Keep the cards coming, Dana! Last week we watched what we thought would be an uninspiring card that quickly turned into inspiring, after a handful of first-round knockouts to start off the night. We saw a couple legitimate female prospects showcase their talents in Mariya Agapova and Julia Avila. It was a fun night but this card, however, is absolutely inspiring on paper. I think we are in for a good night.
Curtis Blaydes (-405) vs Alexander Volkov (+305)
My man Blaydes is on an absolute tear and the only person that has stopped Blaydes in his tracks is Francis Ngannou. I really like Blaydes to continue on a track to the title and if Ngannou steps in his way for the third time, I’m putting my money on Blaydes. Anyways, in this fight, we are talking about the best MMA wrestling heavyweight of all-time in Blaydes. Daniel Cormier is certainly better but has only fought twice at this weight class.
Volkov is a 6’7″ fighter and anyone that has grappled knows that these absurdly long fighters lack the center of gravity to defend takedowns. With that being said, Volkov does have decent takedown defense in the UFC but he’s never faced a guy like Blaydes.
This fight might start slow for Blaydes as he tries to figure out the range. He might even get hit a little bit, but this fight will hit the mat in round two or three. Once that happens, it’s all over. Don’t forget, these fights are at the Apex Center in Vegas with the smaller octagon. The smaller octagon gives the advantage to the wrestler or grappler. I think Blaydes wins by TKO in round three.
Prediction: Blaydes loses the first round but gets Volkov to the ground in round two. I see a finish in round three.
The Bet: As much as I like Blaydes, Volkov is a legit fighter. I don’t like the line at -405. I got the line much earlier at -305. Over 2.5 rounds has value at +110. Like I said, feeling out these rangy fighters can be difficult. Blaydes could lose the first round and take his time getting a takedown. This is a five-round fight.
Josh Emmett (+125) vs Shane Burgos (-145)
This is everyone’s favorite fight of the night candidate and rightfully so. Let’s start with Emmett, who is a guy that is just looking to take your head off. He’s a decent striker, but not as good as everyone is making him seem to be. He has an overhand right that is one of the more dangerous punches in the division. He does have a wrestling background but doesn’t always use it. Two fights ago, he fought a journeyman in Michael Johnson. Johnson is a southpaw striker who picked Emmett apart for three rounds. With 45 seconds to go in the bout, Emmett sparked him and that’s all people remember.
Power is the last thing to go in a UFC fight and Emmett proved that against Johnson. Highlight reels and recency bias are a thing and people forget Emmett nearly lost that fight. His opponent on Saturday is no Johnson, he’s much better. Burgos is a black belt of a notorious karate school in New York, Tiger Schulmann. He throws with tons of volume and constantly pressures you. He’s a really good striker and the more technical striker here. My only concern is that Burgos gets hit a lot. That could be trouble against Emmett.
The bottom line is Emmett is an exciting fighter with a legit overhand right. He’s also a wrestler but hasn’t shot a takedown since 2016. He’s average until he rocks you with that right. Burgos is younger, and he’s gonna get hit hard but I think he overcomes adversity and wins a decision here. Even if Emmett suddenly does try to shoot a takedown, look out for Burgos’ BJJ. I’ve got Burgos by 30-27 decision.
Prediction: Burgos picks Emmett apart and Emmett just misses the big shot.
The Bet: I think -145 is in play here. I really think Emmett needs to land that big shot to win here. He literally almost lost to Johnson. Just let that sink in.
Raquel Pennington (-178) vs Marion Reneau (+153)
I really don’t want to break this fight down and I know that’s a poor attitude but it’s boring. Pennington is such a boring fighter and she hasn’t beaten anyone good since like 2016. I know she beat Irene Aldana but many would argue she lost that fight. She doesn’t throw a ton of punches and she only tries to shoot for the takedown on occasion. She’s way to content with being up against the cage as you’ve seen in both Holly Holm fights.
Renau possesses some power in her punches, enough to keep Pennington at range. With that being said, Reneau is the oldest female fighter in the UFC at the age of 42. She might not have the same pop that she use to. A lot of breakdowns I read seem to forget she’s a legit black belt in BJJ. That means there’s definitely a path to a submission.
This is one of those dog or pass fights for me. I’m not sure why Dana White loves Pennington so much and continues to put her high up on the card because she’s clearly boring. Pennington will probably box enough to win a decision but I’m going to go with the underdog and take Reneau via submission.
Prediction: Reneau pulls guard and wins via triangle choke in round two.
The Bet: If you want to bet this fight, just bet Reneau straight up.
Belal Muhammed (-123) vs Lyman Good (+103)
Muhammed is a tough fighter and he’s well-rounded. He really lacks the athleticism to dominate his opponents but consistently grinds out decisions. He’s really a grinder with decent boxing, wrestling, and BJJ. He’s easily a top 20 fighter in the division but if he had any sort of athleticism he’d be in the top 10.
When we think of Good, we think of a one-dimensional fighter. He has good striking on the feet. I like that he throws with volume but also carries serious power behind it. He doesn’t have any type of ground game, certainly not like his teammate Burgos.
I just think this is a really tough matchup for Good. He’s facing a grinder that will take away the reach advantage by pressuring him up against the cage. Let’s not forget Muhammed can box. He won’t have the advantage on the feet but he will be able to hang with no issues. With the smaller octagon, I can see Muhammed just wearing Good down up against the cage and dragging it to the mat.
Prediction: Muhammed dominates and wins via 30-27 decision.
The Bet: I love -123 straight up for Muhammed. This line is off and should be at least -170.
Jim Miller (+200) vs Roosevelt Roberts (-235)
This is simple and -230 is way too short for this fight. Jim Miller is old and his cardio is some of the worst cardio I’ve seen. Roberts has a huge size and reach advantage that will destroy Miller on the feet. Miller’s cardio is so bad that he has to win in round one and he has to do it by taking Roberts down. Even if he does take Roberts down, does he even have what it takes to submit him? Roberts is lanky and athletic but also possesses a really good ground game. I’m taking Roberts by rear-naked choke in round two.
Prediction: Miller gasses after trying to take Roberts down in the first and Roberts takes his back in the second.
The Bet: I’m parlaying Roberts with most of my bets. I’ve also considered a MAX bet at -235 but there’s still a path for Miller to win this bout. A little too risky.
Clay Guida (+210) vs Bobby Green (-245)
This will be another simple and clean breakdown for me. Green rarely fights and he never wins fights but that’s all about to change. He’s the far superior striker, even though he gets hit a lot. He’s the way better athlete at this point in their careers and he always was. Guida might in theory have the advantage on the ground but Green has good takedown defense with an athletic advantage that would allow him to pop right back up.
I just don’t see how Guida wins this fight unless Green beats himself. We’ve seen Green gas and look like a different fighter from time to time. I know Guida is a fan favorite but his time is up and I think we see Green finally win a fight.
Prediction: Green wins via decision and one of the more dominant decisions on the night. Maybe 30-25.
The Bet: I love Green in parlays and you also can get Green via decision at +170.
Teccia Torres (+175) vs Brianna van Buren (-205)
I’m really not that impressed with Buren. I think she can be taken down and pushed up against the fence despite being predominately a wrestler. I also think Torres probably has the advantage on the feet even though she doesn’t threaten with any type of power. I’m not saying Torres is going to take her down but Torres has been in far bigger spots than this one. She’s lost four straight to literally the best in the world. I don’t think Torres is some kind of gatekeeper. If they gave her to Buren for that reason, they’re wrong.
After four losses and probably realizing you will never win that title shot you crave, you have to wonder what Torres feels like mentally. As a bettor, we can try and project that but there is no way of really knowing. I’m going to take the underdog money on the fighter who has been in bigger and better spots. If this stays on the feet, Torres could win by decision.
Prediction: Torres via split decision.
The Bet: This line is off to me. I’ll be betting the +175 at a small unit but double down if this line gets better.
Marc-Andre Barriault (-105) vs Oskar Piechota (-115)
Talk about a jobber fight in a true dog or pass form. The only reason I’ll watch this fight is that I think someone might get finished. Both of these guys have lost three straight and they’re slow, stiff, and boring fighters. The loser of this fight will likely get cut from the UFC.
I see Piechota as the guy with the better chance to finish this fight but there’s a huge problem, he often gasses out and gasses out early. Barriault on the other hand likes to pressure forward and although it isn’t dangerous pressure, it’s still pressure that could tire out Piechota. I feel guilty betting Barriault because Piechota is the better grappler and athlete but I just feel like if Barriault can get into the clinch and do some work there, Piechota will fold.
Prediction: Barriault via split decision.
The Bet: I’m taking the dog here. -105 looks good since he’s the guy that will look like the better fighter as it goes on.
Cortney Casey (-101) vs Gillian Robertson (-119)
I had a last minute angle and opinion change on this one due to some tape I watched. Casey is clearly the better striker here and no one can dispute that. She’s also decent off her back and can sweep most girls that try and grapple with her. I like her toughness and I’m glad to see her take two back-to-back fights. She’s definitely fun to watch.
Casey is fun and all but so is Robertson and this is where my angle changed. Yes, Robertson will take some shots on the feet, that’s expected. I think Robertson would know that, too. Now when you watch Casey’s last fight, she was taken down almost immediately. Sure, she did win off her back with a beautiful submission but Robertson is no Mara Romera Borella. If Borella can take her down, Robertson will have no issues.
Casey has some of the worst takedown defense in the UFC and Robertson is a pressure wrestler that’s looking to score a takedown. Another thing to note is that Robertson doesn’t get hit all that much, so even if she doesn’t land the takedown in round one, there’s no need to panic.
Prediction: Robertson wins via dominant decision 30-27.
The Bet: Robertson straight up at -119 but this will continue to drop. Everyone is on Casey.
Roxanne Modafferi (-120) vs Lauren Murphy (+100)
This is another fight I enjoyed handicapping. Both of these girls have come a long way in their MMA careers. Modafferi is one of my favorite fighters because she’s so unorthodox and different but she is never phased by her opponent. She showed that in her Maycee Barber fight where Barber was close to a -1000 favorite. Sure, Barber tore her ACL but Modafferi was destroying her before it even happened. The big knock on Modafferi was her physique but now she fights like one of the strongest fighters in the division, it definitely shows her true work ethic.
Murphy is admirably tough and although I think most of us thought she lost her last fight, she showed true grit and toughness in that performance. Let’s make things clear, Murphy is the better boxer and striker in this match up. Modafferi is unorthodox but that shouldn’t be a tough puzzle to solve for Murphy. I just think with the smaller octagon, Modafferi can really muscle her up against the cage. If this thing hits the mat, lookout. Modafferi has developed a legit ground game.
Prediction: Modafferi wins by decision 30-27.
The Bet: Modafferi -120 is the way I’m going but if you want to get cute, Modafferi via submission is at +550.
Austin Hubbard (+165) vs Max Rohskopf (-190)
The former ACC Champion wrestler, Rohskopf is getting his UFC debut. If you’ve read my content before, you know I love wrestlers. On the feet, Hubbard might have the advantage here but it’s not like he’s the best striker in the world. Rohskopf is a legit wrestler, obviously, and we’ve seen Hubbard get taken down a bunch. I will definitely cut Hubbard some slack because he’s fought some really good grapplers during his short UFC career but he’s getting another great one.
On the flip side, I do like Hubbard quite a bit. His performance against Olympic silver medalist, Mark O. Madsen wasn’t bad. He did wear Madsen down and land some clean shots. He even won a round at the end but couldn’t prevent being tossed around. Rohskopf isn’t an Olympian but he’s a scholastic wrestler and Division I qualifier. His takedown will be much different than Madsen’s, who is a Greco Roman wrestler, a style that requires a lot of effort. Rohskopf is athletic on the feet, a good wrestler, and has been successful in grappling matches. I like him to outlast the toughness of Hubbard.
Prediction: Rohskopf wins via dominant decision 30-27.
The Bet: I’m not going to bet a debut fighter at -190 but that’s the side I’m on.
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