Welcome to the breakdown of our morning/daytime fight card! We get a few of these a year and they are enjoyable and leave the night free.
We’ve got a handful of UFC newcomers and information will be an edge on this card, as there’s not exactly a plethora of household names.
The headings show “fighter name, betting line, DK salary.”
Let’s get to it!
Preliminary Card on ESPN2
Damir Ismagulov, -255, $9200 vs Joel Alvarez, +215, $7000
Fight is at 155 lbs and is +105 to end inside the distance
This is a fight typical to fight night cards (especially Eastern European and Asian ones) where we have limited information to go off of on the newcomers, and are left projecting a good deal.
Damir Ismagulov is a calculated and sound striker and is well rounded. He doesn’t throw at a high volume but makes the shots he chooses count. He had sound wrestling and crisp takedowns in his just about flawless UFC debut decision win, albeit against a short notice local replacement. He showed paralyzing top control in half guard in his debut. It will be interesting to see how well this translates against a fighter that will be eagerly attacking submissions.
Joel Alvarez gets the call up to the big leagues after a long list of submission wins on the regional scene. In fact, all 15 of his wins were finishes, 14 by submission and one KO. His lone loss came by way of a one-shot, head kick KO. He is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) fighter and one that will do everything to get the fight to the floor. In limited film available, his stand up striking appears sub-par.
It very much seems Ismagulov outclasses his opponent, and the oddsmakers agree. Ismagulov’s price is very high for what appears to be a limited scoring ceiling due to low volume output and being a fighter more apt to win by decision. He didn’t have urgency for a finish in his debut and was content to ride out the decision. Alvarez may have some real BJJ chops and come in and submit his opponent … or he may actually be outclassed and be in for a long 15 minutes of being controlled. Neither fighter is in play for cash and both are very thin for single-entry contests. Both should be a moderate to low part of a mass multi-entry (MME) build with the pricing dictating an exposure edge to Alvarez.
Confidence pick: Ismagulov 75%
There aren’t any attractive bets in this fight but if you’re looking for a punt, Alvarez inside the distance (ITD) at +635 is it.
Diego Ferreira, +105, $7500 vs Rustam Khabilov, -135, $8700
Fight is at 155 lbs and is +175 to end inside the distance.
Diego Ferreira is a BJJ fighter through and through, and a successful UFC vet. He’s 5-2 in the promotion with his slips being a KO loss for the only time in his career to the elite Dustin Poirier, and a decision loss to fellow BJJ black belt Beneil Dariush. Four of his five UFC wins have come inside the distance and he is a great ground finisher. His submission game is fantastic and what’s more, he is very good at getting ground and pound finishes when his opponents defend the submissions. His standup striking is not nearly elite, but adequate, and at a level that he’s capable of setting up takedowns with it, and that’s always the goal for Diego. **Ferreira missed weight by one pound**
Rustam Khabilov is a Sambo based fighter and is also a UFC vet. He’s 7-2 in the UFC and has won five straight, but there’s an asterisk on these last five. The level of competition has been as low as the promotion offers. Three of the five opponents are no longer with the promotion, all five of these wins were via decision and he hasn’t had a finish victory since 2013. While he’s a strong fighter, he’s not necessarily a powerful striker, and he likes to wrestle and shoot takedowns. He may want to rethink this strategy as he’s not fought a BJJ black belt at this level since Benson Henderson submitted him in 2014. He will be at risk at all times on the floor. His path to victory is a moderate- to slow-paced decision win that’s primarily standing.
Not to mince words, Ferreira is mispriced and is the best play on the slate in all formats. He will likely flip to being the favorite by fight time and is a cash lock, a very strong in single-entry play and a huge part of an MME build. Khabilov is only in play as a small portion of an MME build but is a candidate for a full fade.
Confidence pick: Ferreira 75%
Ferreira at any plus number to win is fantastic value as well as Ferreira ITD at +280.
Daniel Teymur, +210, $7200 vs Chris Fishgold, -255, $9000
Fight is at 145 lbs and is -185 to end inside the distance.
Daniel (not David) Teymur doesn’t fight like his aforementioned brother. While David is a cowardly and cheap fighter who is wholly unentertaining, Daniel is a pressure fighter who hunts KOs until he gasses. All of his pro fights on the regional scene were first-round finishes. Both of his UFC fights were losses that saw him gas. Given his opponent, could be a fun one round fight.
Chris Fishgold is, you guessed it, a first-round finisher. Six of his last seven wins on the regional scene were first-round wins, and his UFC debut against Calvin Kattar (more than marginally better than his current opponent ) was a one-round war that saw Fishgold lose by KO, but not before landing heavily and showing what got him to the UFC. He often moves forward, throwing heavy overhand strikes that more than once has caused an opponent to lean forward while ducking, allowing him to jump on guillotines. He also showed very crisp counter striking in his final regional fight.
It’s not outside the realm of possibility that this fight is slept on from a tournament perspective. It’s an extremely high probability one of these fighters lands in the optimal lineup, and are both moderate to high exposures for MME. This fight is not for cash unless you have a supremely confident lean in it. For single entry, it’s prudent to take a stand on a side in this fight.
Confidence pick: Fishgold 69%
Teymur ITD at +485 is a fun punt value.
Ismael Naurdiev, +330, $6800 vs Michel “Tractor” Prazeres, -420, $9400
Fight is at 170 lbs and is -185 to end inside the distance.
Ismael Naurdiev makes his UFC debut, and to put it bluntly, if he had the option, he could have picked a much much better spot. Michel Prazeres is not the opponent to get your feet wet with upon UFC entry. That said, he has done everything he possibly could have while facing wildly inferior competition leading up to his debut. He’s 17-2 with 16 finishes, 13 of those in the first round and the other three being in the second round. He will be much taller (6 feet) and much longer as are all fighters against the short and stout Tractor. With the film we have available, Naurdiev throws heavy and likely has a UFC future, but he will have to prove he can be the nail as well as the hammer in this one. His takedown defense, which isn’t especially exciting on film, will be a massive key for him, as he will be in serious trouble gets if he ends up underneath the black belt Tractor. He will need a quick KO to win this fight.
Tractor is a fairly unique body type at welterweight. He’s just 5 feet 6 inches with a 67-inch reach, but is insanely stout and strong and really knows how to close distance against longer opponents. He’s on an eight-fight win streak in the promotion and is 2-0 since his move up to welterweight. He’s a BJJ black belt who has massive strength in his arms and real technique and if his arms get near an opponent’s neck, it’s time to tap or sleep. He’s also a powerful standing striker, but mostly uses that to set up grappling. He has had intermittent gas issues that lead to fights going to decision if it gets deep into the second round. That is unlikely here. The only note of caution is that he is 37 years old and reaching the age which could see chins give out without warning, but note that he’s 26-2 overall and has never been finished.
Naurdiev is likely in over his head and should be only be considered as an MME hedge. But there is some positivity as he’s a strong candidate to be the least-owned fighter on the slate and a longshot win is highly likely to be a first-round finish, bringing a very high score. Tractor is in play in all formats and should be an ample part of an MME build.
Confidence pick: Tractor 96%.
Tractor ITD at -175 is a much cheaper way to get exposure.
Damir Hadzovic, -115, $7400 vs Marco Polo Reyes, -115, $8800
Fight is at 155 lbs and is -175 to end inside the distance.
Damir Hadzovic is a striker who is mostly sound and throws a good jab, but doesn’t have an exciting tool in his bag. He’s not incredibly powerful and will have to rely on striking defense in this fight. He will be giving up an inch of reach in this fight and will also be at a power disadvantage. His opponent, also a striker, is more likely to dictate the fight, and Hadzovic may have to land a power shot early. He is 0/1 in takedown attempts in four UFC fights and his opponent is 0/0 in five fights. They will be standing and banging for as long as the fight lasts.
Marco Polo Reyes is a power puncher who will be at home in a standing firefight, and will throw as many strikes as needed. Hadzovic tends to press forward and Reyes tends to be very comfortable counter punching. He will be hit by jabs but will be looking for heavy counters. I give him the edge with the power advantage in this one.
The betting line in this one was kind of screwy early in the week. It opened as a pick’em, quickly moved to Reyes -175, and has since moved back to a pick’em. This is why there’s the DK salary inequity to betting line. This discrepancy will likely mean Hadzovic ends up being wildly popular in all formats, and I view it as a good spot to be contrarian. Hadzovic is in play for cash because of the likely popularity, but unexciting for single entry. He should have a part of an MME build as this fight is not one to hit a lock button one way or the other. Reyes brings no salary value and is not at all a cash play, but will have contrarian ceiling value in all tournament formats and should be a sound part of an MME build.
Confidence pick: Reyes 67%
Reyes ITD at +160 is attractive. You can hedge with Hadzovic ITD at +260.
Carlo Pedersoli Jr., -145, $8200 vs Dwight Grant, +115, $8000
Fight is at 170 lbs and is +100 to end inside the distance.
Carlo Pedersoli Jr. is a young and still growing fighter, with a somewhat complete game at an early age. He likes to throw a lot of kicks to all striking points, but too many head kicks. He will find this striking method works a lot better against regional competition. That said, his body kicks are sound and his opponent doesn’t seem to defend leg kicks or body kicks all that well. A strength of his game is picking and executing takedown spots, and getting them completed very very quickly. This will also be an asset for him in this matchup. A developing problem for him is lack of chin. In both of his UFC fights so far, he’s been hurt by a counter punch, and the most recent lead to him being KO’d in under a minute in his most recent fight. It is worth noting he was facing a higher level opponent in that fight, in Cowboy Oliveira.
Dwight Grant is a slow-paced striker who looks for massive counter shots and throws his right hand heavily. His pace is so slow that it’s more than reasonable to wonder whether he has any path to victory outside of KO. As mentioned, he can be kicked and worn down. The deeper the fight goes, the worse it is for him, as Pedersoli has very sound cardio. He will have to get the heavy right hand home, but if he does, it’s likely a fight ended. He will also have a 2-inch height and 3-inch reach advantage.
This is a fairly tough fight to predict a winner, but I don’t believe it’s difficult to determine the path to victory for each. Pedersoli is the better ground fighter and will need to win on the ground or grind out a decision win. This is likely a middling DK output. Grant will be looking for and can get an early KO. Neither fighter is in play for cash, Grant is thin, but possible for single entry, but both should have a spot in an MME build.
Confidence pick: Grant 55%
Grant ITD at +275 is attractive value.
Gillian Robertson, -155, $8600 vs Veronica Macedo, +125, $7600
Fight is at 125 lbs and is -145 to end inside the distance.
Gillian Robertson’s last fight against the debuting Mayra Bueno Silva put a lot of her body of work into perspective. She previously had two submission wins against a local replacement fighter and a very green version of Emily Whitmire. She was touched heavily by Mayra on the feet and her striking game seems subpar at best (albeit, on a small sample). She has pushed for grappling in all of her fights. Despite being favored, I’m not sure she has a singular advantage in this fight. She will push hard for takedowns against the karate and tae kwon do black belt Veronica Macedo, but the situation does not improve once they hit the floor. Robertson’s BJJ purple belt is a rank below Macedo’s brown belt. Despite her submission wins, it must be noted that in a transition in the Mayra fight, she ended up in layup level of ease heel hook position and had no clue it was even there. This is especially critical because Macedo attacked leg submissions in each of her UFC fights. From a pure wrestling standpoint, I would give Robertson the advantage.
As mentioned, Macedo is the far more decorated athlete, with the exception of one category: UFC wins. Macedo is 0-2 in the UFC, but the level of competition compared to Robertson is vastly different. She’s moderately sized for 125 lbs and her debut was against Ashlee Evans-Smith at 135 lbs. She gutted her way through much of that fight but the size difference appeared to be two weight classes. She then dropped to 125 lbs and had the misfortune of drawing the debuting Andrea Lee, who has recently risen to the top of the weight class and is likely one win away from a title shot, if that. She lost a decision where the clinch and judo strength of Lee continuously tilted the fight in her favor. Macedo’s kicks are going to be a real problem for Robertson and simple straight punches could also pose a problem. As far as how it plays out on the floor, higher belt level doesn’t necessarily mean better, and Robertson has had success against lesser competition, but the submission game she’s hung her hat on this far in her UFC career will see by far its largest test to date, and I would give Macedo a slight edge on the floor.
I do believe the wrong fighter is favored here, and it is exploitable in tournaments. Macedo is almost certainly too risky for cash but can be played in single entry and should be a good part of an MME build. Robertson is in play for MME only.
Confidence pick: Macedo 61%
Macedo at any underdog price is a great value for betting.
Main Card on ESPN+
Klidson Farias De Abreu, +180, $7100 vs Magomed Ankalev, -225, $9100
Fight is at 205 lbs and there is no inside the distance line available at the time of this writing.
Klidson Farias De Abreu is making his UFC debut on four weeks notice, replacing the injured Darko Stosic. With limited information on him, we do know a few things. His BJJ is very good, but his striking and wrestling are questionable. He will be far more comfortable on the floor, whether top or bottom position and will likely do everything in his power to get it there. All 14 of his wins have come via finish in the first two rounds, and he owns a submission victory over rapidly ascending and exciting Johnny Walker. His two losses are both via third-round KO, which would suggest gas issues in deeper water. ***Abreu missed weight by three pounds***
Magomed Ankalaev is a striker and ground-and-pounder with real power in his punches and kicks. He is a very legitimate KO threat. His wrestling is done with the intent to ground and pound — he isn’t a submission hunter. He’s good with grappling control but got a rude awakening in his UFC debut. After beating up Paul Craig for 15 minutes, he fell into a Craig triangle and was submitted at the horn for the latest submission in UFC history in a three-round fight. He then went on to get a quick and decisive first-round KO in his sophomore fight. The BJJ skill of his opponent in this fight is greater than that of Craig’s and he would do well to hunt for his KO standing in this fight.
This should be a fun one, and the absence of odds on ITD combined with the skill sets of these fighters, we are highly likely to see a finish. Ankalaev is active and is in play for cash and single entry and should have a large part of an MME. Farias is MME only but he is a high ceiling underdog and should be well above hedge level exposure.
Confidence pick: Ankalaev 77%
No betting lines at the time of this writing.
John Dodson, +240, $6900 vs Petr Yan, -285, $9300
Fight is at 135 lbs and is +240 to end inside the distance.
John Dodson is a grizzled 14-fight UFC vet and a slow-paced counter striker with both a ton of chin and elite takedown defense. His defense and pace keep DK scoring to a minimum, and only the most top-end opponents have solved that puzzle. The only fighter to ever land more than one takedown in a fight against him is the all-time greatest bantamweight Demetrious Johnson. This happened on two separate occasions and both were five-round title fights. Also, outside of Johnson, the only fighter to top the 80 significant strike mark on Dodson is John Lineker, also an extremely high-end talent (and also a five-round main event fight). Dodson owns a KO victory over TJ Dillashaw and has never been finished inside the distance. At 20-10, all 10 of his losses have been via judge’s scorecards.
Petr Yan is a high motor striker that is a legitimate up-and-coming prospect, facing, by miles, his toughest test to date. His scoring output to date is a near certainty to shrink with Dodson across from him, and this is the most likely fight on the card to go to a decision according to the oddsmakers. I’m eagerly ready to watch how this plays out as a fan, but mostly uneager from a DK and gambling perspective.
Neither fighter is remotely in play for cash or single entry. Dodson, as the second cheapest fighter on the card, has real power in his shots and will have 15 minutes to land one that counts. He probably needs to as he will be hard pressed to outpoint Yan. He’s a solid moderate-level MME play at his price, while Yan’s price relegates him to low-level MME only, and he is even a fade candidate.
Confidence pick: Yan 60%
No attractive bets
Liz Carmouche, -140, $8300 vs Lucie Pudilova, +115, $7900
Fight is at 125 lbs and is +255 to end inside the distance.
Yes, Liz Carmouche is still around, and she’s still a high-level fighter. The first woman to ever enter the octagon enters her third fight since her drop to the flyweight division. She’s 1-1 with the loss being a highly questionable split decision against elite grappler Alexis Davis and the win being a dominant decision win over the debuting (but high-level) Jennifer Maia. Her opponent’s game is striking, and she’s got a strong track record in fights where she has a grappling advantage, which she does here. She’s very good at getting the fight to the floor using an outside trip and using her upper body strength to wrench her opponents down, and this will be a very difficult thing to defend for Lucie Pudilova. Pudilova tends to be content holding guard once downed and this will be a real problem as Carmouche truly knows how to pass to dominant positions. Carmouche has also emphasized getting a finish in this fight with her eyes on a title shot. The more time spent on the floor, the better for Carmouche. She has power in her punches but grappling is the path of least resistance.
Pudilova’s bread and butter is standup striking and would certainly prefer 15 minutes of standing. She’ll be slightly taller and longer and is the higher output striker. This is her toughest fight to date and it just can’t be understated how important it is for her to keep it standing here. She’s shown an inability to get back up and would just helplessly take punishment in any bottom position scenario. Her path to victory is winning a predominantly standup decision or the near impossibility of Carmouche being knocked out for the first time in her 19th pro fight.1
Carmouche is generally a fighter who puts a cap on the ceiling of possible significant strikes standing, and while there’s some floor, this fight is not one to go for cash and single entry. From an MME perspective, both fighters should have a place, with Carmouche getting the higher exposure.
Confidence pick: Carmouche 73%
Carmouche ITD at +410 is a nice value punt.
Gian Villante, +165, $7300 vs Michal Oleksiejczuk, -210, $8900
Fight is at 205 lbs and is +130 to end inside the distance.
This is a fight that will likely be fought almost or completely on the feet featuring two moderate volume strikers with adequate power. The UFC has what we perceive as “gatekeepers” at different levels, and at his sixth year of mixed results in the promotion, Gian Villante is a gatekeeper of bottom-level roster spots. He often employs the awful combination of forward pressure without high volume, and this is a fight where that could catch up with him. His power nearly exclusively comes from overhand looping right hands and he is a fairly predictable striker. His paths to victory are getting a big strike home for a KO or eking out a thin decision. He’s facing an uphill battle, but will have 3-inch height and 2-inch reach advantages.
Michal Oleksiejczuk is the more technical striker and is the one of the two fighters that will be willing to shoot a takedown, with ground and pound being the intent. He won his UFC debut against Khalil Rountree via a very comfortable decision,2 but he did show some real chin, as he ate some massive punches from the powerful Rountree in the process. It’s likely the technique of Oleksiejczuk shines through more as the fight rolls on, leading to either a comfortable decision or a KO of attrition.
Villante is likely to score some points from a significant strike perspective, but I just don’t feel comfortable enough in his ability to win this fight, which is what would be needed to consider him for cash or single entry. He’s just hedge level for MME. Oleksiejczuk can find a high score in either a decision or more ideally a finish, and is in play for cash and single entry and should have a moderate to high exposure in MME.
Confidence pick: Oleksiejczuk 85%
No attractive bets
Marcos Rogério de Lima, -135, $8400 vs Stefan Struve, +105, $7800
Fight is at heavyweight and is -280 to end inside the distance.
This a difficult fight to project. It’s always a nightmare of sorts to figure out when Stefan Struve is fighting a relatively short heavyweight.
Marcos Rogério de Lima is a heavy striker with real gas issues who has seen six of nine UFC fights end in the first round and another in the second round. He will likely have to start by trying to chop down the legs of Struve and throwing some body shots, as he’ll be giving up a massive 10 inches of height and 9.5 inches of reach to the 7 footer. He will have to get inside the length of Struve and also avoid being taken down as Struve is a sneakily sound grappler that uses his length well for finding submissions. In fairness to Rogério, his path to finding his way inside is likely out of his control. When Struve employs a jab and uses his length in striking, he’s very difficult to get to. That said, it’s a maddening thing because he often forgets he’s seven feet tall and inexplicably gives away his length advantage. The longer this fight goes, the worse it will get for Rogério. His path to victory is likely KO in the first seven minutes of the fight.
I touched on Struve’s inconsistency in his striking, and it’s just intermittent and not a predictable thing. It’s also fair to wonder about his level of desire at this juncture of his career. If he comes out motivated and keeps range on the fight, he’ll likely gas his opponent and win easily. He will also have a sound advantage on the floor in either top or bottom position. He can win via submission at any point and is in play for a deeper into the fight KO.
This is a fight that just has so many variables and a crazy wide range of outcomes, we just can’t go either way in cash. We can take a stand in single entry as both fighters have an attainable ceiling. Both should be an ample part of an MME build. It’s likely one fighter ends in the optimal lineup while the other is a dud.
Confidence pick: Struve 55%
Taking a two bet hedge of both fighters ITD seems the best way to attack from a betting perspective. Rogério is +175 and Struve is +152.
Jan Blachowicz/ -115, 7700 vs Thiago “Maretta” Santos/ -115, 8500
Fight is at 205 lbs and is -425 to end inside the distance.
If you’re unfamiliar with either of these fighters, particularly Thiago “Maretta” Santos, get your popcorn ready!
Jan Blachowicz is a counter striker and BJJ black belt with a slick and strong submission game. He has by far the slower pace of attack of the two fighters, but everyone’s pace quickens when fighting Maretta, whether they want it to or not. Blachowicz is the less powerful striker of the two and will likely stick to his preferred method of looking for submissions and establishing top control, particularly when Maretta inevitably brings the heat from the opening bell. With this being a five-round fight, I don’t believe we will see the distance. Blachowicz path to victory is finding a submission or, what is less likely, getting a heavy counter strike home for a KO or initiating a ground and pound KO.
Maretta is one of the most fun-to-watch fighters, if not the most fun, on the UFC roster. He presses the action with strikes and is a sound grappler, also a BJJ black belt. If he’s not scoring with strikes, he’s scoring with takedowns and passes and always looking to finish. A spike in the line early in the week made his salary higher than it should be, but this is a double-edged sword as it likely keeps his ownership somewhat suppressed. He will always have the highest scoring ceiling on any card he is on when there’s a potential five rounds.
This is a fight you can strongly consider stacking in cash. In that scenario, the worst-case scenario is a first-round finish, and that still likely brings a combined 120-plus points. Both fighters are in play for single entry with Maretta being the likeliest winner, and Jan’s salary making him a value. Both fighters should have a hefty place in MME with up to 100 percent exposure to this fight being fully in play, if not absolutely optimal.
Confidence pick: Maretta 62%
This is also a hedge scenario where both fighters are at a plus betting line to win inside the distance, and you simply take both for small profit. Maretta is +120 and Blachowicz is +146.
The following are my favorite prop bet values:
- Ferreira by sub at +610
- Teymur by KO at +745
- Grant by KO at +300
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