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Current Results (UFC & Bellator)

Total Units Staked: 79.85

Total Units Returned: 78.40

ROI: -1.81%


Kron Gracie v Cub Swanson

The price here is frankly insulting to UFC veteran Cub Swanson. Kron Gracie’s a fairly one-dimensional 5-0 scion of the famous Brazilian Grappling clan, whilst Swanson’s a longterm mainstay of the UFC Featherweight division.

Swanson was last seen in action dropping a very competitive decision to Shane Burgos, and Gracie won his UFC debut in short order over Alex Caceres.

Swanson has historically struggled with submission losses, but it’s a vast oversimplification to act like he’s simply getting tapped by any decent grappler. Swanson’s sub losses have frequently been ‘club and sub’, attritive issues and I don’t feel that Kron’s got the depth of game to really impose that path to victory.

Swanson’s takedown defense is capable when he’s focusing on it, and if he’s taking Kron at all seriously he’ll know that the ground is poison. Kron doesn’t seem to have any particular efficacy in the standup, which should enable a fairly easy outstriking performance.

This fight is pure binary, Gracie can likely only win by very-quick submission and it’s frankly insulting that Swanson’s price is where it’s at.

Prediction

Swanson by KO Round 2

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 5u on Cub Swanson at $2.55


Eryk Anders v Gerald Meerschaert

Eryk Anders has been something of a misfire in the UFC, despite his background as a walk-on for the Crimson Tide Football Team. He’s clearly athletic for the division, but is fairly slow and has had some serious issues with workrate.

He’s arguably thrown away 2 decisions in the UFC simply due to not doing enough, along with being treated as a complete punching bag by the pressure-averse Khalil Rountree due to donating him his preferred range.

Meerschaert is something of a wild man. Longterm regional mainstay, fun grappler and doer of things. The combination of their relative workrates gives me confidence that GM3 should be winning rounds unless Anders is maintaining top control against the better grappler, and I don’t especially rate Anders as a massive puncher.

GM3 takes a beating to go away, and I don’t trust Anders to dole out that beating.

Prediction

Meerschaert by Decision

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 1.5u on Gerald Meerschaert at $2.60


Mackenzie Dern v Amanda Ribas

This fight’s more of an issue of intangibles/Mackenzie Dern’s famously middling training habits than it is of their actual skills. Skill-for-skill, I’m of the firm belief that Dern’s good enough to warrant a 1.3 pricetag against Ribas. She’s a world-class grappler, busier on the feet and should have a size advantage.

Unfortunately for bettors, she had a child in June, so there’s a question of how well she’s recovered and thus her physical conditioning. She’s a notorious weight-cut misser at the best of times, though from a betting POV I’ve got no issues with her coming in a few pounds over the mark.

Ribas is fairly raw, easy to takedown and frankly, isn’t within a mile of Dern’s ability on the floor. I feel she’d lose to just about everybody that Dern’s ran through in the UFC so far.

Prediction

Dern by Submission Round 1

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 2u on Mackenzie Dern at $1.75

Robert Whittaker v Israel Adesanya

This is supposedly the biggest event in ANZ Combat Sports history, and a fight that makes up about 95% of the drawing appeal to UFC 243. It’s with a heavy heart that I’ve got to make my pick on who I expect to win. I feel that Israel Adesanya is definite value at his slight-dog price point, and would rate him to win at about a 60% clip.

I see an Adesanya win as largely predicated on his staggering advantages in height, reach and pace. 6.5 inches is a big deal in a striking match, and this bout will most likely be conducted on the feet. Whittaker has also neglected to defend legkicks in the majority of his UFC bouts, having absorbed around 85% of the leg kicks thrown at him in his UFC tenure.

As a result, I feel that the Last Stylebender should default to being the round winner between his higher-paced style and reach advantage. Whittaker will likely need either a stoppage or to string together a significant amount of big moments in order to take rounds for the decision.

Gastelum-Adesanya is fairly illustrative of the uphill battle that Whittaker will be facing, though I feel that Whittaker has never shown Gastelum’s historic degree of durability. Not that he’s fragile, but Gastelum is genuinely one of the best chins in the sport’s history. Gastelum’s pressure is also a lot more straight-line and simplistic.

Whittaker’s injury woes are also worthy of consideration. It’s hard to be 100% confident we’re getting the Australian at his best, whilst I feel that Israel’s busyness means that it’s a lot easier to be confident in what we’re getting from the New Zealander. It wouldn’t astound me if Whittaker’s lost some of his athletic edge across the two wars with Yoel Romero.

Prediction

Adesanya by Decision

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 1.5u on Israel Adesanya at $2.00

 BACK – 0.5u on Israel Adesanya Decision at $5.00


Dhiego Lima v Luke Jumeau

This bout is as close to a pure kickboxing event as you get in the UFC and I believe this fight’s a bit more competitive than the price tag on Jumeau warrants. He’s got advantages in the grappling, his shot selection and his durability. Backing the local in a bout that should be fairly tight is usually the correct decision, as well.

Lima’s coming into something of a career renaissance, surging from being unable to hold onto a meaningful roster spot in his first 1-3 try at the UFC, to being a low-tier action fighter in his return.

He’s mainly notable for the success of his brother, Douglas, in Bellator, but presents an able kickboxing challenge.

I feel that Jumeau should be favored due to his pace being slightly higher, his durability being more proven and any form of Takedown likely giving him a won round at the very least.

Prediction

Jumeau by Decision

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 2u on Luke Jumeau at $2.50

Jack Hermansson v Jared Cannonier

Jack Hermansson has probably been the best comeback story in the Middleweight division in recent years. Just four bouts ago, he owned a 3-2 UFC record and seemed like little more than a journeyman with an entertaining style.

He’s since gone 4-0, including an ultra late-notice replacement bout against regional mainstay Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza, and managed to drag the UFC to his home country of Denmark.

He’s a tenacious, tough, high-volume fighter who has chiefly had success through his sterling ground and pound skillset, albeit with a recent shift to include a very high volume, attritive kickboxing style.

Jared Cannonier is another fighter who seemed like something of a damp squib. He’s 5-4 in the UFC, having made his debut at Heavyweight and slowly trailed down to Middleweight, where is 2-0 against ranked opposition.

He’s an incredibly explosive athlete who’s able to score knockouts consistently against heavyweights but has noted lapses in grappling and wrestling.

I’m feeling Cannonier here for a small play as an underdog, largely due to Hermansson’s game trending towards a serious lack of process. Hermansson is great from top position, but not an especially elite wrestler, and his striking is more about getting his offense out there than it is about keeping his defense functional.

Cannonier’s got a massive power edge in that space, along with an increased enthusiasm towards his leg kicks.

Prediction

Cannonier KO Round 2

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 1u on Jared Cannonier at $3.00


Gunnar Nelson v Gilbert Burns

Gilbert Burns is coming in on ultra short-notice here, but I feel that he could still be favored more than his current price due to Gunnar Nelson’s game tending to lack process. Gunnar, the great Icelandic Hope, has struggled to throw with any real volume whilst in the UFC, and has instead been more of a ‘moments of success’ than ‘minutes of control’ fighter.

Against Burns, this’ll be an issue. I find it difficult to see how Gunnar’s going to be able to take rounds against Burns due to the vast gulf in their striking output and toolkits. This is compounded by the fact that they’re both absolutely top-echelon grapplers, whilst Nelson’s usually coming into bouts with a noted advantage in that space.

I believe that the grappling will largely cancel out, or that if it doesn’t that it’ll be Burns dictating the terms of engagement due to his stronger cadre of wrestling skills. Whilst the fight is standing, Nelson will likely be unable to assert himself enough to win rounds, and therefore will be fairly ‘finish or bust’.

Prediction

Burns by Decision

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 2.5u on Gilbert Burns at $1.75

Jeremy Stephens v Yair Rodriguez

A battle of consistency versus flash, and one in which I’ll take the durable, predictable established veteran journeyman against the acrobatic kicker Yair Rodriguez.

They’re both durable fighters with deep gas tanks, but it’s my expectation that Yair’s lack of real boxing skill on either defence or offence that lets him down here.

Neither is a bastion of fight IQ, but the simplicity of Stephens’ game usually leads to him making correct decisions by default. He’s a durable, tenacious slugger with power in both hands and an underrated leg-kicking game.

As a result, he’s usually best off coming forward and forcing the fight, and that’s a process he’s largely been able to stick to in his UFC career.

Yair’s boxing skills are limited, and his kicking game has been defined by enthusiasm for one-off explosive, dynamic Tae Kwon Do style heaters instead of a conservative, practical style of working the body and keeping the movement going.

There’s definitely a path to victory for him as Stephens struggles with mobility, but it’s hard to trust Yair to actually stick to a productive gameplan when he’s largely been a laissez-faire ‘do as you feel’ fighter in the UFC.

The X-Factor here is, of course, Mexico City. Altitude, Pollution & Heat combine for a delightful mix. Both fighters have classically shown good cardio however, but either wilting would not shock me. I’d be happy playing 4u on Stephens at this price in a 3 rounder, but the location will curb my enthusiasm.

Prediction

Stephens KO in Round 3

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 2.5u on Jeremy Stephens at $1.9

Jimmy Crute v Misha Cirkunov

Bit of an odd fight to handicap. Misha Cirkunov’s been let down by his durability recently but is also an incredibly well-rounded talent for the Light Heavyweight Division. I feel that there’s a lot of overlap in skillsets and that Cirkunov is largely better as a grappler, athlete and technical striker as a result.

Main concern, as a result, is Cirkunov’s disquieting habit of being suddenly unconscious. I personally feel that his chin issues are overstated somewhat, as Johnny Walker’s capable of knocking anybody out if taken too quickly and the Glover TKO loss was due to a grappling mismatch that Crute is likely not going to present.

Oezdemir is the primary concerning KO, but I’m willing to roll the dice considering that, random KO aside, Cirkunov should possess significant advantages on the whole. There’s a risk in this pick that a Crute win will likely be quick and impressive, but I feel there are clear advantages for Cirkunov should the fight actually play out.

Prediction

Cirkunov Submission Round 1

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 2.5u on Misha Cirkunov at 2.1


Kyle Prepolec v Austin Hubbard

This fight is taking place more due to the event being located in Canada rather than as a result of either man being firmly UFC caliber. They’re both 0-1 in the UFC, but with the caveat that they were both brought in as keep-busy opponents for mid-tier fighters and were able to last to a decision.

I don’t see why Kyle Prepolec is the underdog here. Austin Hubbard’s main areas of advantage, to my eye, are that he’s a higher-paced fighter and that he’s out of a better gym in Elevation. On the other hand, I feel that Prepolec is significantly more powerful, is bigger, has the home-country advantage (handy if this goes to a close decision) and is better at mixing up his targets.

Neither seems especially interested in the grappling game on the basis of their regional tape, though Prepolec does seem more interested in mixing it up. Hubbard’s by no means awful off his back, but seems like a largely purist boxing threat.

Hubbard is largely a headhunter. He’s shown no great faculty at takedowns (though he does rarely go for them) and they’ve both beaten a fairly undistinguished level of competition on the regionals. The level/tape here is of sufficiently low quality that it is hard to mark either as definitively better than their opponent, but I would personally slightly favor Prepolec to win.

As such, the price of 2.7 is a no-brainer for a medium play.

Prediction

Prepolec Second Round KO

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 3u on Kyle Prepolec at 2.7

Khabib Nurmagomedov v Dustin Poirier

This, presently, is one of the biggest fights the promotion can put on and is a test of Khabib’s popularity in the wake of his submission win over Conor McGregor. He may just have tapped into the popular imagination, but I have a feeling that Dustin Poirier will pull off the upset.

Poirier is the most-capable grappler that Khabib has faced since Rafael Dos Anjos, who was able to mitigate a lot of the finishing/damage-threat from Khabib’s top game. This, combined with Khabib’s cardio not being quite what it was back in the day (notable 3rd round output/wrestling dips in his recent matches), should set the stage for a definite window for Poirier success.

The American also hits ludicrously hard by the standards of the division, and Khabib’s striking is really not where it should be to strike ably at the top of the Lightweight division.

Khabib is certainly an impressive talent, but he’s also been buoyed by a series of fighters that flag going backwards. Michael Johnson, Edson Barboza, McGregor and RDA have all struggled with major wrestling threats, along with having notable cardio issues in the case of Johnson and McGregor. ‘Breaking’ them with pressure is nice, but they’re fairly vulnerable to it by divisional standards.

Khabib’s wrestling style is also incredibly cardio-dependent due to the way that he chains attempts, along with frequently relying on pushing opponents to the cage in order to cramp their defensive movement and allow for extended wrestling sequences.

Prediction

Poirier KO Round 3

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 3u on Dustin Poirier at 4.5


Ottman Azaitar v Teemu Packalen

It’s difficult to see where the confidence is coming on Ottman Azaitar here. It’s his UFC debut, he’s yet to face a particularly significant quality of opposition and he’s been in a bunch of wars on the regional level against the most regional of competition.

Teemu Packalen is by no means an elite talent, but he’s still the best fighter that Azaitar’s faced in his career run so far. 1.4 on Azaitar to win this fight is frankly perplexing. Packalen will likely have an edge in the wrestling. Grappling and the striking should be fairly even.

Both fighters pack decent power for the weight class, and neither is an incredible talent in terms of durability. I’m expecting chaos, and it’s always the correct choice to take a fighter at 3s when they’re coming into a coinflip.

Prediction

Packalen Submission Round 2

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 2u on Teemu Packalen at 3.00

Thiago Moises v Damir Ismagulov

An interesting bout between two up-and-coming Lightweight talents, yet one that has been lined a lot wider than it should play out. The MMA Market is notorious for overvaluing Russian fighters/’prospects’, along with extended winning streaks against middling-and-worse competition.

Ismagulov is a crossover of these two attributes, along with being a generally low-volume and low-initiative fighter. Wins over Joel Alvarez and Alex Gorgees are worth essentially nothing in the scheme of things.

Gorgees was in on a week’s notice and is frankly not UFC-caliber. Alvarez had a similar timescale and is not much better. In both fights against outmatched fighters, Ismagulov’s lack of initiative or drive to really affirmatively finish or dominate was also very apparent.

Moises is a busy, aggressive fighter with world-class BJJ. Simply controlling him on the ground is likely not going to be practical, and standing I trust Moises to put up more volume than Ismagulov. It’s possible that Ismagulov’s depth of experience is enough to trump him here, but I would personally price Moises as a small-to-moderate favorite instead of the wide dog odds he possesses.

Prediction

Moises by close decision, likely predicated on volume.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 2.5 units on Thiago Moises at 3.07 or better


Kenan Song v Derrick Krantz

This fight should probably not be taking place in the UFC. That aside, I believe that Krantz provides a clear value proposition despite losing in his short-notice UFC Debut to Vincente Luque.

Song is a marginal UFC talent in a lot of areas, with only a powerful right hand really giving him any competitive edge in the UFC. His fight against Bobby Nash was short enough to make it largely meaningless, and his war against Hector Aldana is flat-out concerning.

Krantz, on the other hand, is best described as a middling regional journeyman, but one who has largely been able to take care of business against non-Major League caliber competition.

Of his 10 career losses, only his loss against Todd Moore was against somebody that I wouldn’t consider a semi-relevant name or at least a UFC-tier talent. His game isn’t particularly pretty, but he should have a deep edge in the grappling and wrestling space, along with being very evenly matched on the feet.

Prediction

Messy War. Krantz by submission round 2.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 2u on Derrick Krantz at 2.3 or better


Mizuki Inoue v Wu Yanan

This fight seems to be overlooked due to being on the lower skilled side of things, but Inoue, to my eye, has significant advantages in striking, grappling, wrestling and volume.

The main worry here to me is that the bout is taking place in China, and Inoue is a reasonably late notice replacement.

Short notice basis and foreign judging means that there’s a bit of doubt involved, but it should be very winnable for Mizuki.

Prediction

Inoue Submission Round 2

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 3u on Mizuki Inoue at 1.7 or better

Gabriel Benitez v Sodiq Yusuff

This fight should be a close, entertaining joust in the UFC’s Featherweight division. Yusuff is a highly-touted prospect, 2-0 in the UFC so far and only defeated once in his MMA career.

However, I feel that the gun is being somewhat jumped on Yusuff’s price here. 1.33 is a long bow to draw on a fighter who only just got over the line against Sheymon Moraes in a competitive decision.

Benitez is more of a veteran figure in the division, with a good straight-hitting boxing style and good hustle. I believe that this fight will primarily be conducted standing, at a fair volume-clip, and will likely come down to a close decision.

Moraes allowed Yusuff to edge him due to Moraes’ habit of taking off stretches of fights to preserve his gas tank, and yet was still favoured in live markets till a late knockdown in the third round.

My expectation of this fight is a close kickboxing match, one in which I have serious doubts that Yusuff will justify his current 1.33 pricetag.

Prediction

Benitez by Split Decision

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 1 unit on Gabriel Benitez at 3.75


Nate Diaz v Anthony Pettis

Nate Diaz has had an exhaustive schedule of complaining about not getting Conor McGregor rematches and mean-mugging that has sadly kept him out of the Octagon for almost 3 years.

Anthony Pettis has fallen upon hard times since losing the UFC belt in 2015 to Rafael Dos Anjos, but represents a seriously difficult stylistic matchup to Diaz’s brand of forward-moving pressure.

Nate Diaz has never had any particular faculty when it comes to blocking kicks, especially leg kicks. This is due to his lead-foot heavy style of volume boxing, and his preferred just-outside-the-pocket striking range doing little to shut down a talented kicker’s opportunities.

Pettis is in the discussion as one of the best kickers in UFC history and is rarely afforded an opportunity to tee off on a fighter as defensively void as Nate Diaz.

This is without taking into account Nate’s 3-year layoff, his historical reluctance to really change up his approach or skillset as a fighter, or the extremely-favourable Conor McGregor matchup increasing his esteem in the eyes of the betting public beyond the reality.

Diaz’ path to victory will likely hinge upon absorbing Pettis output until he can either tire out or injure Pettis. As he only has 3 rounds to work with, this likely won’t pay huge dividends.

Prediction

Pettis by first round KO.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 3u on Pettis at 1.92 or better

Luiz Garagorri v Humberto Bandenay

This week’s UFC is from Uruguay and features a few local fighters making their big-time debuts. Luiz Garagorri is one of them, having been matched up with Humberto Bandenay, a prospect who has been something of a damp squib so far in living up to his vaunted potential in the UFC.

Not to cast dispersion upon the valiant Uruguayan MMA scene, but a man who has not fought outside of his home country and against dubious competition should probably not be a favorite in the UFC. This is not a pick to go wild on, but fading unproven UFC debutants who haven’t even been proven at second-tier promotions is historically a winning strategy.

Bandenay is a bit of a wild man, leaning heavily on his kicking arsenal, and Garagorri is similar. Camp disparity is also significant. Bandenay is fighting out of Team Oyama, which, whilst not a particularly good camp, has produced multiple UFC fighters and provides ample opportunities to spar and learn. Garagorri, on the other hand, seems to be out of a small Uruguayan Muay Thai gym which is not an encouraging sign.

Prediction

A mess

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 1u on Bandenay at 2.10 or better


Veronica Macedo v Polyana Viana

Another fairly low-level fight, but one that presents a great betting opportunity when running against the grain on narratives. Polyana Viana is making her 125-pound debut on 11 days’ notice after starting her career in the UFC 115-pound division.

These women should be largely at the same level. Macedo is coming off a three-loss streak, but said fights have largely been conducted at a lot higher level than Viana’s recent bouts. The two’s BJJ should cancel each other’s out, Macedo’s wrestling is functional and Macedo should be the better striker from what they’ve displayed.

Macedo having kept competitive with Gillian Robertson before being submitted is a bigger feather in her cap than anything Viana’s managed. Viana should have a size disadvantage, is coming in on short notice and will likely struggle to acquit herself as a result.

Prediction

Veronica Macedo via Submission Round 3

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 3u on Macedo at 2.70 or better

Darko Stosic v Kennedy Nzechukwu

Kennedy Nzechukwu is largely unproven as a fighter. Most of his regional bouts were against the bottom of the barrel, and he hasn’t really shown much of a skillset against that level aside from solid offensive striking.

He is notable for having the longest reach in the UFC but was thoroughly out-gameplanned, out-hustled and out-worked by Paul Craig in his last bout. In all seriousness, Craig is nothing but toughness and grit, and Kennedy being unable to take his freedom is a red flag.

Kennedy seems to be a D- in the grappling game, at best. It’s hard to get a full feel for his grappling nous due to the paucity and irrelevance of a lot of his regional tape, but every time he’s been stuck into a semi-extended grappling exchange he’s lost it resoundingly.

Stosic’s last fight came against Devin Clark who, in my opinion, is essentially the gatekeeper of the ranked at Light Heavyweight. He showed a well-rounded arsenal in that fight but was ultimately let down by his work-rate and cardio. Stosic is a capable power-striker, good clinch-wrestler and has a strong top game but can be caught out by a tendency of coasting between bursts of offense.

This fight will likely, like all low-level light heavyweight bouts, not be ‘good’ in a conventional sense. There’s a good chance of it being a frustrating result where Stosic has plenty of success whenever he chooses to act, but takes minute-long breaks between stanzas of effectiveness. I’m picking it to be entertaining in the same way that The Room is.

Nonetheless, his game is deep enough that his current pricetag of 1.77 isn’t favored enough against an incredibly raw, deeply flawed newcomer in the form of Nzechukwu. The main risk here will be Stosic giving up a tepid decision due to his own inactivity, or Kennedy having improved monumentally in the four months since his last bout.

Prediction

Stosic win

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 3u on Stosic at 1.77 or better


Robbie Lawler v Colby Covington

The Main Event of the evening.

Covington’s style is essentially pure pressure, aggression and cardio. He aims to run down his opponents and largely absorbs everything that’s thrown at him along the path of accomplishing this. Lawler’s a huge hitter, a powerful striker and yet has had a reputation for fading in cardio and output as rounds go on.

As such, I believe that this is a rare Back-to-Lay opportunity in the UFC. Lawler pre-fight at 3.0 is a great price considering I’d expect him to take the first round, and possibly finish, whilst Covington’s advantage will likely come from pure pace and perseverance.

Prediction

Lawler KO inside 2 rounds, or Colby Covington via pressure/pace decision.

Betting Strategy

 BACK to LAY – 1.5u on Lawler at $3

Look to trade out for a profit after Round 1 or 2. If Lawler starts flat, he will not likely improve.

Krzysztof Jotko v Marc-Andre Barriault

Krzysztof Jotko is a top-tier Middleweight who’s recently fallen on hard times, between the dubious decision against David Branch, the miraculous KO that Hall landed after getting 10-8’d by him in the first round, and the flatness of the Tavares performance.

Fortunately, the UFC has done Jotko a favour by giving him a marginal talent as a bounceback. I’m usually against playing favourites past 1.66 but I feel there’s an excess of value on Jotko’s current price considering Barriault’s middling form and Jotko likely being able to exceed him in every area of the game.

Truly, the only real consideration here is whether Marc-Andre Barriault is able to find the knockout on Jotko but I would be surprised if that happened – Barriault has never really demonstrated anything beyond functional power in the UFC. The most likely way this fight goes is long stretches of Jotko outskilling, overpowering and outlasting Barriault on the ground.

I’m unsure of Jotko’s will to finish, based on how he cardio dumped against Hall after going hard for a finish in the first round, but he should definitely have the skill set to take this at an 80% clip at the least.

Prediction

Jotko via grappling decision

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 2u on Krzysztof Jotko at 1.60 or better


Alexandre Pantoja v Deiveson Figuerido

Deiveson Figuerido is a spectacular athlete, but his style is a bit too finish-reliant to be especially functional at Flyweight. Alexandre Pantoja is a burgeoning talent who will likely be beating Figuerido minute-on-minute due to his superior volume, grappling and work rate.

Figuerido’s style has always courted a bit of disaster. Even in his best win against John Moraga, he was dropped hard in the first round before taking over on athleticism and power. He’s also neatly side-stepped a lot of mid-tier Flyweight competition, with Moraga being his only especially good win.

Pantoja has a lot of resemblance in fighting style to Jussier Formiga, who recently defeated Figuerido via a clean three-round decision whilst avoiding his bursts of danger.

The bottom line is: Pantoja should be winning this fight on the scorecards. Figuerido, on the other hand, likely needs to finish to win, and it’s difficult to trust that happening when he’s priced as the favourite.

If you want to go a little exotic, soft-hedging a Pantoja ML play with a ‘Fight Ends Inside the Distance’ play at 2.4 is likely a successful strategy. Figuerido’s win condition is most likely going to be a finish and the upside of a Pantoja finish outweighs the likelihood of a Figuerido decision in my opinion.

Prediction

Pantoja via Decision

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 2u on Alexandre Pantoja at 1.8 or better

Alexander Hernandez v Francisco Trinaldo

Alexander Hernandez is essentially pure pace and athleticism at this point in his career. He’s got a functional striking arsenal if he’s allowed to set the tempo coming forward but it’s not hugely deep. Donald Cerrone showcased that Hernandez is very liable to run out of ideas.

Francisco Trinaldo has been very hard to just grind out and Gleison Tibau and Michael Chiesa have been the only ones to accomplish that feat in recent years. Hernandez lacks the wrestling finesse of Chiesa, along with being a notably smaller man. Chiesa is still cutting to make weight at Welterweight while Hernandez is making Featherweight on the cards.

Massaranduba’s age is one of the chief reasons I’m not making this a max bet – being 40 years old, the wheels can come off at any point. It can, however, be argued that he peaked at age 37.

The Brazilian should have the striking, grappling and wrestling edges here. Hernandez has been something of a victim of his own success with his last-minute replacement sub-minute KO of Beneil Dariush leading to a thrust into top 20 ranked competition that he doesn’t really have the depth of game to beat just yet.

Prediction

Trinaldo KO Round 2.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 2u on Francisco Trinaldo at 2.5 or better


Jennifer Maia v Roxanne Modafferi

This is a rematch of a split decision win for Jennifer Maia in Invicta FC for the Invicta FC Flyweight Championship back in 2016. In this case, I feel history doesn’t repeat itself.

Roxanne Modafferi has rejuvenated her conditioning in the last three years and won two of the first three rounds in their original five-round fight before dropping the final two due to cardio. This bout is over three rounds, meaning the cardio discrepancy likely won’t play as big a factor.

The Happy Warrior dominated the grappling in every phase of the last bout when she wasn’t gassed. She’ll likely lose the striking in this bout as well, but the price is essentially predicated on whether Modafferi can get the takedowns to win rounds. Submission is also live for her, though Maia’s got a definite striking edge.

Prediction

Modafferi by decision.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 2.5 units on Roxanne Modafferi at 2.2 or better

Andre Fili v Sheymon Moraes

Andre ‘Touchy’ Fili may be the proud owner of one of the UFC’s worst nicknames but he makes up for it with a good, consistent striking workrate and cardio.

Sheymon Moraes, on the other hand, is more spectacular but will be hard-pressed to keep up with Fili’s raw striking volume. We saw the Brazilian move away from his vaunted ‘dominate a round, edge another and gas in the third’ strategy in his last fight against Sodiq Yusuff, adopting a new ‘completely take off the first round, dominate the second and get edged in the third’ method.

Fili will likely be winning the fight minute-to-minute due to his volume and cardio edges. Fili also possesses a capable wrestling game, albeit with minimal BBJ threat to accompany it. This could easily be utilised to bleed off minutes as Moraes is not particularly elite from his back. Conversely, Moraes’ success will likely come in bursts.

I’m keeping the units small with the risk of Fili’s head being taken off being very real, but he represents a clear value proposition as the underdog.

Prediction

Fili by close decision, predicated on volume.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 1.5u on Andre Fili at 2.1 or better

Ben Askren v Jorge Masvidal

Ben Askren is a throwback to the days of yore – a fighter that can do nothing but wrestle, and one with mediocre wrestling entries at that. His chief striking technique is to attempt to walk through whatever his opponent throws at him until he can force a clinch.

Jorge Masviadal has traditionally had work-rate issues but is one of the best all-rounders in the sport’s history – a surprise considering his first touch with relevance was beating Kimbo Slice’s protégé ‘Ray’ in a Florida backyard.

In Masvidal’s favour is the fact that he trains with Colby Covington who is someone who is capable of emulating the Ben Askren Funk Train experience. Gamebred managed to survive with Demian Maia on top of him/on his back and while Askren is many things, he’s not a submission artist on the level of Maia.

This leads me to believe Askren’s path to victory is to pick up two rounds off pure top control whilst getting consistently cracked on the way in, along with dealing with the difficulties of holding Masvidal which doesn’t fill me with confidence.

Prediction

Masvidal KO Round 1

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 2.5u on Jorge Masvidal at 3.0 or better


Gilbert Melendez v Arnold Allen

This is a gigantic step up for Arnold Allen from his edgings of Makwan Amirkhani and Mads Burnell along with his domination of non-UFC talent Jordan Rinaldi. Gilbert Melendez, on the other hand, is getting old and hasn’t won in a while but there’s a big gap between losing to Jeremy Stephens and winning against Jordan Rinaldi.

Allen’s gameplan against Rinaldi as a promising shift in tactics for the youngster and a rangy outifghty distance game plan against Melendez will likely pay greater dividends as opposed to Allen’s classic wrestleboxing/pressure grappling style.

However, until we’ve seen that game plan repeated, it’s hard to know whether it was a result of Rinaldi’s skillset or is a true reinvention of Allen’s game.

El Nino is mean-and-potatoes old school for the most part. He has elite boxing, good grappling and is tough as nails but has a susceptibility to legkicks. Fortunately for the American, Allen has landed just eight legkicks in his five-bout UFC career so I’m not expecting too much pressure on that front.

I’m not going big in this fight due to Melendez’s layoff and age issue but there is no justification for this price.

Prediction

Melendez by decision

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 1.25 units on Gilbert Melendez at 3.8 or better

Roosevelt Roberts v Vinc Pichel

Roosevelt Roberts is reasonably unproven at UFC level with his two wins in the promotion coming against low-tier opponents – Thomas Gifford should never have been in the UFC to begin with and Darrell Horcher is not what he was pre-motorcycle crash. Roberts’ current price, around 1.33, represents a level of confidence in The Predator that isn’t justified by the tape thus far.

Vinc Pichel is nothing great but he’s a solid workman fighter who’s only lost to quality opposition. He’s a strong power puncher and looked good in his return from injury against Joaquim Silva in a close bout. Additionally, I don’t think there’s much shame in getting mauled by Gregor Gillespie.

Pichel has only lost to people with a noted wrestling advantage so far in his career and Roberts is merely a willing grappler. Roberts is a good athlete but I wouldn’t say he’s a great one. His game is a bit all over the place – he was outstriking Gifford but kept wrestling with him for no particular reason, ignoring his massive striking edge.

Having a guillotine specialisation is not exactly an optimal way to win fights unless you’re Brian Ortega and, in my opinion, this fight is close to a coin flip. Roberts hasn’t done quite enough yet to justify the 1.33 price tag for mine and Pichel’s an experienced, tough, gritty customer. Roberts has the upside as the fresh face here but Pichel’s underrated due to his infrequent fights.

Prediction

Close decision with Pichel edging it via workrate and top-time.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 2 units on Vinc Pichel at 3.25

Renato Moicano v Chan Sung Jung

Renato Moicano is likely to start well and has historically had a trend towards slowing down even in three-rounders. You only need to look at Chan Sung Jung’s nickname – Korean Zombie – to understand that he is incredibly durable and will not go away easily.

There’s a reasonable expectation for an in-play trade where you can enter in on Korean Zombie at five-to-one or so after two rounds. This is a better value proposition than a pre-match bet with a win for Korean Zombie likely to come due to superior conditioning.

Prediction

Moicano by close decision, likely encountering some trouble in later rounds.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 0.75u on Sung Jung after 2 rounds as a big (5.0 territory) underdog if available on exchange. Not seeing anything worth hitting pre-match.


Kevin Aguilar v Dan Ige

Kevin Aguilar’s takedown defence is on point and Dan Ige’s only really successful as a bullying submission hunter. Aguilar should be very capable of stopping the takedowns and then outclassing Ige down the stretch on the feet. A late finish is very possible here.

Ige’s really in a submission-or-bust spot. He’s been picking on a level of fighters with minimal grappling chops, whilst Aguilar managed to stay vertical against Enrique Barzola – an able wrestler.

Aguilar’s strength of schedule has been notably better too. His wins so far have had an 8-3 UFC record, as opposed to Ige’s opposition being 2-2 in the big show. Aguilar’s grappling is also fairly strong and I don’t believe that Ige is an elite submission threat. His wins have been reflective of his competition’s lack of skill rather than him being especially good.

Prediction

Aguilar KO Round 3

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 2.5 units on Aguilar to beat Ige at 1.72 or better

Henry Cejudo v Marlon Moraes

Henry Cejudo doesn’t defend legkicks, isn’t great at securing top-ride time in the wrestling and has general difficulties stopping kicks. His victory over the weight-depleted TJ Dillashaw at 125lbs may have came in less than a minute but that was an outlier result.

That said, I’ll be trading on Cejudo as the fight goes on. Marlon Moraes’ cardio isn’t incredible, and a win for him is most likely a fairly quick KO. This, however, doesn’t apply if the legkicks are adding up.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 3 units on Moraes to beat Cejudo at $1.80 or better


Tai Tuivasa v Blagoy Ivanov

It hurts to fade the Aussie talent but Tai Tuivasa is, optimistically, a D- grappler and relies on bursting his opponents down. Add to that his volume/cardio issues and it makes him hard to back.

I can see Blagoy Ivanov winning very quickly with a takedown. The Bulgarian is incredibly durable and I will be adding more units on him in-play should the bout go past the first round.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 1.5 units on Ivanov to beat Tuivasa at $2.1 or better


Aljamain Sterling v Pedro Munhoz

Pedro Munhoz is the superior attrition fighter. Aljamain Sterling struggles with cardio, volume and people who are willing to consistently walk in on him. Aljamain will likely struggle to get significant top control time due to Munhoz’s BJJ and I’ll be looking for Munhoz via late stoppage.

I’ll also be adding to Munhoz after the first round. Aljo has historically had shaky cardio and Munhoz is an incredible attrition fighter. Aljo & his Serra-Longo camp have classically struggled defending leg kicks. Go this way especially if Aljo is struggling to maintain top control/clinch. Aljo needs to be all the way in or all the way out.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 1.6 units on Munhoz to beat Sterling at $2.20 or better


Yan Xiaonan v Angela Hill

This should be a pure kickboxing match. Angela Hill does have the grappling edge based on what we’ve seen in her career with Xiaonan having not gone for a single takedown in the UFC.

Both have very similar volume stats. Hill has a spottier record but contextually has been losing to a level of competition that Yan has never faced.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 1 units on Hill to beat Xiaonan at $2.50 or better


Bevon Lewis v Darren Stewart

This should largely be a striking fight where Darren Stewart has the power/dynamism edge – I think of Stewart as the Middleweight Derrick Lewis. Bevon Lewis has chin issues and Stewart will most likely be losing every minute until he wins.

Look to add more live at end of round one @ 5.0 or so if on offer. Stewart is not going to be chaining together success to win rounds as a rule of thumb. Lewis will likely not survive success from Stewart.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 1 units on Stewart to beat Lewis at $2.60 or better


Eddie Wineland v Grigory Popov

Eddie Wineland is a proven, fringe top-20 UFC veteran coming up against a dude from the C-tier regionals.

I would be ultra-confident if Wineland’s wrestling showed up more often. Wineland’s bout with Johnny Eduardo fight shows a possible blueprint for a Popov win where Wineland doesn’t take down a superior pure kickboxer, though Popov isn’t Eduardo in skill-terms.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 2 units on Wineland to beat Popov at $1.70 or better


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