trinaldo fight seems to have lost the sheer bloodymindedness required to throw himself endlessly onto his opponent’s offense.

Dober’s definitely had some issues with wrestling defense in the past, but has recently really rounded out the development of his game. He’s 5-1 in his last 6, his solitary loss being a fight against Beneil Dariush in which I, as a Dariush bettor, felt incredibly lucky to get the backdoor win as he got submitted in the second after dominating the first round.

He’s strikingly durable, has developed real power in recent years, and maintains a generally high pace. I feel that he’s finally put together a lot of disparate parts of his game into a more-coherent whole and that he is a fighter who’s well-positioned to finally put it together.

Hernandez is an athletic striker who tends to run out of ideas deeper into a fight, along with having a habit of catching strikes with his face. I feel that he most likely needs to apply a constant wrestle-grind to beat Dober, as he will be wildly overmatched in standing exchanges and lacks the ingenuity of grappling of previous opponents who have been able to submit Dober.

The Hernandez who fought Trinaldo seemed almost completely bereft of aggression, and whilst it’s hard to rely on that remaining a thing it’s a big issue to consider.

Prediction

Dober KO Round 1

Betting Strategy

BACK – Dober at $1.84 for 2.5 units


Chase Sherman v Ike Villanueva

This fight probably shouldn’t be taking place under UFC branding, but sometimes the regionals gets scoured for talent due to a worldwide pandemic. Sherman’s a UFC veteran, having had a brief cup of coffee in an initial 2-5 run in the big show at Heavyweight.

He’s one of those guys who had an unfortunate habit of getting athletically outmatched in fights he was otherwise competitive in, and in hindsight, his losses actually don’t look too bad. Four of his losses were against fighters who I’d consider current top 15 heavyweights, and he had moments in most of the fights.

He’s a bit defensively porous, and not the hardest hitter, but I do like his tempo and output for heavyweight. Anybody capable of maintaining pace for 100+ strikes at HW is a decent possibility.

Villanueva on the other hand, is making his UFC debut. He’s a regional champ of not-great regard. Initially a Middleweight, who was visibly soft in his regional fights at Light Heavyweight, he’s now coming up to Heavyweight.

Sherman’s a fairly thick-bodied 6’4, Villanueva was packing a gut at Light Heavyweight and therefore I think there’s a good 10KG or so of lean muscle between the two. Doing tape on Villanueva, I had some struggles with really figuring out what he can be considered good at.

There’s some reasonable power there, but he’s not especially explosive or athletic, and he’s way too low volume to really be considered much of a striking talent. If I were to be especially cruel, I’d say that he’d been picking on low level competition during his run in Fury FC. Rashad Coulter’s the biggest name of them, and Coulter looked like he’d eaten the earlier iteration of Rashad Coulter in that bout.

So there’s a 2 inch height differential, 5 inch reach differential, fair bit of ‘physical size’ as wishy-washy as that is, and I feel Sherman should be the overwhelming minute winner here due to tempo. Villanueva had a habit of gassing earlier in his career, but it’s hard to tell as he hasn’t been outside of the third minute since 2017.

Respecting Sherman’s career tendency to occasionally get slugged due to his own enthusiasm, I feel like he should be the overwhelming minute winner here. Sherman drives a good tempo for Heavyweight, Villanueva presented difficulties in evaluating his tape since he was so loathe to do things with any frequency.

Definitely possible that Sherman obeys the time honored middlingly-athletic heavyweight tendency of being suddenly unconscious, but I think this is generally a fight that favors him in a lot of ways.

Prediction

Sherman by late KO/Decision

Betting Strategy

BACK – Sherman at $1.75 for 2.5 units

Tony Ferguson v Justin Gaethje

It’s a crying shame that Khabib-Ferguson has faded for the fifth time in a row, but, in happier news, I feel that Gaethje-Ferguson will be by far the more interesting contest. It has been in my top 10 or so idea matchups for a while, and should promise carnage. My betting tip for this one will likely have to wait till props are released, but I’m happy to briefly summarize my view of their matchup.

I feel that Gaethje has around 7 minutes to win this fight. Ferguson’s pace and cardio are both downright otherworldly, and Gaethje will be drowned in tempo if this fight gets room to breathe. This is compounded with Gaethje having a short camp, along with Gaethje’s head-centric defense meaning that he is incredibly easy to hit to the body, especially with straight shots. This isn’t to say that Gaethje isn’t perfectly capable of taking this fight, as Ferguson is something of a slow starter and you can trust Gaethje to bull forward, swanging and banging.

Both men have essentially defined their UFC careers by the ability to weaponize pace. Gaethje’s had, largely, an uglier version of the idea due to his defensive porousness and lesser conditioning. Both will try to drag you into deep water, but Gaethje tends to operate on a thinner margin of outworking his opponents whilst they’re both exhausted… Ferguson is just inexhaustible to a scary degree.

I also feel that Gaethje’s supposed renaissance in his last 3 wins (All by first-round KO), is a bit overblown. Cerrone, Vick & Barboza have always been vulnerable to big punchers starting fast & closing them down. Ferguson’s a slow starter but doesn’t quite have the history of those 3 men in having such gigantic issues.

His problems came with Kevin Lee, local athletic freak who leaned heavily on grappling for his early success, and Lando Vannata who leaned on a level of unorthodoxy that Gaethje just doesn’t have.

Whilst Gaethje is going to come at you unconditionally, he’s fairly predictable in what he’s going to do. Earmuff-centric defense, plodding forward advances, big leg kicks and a lean towards boxing for his offense. Gaethje is also historically hittable, having absorbed 9.67 Significant Strikes Per Minute in his UFC run. He’s landed 8.57 SS per minute, as well.

He’s an attritional fighter who’s likely going to be at significant disadvantages in raw cardio, and in attritional striking. Gaethje’s not exactly the sort of dude who’s going to go around surprising anybody moment-to-moment.

Gaethje’s most likely going to need a singular big moment in order to take this fight. I feel that Ferguson pulls ahead viciously the longer it goes down the stretch. I didn’t mind Ferguson at his original go-ahead line of $1.77+, but it looks like the wider market’s installed him around $1.57 as of this point. It wouldn’t shock me to see some fluctuations, but the price is about right.

I’d probably give Ferguson slightly greater favoritism if it were me, but the question marks behind this event such as training camps, location, and general feel means I’m fairly loathed to hit a big favorite on the moneyline. Inside The Distance is tempting, but I’m guessing it’s going to be around $1.30 which is also a bit too juicy for my money.

Gaethje’s the sort of talent that should rarely be beyond $3.00 against anybody, if only due to his willingness to close the distance and swing for the fences. It’s definitely a live possibility that Ferguson gets hit hard in the face in the first stanza and Gaethje gets the win, but I feel that his changes are largely confined to the opening minutes.

In the meantime, I’d recommend doing your own tape study for this one. Both men have some of the most entertaining bodies of work in UFC history. This fight is an immediate contender for fight of the year, as I’m expecting some early success from Gaethje that largely gets swallowed up by Ferguson’s greater moment-to-moment defensive soundness and cardio edge.

Prediction

Ferguson by Submission Round 4

Early Betting Strategy

BACK – Gaethje at $3.00

Look to trade out after the first round or when he first starts to visibly flag. I’m anticipating Gaethje having front-loaded success, so he’ll likely come into evens at some point in the first 7 minutes.


Francis Ngannou v Jairzinho Rozenstruik

I’ve not been a huge fan of either of these men on their way up. Ngannou’s an ultra-freakish athlete, but it’s hard to really pinpoint what he’s got any real technical skill in aside from swanging and banging.

Rozenstruik’s a mid-tier kickboxer who strung together some iffy quick KOs, and then had a miraculous comeback against Alistair Overeem with 3 seconds left on the clock in a fight he was going to lose by fairly definitive decision. This fight is thereby a bit of a mess, but I think there’s some value on Rozenstruik.

I’ve been fading Rozenstruik thus far against fighters who I’d consider to be ‘complete’ Mixed Martial Artists, with an ability to take advantage of the gaping canyon that is his game off his back. Ngannou is, fortunately, not really one of those guys.

Ngannou’s skillset is something that’s a bit hard to pin down, seeing as a lot of his UFC wins have mostly been him throwing himself at his opponent and swinging till they drop. Rozenstruik is hittable, so that’s definitely on the table, but I don’t think it’s sufficient to warrant Ngannou being $1.36 in this spot.

Ngannou has also historically shown a tendency to oscillate wildly between moments of absolute frothing-at-the-mouth aggression and incredible passivity. His fight against Derrick Lewis, in which he took it unto himself to land one strike in the first round and attempt seven, is almost-legendary for how passive he looked.

When Ngannou’s respecting his opponent’s power he can be gunshy and he lacks the sophistication of striking game to really have many tools on the outside. I think there’s a real likelihood of a fight in which Ngannou respects Rozenstruik’s power/kickboxing credentials to the point that we get a rerun of that famous bout which Rozenstruik should win on technical proficiency and output.

I essentially think there’s going to be two possibilities for this fight, depending on how Ngannou wakes up on the morning of the event. Ngannou may go hell-for-leather and attempt to trade bombs util somebody goes down. The percentages in that fight favor Ngannou, but not at a 1.36 clip.

He also may take it upon himself to try and play a slower game, at which point there’s a great chance he gets outworked. This makes playing overs and unders difficult, as I feel that this fight is probably going to be either over inside two minutes of insane HW bombs, or be an excruciating 15 minutes of awfulness. Like Spann v Alvey.

Overs/Unders at higher weight classes can frequently come down to tempo more so than durability, and it’s hard to predict.

Prediction

Messy HW slugfest in the first 2 minutes to a brutal KO, or 15 minutes of tedium.

Early Betting Strategy

BACK – Jairzinho Rozenstruik for 2 units at $3.50

BACK – Jairzinho Rozenstruik by decision for 1 unit at $10.50


Calvin Kattar v Jeremy Stephens

It’s strange to me that Kattar’s been installed as such a firm favorite in this one. It’s a fight that’s 95% likely to be a striking match since neither man really does much in the way of proactive wrestling and thereby one that should be inherently volatile.

Kattar does have some very nice hands but also has a serious lapse in the form of his exposure to legkicks due to his stance being almost 100% boxing-orientated and Stephens is a fighter who’s historically been ultra-durable and aggressive. It’s possible, nay probable, that Stephens gets outslicked here. But even outslicking Stephens in a striking match rarely pays $1.42 dividends.

If I could rely on Stephens to consistently bring his legkicks into this fight, I’d be playing him for quite a bit at his ~$3.00 price. Kattar’s absorbed around 80% of legkicks thrown at him in the UFC, and Stephens is a vicious, if not sophisticated kicker. I’m also not sure how reliable Kattar is to outfight and mitigate risk, even if Stephens in his eternal wisdom decides not to bring out his legkicking arsenal.

Stephens is historically hellaciously aggressive and powerful, and Kattar is the sort of guy that’s been dragged into wars in the past. Marking Stephens at $3.00 in a war is usually not a great assertion.

This fight should be appointment viewing. Stephens’ effectiveness will likely hinge on his willingness and frequency in throwing legkicks, but even if he neglects to use them I don’t see Kattar being able to coherently warrant $1.42 in such a high volatility spot.

Prediction

Carnage

Early Betting Strategy

BACK – Jeremy Stephens for 2.5 units at $3.30


Anthony Pettis v Donald Cerrone

A rematch of titans, which should serve as an indicator which of these two men is the more ‘shot’. My gut feeling is that it’s Pettis. Cerrone might have recently been on the receiving end of some major KO losses, but honestly, he’s always had that issue with being a noted slow starter. Once he’s gotten ‘comfortable’ in recent years, he’s been able to generally beat some decent talents such as Al Iaquinta and Alexander Hernandez.

Pettis, on the other hand, has had big moments in recent years, but has hardly been able to win rounds. His fight against Stephen Thompson was one of the most miraculous comeback KOs in UFC history and you could make an argument that he hasn’t won a completed round since Jim Miller in 2017.

Pettis was always fairly low volume even in his peak but has generally been able to generate huge moments throughout his career. There’s a decent chance he still may get in Cerrone’s face early and find the stoppage, but I’d be hesitant to install a man that doesn’t really win rounds as the favorite in this one.

Cerrone might be a slow starter and increasingly fragile but he’s generally been a consistent volume fighter once he’s comfortable along with giving off good optics. There’s a good chance that Pettis won’t be able to hang once Cerrone’s comfortable, or Pettis’ success will snowball quickly into a stoppage.

Prediction

Cerrone by Decision

Early Betting Strategy

 LAY – Anthony Pettis by decision risking 2 units at $3.55


Ryan Spann v Sam Alvey

This is not going to be a high-quality fight but I think there’s a little bit of value on a roll of the dice. Alvey’s beyond his best days for certain, but Spann is not hugely durable or defensively responsible from what I’ve seen of him. He’s only been KO’d twice, but we’ve seen him hurt on other occasions and he’s a bit defensively irresponsible.

Alvey might not have the durability that he also leaned on throughout his extended career of occasional spectacular KOs between tedious staring matches, but I’m happy to roll the dice that he’s still got a big single shot or two in the pipeline.

Spann’s a massive LHW with reasonable output and plus athleticism. It’s enough to make him probably a ranked-level LHW due to the dire level of the division, but I don’t quite think he’s shown the consistency I’d like. His grappling’s probably the area in which he’s safest, but Alvey’s been a career elite Takedown Defense guy and Spann isn’t exactly the most technical or sophisticated with how he goes about his takedowns.

As such, this fight is probably going to be conducted with Spann aggressing into Alvey’s space and the pair both swinging. Alvey is more likely to drop for a variety of reasons, but I’m happy to swing into chaos here.

Also, it could easily devolve into the classic Alvey fight where Spann gets stung once in the first minute and then over-respects Alvey for the rest of the fight on their way to a tedious, awful split decision which anybody could win – Alvey having had that exact sequence of events in a fight about five times under the UFC banner.

This is not a high-calibre fight. The most likely way it serves to entertain is if they meet in the middle in the first 2 minutes and swing till somebody drops.

Prediction

Spann by KO

Early Betting Strategy

BACK – Sam Alvey Round 1 for 0.25 units at $10.25

BACK – Sam Alvey by KO for 0.25 units at $7.30

Johnny Walker v Nikita Krylov

This is going to be a crazy mess of volatility. The two men have been to 2 decisions between them in over 40 career fights, and tend to fight wild & spectacular.

That being said, I feel that the line probably should be flipped to account for Krylov being the more durable specimen, along with having a greater tendency to grapple & therefore avoid getting sparked out by a 720 flying reverse triple knee.

Johnny Walker is an athletic phenomenon, a massive LHW, and an almost-complete glass cannon. He’s got the power to put anybody out inside the first minute, but he’s also got severe liabilities in chin & defence.

It’s very possible that this fight ends by Walker insane Knockout of the Year highlight KO inside 30 seconds, but I feel that his lack of durability and game from the bottom means that he’s got a narrow margin for error in this contest.

Nikita Krylov gets on like a house on fire, he’s also prone to throwing everything into everything… but atleast he’ll try to grapple (It’s significantly harder, though not impossible, to get knocked out from top position) and I feel that he’s shown a better chin. Walker also benefits from having a bit of space to set up his big, bombastic KO shots whilst I feel like Krylov will largely swarm.

This is going to be a wild mess of a fight. I rate Krylov closer to 60% to win this, but pretty much anything can happen. I just believe he might have the ability to make a mistake without getting finished, whilst Walker probably won’t get that luxury.

Prediction

Wild Exchanges in the first till somebody drops.

Betting Strategy

BACK – Nikita Krylov to Win at $2.25 for 2.5 units

Israel Adesanya v Yoel Romero

This, like all Yoel Romero fights, is a bit of an odd one. Israel should definitely be the minute-winning fighter here, on account of Yoel’s volume not being consistent, and yet I’ve got no urge to line up to play him at around $1.36.

Romero’s still incredibly dangerous, dynamic and surprisingly prone to evolution considering he’s 42 years old and has been competing at a world-level in grappling since he was 16. Yoel’s prone to taking huge amounts of time off in his fights, but also has a downright lethal instinct for picking his spots and inherently tends to make his opponents respect his wrestling game enough to open up striking opportunities.

Israel’s definitely going to have a volume edge here, but I’m not 100% confident in his defensive game to deal with Yoel’s strange off-kilter tempo and ability to explode into moments of violence.

He tends to take a fair amount of risk early in fights till he’s got the timing/tendencies of his opponents down, which will be an interesting dynamic here as Yoel doesn’t necessarily tend to provide consistent behaviours to key in on. Yoel’s main consistent attribute is that he’s capable of suddenly inverting expectations.

My immediate lean was towards the ‘Goes The Distance’ market or Israel decision, but a lot of that’ll depend on the tempo that Israel sets in the early rounds. Could see him trying to take advantage of Yoel’s slow-starting nature by pouring on volume early, which would naturally dispose the fight towards either an accumulation finish or Yoel capturing lighting in a bottle, or we could see a fairly tepid fight in the early exchanges.

If I had to, I’d say Israel decision at $3.00 might be the best way to play the fight, but even that feels a bit chancy. No recommended bet from me.

Prediction

Israel by Decision


Joanna Jedrzejczyk v Weili Zhang

I feel that the market is taking the Zhang hype a bit far in the wake of her Andrade win. Andrade’s been hurt before in round 1 by luminaries such as Tecia Torres, who’s essentially never hurt anybody in her career, along with taking a massive beating from Rose in the first round of that fight.

Zhang did well in being the first woman to really keep pouring it on effectively, but from what I’ve seen the market is currently looking to price Zhang KO around 3.0. This is Women’s 115 pounds. That price is absurd even if Joanna got cold-cocked by Rose in their first fight, before going through the rematch without ever looking badly scrambled.

Joanna is by far the better minute-winner here. She throws (in normal kickboxing tempo) almost twice as much volume as Zhang, and has proven time-and-time again that she’s an elite contender in the Takedown Defense & Cardio realms.

I feel she is the overwhelming minute winner in this fight, as she’s going to be putting up a ton more volume, has a stronger command of attritional striking, and I don’t think there’s any reason to believe that Zhang’s cardio is comparable to Joanna’s.

Zhang is fun, but I believe that she most likely would have struggled under Andrade’s ridiculous attritional pace if she hadn’t sparked her early in that bout. She’s a well-put-together fighter, but I don’t see her as being capable of keeping tempo standing in this fight, nor do I see her having deep enough wrestling/grappling chops to either finish or take huge stretches of the fight off Joanna. The current price is… interesting, to say the least.

My prediction for this fight is a fairly close round 1, with Zhang’s best window likely being KOing or putting the fear of god into Joanna in the first 5 minutes, and then the gap widening massively as the fight goes on.

Prediction

Joanna 49-45 Decision

Betting Strategy

BACK – Joanna to win at $2.52 for 5 units


Sean O’Malley v Jose Quinonez

I see no coherent explanation for this line aside from Malley’s entertainment value & Q-factor. He’s spent the last 2 years on the shelf, was never a hugely reliable performer stylistically prior to that, and has some cardio & defence issues that I don’t believe he’ll shore up in the near future.

Quinones is nothing to write home about, but he’s a good mid-tier bantamweight who’ll keep up a decent pressure, work takedowns and do his best to make sure Malley’s working for the whole 15 minutes.

I’d be shocked to see Malley justifying his current 1.28 line in this bout. It’s possible that he comes out and puts a clinic on Quinones, but Quinones is rarely an easy out and a Malley bettor has to steer into the inherent volatility of the 2-year layoff.

We saw Malley struggle against Terrion Ware in the days of yore that he last fought in, and I feel the Soukhamthath win has lost a lot of shine in the wake of Souk showing repeatedly he can’t deal with athletic kickers such as Sumaedejri

Prediction

Close Decision

Betting Strategy

BACK – Quinonez to Win at $3.90 for 2 units

Joseph Benavidez v Deiveson Figueiredo

Interesting fight all-up. Joseph Benavidez is a top 10 talent in terms of pure skill in the history of MMA, but has been kept from holding a major title due to a combination of his initial peak taking place at Bantamweight instead of his ideal weight of Flyweight, and Demetrious Johnson being the gatekeeper through his flyweight run.

Instead, he’s generally picked off Flyweights in brutal fashion and shown an incredible depth of skill. He’s one of the best grapplers in the sport’s history, and his unique herky-jerky blitzing striking style is well built.

Figuerido is a freakish athlete for sure. He’s rather inconsistent in terms of tempo, as he can be seen frequently pausing to admire his work, but he’s also incredibly powerful for the Flyweight division and has an incredible run of finishes, especially adjusted for weight class, as a result. I don’t especially rate his cardio, seeing as he’s generally flagged a bit when forced to work.

My view on this fight is that it’s priced rather well in terms of the Head-To-Head Market. Benavidez should be a narrow favorite as the minutes winner, but has shown some declining durability in recent years along with not having a style that’s especially ‘safe’ in how it tends to dominate.

He’s hittable on the feet, and tends not to just establish top position and hold on to it. It’s not totally void of process, but he’s big on going for submissions and damaging positions instead of holding on for dear life.

Consequentially, I think ‘Fight ends Inside The Distance’ at $2.35 is the correct play. Figuerido could easily KO JoeB early in the fight, and JoeB will continue to hunt finishes late into the bout.

Prediction

Figureido KO Round 1

Betting Strategy

BACK – Fight ends Inside the Distance at $2.35 for 2.25 units

Michal Oleksiejczuk v Jimmy Crute

Tasmania’s favoured son versus a fighter that I needed to copy the spelling for from Google. I’ve never been especially huge on either of these guys, having faded them both in their ascent up the ranks and then descent back down the ranks. But, today, I’m more looking to fade their finishing ability moreso than picking a side in what should be a battle of the titans.

Olek’s definitely got the volume edge here, but has also been prone to overdoing it and gassing down the stretch. He almost had Ovince St Preux dead to rights in his last matchup, but gassed trying to get what I feel was a reasonable case for a stoppage and then got tapped by the Von Flue in the second.

He’s generally a capable fighter for Light Heavyweight, albeit undersized, and I feel that his KO streak’s more been a product of the fragility of his opponents than necessarily his power being incredible.

Crute’s a rising prospect out of Tasmania, and is a huge, strong customer of a human being. He’s unfortunately also fairly slow and low-paced, along with having a grappling game that’s fairly unconventional in submission selection for a UFC talent. He comes forward consistently, but doesn’t put up a ton of pace himself and I don’t really rate him to be able to sub Michal at any massive clip.

I’m expecting Olek to be the overall minute-winner here, outside of top control time from Crute, as he should be busier. I also don’t think that he’s going to be quite as capable as a KO as his previous performances may reflect. A dynamic first round, getting closer and sloppier down the stretch is my feeling

Prediction

Oleksiejczuk by Decision, likely 29-28 with the fight becoming more and more competitive down the stretch.

Betting Strategy

BACK – 1u Michal Oleksiejczuk by Decision at $6.00

BACK – 1u Goes The Distance at $3.00


Marcos Rogerio De Lima v Ben Sosoli

Ben Sosoli was last seen being fairly-easily handled by Greg Hardy en-route to a dominant decision win, albeit one that was later rendered as a No-Contest after Hardy decided to use his Ventolin between rounds. Sosoli’s the model of the Mark Hunt archetype, being a durable slugger with big hands, a lack of deep kickboxing craft, and the gameplan of generally plodding forward at people.

Lima’s got a glaring weakness, which is being submitted, but is largely a good kickboxer and can play top position fairly well when he feels the need. He’s only been KO’d once in a fairly long career and, to be frank, I feel the most telling attribute is his ability to throw hard, effective legkicks against a man in Sosoli who only defended one of the 26 legkicks thrown at him by Hardy.

This is Heavyweight, so weird stuff can happen and volatility reigns supreme, but I feel that Sosoli doesn’t really have much of a gameplan or path to victory here aside from a single-shot KO. Sosoli’s not much of a wrestler and/or grappler, so he can’t pick on that glaring weakpoint, and I feel that Lima is faster, deeper and more powerful standing.

My view of this fight is that Sosoli will have little-to-no recourse for the legkicks, and thus will find achieving victory to be pretty difficult. He’ll likely need to take Lima out in the opening stanza due to the big gap in attritional striking, and I feel that Lima is even the more effective talent in a pure swinging match.

Prediction

Lima by KO2

Betting Strategy

BACK – 2.5u on Lima at $1.70


Jake Matthews v Emil Meek

Emil Meek’s had a bit of time off, and was last seen prior to that being chain-wrestled into oblivion by both Bartosz Fabinski and Kamaru Usman. He’s a powerful brawler on the feet and clearly devoted to eating his Weetbix judging by his statuesque presence. His main career issue has been a liability to get held down, but I feel that he is the better conditioned and should be the winner of striking exchanges.

Jake Matthews, like Fetch, has never quite happened as the UFC intended. Many eons ago they positioned themselves behind the charismatic young Matthews during his UFC debut as a possible bastion of the sport’s development in Australia, but it’s just never quite happened.

He’s an effective grappler, but, most importantly for this matchup, he’s never really had the cardio or the tendency to chain wrestle in the same way that Usman or Fabinski have made their careers on. He’s a reasonably effective distance striker in that phase, albeit a bit low volume, and has shown front-running tendencies throughout his UFC run.

I think there’s a narrative that Meek will get controlled on the mat here, which I don’t think will ring totally true in the cage. Matthews has largely pushed away from his wrestling in recent years after falling in love with his hands, and Meek has largely been tied up on the mat by two incredibly-dedicated positional chain wrestlers.

Matthews can hit some athletic takedowns, but he’s never been a bastion of conditioning in that phase or being able to continuously take Meek down. Usman was able to dominate Meek, but I did like that Meek stuffed a lot of the initial entries and managed to acquit himself pretty well on the pure horsepower front against an athletic specimen in Usman.

As such, I think this fight could easily end up playing out on the feet or in the clinch where Matthews is a lot less favoured. The current $1.40 price point would pretty much require me to assume that Matthews will spend significant stanzas of the fight on top, and I don’t think that’s the case.

Prediction

Meek Decision

Betting Strategy

BACK – 2u on Emil Meek at $3.00

Corey Anderson v Jan Blachowicz

This is a rematch of a dominant Anderson wrestling exhibition a few years ago, and I don’t really see how the core dynamic’s changed. Jan’s hugely durable, been on a decent run the last few years and yet I don’t think he’s really shored up the defensive wrestling or TDD holes that lost him the first bout.

His power’s been a bit overstated ever since the win over Rockhold, but Rockhold looked bloated, sluggish, slow and depleted by any metric.

Anderson’s got elite cardio for Light Heavy, can wrestle well and has won the vast majority of his minutes in the UFC to this point. He’s had issues with getting clipped on occasion, but has largely been a dominant fighter in minutes.

If he gets through this and gets to Jones and he’s a wide underdog I’m playing him against Jones essentially purely off workrate and cardio.

Jan’s got a fairly limited window here in my opinion. He’s historically durable and tough, but I think he needs to clip Anderson in a small window in the first round or two before he gets pushed to the cage and put on his back.

He’s got solid guard retention and usually doesn’t make gigantic lapses off his back, but it’s hard to see him being able to get up despite being able to mitigate large parts of the damage.

Prediction

Anderson by Decision

Betting Strategy

BACK – 3u on Anderson by Decision at $2.75


John Dodson v Nathaniel Wood

Dodson’s on the down slope, Wood’s seemingly on his surge up the ranks but there’s a massive gulf in class between the competition that these two have faced. Dodson’s worst recent loss is perennial top 6 Bantamweight John Lineker in an ultra-close split decision over 5 rounds, whilst Wood’s frankly been picking off the lower orders of the division.

This is especially concerning in light of Wood’s habit of getting clipped clean by the vast majority of fighters that he contests on the feet, including a fight with Johnny Eduardo in which Eduardo was completely shellacking Wood in the first round before diving into an ill-advised choke in the second round after getting a bit tired.

Dodson’s main issue in this, and indeed most of, his matchups is his reluctance to put up massive amounts of volume. There’s also a concern that he may have been ‘solved’ in recent years, after rather lacking performances against Petr Yan & Jimmie Rivera.

However, those two are a galaxy ahead of both Wood and anybody that Wood’s contested, and Dodson showed flashes of his moment-to-moment dangerousness in both of those fights. Dodson’s otherwise always been incredibly effective with his takedown defense, hits obscenely hard for a smaller man and still shows flashes of insane athleticism when necessary.

Wood on the other hand is a bit of a pressure monger, usually relying on throwing himself into his opponents with a whole lot of volume and pacework. I think this could be effective to get a decision against Dodson on ‘hustle’, but it’s also likely to result in a few spotty points in which he gets absolutely lamped by big shots from Dodson.

I also don’t believe he’ll be able to make his wrestling game work for any prolonged stretches against Dodson, meaning that this fight will largely be contested on the feet.

Dodson will likely have the biggest moments in the fight. He’s got durability and power edges that are considerable, but his pace can be an issue. There’s a good chance that he’ll lose this by decision if it makes it there, but I also believe Wood will push onto a lot of vicious hard offense along the way.

Prediction

Dodson by KO

Betting Strategy

BACK – 2.5u on Dodson KO at $12.50


Merab Dvalishvili v Casey Kenney

Confusing line movement here. It opened at evens, got absolutely steamed and now there’s been a bounce back onto Kenney. I love Kenney like a brother, having bet him in his last 2 wins against Bermudez and Borg, but I feel that this is a bridge too far for him stylistically.

Kenney’s better suited down at Flyweight, has largely taken advantage of Bermudez and Borg not being great leaders of the dance whilst Merab is downright rabid in his aggression, size and takedowns.

Merab puts up a ton of takedowns. He’s hit 6+ in every one of his 4 UFC bouts, and could easily be 4-0 without a travesty of a decision to call a finish a second after the end of Round 3 in the Simon bout and an iffy decision against Frankie Saenz.

Nobody’s been able to really dent his sheer exuberant top control, wrestling and volume. I think Kenney’s got some cleverness off his back, but he’s going to struggle with cardio and tempo to win rounds.

As such, I feel that Kenney’s going to either need to finish or to get at least 2 massive moments in order to win this fight. Saenz pulled off the latter, but it was a relatively raw Merab in his UFC debut and Saenz is both bigger and better positionally than Kenney.

Late money usually comes for Merab since late money loves to blindly bet volume numbers, so there’s also a good chance that this is the peak of the market.

Prediction

Merab by 30-26

Betting Strategy

BACK – 5u on Merab at $1.64

Jon Jones v Dominick Reyes

Jones, frankly, isn’t the guy that he used to be. Ever since his return from drug/cocaine/ne’er-do-well suspension to fight Ovince St Preux, he’s shown a lot less flair and aggression than his younger incarnation.

He’s shored up a lot of his defensive gaps, but that’s been at the expense of losing his high octane pressure game. It seems that modern Jones’ idea of fighting is predicated on a fairly low-volume kickboxing match, with even his grappling deciding to fade into the background.

His last fight against Thiago Santos was the worst of his top-flight career, especially considering Santos largely runs away with that decision if he hadn’t destroyed both of his knees over the course of 25 minutes.

Reyes looks like an elite prospect on the come up, though he definitely has some issues. Whilst he’s not a gasser by Light Heavyweight standards, his best work’s definitely done in the first stanza, and I’ve appreciated his intelligence in how he constructs his game.

He’s an effective legkicker – something that Jones doesn’t deal well with, albeit one that favors single, naked shots and has shown a solid construction to his first layer takedown defense.

We’ve yet to see the plunge from Jones on tape, but I feel he’s just not on a good trajectory going forward. This play’s largely speculative on Reyes, but I do feel that we’re reaching the end of the road with Jones.

Prediction

Reyes by Decision

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 2u on Dominick Reyes at $5.00


Juan Adams v Justin Tafa

Justin Tafa fights like he’s just been picked up from the Sandown RSL after losing his Trifecta on the last race of the day. Juan Adams is a genetic freak, and he’s not normal. This price will close in the neighborhood of 1.15 after the market’s managed to get a feel for the quality of the gentlemen involved.

Tafa is 3-1 in his career, cannot grapple worth a lick and his striking is mostly ambitious hook-swinging which is a struggle considering he doesn’t like to absorb punishment. Adams has 6 inches of height, 7 inches of reach, and a manifest advantage in every phase, range and part of the sport.

I’m not usually one to play favorites, but I’d personally price Adams close to 1.05 in this spot. Tafa needs a miracle haymaker in the first exchange of the fight.

Adams is honestly a decent mid-tier UFC heavyweight, I think he has potential to be ranked for similar reasons to Curtis Blaydes, and he puts up solid pace and has elite top game for the division.

Prediction

Adams KO1

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 8u on Juan Adams at $1.53


Yousseff Zalal v Austin Lingo

Honestly don’t understand the line here. Lingo’s got some nice pop in his hands, but this is essentially a regional fight that’s been dragged into the UFC as a result of a few pull-outs, meaning that they scrambled to pad out the number of fights on offer.

It’s a raw fight, but I feel that Zalal’s fought the slightly-better competition along with having demonstrated a deeper, more comprehensive skillset. So him being $3.30~ in the markets at this point is pretty dubious to me.

Lingo’s probably shown the most upside in the form of his quick regional finishes, but that’s also why I’m happy to fade him. The infrequent showings from his TDD have been pretty dire, along with his volume dropping quickly during his two trips beyond the first round. He could definitely storm out and annihilate Zalal in the early stanzas, or be covering all-round improvements to his deep game with his quick KOs, but I have to see it to believe it.

Zalal’s kind of noodly and processless, but can generally deal with most phases of the fight game. They’ve both got some power in a swinging exchange, and I feel from tape that Zalal should have the edge in functional grappling. Zalal’s been wrestled in the past, but that doesn’t really seem like Lingo’s game from what we’ve actually seen of him.

Not going to lie, there are a lot of question marks here, but I feel that the pricing is principally due to Zalal having losses on his record whilst Lingo is undefeated as a professional. I find it difficult to see how anybody could price Lingo anywhere past 55%, and whilst this is volatile I’m all about swinging into volatility.

Prediction

Zalal by Submission Round 2

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 2u on Youseff Zalal at $3.25


Ilir Latifi v Derrick Lewis

Derrick Lewis shouldn’t be 1.4 against anybody. He’s a defensive liability, has massive volume issues, pretty fragile, gasses hilariously and is at a technical deficit in just about every phase against Latifi here.

Yes, he’s fun, but his UFC career has been him hitting in -EV spots again and again and again and again. He’s always live in competition due to his power, but he isn’t disciplined enough in any phase to justify this sort of pricing.

Latifi’s also a big hitter, finally going up to heavyweight after a stint at light heavyweight, and gassed out in Lewisian fashion in his last bout against Volkan Oezdemir.

He’s recently struggled with pace, but the pace is not what Lewis brings to the table. Lewis brings swanging, banging and low tempo to the table.

Prediction

Latifi by a mess

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 2u on Latifi at $3.20

Conor McGregor v Donald Cerrone

Click here for Gugabe’s full breakdown of the UFC 246 main event and other fights on the card.

Chan Sung Jung v Frankie Edgar

Frankie Edgar’s definitely not in the best years of his career, but this fight was made last year with a line close to 1.4 for Edgar. Now, a year later, without KZ answering the relevant question (how good is his takedown defense?), Jung has become the firm favorite at around $1.57.

There’s no shame in any recent Edgar performances, in my opinion. His TDs being stuffed by Holloway in a close-but-clear outhustling isn’t a huge deal for my estimation of him and, in fact, makes it clear that Edgar’s still got the cardio, durability and willingness to go for takedowns that he needs.

Zombie’s only had one fight that really means a ton since his return from a few years on the bench. That’s his noodly, messy, strange striking match with Yair Rodriguez. A fast-paced, aggressive striking match that ended in glorious fashion when Yair landed a miracle buzzer-beating comeback reverse spinning elbow for the KO.

I don’t put huge stock in his wins over Moicano and Bermudez, as they’re both KOs in the first few exchanges whilst both parties are fairly ‘cold’.

Edgar can compete effectively on the feet with Zombie, and should look like a solid favorite if his takedowns are working. It’s been years since we saw Zombie deal with a takedown, but he wasn’t especially good at defending them back in the days of his championship bout with Jose Aldo in 2013. If Edgar can get on top, he will likely stay on top, and he has the cardio to achieve this frequently and assertively.

Prediction

Edgar by decision

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 2.5u on Frankie Edgar at $2.62


Mike Rodriguez v Da Un Jung

The algorithm optimized to this fight card told me to fade everybody called Jung, so I’m merely obeying it. But, in all seriousness, I’m expecting a fairly middling kickboxing match between these two in which Rodriguez possesses solid edges in power, target diversity and athleticism.

Jung’s good for durability, cardio and straight punching. He’s not especially good for takedowns, which have been the majority of Mike Rodriguez’ issues in the UFC. I’m expecting an essentially-pure kickboxing bout in which I’ll have to lean Rodriguez for reasons of being a lot bigger hitter and more diverse on the lead. Jung’s also poor at defending kicks

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 2.2u on Mike Rodriguez at $1.90


Pingyuan Liu v Kyung Ho Kang

This fight won’t likely be a bastion of intelligent fight IQ and great decision-making, but that’s why I’m happy to take the value on the dog in Pingyuan Liu. He was last seen losing an inexplicable fight in which he refused to wrestle whatsoever, or even close the distance, against a superior outside-range striker in Jonathan Martinez. Kyung Ho Kang’s coming off a series of close split decisions, as that just seems to be how he rolls in life.

I don’t think there are many people in the UFC community who think Kang can reasonably be in $1.40 territory against. Kang’s style can only really be dominant if he’s finishing, as he has a notable lack of defensive nous standing and his grappling game is… intriguing.

Anybody who’s as comfortable off his back as Kang, plus the fact that he’s not especially positionally-sound (positional soundness referring to a fighter’s willingness to cling to a sniff of top position with zeal and relentlessness instead of going for low percentage submissions since they seem like a good idea at the time), is just not easy to trust at that kind of price range.

Kang is at home, however. That might help him in the event of the split decision that we’re most likely getting, but I trust Pingyuan to stay on top should he get the takedown or Kang does something bizarre in a grappling engagement. I also think Pingyuan’s got a few athletic steps on him, and I like that Pingyuan’s out of Team Alpha Male in recent history.

Prediction

Messy split decision

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 2u on Pingyuan Liu at $3.25

Kamaru Usman v Colby Covington

Whilst for fandom reasons I’d like to see Colby Covington win this bout, as the far-more engaging fighter, personality and PPV draw, I feel that Kamaru Usman’s got him essentially trumped everywhere that counts.

Usman’s the bigger man, has the better cardio, will dominate the clinch/wrestling exchanges, and will likely continue to be the UFC Welterweight champion until taken out by a flash KO.

Covington’s essentially trying to fight Usman with a less-effective version of Usman’s own skillset. I feel that he’s largely trumped by what Usman’s able to do as an athlete, with a forward-pressure gameplan that focuses on putting volume onto his opponents through superior wrestling, pressure and cardio. Unfortunately for him, I feel that Usman’s got considerable advantages in wrestling, pressure, cardio and athleticism.

Not to entirely cap it off one fight, but I feel that their respective Rafael Dos Anjos fights are the most indicative of the difference in calibers here. Covington went to war with Dos Anjos, barely getting over the line in an incredible display of tenacity, courage and grit. Usman mauled Dos Anjos, putting the fear of god into him, and dominated practically every exchange in the clinch and grappling.

I feel that Colby most likely needs to finish to get the win here, and he’s strikingly non-powerful.

Prediction

Usman by domination

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 5u on Kamaru Usman at $1.60


Amanda Nunes v Germaine De Randamie

The first bout between these women was defined by Randamine having essentially no facility off her back at that point in time. It is very plausible that that, again, is the deciding factor to the bout… but I feel that should this fight exit the first round that it’s a lot more competitive than Randamie’s current $3.50 pricetag would indicate.

Randamie was able to competently fend off Pennington’s takedowns in a recent bout, and I feel that Nunes cannot afford to really push the tempo with wrestling due to cardio concerns if she isn’t getting takedowns with great ease.

If Nunes knows she’s going deep, she’s sufficiently aware of her own cardio that she tends to turn her volume sliders way down.

Randamie’s likely the better volume striker, along with having greater fundamental skill in an outside kickboxing match. I feel that if this shows any likelihood of going down the stretch, that Randamie will take over.

Prediction

Randamie late KO

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 1u on Germaine De Randamie at $3.50

I’ll be looking to add another 2 units to Randamie as an underdog after round 1 if she’s shown takedown defence ability or if Nunes has receded into her cardio-conserving mould.


Omari Ahkmedov v Ian Heinisch

Bit of a bizarre fight. Heinisch has a great story, but honestly, his 2 UFC wins have more been a product of his tenacity and pace than being especially good anywhere. He’s not an especially effective striker, his offensive takedown game isn’t really there and he’s got defensive issues all over the shop.

Akhmedov is an incredibly old-looking 32, and may be susceptible to the cardio/hustle approach. However, he’s also not as reliant on the BJJ game as Heinisch’s prior UFC wins Antonio Carlos Junior & Cezar Ferreira. ACJ is rather notorious for gassing at any pace, and the Ferreira fight was wildness personified.

I’m confident that Akhmedov can create a slow-paced striking match on the feet here, and hits hard enough to keep Heinisch honest. It’s hard to go massive since I feel that Heinisch taking a scrappy decision on pure tenacity and work rate is live, but I do like the current price on Akh.

Prediction

Akhmedov Decision

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 2u Akhmedov at $2.20


Matt Brown v Ben Saunders

This fight will most likely be over quickly. Both men have serious durability issues, with Saunder’s chin last being seen in 2016 & Brown getting hurt badly every time somebody goes to the body against him. Which is why I’m looking to get in on it, as I’m happy to take 3.9 any day in what I considered to be a coin-flippy glass cannon fight.

Matt Brown’s definitely had the better career of the 2 men but is also coming back from 2 years of retirement in order to fight Saunders. His last bout was a win against a visibly depleted Diego Sanchez, and his previously legendary toughness has generally started to fail him.

He’s always been hurtable, but has been reliable to grit through the damage and come back. That’s the attribute that was failing him towards the end of his run. His resistance to body shots has always been a noted issue.

Saunders is also a durability-depleted, offence-first fighter. His chin’s been just about gone in recent years, which has not combined nicely with his tendency to be fairly hittable and constantly come forward. He’s arguably the better grappler than Brown, but I’d be shocked if that ever came into play in any significant manner.

Stylistically they’re actually pretty similar. Forward-moving aggressive combo strikers who thrive on pushing into the clinch and make heavy use of knees & elbows. Saunders never reached the same heights as Matt Brown (Who had a brief run to almost title contention), but I think that’s more a matter of opportunity and the bounce of the ball than any massive difference in their capabilities.

I do lean Brown, but I don’t think you can have confidence beyond the 60% mark considering the layoff, his classic body vulnerability and the large overlaps in their games.

Prediction

Quick KO for either party.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 2u on Saunders at $3.90


Current Results (UFC & Bellator)

Total Units Staked: 234.73

Total Units Returned: 245.57

ROI: 4.62%


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