Whew, wyd UFC? For a pay per view card, this one was pretty haphazardly thrown together and one would have to assume Dana was happy to make a couple bucks and get Frankie Edgar one last decent pay day. We only have 12 fights which is becoming more normal in general, but not for a PPV card.
I am apologizing in advance as I have a massive work project happening this week and next and won’t have the normal 5000-6000 word length to the article, but what helps with this one is, it’s just not warranted.
With the nature of MMA, I generally don’t have many spots where I advocate topping 70% exposure on any fighter, but this card warrants it, and with two of the top favorites. Simply put, your rock bottom basement exposure will be that 70% on both Max Holloway and Cris Cyborg as the top two prices on the card, and fill in from there.
As always, cash, single entry, picks and bets to be updated Friday after weigh ins. Let’s get to it.
**Update** The Boser/Lemos fight was cancelled prior to weigh ins due to a failed drug test by Lemos.
Koch looked like a different person on the scale. 170 might suit him.
Dawodu was way too excited to just make weight, suggesting a tough cut.
Early Prelims On Fight Pass
Giacomo Lemos, +135, 7700 vs Tanner Boser, -165, 8500
Fight is at heavyweight and is -180 to end inside the distance. We have the unfortunate lead in of having two debuting fighters matched up with each other. Giacomo Lemos and Tanner Boser. Boser is the favorite and has the far more complete skill set. Lemos relies on takedown to ground and pound and offers very little in the standup and will be at a huge disadvantage there. The key to this fight is whether Boser can complete any takedowns. If the answer is yes, he’s in play for a floor finish if not, he’ll be picked apart and will lose a lopsided decision or be finished. The finish would probably be later in the fight as Boser isn’t a one shot killer. Low end of moderate exposure on Boser. With the build structure we’re using we need to have at least that amount but likely more on Lemos.
Eric Koch, -115, 8000 vs Kyle Stewart, -115, 8200
Fight is at 170 lbs and is -130 to end inside the distance.
Kyle Stewart is a striker whose UFC debut went poorly, but the optics aren’t as bad after seeing Rencountre’s encore performance. His grappling isn’t as bad as that performance showed, but he’s definitely not in his comfort zone if he’s not standing or in top position. If he defends takedowns here, he will be in quite an advantageous spot and can strike his way to a decision win or KO and should see high end of moderate exposure. Eric Koch is fighting for his job and hasn’t been able to fight often. He’s had eight fights completed since 2011 but has had nine scheduled fights cancelled. Still only 30, he peaked early in his career and doesn’t feel dangerous at all striking. His path to victory is getting the fight to the floor and ultimately taking the back for a submission. He should see middle of moderate exposure as well. This fight has a sound chance of producing a fighter for the optimal and I’m okay with being overweight.
Koch looked like a different person on the scale. 170 might really suit him and reignite his career. I’m going to say flip the above exposure on these fighters.
Gillian Robertson, -125, 8600 vs Sarah Frota, -105, 7600
Fight is at 125 lbs and is -195 to end inside the distance.
Gillian Robertson is a grappler and submission hunter that’s seen her last five fights end via submission, winning four of them. She’s drawn a putrid matchup here though as Sarah Frota is bigger, stronger and likely a better grappler. Frota’s BJJ is legit and she’ll be happy to roll with Robertson. Robertson is far from a dangerous striker but may have a technical edge while Frota is certainly bringing more power. A submission or decision win is in play for either fighter while Frota is also in play for a KO. Robertson should see low to low end of moderate exposure while Frota should see high end of moderate to high exposure.
Early Prelims On ESPN
Alexandre Pantoja, -125, 8300 vs Deiveson Figuerdo, -105, 7900
Fight is at 125 lbs and is +150 to end inside the distance.
The most anticipated prelim for a lot of fans including myself is Alexandre Pantoja vs Deiveson Figuerdo. One of these guys likely cements a spot in the next number one contender fight at 125. Both these guys are very well rounded and both have ground chops, and both will try. Pantoja is the more active fighter and is quicker and more technical. In a fight that goes the distance, he’s highly likely the winner. Figuerdo is a stronger finisher that lacks volume output, but alas, he’s a finisher and could snatch a KO or a guillotine. This fight fits well with our build from a pricing perspective, but we likely need an early finish for Figuerdo or a later one from Pantoja to have it pay off. The cap on both of these fighters is middle of moderate exposure and I’ll likely be under that.
Gavin Tucker, -125, 8400 vs Seungwoo Choi, -105, 7800
Fight is at 145 lbs and is +160 to end inside the distance.
Gavin Tucker returns after nearly two years off following a brutal beating in his last fight. He returns in what’s a bad matchup for him with striker Seungwoo Choi where Choi will be holding a silly 6” of height and 8” of reach. Tucker is probably the better grappler, but he’s going to have an extremely hard time getting inside for strikes, let alone takedowns. I don’t see any way Tucker points enough for a decision and it is KO or bust. Choi can win by decision or KO at any point, there’s a non zero chance Tucket is cooked. High end of moderate on Choi, low to low end of moderate on Tucket.
Hakeem Dawodu, -395, 9300 vs Yoshinori Horie, +300, 6900
Fight is at 145 lbs and is -145 to end inside the distance.
Hakeem Dawodu is a striker welcoming fellow striker Yoshinori Horie. Dawodu is the busier striker and will have the volume edge that would almost surely see his hand raised in a decision. Horie’s chin is unknown but we know Dawodu has been touched before and Horie is truly in play for a KO. Dawodu will need the unlikely outcome of a first round finish to flirt with the scores of salary piers Holloway and Cyborg. He’s absolutely capped at just low level exposure. Horie is a guy to gamble on and get sound exposure to: middle of moderate or more as he doesn’t simply bring KO ceiling but he makes a lot of lineups fit.
*Update* Dawodu was way too excited to make weight, suggesting a rough cut and adding a couple percentage points of confidence for a Horie KO.
Alexis Davis, +205, 7100 vs Viviane Araujo, -245, 9100
Fight is at 125 lbs and is +165 to end inside the distance.
In terms of career trajectory, Alexis Davis and Viviane Araujo are two ships passing in the night. Araujo’s arrow is pointing aggressively upwards while Davis is declining and much nearer the end than the beginning. There isn’t a spot in this fight Araujo doesn’t carry an advantage and she’s in a great spot to win, but DK scoring is the big question. Even with the widening ability gap, Davis is far from an easy fighter to finish and Araujo will need to do that to crack the optimal. Davis is cheap but has the highest personal ITD line on the card and is just variance to low level exposure. Araujo has real ceiling, but the ease of attainablilty pales in comparison to Max and Cyborg so we probably have to cap her at middle of moderate exposure with room for less.
Main Card On PPV
Marc-Andre Barriault, +140, 7500 vs Krzysztof Jotko, -170, 8700
Fight is at 185 lbs and is +105 to end inside the distance.
Krzysztof Jotko remains favored against Marc-Andre Barriault, but there is a more telling factor: the personal ITD lines are just about identical. This is a proper indictment on the failing chin of Jotko. Barriault isn’t exactly an exciting up and comer by any means, but he does have enough power in his hands to put Jotko down. From a technical standpoint, Jotko is probably still better and if we were rewarding more likely to win a decision, he’d be more in play, but since we’re not, he’s not. It’s arguable whether a full fade on any fighter is prudent on a 12 fight card in MME but he’s probably the best candidate on the card. Barriault conversely is in play for a KO and we are playing him at price. Middle to high end of moderate on him.
Olivier Aubin-Mercier, +175, 7400 vs Arman Tsarukyan, -205, 8800
Fight is at 155 lbs and is +190 to end inside the distance.
We get a mixed bag as far as anticipation for Olivier Aubin-Mercier (OAM) fights, unfortunately this one isn’t one to expect a ton from as its likely to be a battle of wills over who is the better grappler between he and Arman Tsarukyan. Tsarukyan is the better wrestler and that’s not really debatable, but I think OAM has the better BJJ. If he’s able to defend the wrestling pressure he’ll be in shape to get a decision win, and not fully out of play to find a submission. Tsarukyan wants to wrestle and will wrestle. Neither has a striking game that’s super impressive but Tsarukyan is probably the mister dangerous with kicks. Either way this one is pretty likely to be a decision and Tsarukyan has a very rough path to the optimal at price. He’s just a low exposure play. OAM’s pricing is favorable but a ceiling isn’t probable. Low end of moderate is the starting point but you can use more.
Geoff Neal, -330, 9000 vs Niko Price, +265, 7200
Fight is at 170 lbs and is -400 to end inside the distance.
Geoff Neal is truly ascending and is a very very good striker. He draws Niko Price who is a guy that never stops believing in himself, and has found finishes in fights he was losing because of that. He has a knack for finding odd finishes but make no mistake at all, he’s got an uphill battle here. Neal has power and will touch Price plenty and is quite in play for a KO, if not a win would be a runaway decision. For Price it’s KO only and we’re playing both in this fight. Neal, despite salary is someone to jam a good amount of in, as much as you can fit without sacrificing your big two exposure on this card. We are also playing at least middle of moderate amount of Price for that underdog ceiling.
Cris Cyborg, -675, 9600 vs Felicia Spencer, +475, 6600
Fight is at 145 lbs and is -750 to end inside the distance.
I don’t need to go too deep into the ability disparity between Cris Cyborg and Felicia Spencer. If, and it’s a massive if, Spencer is a slightly better grappler than Cyborg, there’s an ocean between them on the feet, and Cyborg is going to hurt her. She will pour it on for one, maybe two rounds and even at price is quite favorable for the optimal. Jam her in. Variance to fade exposure on Spencer.
Max Holloway, -395, 9400 vs Frankie Edgar, +305, 6800
Fight is five rounds at 145 lbs and is for the featherweight championship.
The last truly impressive win from Frankie Wdgar was all the way back in 2015 against Chad Mendes. He only gets to fight Max Holloway because of next man up status. This fight is just a paycheck for both roster mainstays while featherweight lacks a true contender after Brian Ortega proved not quite ready. Speaking of the common opponent in Ortega, Ortega slept Edgar while Max put on a striking clinic in his stoppage of Ortega. He’s going to do it again to Edgar and lands with the type of volume that is going to find the optimal, even in a decision win. Jam him in. Edgar could land enough to make noise in a loss at a tiny salary and is in play for low to low end of moderate exposure. You can consider some tourney stacks of it opens the ability to jam this stack in with Cyborg and Neal.
Cash and Single Entry
Our first fighters in for the cash lineup are a main event stack, along with Cyborg. Frota is the next fighter in and this is the core. I think the best remaining combo is Neal with Barriault but wouldnt’t fault anyone for opting for a little more safety with Araujo instead.
For single entry, Edgar comes out and the Horie punt replaces him. If you opt for Araujo over Neal in this scenario, you’ll have to play OAM over Barriault, which is okay.
Picks and Bets
Personal picks with confidence %:
- Koch 55%
- Frota 63%
- Pantoja 53%
- Choi 61%
- Dawodu 70%
- Aruajo 85%
- Barriault 51%
- Tsarukyan 68%
- Neal 82%
- Cyborg 98%
- Max 94%
This card is better than last week fro viable bets for sure, but with just 11 fights, not a bunch of them to make:
- Frota +115
- Choi -110
- Aruajo -190
- Cyborg by KO -265
- Max -370
Partial Unit Punt:
- Barriault by KO +325