Much like last week, we get a fight night card without household names, but this one carries a bit more star power, and on average is bringing higher level fighters. Higher level generally means more predictive. Much like last week, we have a slew of tight betting lines with the largest being -310 and only three more cracking the -200 mark.
There are some clear-cut cash and single entry plays which I’ll get to at the end, and will keep each fight breakdown to recommended MME exposure in each particular fight section. Let’s get to it.
Note: at initial time of writing, there were no prop lines available. They will be added as they become available, along with best bets and cash plays at the conclusion of the piece as they come available.
Prelims on ESPN+
Mike Grundy, +125, 7300 vs Nad Narimani, -155, 8900
Fight is at 145 lbs and is +175 to end inside the distance.
Mike Grundy is a rarely seen English wrestler but is a legitimately good one with relentless pressure and motor. He makes his UFC debut at home and I’m not sure he shouldn’t be favored in this fight. He is very good at throwing heavy shots to back his opponent up to the cage to take down. He’s strong with advancing and attacking submissions and his style is one that is very favorable for DK scoring.
Nad Narimani makes his third walk to the Octagon and faces his toughest opponent to date. This is the first time he won’t have a size advantage on his opponent and the first time he won’t enter as at least a -265 favorite. His two fights thus far have been against an opponent fighting up in weight and against a short notice debuting replacement. His best work is done wrestling and he’ll be at a disadvantage in this department. He’s not shown much finishing ability via submission or power and his DK price is an unattractive one.
If Narimani is going to win this fight, it will need to be predominantly standing, and I don’t believe he’ll be able to withstand the takedown pressure put on him. Grundy is a very live dog and has a very favorable DK price. Narimani is variance level to fade. Grundy is a heavy use dog. Note the line has moved over 60 points towards Grundy, and he is likely the favorite at fight time.
Molly McCann, -200, 8500 vs Priscilla Cachoeira, +165, 7700
Fight is at 125 lbs and is +135 to end inside the distance.
Molly McCann is a striking specialist, but with no emphasis on special. She’s a boxer with no ground chops and will be fully content to strike the whole way. She was utterly dominated on the floor in her debut and she looked helpless, so drawing a striker here is a positive.
Priscilla Cachoeira is on a roller coaster in terms of level of competition. She went from winning on the low-level regional scene to being utterly decimated in her UFC debut by the fully elite Valentina Shevchenko to now fighting the lowest level of fighter the promotion has to offer. She showed heart surviving punishment in bottom position for nearly two rounds against Valentina. But she was just so thoroughly outclassed, we still don’t really know what she has to offer. She will be the taller and longer fighter, which helps against a boxer.
This is a tough fight to call, but we do have the advantage of knowing the favorite’s path to a high score lies only in a KO with heavy strikes poured on. It would be a surprise to see this fight go the floor at any point. The fight isn’t one to fade as this lower level of fighter can be finished at any point, but don’t go crazy. Just get some exposure to both in the build, either evenly or with an edge to Cachoeira.
Danny Henry, +120, 8000 vs Dan Ige, -150, 8200
Fight is at 145 lbs and is +155 to end inside the distance.
Danny Henry is a very long featherweight and will have 6 inches of reach advantage in this fight. He’s not really a one-shot power puncher, but there’s a crispness to his strikes. His striking defense however, leaves something to be desired. He is available to be hit, but has shown chin in the past. He’s capable of effectively attacking submissions at any point, and will have the advantage once this fight gets to the second half of the 15 minutes.
Dan Ige is a well-rounded fighter with power in his punches, with sound wrestling and ground transitions. The critiques on his game are being too eager to attack submission without proper position, and question marks on the gas tank. He’s got the power in his hands to end the fight quickly and will be at a striking advantage here, and he will likely try to do so as his opponent is almost certainly the better-conditioned fighter.
Ige is a quick starter and the far more likely of the two to find an early finish. He probably has the better grappling floor and ceiling. Henry is a sound grappler but won’t have any takedown numbers to speak of. Both are capable of scoring in a win, but Ige is the higher percentage bet. Both sides go in the build with an exposure advantage to Ige.
Tom Breese, -145, 8400 vs Ian Heinisch, +115, 7800
Fight is at 185 lbs and is -110 to end inside the distance.
Tom Breese is a well-rounded fighter we will learn a lot about on Saturday as far as the class level he’s truly in at this stage. This is his second fight after an injury related two-year layoff, and he won the layup fight he was given in his return via first-round KO. He’s a sound striker who’s willing to keep his hands low (much like his opponent) which could create fireworks. He’s a BJJ black belt on the floor, however, he’s never completed a takedown in five UFC fights.
Ian Heinisch is also a rounded fighter, but by my view, is at a slight disadvantage in all facets, most so while standing and striking. He’s not a high-output striker but throws heavy with his hands low.
If Breese is willing to shoot for takedowns, he could buoy his scoring as Heinisch is willing to accept being on his back as he has a lot of faith in his guard. With that being unlikely, there will be chins tested. A finish in the first two rounds will be required for one of these fighters to hit the optimal, so we can’t go crazy on this one. Hedge the fight with the slight exposure edge going to Breese.
Nick Negumereanu, -175, 9000 vs Saparbeg Safarov, +145, 7200
Fight is at 205 lbs and is -385 to end inside the distance.
Nick Negumereanu is a debuting undefeated fighter with a seemingly complete skill set, and is yet to see the third round of a fight. From what I can tell, his striking defense isn’t perfect by any means, but he does punch with power. His true strength lies in wrestling, slams and throws transitioned to top control that he drops heavy ground and pound and attacks submissions from. He will, however, be facing his toughest opponent to date.
Saparbeg Safarov is a Sambo fighter without an exciting skill set, hence being an underdog to a not necessarily hyped prospect in his debut. His strikes come one at a time and his striking defense isn’t great either. He’s been finished by KO and submission in his first two UFC appearances. The Sambo background gives him capability on takedowns, but he is subpar both before and after the action to get the fight to the floor.
Negumereanu looks to be the more dangerous fighter and the one that will be busier. With a debuting fighter though, we can’t get too overconfident, considering class jump and debut jitters. The price is also a negative value, so I’d recommend playing both sides, with an edge in exposure to Negumereanu at roughly 5:2.
Marc Diakiese, +155, 7100 vs Joe Duffy, -185, 9100
Fight is at 155 lbs and is -130 to end inside the distance.
Marc Diakiese won his first three fights in the promotion (all three of those fighters are no longer with the promotion) but has since lost his last three fights. He’s a striker that sometimes tries to ineffectively wrestle and grapple, but he does have power in both punches and kicks. He will be at a technical disadvantage and his path to victory is solely in landing a heavy shot for a KO, which does bring a scoring ceiling.
Joe Duffy returns to the Octagon after nearly a year and a half absence. He’s a well-rounded fighter with his striking base in boxing and tae kwon do and his grappling base in Japanese jiu-jitsu, and he has since graduated to a purple belt in BJJ. He’s a technical striker with all his limbs, and the only department in which he’ll be at a disadvantage in this fight is power. He’s a fighter that doesn’t score without finding a finish so that will be needed for DK usefulness at price.
If this fight goes the distance, it will almost certainly be useless for DK purposes. In the case of an early finish, exposure on both sides with a slight exposure edge to the underdog. The line has moved severely in favor of Diakiese.
Arnold Allen, -140, 8700 vs Jordan Rinaldi, +110, 7500
Fight is at 145 lbs and is +165 to end inside the distance.
Arnold Allen is best described as “meh.” He’s generally a decision fighter that doesn’t throw anything resembling volume. In fact, the next time either of these fighters reaches 33 significant strikes in a fight (combined eight fights in the promotion), it will be the first time. They both are happy to grapple and Allen is the less active of the two and has also seen his takedown defense fail of late, being taken down 10 times in his last two fights. This is a very unfavorable DK price.
Jordan Rinaldi is a subpar striker that wants to grapple, and would be happy doing so for a full 15 minutes. He’s the busier and smoother grappler of the two and is savvy and smooth with ground transitions. He is the greater submission threat. A KO by either side is a real stretch in this fight and I believe this underdog holds the greater floor and ceiling outcomes.
Allen’s price combined with his skill set is prohibitive and relegates him to variance level exposure. He is a candidate to fade. Rinaldi’s combination of price and skill set is one to get exposure to at a moderate level.
Jack Marshman, -165, 8800 vs John Phillips, +135, 7400
Fight is at 185 lbs and is -265 to end inside the distance.
Jack Marshman versus John Phillips doesn’t need to be broken up into two fighter sections. These guys are strikers that have zero combined takedowns in a combined seven UFC fights (just two wins, both by Marshman). They will likely stand and bang on the feet and put on a show until one of them goes out.
Don’t overthink this one — there’s a likely KO here, and it’s a good bet that the winner will be in the optimal. Get moderate exposure to both sides, with an edge to the underdog due to pricing considerations.
Danny Roberts, +125, 7600 vs Claudio Silva, -155, 8600
Fight is at 170 lbs and is -195 to end inside the distance.
Danny Roberts is a quick and crisp striker with KO power who enters his first test against a fighter with elite BJJ skills. His takedown defense has been questionable. He’ll be in a world of hurt if he’s not able to keep this one standing, and he’ll be in a world of hurt on the floor. His paths to victory are early KO and a decision where he keeps massive distance and is, in turn, low output.
Cláudio Silva, despite just three UFC fights, has a nice looking resume. He holds wins over Leon Edwards, Nordine Taleb and Brad Scott, and I would rank Edwards as the third best on that list if ranking him against previous opponents.1 He is a submission threat from the word go, and isn’t a striker by trade, but does possess power.
Roberts is a decent and powerful enough striker that he isn’t a fade, but he shouldn’t reach moderate exposure. Silva is priced well for a favorite and is capable of many passes on each takedown. He doesn’t need to finish to score but is very capable of finishing, and should be an ample part of the build.
Nathaniel Wood, -310, 9400 vs Jose Quiñónez, +245, 6800
Fight is at 135 lbs and is -135 to end inside the distance.
Jose Quiñónez is a rounded fighter on a four-fight winning streak in the promotion, but takes a massive class jump in this fight. He is willing to strike or wrestle, but nothing he does is high output, and he likely has no path to a finish without wearing his opponent down late in the fight. He’s not had a KO since 2013 nor a submission since 2015.
Nathaniel Wood is also well rounded, but better in all areas, and there’s likely no safe place for Quiñónez. Wood will pressure from the onset and is the far more powerful striker. He has the more savvy submissions, and more than that he has brutal leg kicks to offer. He is appropriately priced as the highest favorite on the card.
Get high-level exposure on Wood — he is worth paying up for. Limit exposure to just variance level on Quiñónez.
Dominick Reyes, -260, 9300 vs Volkan Oezdemir, +210, 6900
Fight is at 205 lbs and is -265 to end inside the distance.
Before hitting the fighters here, I want to say I’ve been extremely excited for this fight since it was announced. I thought it was razor thin and was dumbfounded when the betting line was released. This is a fight either can win and finish quickly, and the betting line is just way too high.
Dominick Reyes is a fantastic prospect turning to a contender but takes a massive class jump into this fight. He’s been nothing but impressive and powerful thus far and should get respect, but by my view, being a small favorite to a pick’em against Oezdemir would be an extremely high level of respect. The hole I’ve seen thus far is that he is hittable, particularly by a high-level striker, and will have his chin tested.
Volkan Oezdemir was fighting Daniel Cormier for the 205 belt 14 months ago. He then got submitted by Anthony Smith (who just fought Jon Jones for the 205 belt) in the third round of a fight he was winning, and he becomes a nearly 3:1 underdog against a prospect with only one notable win under his belt and against an opponent (Ovince St Preaux) that Oezdemir previously beat in eerily similar fashion? What gives? Volkan is equally capable of putting Reyes out as vice versa.
This fight is one that is highly likely for a first-round KO and it’s likely that the winner is in the optimal. I’d advocate for 90 percent exposure to this fight. Oezdemir has as good a ceiling as anyone on this card at 6900. The exposure should be between even and extra to Oezdemir.
Gunnar Nelson, +110, 7900 vs Leon Edwards, -140, 8300
Fight is at 170 lbs and is -105 to end inside the distance.
Gunnar Nelson is an elite grappler and an expert at finding submissions, but his striking remains average at best. His striking defense is a real problem, especially against an opponent that’s a very high-level striker and unlikely to allow him to close distance. Bottom line, he needs this fight to get to the floor, and it’s very iffy whether he can make that happen.
Leon Edwards as mentioned, is a fantastic striker. However, he’s usually a decision winner. Gunni’s striking defense could make it that Edwards finds a KO. The line on this fight is too small, and there are not too many levels to sort for this fight.
Edwards is very favorably priced, but his scoring ceiling is a question. He won’t get where he needs to in a decision win. He’ll need a KO, but the chin on Gunni seems to be fading, and it’s very in play. Get moderate exposure on Edwards with some variance on Gunni in case he finds another submission to escape, as he did in his last fight.
Darren Till, -245, 9200 vs Jorge Masvidal, +200, 7000
Fight is a five-round main event fight at 170 lbs and is -110 to end inside the distance.
Darren Till is a cold, calculated and powerful, yet slow-paced striker. Despite having a five-round decision win under his belt, he’s never hit 50 significant strikes. His ceiling lies solely in a finish, which he’s very capable of, but not something to bank on at his price.
Jorge Masvidal is also a sound striker and has not had takedown success since he’s reached the higher echelon of fighters in the division. He would do well to grapple here, but Till’s takedown defense is strong. He’s likely outclassed as a striker here, but the divide isn’t massive. It’s possible he wins on better volume in a long and slow decision.
This is a main event that’s likely to see no grappling and slow-paced yet high-level striking. Without a finish inside the first two rounds, there’s virtually no chance the winner lands in the optimal. Grab exposure to both, with more on Till, in the case of a finish, but it’s too slow of a main event to truly attack.
If we repriced salary with current betting lines, the biggest beneficiaries would be McCann by a wide margin, then Grundy and Ige as the next best. All three of these fighters are very sound for cash as all three fights are projected to go the distance, and none of the three have an opponent threatening an early finish. This is the most sound starting core, and leaves salary flexibility.
The next group of fighters that have favorable pricing compared to current salary are Edwards, Rinaldi, Silva2 and Heinisch. Of these, I don’t believe Heinisch is in play for cash, but the other three bring respectable floors and some ceiling and are good plays.
The leftover salary is best spent on Wood as he’s much busier than Till and projects for more output in three rounds than Till does in five rounds.
- Till by KO at +200 is sound value
- Leon Edwards to win at -140 is sound value
- Oezdemir by KO at +365 hedged with Reyes ITD at -120 covers 95 percent of outcomes
- Marshman by KO at +280 hedged with Phillips by KO at +215 covers the highly likely outcomes at a cheaper price than betting the fight ITD
- Rinaldi by sub at +875 is an elite punt
- Ige by KO at +590 is a great punt