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UFC on ESPN+ 15 in Shenzhen: Full Breakdown

I hope you’re not a big fan of the regular sleep schedule this week. This card kicks off at 3 a.m. on the East Coast. It features a whopping nine fighters making their promotional debut and another four making just their second walk to the octagon. There also looks to be a few high-level underdog salaries to pay as we already have one salary underdog that has flipped to being the favorite and are very much trending towards having two more do the same. 

As always, cash, single entry, bets and picks to come after weigh-ins with any pertinent updates.

Update: Yanan Wu missed weigh by three pounds with all other fighters on weight.

***UPDATE*** THe Evloev/Jung fight has been cancelled! Be sure to get these fighters out of your lineups!

With just 11 fights now and all the debuts, two things:

  1. Don’t burn up your bankroll here
  2. Don’t be afraid to leave salary on the table.

Prelims On ESPN

Karol Rosa, -115, 7800 vs Lara Procopio, -115, 8400

Fight is at 135 lbs and is +180 to end inside the distance.

Both Karol Rosa and Lara Procopio make their UFC debut to lead off the card. Both enter with question marks on the competition faced, but Rosa has an edge in the experience department. While Rosa is a fairly rounded fighter, this fight likely plays out like a cliche striker vs grappler matchup. Rosa is physically stronger and showed she can stand and strike for the duration in her last fight. She does nothing special — mostly leg kicks, jabs and counters — but she showed she is willing to absolutely tear up a leg repeatedly and will have the height advantage to do so again. Procopio’s striking is not impressive at all and she will be looking to gain top position on the floor on this one, or to attack submissions from her back. While Rosa is the stronger wrestler, she has a propensity to be swept and put in bad positions and that has led to her being finished twice, albeit by girls with UFC pedigree. Her top pressure on the floor is her go-to, and she can drop heavy ground and pound. This combined with the striking advantage is why she’s flipped to being favored in this fight and can win via KO or decision. Procopio is likely looking at a submission or bust outcome.

The first fight’s line movement makes a split in exposure fairly easy. Procopio is just low end of moderate but in play for submission ceiling. Rosa is a screaming value and is the high end of moderate. Note that this fight and the next feature fighters that are the lowest level the promotion will offer.

Batgerel Danaa, -120, 8500 vs Heili Alateng, -110, 7700

Fight is at 135 lbs and is -175 to end inside the distance.

Batgerel Danaa And Heili Alateng both make their UFC debut and it will be questionable whether the winner gets another fight in the promotion prior to the next China card. Both fighters have holes in their games. Danaa is a predictable striker whose head stays hittable, and he just doesn’t throw real combinations. His offensive grappling is better than his defensive grappling and he’ll be at a big disadvantage in that aspect of this fight. Alateng is the superior grappler and has more power in his strikes, even if lacking the technical nature. He should be in great shape in the first two rounds but his cardio is an issue later in the fight. Alateng can win by any method while Danaa is looking for either a slow standup decision or a Round-3 finish from cardio.

Danaa is just low exposure and at the unfavorable price, he is a fade candidate. Alateng is extremely favorably priced and can be deployed at the middle-to-high end of moderate exposure.

Update: Length advantage confirmed for Rosa at ceremonial weigh ins.

Damir Ismagulov, -185, 9000 vs Thiago Moises, +155, 7200

Fight is at 155 lbs and is +175 to end inside the distance.

We have seen a massive line movement in this fight, as favorite Damir Ismagulov has (correctly) dropped over 200 points this week against Thiago Moises. Ismagulov is very much a decision fighter that likes to avoid danger and will ride top control as long as possible to stay ahead on the scorecards. He’s rounded and has a controlling if not dangerous top game and is a very vanilla striker. The most likely outcome is he wins a decision here but the line movement indicates that not being a runaway outcome. Moises is also rounded and is the more dangerous striker of the two and I’d deem him more probable for a finish at a glaringly more favorable salary. He also attacks submissions well from the bottom and he’s the superior play, if not the best bet to win the fight.

Ismagulov is always a super low ceiling fighter and is anywhere between low exposure to fade candidate. Moises has a better ceiling and should be included in builds at or around the middle of moderate exposure. 

Da Un Jung, +230, 6900 vs Khadis Ibragimov, -295, 9300

Fight is at 205 lbs and is -290 to end inside the distance.

What a tough break for Da Un Jung. He gets a replacement opponent in Khadis Ibragimov who is a heavy favorite instead of the original fight that would have had much tighter betting odds. Both fighters are making their promotional debut. Jung uses a jab well but doesn’t throw in great volume and is bad at brawling and is hittable. He will need to fight on the outside in this fight and avoid grappling as he’s only really had success in that department once he’s hurt a worn down lower-level opponent. Ibragimov is a Sambo based grappler, and he has a strong top game. He has power on the feet but lacks technicality and can get wild. In any event, Ibragimov can get this fight to the floor and can finish via either submission or ground and pound and that is very much the most probable outcome. 

Jung is just a punt play given a reasonable degree of unknown with the dual debut. Low to the low end of moderate exposure on him. Ibragimov brings a real ceiling and is a value favorite by salary. He should be at the high end of moderate to high exposure. 

Su Mudaerji, +150, 7600 vs Andre Soukhamthath, -180, 8600

Fight is at 135 lbs and is +130 to end inside the distance.

Su Mudaerji makes his second octagon walk and is hoping for a better outcome than the submission loss in his debut in which he didn’t show a lot. Andre Soukhamthath is a step up in competition for him so the road does not get easier. His striking strength lies in his kicks and knees and those being a KO threat, particularly early in the fight. Keeping himself at kicking range will be a large key for him. He has shown he can get wild and wide with his strikes when pressed and that would work to his detriment here. As a grappler, he’s showed an understanding of how to scramble and somewhat to attack submissions, but he’s way too willing to accept being on his back and that got him in trouble in his debut. Ideally, he keeps this fight at kicking range, but that might be a tall task. Soukhamthath is a well-rounded fighter with real pop in his punches. The biggest hole in his game is probably awareness as he cost himself a win previously grappling with an opponent with a broken foot. He is strong at pressuring and closing distance, landing strong punches in the process, and ultimately putting his strong clinch game to work which involves strikes and takedowns. He is capable of a finish but can also score for the optimal in a decision win.

Mudaerji as an underdog has dangerous kicks that can lead to a KO and isn’t a fade. He’s low to middle of moderate exposure. Soukhamthath has multiple paths to the optimal and is a higher exposure, probably best suited at high end of moderate.

Jun Yong Park, +135, 7400 vs Anthony Hernandez, -165, 8800

Fight is at 185 lbs and is -175 to end inside the distance.

Anthony Hernandez’ second octagon walk will be to meet debuting Jun Yong Park. Hernandez has one-punch power but has a somewhat limited skill set once getting past the boxing. These fighters are similar in the sense they both prefer standup and neither has a strength in the wrestling department. Hernandez will rush forward in flurries and is effective with it but after those flurries and his jab, it’s just rinse and repeat as opposed to going back to the toolbox for something else. Hernandez, once closing distance, has a dangerous guillotine and is the better grappler. Park has some quality wins, but this is his toughest fight to date while the same cannot be said for his opponent. Park’s striking arsenal is probably superior, but trails in the power department. We likely get some fun exchanges in this one with chins tested. I’d bet on the power and chin of Hernandez but I think Park is live, particularly if he works the body. 

Considering salaries, this fight isn’t a fade on either side nor is it one to go crazy with on either side. Middle of moderate exposure on both fighters as it really is a well put together fight.

Song Kenan, -120, 8200 vs Derrick Krantz, -110, 8000

Fight is at 170 lbs and is -185 to end inside the distance.

Derrick Krantz made his UFC debut on short notice as a sacrificial lamb to Vicente Luque. While he was ultimately knocked out late in the first round, he showed well landing stinging punches and even getting to dominant grappling positions, but being a bit over-eager. He gets a more even matchup in his encore against Song Kenan. Krantz will press the action more than Kenan, who is more patient. Both fighters are hittable and a KO is very in play on both sides. If it goes to grappling, Krantz gets the edge in that department. We have two very open chins and a fight as tight as the betting line suggests. Krantz will be busier and I give a slight edge to him if it gets to the scorecards but either is capable of a KO. 

With the middling pricing, this is another fight to not win the card with but to be sure not to lose the card by being without. Giving a slight exposure edge to Krantz, middle of moderate on both is prudent with room for less on Kenan. 

Main Card On ESPN+

Yanan Wu, +110, 7900 vs Mizuki Inoue, -140, 8300

Fight is at 125 lbs and is +195 to end inside the distance.

Mizuki Inoue makes her UFC debut as a replacement against Yanan Wu. Despite the debut, Inoue is the more seasoned fighter and the more dangerous grappler. While Wu got in the win column with a submission win over an inexperienced opponent, she has poor takedown defense and will be fighting off her back in this one. Neither fighter has much speed in the striking department. Inoue has the better jab and counter right while Wu will have the volume advantage early in the fight. While Inoue has the most success finding takedowns against the fence, it may not matter as Wu accepts takedowns fairly easily. Inoue has the better BJJ and will be a finishing threat in top position. She will just have to avoid leg locks and other low percentage attempts from Wu as she attempts to create scrambles. While this fight is most likely to see the judge’s scorecards, a submission is in play for Inoue.

Inoue has a favorable betting line and salary and should be owned and capped at the middle of moderate exposure. Inoue is fighting up a weight class and debuting so there are size and debut concerns which makes a Wu fade more difficult than it would be otherwise. Not a fade but just low to the low end of moderate exposure on her.

Update: Wu already had a size advantage and has missed weight by three pounds. Inoue is still longer on grappling ability but the difference was evident enough at the ceremonial weigh ins to up the exposure to Wu.

Movsar Evloev, -735, 9500 vs Zhenhong Lu, +500, 6700

Fight is at 145 lbs and is +135 to end inside the distance.

Movsar Evloev makes his second octagon walk against the debuting Zhenhong Lu in a rematch from 2015. The line says it all here as the gap has widened between them since the first fight. Evloev will just be paralyzing with his takedowns and top control and is probable for another dominant decision victory like in his debut. He is in play for a finish and his DK scoring ceiling ultimately relies on finding that finish. Lu is not incapable and the ability gap isn’t as large as the one Khama Worthy overcame two weeks ago, but he’d need to land the perfect shot in the first round or have a perfect submission queued up from his back to get the job done.

Evloev is highly probable to win but the scoring ceiling is far more questionable than the scoring floor. He’s just low to middle of moderate in tournaments. Lu is just a tourney punt for low exposure. 

This fight has been cancelled.

Kai Kara-France, -195, 9100 vs Mark de la Rosa, +165 7100

Fight is at 125 lbs and is +150 to end inside the distance.

While labeling striker vs grappler is admittedly lazy in this one and not fully indicative of either skill set, each fighter will have a game plan geared towards striking or grappling. Kai Kara-France is the striker, and he fights with some pace. Mark de la Rosa is the grappler who will try to put his BJJ black belt to work despite limited wrestling and striking chops. The betting line on Kara-France has plummeted this week, and he is a prospect that’s had a little too much hype, but I’m not sure this matchup is the one he stumbles in. As mentioned, de la Rosa is only dangerous on the floor and is not astute at taking the fight down, especially not against a quick opponent with good footwork. If Kara-France keeps range he will win a laugher decision or find an attrition finish. The fight becomes more wide open should we see grappling exchanges. 

While the pricing isn’t ideal, the exposure edge goes to Kara-France. He should be low to middle of moderate exposure while de la Rosa is just enough to cover a submission win outcome so as not to crush the build. Low to the low end of moderate here.

Elizeu Zeleski Dos Santos, -300, 9200 vs Li Jingliang, +240, 7000

Fight is at 170 lbs and is -170 to end inside the distance.

Li Jingliang gets by far the biggest test of his career in Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos. Before getting into the striking, let’s be clear, Dos Santos has a massive advantage on the floor and grappling would be a bad idea for Jingliang, despite his ownership of a BJJ brown belt. In the striking department, Jingliang gives himself a chance if can create a brawl, but is technically in trouble if he can’t. He’s been a fairly easy fighter to knock down and if he ends up on his back with water in his head, Dos Santos will finish him. There’s a puncher’s chance for Jingliang, and the sloppier brawl he can make it the better, but I think there’s a real class difference for Dos Santos.

Dos Santos is a great favorite with a real ceiling and should see the high end of moderate to high exposure. Jingliang has ceiling if he can create a brawl but that’s a low percentage outcome and is just low to the low end of moderate exposure.

Jessica Andrade, -170, 8700 vs Weili Zhang, +140, 7500

Fight is at 115 lbs for the strawweight women’s championship and is -180 to end inside the distance.

Weili Zhang is a sound and rounded fighter, being gifted a title shot against Jessica Andrade in her home country despite having just three fights to her name in the UFC. It needs to be massively noted that the first two opponents are no longer with the promotion and the third, her signature win of Tecia Torres, is riding a four-fight losing streak, and her next fight is for her job. This is too much too soon. Despite being the better technical striker, Zhang will not be able to keep on the outside for 25 minutes and will ultimately cave to the relentless pressure and brute force style that Andrade is just superb at. Andrade will be the stronger and more seasoned grappler and will hold the power advantage over anyone she fights at 115. I believe this line should be much wider than it currently sits and I believe we are on our way to another entertaining finish by Andrade. 

Andrade should be your highest exposure on the card without question. While I am confident in Andrade, Zhang will have ownership and we need to play some defense there. Putting her at the low end of moderate keeps us well below the field and covers our night from dying due to variance-level outcomes in the most-owned fight. 

Cash and Single Entry

I’m reiterating my confidence in Andrade, but you can defensively play the stack if desired. I think the better option is to skip Zhang and pivot to Alateng and attack the value there. The largest value on the slate is in the top salary of Evloev and he should be in. Soukhamthath’s floor/ceiling and mini value is the next favorite in. We need a value underdog with some level of floor after this and that is Moises. This makes the value salary of Inoue fit perfectly to the dollar.

For single entry, this lineup is acceptable but we probably want to pivot to better ceilings. Pivoting from Inoue/Moises to Krantz/Rosa brings more ceiling. Another option is to come down from Evloev to either Zaleskie dos Santos or Ibragimov and leave two or three hundred salary on the table for a better ceiling.

***Update*** With the Evloev/Lu fight being removed, the pivot from Evloev in cash lineups is Zaleski Dos Santos.

Picks

With personal confidence percentage:

  • Rosa 65%
  • Alateng 65%
  • Ismagulov 69%
  • Ibragimov 84%
  • Soukhmthath 76%
  • Hernandez 58%
  • Krantz 60%
  • Inoue 70%
  • Evloev 96%
  • Kara-France 82%
  • Zaleski Dos Santos 85%
  • Andrade 86%

Bets

  • Rosa -120
  • Alateng -135
  • Soukhamthath -165
  • Zaelski Dos Santos ITD -105
  • Andrade -170

 

 

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