This weekend in Columbia, South Carolina rapidly ascending promotion XMMA returns with their 5th show since 2021, 5outhern Heat! I’ll be boots on the ground at the Colonial Life Arena Saturday night, and you can find a free livestream and tickets at XMMA.com. With 10 former UFC fighters, a former Bellator Champ, and a former PFL Champ, this card is absolutely stacked with known commodities and up and coming talent alike! But that’s enough preamble, let’s get to what you’re all really here for. Winners!
Our first XMMA play comes in the first bout of the night: Teruto Ishihara +130 v. Westin Wilson
After compiling a 3-5 UFC Record, Ishihara was released from the promotion and has since been competing on the regional scene where he has gone 1-2-1 since, including a win in his last bout. While an 11-9-3 record may not jump off the page, I’m compelled to play Ishihara here based solely on the disparity in competition faced. Ishihara’s UFC career includes losses to Artem Lobov, Gray Maynard, Kyung Ho Kang, and Petr Yan. All extremely respectable losses and for the most part, fights he was competitive in.
Wilson, on the other hand, rides a 3 fight win streak into this bout with 2 of those 3 wins coming in the XMMA cage. While he’s looked good of late, he simply hasn’t faced the same level of fighter Ishihara has and that alone is enough for me to sprinkle the dog here.
Bet: Teruto Ishihara +130 1 unit
The next betting spot I have my eye on is Joe Gigliotti +145 v. Demarques Jackson
After a promising 7-0 start to his professional career, Gigliotti got the call up to the UFC wherein he tasted defeat for the first time as a pro fighter. Gigliotti dropped 2 straight bouts to Trevor Smith and Gerald Meerschaert and took a step back from fighting for almost 3 years. At that point, he accepted a bout with current Bellator contender Jason Jackson in LFA, but the bout was cancelled and as such he has not competed since 2016. It’s fair to be worried about ring rust here, but Gigliotti appears to be in phenomenal shape heading into this bout and at + money I have no problem taking a small swing against Jackson.
No slouch in his own right, Jackson has competed under the Bellator banner as well as Khabib’s Eagle FC where he won his last bout. The recurring theme through Jackson’s career thus far seems to be that he struggles a bit when taking a step up in competition and fighting more experienced fighters. I’m expecting a close back and forth brawl in this one and you will ALWAYS find me on the dog in these spots.
Bet: Joe Gigliotti +145 1 unit
Up next: Collin Anglin -185 v. James Brown
Anglin may have gone 0-2 over his UFC tenure, but he ran into 2 absolute buzzsaws in Melsik Baghdasayarn and Sean Woodson. In a recurring theme here, the thing that once again jumps off the page at me is the difference in levels of competition faced. The combined record of Brown’s last 5 opponents (all wins) is 11-37 and this represents easily his toughest test yet. I think Anglin should be able to coast to a fairly comfortable decision and he is an excellent parlay piece.
Impa Kasangany -125 v. Jared Gooden
I will not explain myself here, Impa is a friend of the program who has had a tough year but still has all the physical tools and talent in the world. It’s only a matter of time before he puts it all together and as far as I’m concerned, why not tonight?
Bet: Impa -125 1.5u
The Main Event!
After some long deliberations and consultations with my statistics and own brain, I’ve come to the conclusion that Will Brooks is on the brink of making it back to the big show after his impressive regional win streak. Aside from that, Violent Bob Ross has been away from fighting for some uh, not great stuff and it’s difficult to expect him to be able to block off all the noise coming into this one as he tries to reestablish himself as a premier lightweight talent. Gimme Brooks -138 and call it a day.
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