Editors note: It’s your good pal Harry here and astonishingly I have managed to channel my inner Jair Bolsonaro and got covid again so only one pick from me this week. I’ll post slate on twitter as always but this week you have Val to thank for your winners so be sure to give him a follow.
Jessica Eye vs Maycee Barber
Jessica Eye is not good, but then again neither is Maycee Barber, though she does hold a slight athleticism advantage. ‘The Future’ has striking which isn’t great, anti-wrestling which isn’t great, and grappling which, you guessed it, isn’t great. Eye is in the same boat, but has shown to have the requisite toughness to weather most storms, and in general isn’t far off of Maycee in striking, which is the realm in which this fight will most likely take place. Barber being -280 against anyone ranked is absolutely absurd, so I like Eye as the first of many dogs on this card.
Bet: 1 unit on Eye ML at +242
Harry: I don’t think there’s anything I can add to Val’s analysis here. While Eye isn’t very good, Maycee Barber shouldn’t be a -280 favorite against a former title challenger, or really anyone on the roster for that matter. Sprinkle the dog and kick us off right.
Bet: 1u Eye ML +242
Brad Tavares vs Dricus du Plessis
Dricus du Plessis has not really had a chance to work his A-game in the UFC, which is submission grappling. Most fans who have only watched his two UFC fights and maybe his fights against Roberto Soldic probably think of him as a knockout artist. The sportsbooks definitely do, as they have his knockout prop lined around +200 and his submission prop at +900, though it opened at +2000. Tavares is the more experienced fighter, has great takedown defense, and is the cleaner striker, though less powerful. Dricus is very stiff in his striking, blitzes forward carelessly, and is only really effective due to his massive power, despite his bad form. Tavares has been KOed three times – by Edmen Shahbazyan, Tim Boestch, and Robert Whittaker – and has never been submitted as a professional, though he did get submitted by Court McGee on TUF. Tavares and his takedown defense of 80% against 97 attempts is great value as an underdog here. His decision prop is also worth a look.
Bet: 1 unit on Tavares ML at +128. Price has been rising, might be worth waiting to bet on.
Jim Miller vs Donald Cerrone 2
A lot has been made of Cerrone’s five fight winless streak which includes four bad stoppage losses. If ‘Cowboy’ can get out of the first stanza though, a time period when he has long been susceptible to being hurt badly, he should be able to have success. Miller is the favorite because of his two recent knockout wins, but he still had to walk through some fire to get there, and against sub-UFC level competition. Miller is also just one year younger than Cerrone, has been fighting both weaker and smaller competition, and dealt with serious health conditions from Lyme disease not that long ago. If the fight goes long, I expect Cowboy’s superior striking skillset to control the fight, as it did in their first match eight years ago that Cerrone won by one of his famous head kick knockouts. Miller is the superior wrestler/grappler but I don’t believe it’s by nearly enough for that to be a consistently viable win condition, Cowboy has shown over the years he is no slouch in that realm either.
Bet: 1 unit on Cerrone ML at +168.
Jalin Turner vs Brad Riddell
This is probably the second most complicated fight on the card to break down, only after the trilogy fight between Volk and Max. Both men focus on striking primarily, though Turner does have jiu-jitsu chops, and both men are devastating in that area. Riddell comes from a long-time pro kickboxing background while Turner is less experienced but uses his length to great advantage. Both have been in some absolute wars in the UFC, though Turner has primarily gotten finishes while Riddell has only won decisions, albeit against much tougher competition. The one time Jalin Turner was in a fight that went long, he lost a decision to grizzled vet Matt Frevola. He is an insanely fast starter, having landed 31 strikes in four minutes vs Luque in a short notice debut, 55 in eight minutes vs Culibao, 66 in nine minutes vs Weaver, 25 in four minutes vs Medic, and 52 in six minutes vs Mullarkey in his last fight. Riddell has, again, been in more drawn out, protracted wars, and that will be key here. His brutal battles vs Mullarkey, Mustafaev, Dober, and Fiziev in addition to his experience being an action fighter in kickboxing, will be crucial if he is to win this fight. It is unlikely that Turner will be able to get Riddell out of there early, and if he doesn’t pace himself better this could be a rough fight for him late. His weight cut must be horrific. I tend to think this is a pretty evenly matched fight but give Riddell the edge due to experience, cardio, and technical savvy.
Bet: Brad Riddell ML at +130
Pedro Munhoz vs Sean O’Malley
Munhoz vs O’Malley seems like a matchup of two guys who are each other’s worst matchups. ‘Suga Sean’ is a diverse striker who likes to move around a lot, which troubles Munhoz who prefers opponents that stand and trade with him, catering to his massive power and iron chin. On the other hand O’Malley has a notable weakness to leg kicks while Munhoz is a prolific leg kicker of great force. Will Pedro be able to do what he couldn’t against the legendary footwork of Dom Cruz and batter Sean’s legs into submission? Or will Sean by able to avoid the big blows and submissions of the Brazilian and box him up? Either could happen. I think the line is too wide and have found a few spots I like, my primary bet based on my assumption that a finish favors Munhoz and his iron chin while a decision favors O’Malley and his better rounded striking.
Bets: 1u on Munhoz ITD (Decision=no action) at +215 OR 1u on Munhoz ML at +255. .1u on Munhoz by SUB t +1200.
Lawler vs Barbarena
What an absolute banger this is. Robbie Lawler is undeniably the greatest action fighter in the history of welterweight MMA, being part of several of the best fights of all time, including maybe the three best WW title fights ever: vs Condit, vs Hendricks 1, and vs Rory 2. ‘Bam Bam’ Barbarena is no slouch himself, winning FOTN four times in the UFC including almost beating the ‘Silent Assassin’ himself, Vincente Luque and a war with Matt Brown earlier this year, which he won. Of course, Robbie isn’t what he once was, but we saw him recapture some of his old form against Nick Diaz – really more like the ghost of Nick Diaz – in his last fight after dropping four straight to top ten fighters, all of them good wrestlers. Bryan does not bring much an offensive wrestling game to this fight, so it should play out on the feet. Bryan’s legendary chin has been dinged a bit lately, as he was finally KOed for the first two times in 2019 and even, bizarrely, dropped by Jason Witt last year. When he is in his flow though, he likes to employ something like the Diaz style of MMA boxing, a lot of touch, touch, touch, then one big strike to punctuate. His defense is poor, and though he may be able to find his way around Robbie’s high guard at times, I kind of expect Robbie to hit him much more. The line is well placed now, though I bet on Robbie at +130 over a month ago.
Bet: No Bet.
Volkanovski vs Holloway 3
The trilogy fight between Volk and Max is the highest level in history. These are two of the most talented martial artists ever to grace the octagon and both of the first two fights bear witness to that. A lot of what Max did in the rematch to turn a clear Volkanovski win into a contentious split decision revolved around his kicking game and stance. He made things difficult for Volk by standing narrower and more upright to better check leg kicks and to use his height and range to his advantage, forcing Alex to come to him before punishing him with knees and uppercuts. Crucially, he was very active with kicks to all three levels – head, body, and legs. Later in the fight, the champ made adjustments to his pocket entries so that he was entering behind his lead hand, using feints and stutter steps to put off Max’s timing, engaged in wrestling offense, and worked of more his own kicks and jabs from range.
To me this fight is as close on paper as the last one was in reality. The line has Volk north of -200 on some books, which is wild. I think people are putting too much stock in Volk’s last two performances over stylistic matchups, and an athletic matchup in the case of a well post-prime version of The Korean Zombie. He did look amazing while Max showed signs of struggle against Yair Rodriguez, but Yair presents a much more difficult matchup for Max than most anyone in the division aside from Volkanovski and is close to or right at athleticism parity with Holloway. Max still won the fight clearly; I scored it 49-46. I also think – and this may be getting a bit too much into the realm of armchair psychology – that judges will be more likely to render a biased decision on the side of the challenger, given all the narratives around the robbery in his last fight. Make of that what you will.
Bet: 1u on Holloway ML at +175. .5u on Holloway by Decision at +305. 2u on GTD at -200.
Adesanya vs Cannonier.
A matchup of the best striker in the history of the UFC middleweight division against a guy who hits really hard, it’s easy to say who has the advantage here. Cannonier got dropped by Brunson, dropped rounds to Gastelum, got beaten up by Whittaker, you see where this is going. Jared does not have the offensive wrestling threat to trouble Izzy so his only hope here is one big shot. He’s vulnerable to leg kicks, will likely be walking forward and playing right into the champ’s style, and doesn’t have the craft to really set up his knockout shot. Adesanya should win every round unless he gets caught, and likely will get a finish, but this fight is just not that competitive or exciting on paper. It should have been the co-main and Max vs Volk 3 should have been the main, but that’s neither here nor there. The pick is easy for me here.
BET: 2.1u on Adesanya -5.5 at -210.
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