Well well well, would yah look at the time! UFC 275 already! We’ve got 2 title fights over in Singapore this weekend with our 2 sweetest 205lb boys headlining. Will Jiri seize gold with the bushido way, or will old man strength prevail as Glover Teixeira looks to defend his title for the first time. The co main might be a good time to go get a drink as I don’t trust anyone who actually classifies themself as a Valentina Shevchenko fan. Val takes on Taila Santos who will be the second DWCS alumni to fight for a UFC title.
But that’s enough preamble for now, we have winners to get into! I’m joined by friend of the progrum and noted Ricky Turcios enjoyer Val Dewar (@the3els) to break it all down. Oh and did I mention there will also be plenty of nice gambling spots? Let’s get rich friends.
Silvana Gómez Juárez vs. Na Liang
I will not sit here and pretend this is going to be the best fight you’ve ever seen because I have morals and also a working brain. HOWEVER. There is an auto bet spot for me here. The line on the fight to go the distance is +200, and while both of these women are above average finishers, almost all of Liang’s finishes are against lackluster opponents to put it nicely and Silvana has yet to actually record a finish in the UFC, despite being finished twice. According to fight matrix, strawweight UFC fights end in a decision 67.3% of the time. That means that in theory you’re giving me 2-1 odds on an outcome that is fairly highly likely and I’ll pull the trigger there without hesitation 10 times out of 10.
Kyung Ho Kang vs. Batgerel Danaa
This is the first fight on the card that I have truly high hopes for. Though his last fight against Chris Gutierrez didn’t go his way, Danaa has been all action since entering the UFC in 2019 with 3 finishes in 5 UFC fights (he was also finished by Gutierrez). Opposite Danaa, we have Kyung Ho Kang, who I was shocked to learn in prepping for the fights this weekend has somehow been in the UFC since 2013? Who knew! Though Kang may be a bit less all action than Danaa (7 decisions in 10 outings), I expect Danaa to turn this into a brawl. I have no problem laying the -150 on Danaa here and do think he wins, but the more intriguing bet to me is FDGTD at -120. I don’t see this fight making it to the judges cards and can get some better exposure if Danaa finds himself in a tough spot. I’ll probably play Danaa ITD +175 as well. With an average fight time of 5:41 for Danaa, I feel good about this one.
FDGTD -120 1.2u, Danaa ITD +175
Seung Woo Choi vs Joshua Culibao
Seung Woo Choi is simply a massive hitter for 145 pounds, as seen when he KOed the normally iron-chinned Julian Erosa last year. He has shown to have some susceptibility to wrestling and grappling in the past, although those losses came against top-20 caliber Featherweights in Gavin Tucker, Alex Caceres, and undefeated prospect Movsar Evloev. This fight should remain on the feet for the most part because Culibao has not landed a takedown in the UFC, going 0 for 7 against the usually takedown-able Charles Jourdain. Culibao is an enthusiastic but not nuanced or particularly athletic striker. To me, the only question will be if Choi will get a knockout or a decision.
Bet: 1 unit on Choi -3.5 point spread -125
Jake Matthews vs. Andre Fialho
Another interesting tilt as Andre Fialho looks to build on a phenomenal rookie campaign with his 4th fight of 2022. Fialho is currently a slight -145 favorite after 2 straight finishes and as much as I love his all action brawling style, the line feels slightly off to me. Though he is coming off a loss to stud undefeated prospect in Sean Brady, Matthews is a well credentialed grappler and challenges Fialho with a skillset he has yet to see at this level. I think the Fialho line is a trap and if anything I think I am inclined to play Matthews at +130, however because I dislike Matthews and like Fialho, I’m simply going to lay off here. Do with that information what you will.
Andre Fialho is the hot new toy at welterweight and the UFC are enjoying playing with him. He started the year with a UFC debut where he was surprisingly competitive with Michel Pereira until he began to gas, then knocked out former top prospect Miguel Baeza, and just last month knocked out debutante Cam VanCamp with a stunning left hook. All of this has led to him being the betting favorite against perennial gatekeeper – not a word I intend to have negative connotations – in Jake Matthews. Jake is perfect for dog odds in this spot, he has the superior process, cardio, and wrestling ability. If this fight was not taking place at a time that lined up with some hype for Fialho, I am sure Jake would be the favorite. He is not the type of fighter that will blow your socks off, but he is solid and dependable. He should outlast Fialho’s mediocre cardio, should be able to ground him at some point, and should be more competitive on the feet than people realize against the Portuguese fighter’s porous defense, as seen when Fialho consistently ate clean shots from an undersized grappler in VanCamp. My only concern is Jake’s extended layoff since his last fight.
Bet: .75 units on Matthews ML +130
Brendan Allen vs. Jacob Malkoun
This is a very strange booking that I don’t quite understand frankly. Allen has fought and beat significantly better competition, aside from having a 16 fight experience advantage. The -300 pricetag is probably warranted in this case. I wanted to play Allen by sub but at only +150, I would rather sacrifice the 55 points of juice and play him ITD -105 to cover myself if Allen decides to stand and bang. Allen should have the advantage in every aspect of the fight and I expect him to finish. I imagine he will also be a parlay piece for many.
Allen ITD -105
Stylistically this fight looks like a layup for Allen: he is a great wrestler and grappler with solid striking to boot, meanwhile a wrestler with cardio is all that Malkoun is. Allen should be able to scramble out of bottom position if he does get taken down, as he did vs Kyle Daukaus, and will be the much better fighter on the feet. I think he probably finds a finish but I want to take the point spread to be safe.
Bet: 1 unit on Brendan Allen -3.5 point spread -160
Jack Della Maddalena vs. Ramazan Emeev
If I had a gun to my little mash potato filled head, I think this is my pick for fight of the night. JDM appears to be one of the best prospects contender series has produced yet and now gets his first real test against a high level opponent in Emeev. It’s easy to discredit Jack’s debut performance against a 4-0 debutant in Pete Rodriguez who was clearly not ready for the big show, but his dismantling of now UFC signee Ange Loosa was incredibly impressive. Emeev comes in off a loss to Danny Roberts and will be looking to right the ship, however his last 3 fights have gone the distance with 2 of them being split. I’m just not sure Emeev has the tools to negate Jack’s striking and 5 inch reach advantage and I see this one playing out with Jack using those long straight punches he is so fond of to control range and keep Emeev from wrestling. It’s a square pick, but between the striking, reach, and speed advantage Jack will possess I don’t see Emeev being able to execute any semblance of a gameplan. We ride with the Aussie, oi oi oi. I’m tempted to play Jack by KO and may sprinkle come fight day, but it’s worth noting that Emeev has never been finished in his UFC career.
Jack Della Maddalena is currently the hottest prospect from Australia and one of the more highly touted prospects at Welterweight in the UFC, perhaps only behind ranked fighters Chimaev and Rahkmonov. This will be his toughest test to date, but he has a clear striking advantage over Emeev with his well-developed arsenal from both stances, beautiful combination punching, and exceptional process for such a young man. The question will be can Emeev utilize his wrestling to win the fight. Quite simply, I don’t believe so. Jack has good enough takedown defense but what is even more special is his scrambling and get-up game. His fight with Ange Loosa, a strong wrestler and former Usman training partner, on the Contender Series, showed these high level scrambles and determination to never settle in one position. Jack’s sharp and educated jab from both stances, which he changes the tempo of and builds off of expertly, will be an important weapon for keeping range against someone who should be trying to get inside on him. Emeev is also simply not the same caliber of athlete as the Aussie and I believe that will be quite telling in this scrap.
Bet: 1 unit on Jack Della Maddalena ML -150. I personally got it at +120 a few months ago.
Weili Zhang vs. Joanna Jędrzejczyk
Here’s where the action really picks up. We have a rematch of (fairly definitively) the best WMMA fight in history between Joanna Violence and Weili Zhang. Joanna enters the fight off a 2 year layoff having last fought against Zhang whereas Zhang has fought Rose Namajunas twice since, being knocked out in brutal fashion the first time and losing a razor close split decision the second. I’ve gone back and forth on this fight a ton throughout the build up but I think at the end of the day it comes down to this: It’s very difficult for me to back a fighter who has been on the shelf for 2 years while her opponent has continued fighting elite competition. I cannot fault anyone at all for taking Joanna as a slight underdog here, but I think I’m going to have ride with Weili here. As an aside, it’s a load of horseshit that his fight is 3 rounds. Best fight in women’s MMA history but sure, let’s make the rematch 3 rounds because we’re cheap fucks who wouldn’t buck up and give both fans and the fighters what we deserve.
The highly anticipated rematch of the greatest women’s fight of all time is here, and although it has bizarrely only been booked for 3 rounds, on paper it is still the most exciting fight on the card. The first fight saw Weili take a decision, one that many people, myself included, thought Joanna deserved. Joanna Champion has not fought since so ring rust is a real concern here but the new style involving wrestling and a more patient outfighting approach that Weili employed in her rematch with Rose Namajunas would play right into Joanna’s game. Joanna is the longer fighter, the taller fighter, and has excellent takedown defense to counter the wrestling Weili may look to employ. I really believe a distance kickboxing match favors Joanna as well, Weili’s inside low kicks would be a factor there but her other tools are not as suited to fighting from a longer range as Joanna’s are. At worst this is a 50/50 fight I believe.
Bet: 1.5 units on Joanna ML +150
Valentina Shevchenko vs. Taila Santos
*Extremely Forrest Gump voice* And that’s all I have to say about that.
For a long time, Valentina Shevchenko has defended the Women’s Flyweight Championship against less athletic fighters or smaller fighters than her. The champion’s physical strength is actually an underrated part of her game. Taila Santos, although raw as a striker, is almost on par with Valentina in athleticism and is bigger than her physically. Still, this should be another wide decision for Shevchenko – Santos is tough and skilled enough that I doubt she will go the way of Lauren Murphy and Jessica Andrade. The Brazilian could win a round, I would even go as far as predicting her to, with wrestling, physicality and a solid top game, but it’s a struggle to see her doing that for enough rounds to win a fight against someone technically more skilled. This one more than likely goes to a decision.
Bet: 1 unit on over 4.5 rounds -125 or over 3.5 -140 or goes the distance -115
Glover Teixeira vs. Jiří Procházka
It’s finally time. Our sweetest Czech samurai gets his shot at UFC gold and Glover gets a chance to defend his title for the first time. I’m almost a little worried that because everyone is so sure this fight will rule it will stink, but I will refrain from putting that bad juju into the universe for now. I’ve gone back and forth a ton and reached a few simple conclusions: this fight will be decided not by if Glover will be able to get Jiri to the mat (he will), but rather if he will be able to keep him there. During Jiri’s Rizin career, the guys who gave him some problems were all grapplers other than King Mo (Nemkov, Albrektsson, Halsey) but he always showed an incredible ability to not accept bad positions on the ground. When Jiri gets put on his back, he’s constantly looking for ways to create scrambles and improve his position and truly never is content to accept being on the bottom. Glover, meanwhile, has great top pressure and BJJ which is what makes this such a fascinating stylistic clash. Jiri loves to strike from weird angles with his hands at his waist and as a result, has been hittable throughout his career, relying on his speed, counter ability, and chin to dole out more damage than he takes. I want to bet Jiri sooooo bad but at -210 there is virtually 0 value, and even digging into props, Jiri is -160 to win by KO! No thank you! So, I will probably use Jiri in some parlays but don’t think I can bring myself to bet him straight up. ALL of the value is on Glover, and we shall see if that’s rightful come Saturday night.
The power in Jiri’s hands often comes from the fact that his attacks come from awkward angles and distances. To create these awkward strikes he does often square up his body or otherwise enter an unusual stance that is not the best for centering his weight. Thus he has to rely on the fact that he has an insane chin far too often and his opponent’s takedowns are successful more often than not. From his back though, he is what I like to call a caged tiger: A fighter who is not elite off of his back, not a top tier jiu-jitsu practitioner, but someone who bucks and struggles and explodes and is always working to do something. My most commonly used example of that analogy is prime and even post-prime Masvidal. Holding him down was a chore, and so it is with Jiri ‘Denisa’ Prochazka as shown in his fight with current Bellator champion Vadim Nemkov. Nemkov is known as a high level wrestler but Jiri was able to win this fight largely from bottom position without finishing any of the submissions he attempted because his activity was so constant and explosive that it took all Fedor protégé had to hold down Jiri when he had him on the mat. After the first round – a ten minute round as the fight took place in RIZIN – Nemkov could not even stand from exhaustion, and Jiri was declared the winner and moved on in the Grand Prix. Other men, like Karl Albrektsson and Brandon Halsey, have been successful with holding down Jiri, but in the end Jiri’s athleticism and relentlessness were too much and they both got knocked out.
This kind of attitude to being taken down by Glover is an issue though. Glover is the far better technician on the mat, although the inferior athlete. Jiri could end up scrambling himself into a position he does not want to be in. The Czech does have experience escaping submissions from high level grapplers, he escaped numerous tight ones against Nemkov and American wrestler Brandon Halsey in fights he had in RIZIN even when he put himself in situations he did not need to, such as frequently scrambling to the front headlock to allow a D’Arce or guillotine attempt. But Glover will be by far the best submission artist he has faced in his career. A combination of heart and athleticism has so far seen Prochazka avoid being submitted ever since the 8th fight of his professional career. In RIZIN and the UFC his only stoppage loss – or loss of any kind, in fact– came by way of knockout against King Mo in 2015 as he ran forward onto a straight right.
In a recent interview with Megan Olivi – where Glover was also present – Jiri said that he intended to fight smarter, less crazy, in order to avoid Glover’s takedown threat. I take anything that fighters say at less than face value, but it would be smart for Jiri to be calmer, maintain a safe distance, not square up his hips by constantly shifting his stance in close range to his opponent, and focus on using his superior striking, athleticism, and power to look for his knockout shot.
On the other hand, Glover will try to do the same thing he has always done. At the age of 42 it is certainly an inspirational story to see him win the belt after all these years, but that does not mean he is the best LHW in the world and in many ways his victory over Blachowicz is an indictment of the current state of the division. Still, the stylistic matchup is a rough one for a below par wrestler in Prochazka. There is every change Jiri will get him out of there inside of a minute, but with the slight juice I cannot bet it.
Bet: None. Lean sort of under play, either u1.5, u2.5, or r3 does not start.