As far as fight night cards go, we get the normal dose of new fighters but we also get some fun matchups, and what oddsmakers believe will be a card with a lot of finishes. We also get a full 13 fights, which should be the norm, but hasn’t been of late.
As always, cash, single entry, picks, bets and other thoughts will be updated after weigh-ins.
Update: All fighters are on weight.
Prelims On ESPN+
Veronica Macedo, -120, 7600 vs Polyana Viana, -110, 8600
Fight is at 125 lbs and is +125 to end inside the distance.
Despite starting her career 0-3 in the UFC, it doesn’t necessarily feel like Veronica Macedo is fighting for her job. The BJJ black belt has been entertaining thus far, and is still just 23 years old and not a fighter to write off. She is short for the division and needs to get inside, which she is able to do with quickness over setups and also throws some dangerous head kicks which she’s willing to double tap if having success. She will be the better striker in this matchup despite giving up 1 inch of height and 3 inches of reach. She, like her opponent, hasn’t shown the highest of levels of BJJ transferring over to MMA. She is able to sweep from negative positions but has been unable to really secure and hold dominant positions. She’s got the worse of two strong BJJ pedigrees so her paths to victory are decision or a later KO is in play.
Polyana Viana is a BJJ fighter moving up a weight class to take this fight on short notice. She’s on a two-fight losing streak but it should be noted the most recent fight was not the correct decision, but that’s not to say her performance was without holes. Her gas seemed to be a real issue after the first round and she just simply didn’t attack submissions or command dominant positions in the grappling department. Her striking remains mostly in its infancy and lacks any boxing. She does have power in her hands and throws decent kicks, but her hands stay low and her chin stays high and without movement. To win this fight she will need to put her BJJ pedigree to work and get at least one or two clinch takedowns and win it on the floor. Her path to victory is something on the floor, most likely submission, but it could be GNP too.
As I mentioned, I do think Viana is the better fighter on the floor but it’s a big question mark whether she can get it there or not and then whether she can keep it there. Macedo will have the striking advantage and has flipped to the favorite with her underdog salary, and will be popular. Viana will have low ownership due to this but we’re not fading as she does have a ceiling, but just low to low end of moderate there. Conversely Macedo will be popular, especially in cash, and we need at minimum middle of moderate ownership, with anything higher being a strong bet on her finding a finish.
Alex da Silva, -270, 9200 vs Rodrigo Vargas, +220, 7000
Fight is at 155 lbs and is -130 to end inside the distance.
Rodrigo Vargas makes his UFC debut on short notice, and I’m not sure he’s someone that lasts. He’s short and compact and has sound power but lacks any crispness or technical nature. He pushes forward but also lacks any chops at all in the grappling department. His offensive wrestling is the best part of a rough skill set but could find himself in trouble as his opponent is sound off his back. He will brawl and needs to get some big punches home to find a KO to win.
Alex da Silva gets as easy a fight as one can hope for in the UFC. He’s long and quick and has real pop in his hands. He’s a sound grappler that doesn’t defend the takedown perfectly but is sound off his back and able to get up. Here’s the most telling thing about his skill set: he’s finished all 20 of his wins. That’s not a coincidence no matter what the competition is. He’s highly likely to be on his way to 21 here and I think the -130 fight ITD and personal +130 ITD lines are too low.
Vargas is just variance to low exposure in MME and a fade in 20 max. Da Silva is a minimum of middle of moderate exposure with room for more. Of the high dollar favorites he will be the least owned and it’s a spot where you can choose to take an exposure stand, perhaps even over Valentina.
Geraldo de Freitas, -130, 8300 vs Chris Gutierrez, +100, 7900
Fight is at 135 lbs and is +130 to end inside the distance.
Geraldo de Freitas showed a fantastic skill set for DFS purposes in his debut. His boxing is crisp and is savvy at grabbing takedowns and passing and restarting the process after attacking a submission. He will have 3 inches of reach here which will help with the boxing and will have a grappling advantage as well. He’s one of the fighters on this card that can truly score in a decision and it’s quite possible he’s the arbitrage version of Barzola that will likely be more popular. He can score in a decision but don’t rule him out for a finish.
Chris Gutierrez is a sound and quick striker that lacks one shot power. He is almost exclusively a striker and doesn’t attempt to grapple and also doesn’t have the greatest defensive wrestling or grappling which puts him at a large disadvantage in that department in this fight. His path to victory is staying upright and pointing his way to a decision win.
Both skill sets and pricing dictate we are heavy to one side here. Gutierrez’ scoring ceiling is a low percentage one and is a fade in 20 max, and just variance to low exposure in MME. De Freitas is a high end of moderate to high exposure in all formats.
Rogerio Bontorin, -115, 8200 vs Raulian Paiva, -115, 8000
Fight is at 125 lbs and is +160 to end inside the distance.
Raulian Paiva is a striker without an elite tool in his bag. He has sound power but certainly lacks quickness overall in his game. He will probably be the better striker here and it will be imperative for him to remain upright throughout in this one. He will be at a grappling disadvantage and will need to wear down his opponent’s ample chin and point his way to victory or find a late KO. Decision is very much the most likely path to victory.
Rogerio Bontorin is a freestyle fighter with a BJJ base. He will be the shorter fighter but will have a large power advantage and a large grappling advantage as well. He will fire heavy counters in with the ultimate goal being pressing forward for a body lock to takedown/slam. Once on top, he will be in a very good spot for a submission and I would deem this just as likely a path to victory as a decision.
While this is a tight fight to call, the likelihood of hitting a scoring ceiling very much belongs to Bontorin. He should be middle to high end of moderate exposure while Paiva has a rough road to the optimal and is just low to low end of moderate exposure in MME and a fade candidate in 20 max.
Tecia Torres, -155, 8700 vs Marina Rodriguez, +125, 7500
Fight is at 115 lbs and is +250 to end inside the distance.
Tecia Torres gets a drop in competition level after three consecutive decisive losses to the top end fighters in the division. If she ever wants to get to near the top again, she has to win here and a loss might make her next fight one for her job. Torres will have the speed advantage but will be smaller, giving up 5 inches of height and 4 inches of reach. She will need to be in and out here and eventually use her wrestling to use top control en route to a decision win, with room for a submission if she can find her way to a dominant position.
Marina Rodriguez is far less decorated in MMA than Torres but she is certainly longer, more powerful and more aggressive. She pushes forward and throws good kicks and should be trying to clinch up here to use her height to her advantage. Knees and kicks will be her friend and she’ll need to land power shots to make Torres hesitant to jump in. Decision is also the most likely path here.
Torres is the type of fighter who is a longshot for a finish in just about any fight and we’re expecting about 80 DK in a win which is a tournament net negative. We’re not fading but getting just enough to be alive if she finds a submission, which is low end of moderate exposure. Rodriguez is obviously the more favorably priced fighter and can bomb enough in with her pressure to find a decent score in a decision. She’s closer to middle of moderate exposure.
Cyril Gane, -420, 9400 vs Raphael Pessoa, +325, 6800
Fight is at heavyweight and is -615 to end inside the distance.
Ciryl Gane is a striker with just exceptional movement and speed for a heavyweight and just pours on volume early. He also has exceptional length at 6 feet 5 inches with an 83-inch reach. He trains with Frances Ngannou so we assume he has some chin but that hasn’t been tested in a real fight yet. He’s got the highest ITD line on the card and is an exceptional bet for a KO with a bit of strike volume added in.
Raphael Pessoa also makes his UFC debut and is also undefeated to date, but the competition he’s faced is highly questionable to say the least. There’s also not a lot of fight footage available on him so there’s a bit of blindness going in on him. I can say fairly confidently neither fighter will attempt to grapple and I believe Pessoa will get picked apart and ultimately KO’d but leave room for the unknown with two debuting fighters.
Gane will likely be the most owned fighter on the card, if not, he’ll be close and this is not a spot to get cute. High exposure on him. I did mention to leave room for the unknown with two debiting fighters and I want to just overexpose this fight with low to middle of moderate exposure on Pessoa. Make it so the expected Gane KO leaves you level with the field but also have enough Pessoa that you have an ownership advantage if it goes the other way.
Gilbert Burns, +115, 7400 vs Aleksei Kunchenko, -145, 8800
Fight is at 170 lbs and is +100 to end inside the distance.
Gilbert Burns moves up to 170 and takes this fight on short notice. His striking defense isn’t the greatest but he definitely has one-shot kill power in both hands and that should be even more the case up a weight class. He will want to either try to make this a brawl or chain himself to finding a takedown to hunt a submission, especially if he gets the back. The only unrealistic path to victory for Burns is a decision.
Aleksei Kunchenko is a slow paced but very well-rounded fighter. He’s 20-0 but hasn’t been an exciting guy or action guy in the UFC. He controls distance extremely well and keeps fights at his own pace. He will be the more technical striker and has very good wrestling both offensively and defensively, but will be at a disadvantage once on the floor as Burns has a dangerous BJJ game. He is certainly getting his most dangerous opponent to date and his paths to victory will be most likely decision or late KO.
Kunchenko simply paces so slow that he’s extremely difficult to play at a favorite price tag and I’m comfortable keeping him to variance to low exposure and as a fade candidate in 20 max. Burns brings a real ceiling and a realistic chance of winning at the underdog pricing and you’ll need a minimum of middle of moderate exposure but wouldn’t argue high exposure either.
Main Card On ESPN+
Enrique Barzola, -150, 8900 vs Bobby Moffett, +120, 7300
Fight is at 145 lbs and is +160 to end inside the distance.
Enrique Barzola is a wrestler who when he’s at his best, is just grinding his opponents down returning them to the mat. In his last fight he accepted a striking battle and lost a decision because of it. He will want to use both striking and wrestling to wear down his opponent while paying extremely close attention to not be submitted early in the fight before the tank is drained. Decision is by far the most likely path to victory but he is a fighter that can be quite useful for DFS purposes in a decision win.
Bobby Moffett is a BJJ fighter that doesn’t have a single action made without the thought of how it gets the fight to the floor. His striking is nothing special and I just can’t overstate how much he wants grappling exchanges and how this means he’ll likely accept takedowns. His sole path to victory is finding a submission and this outcome is far from unlikely.
This is a fight to take moderate exposure to, middle to high end of moderate on both fighters. Both have a ceiling and both will want the fight in the same place so be sure to have enough of the one that comes out on top.
Oskar Piechota, +180, 7100 vs Rodolfo Vieira, -220, 9100
Fight is at 185 lbs and is -380 to end inside the distance.
It’s not often we call a BJJ black belt the striker in a classic striker versus grappler matchup, but that’s the situation Oskar Piechota finds himself in. Not all black belts are created equal and he is in need of avoiding the floor at all costs as the fight almost certainly ends there with him tapping if it happens. What Piechota does have is the striking advantage and one shot KO power. He needs the KO in a race of KO versus submission.
Rodolfo Vieira has a fitting nickname – The Black Belt Hunter. He’s one of the world’s best BJJ practitioners and after a 5-0 start to his MMA career he gets the call to the big leagues and gets his toughest opponent to date. Every strike he throws is only to set up takedowns to get the fight to the floor, and once it’s there he’s going to own whoever he’s fighting. He is however hittable on the feet and will have to survive until he’s able to get the fight to the floor. He’s the submission side in the race of submission versus KO.
Both fighters have a clear path to a real ceiling score and it’s a fight to take plenty of exposure to. Pricing makes Piechota easier to play, so high end of moderate to high on both with perhaps a slight ownership edge to Piechota.
Volkan Oezdemir, -140, 8500 vs Ilir Latifi, +110, 7700
Fight is at 205 lbs and is -180 to end inside the distance.
Volkan Oezdemir gets another heavy-handed opponent which brings the worry of a fight that stinks up the joint like his previous one against Dominick Reyes. Given the matchup and the propensity for both fighters to gas, if there’s not an early finish this will be a non entertaining fight. Volkan has those heavy hands and certainly remains a KO threat but he will have to stay upright to do so. He is the better striker of the two to be sure and the viability of playing Oezdemir comes down to degree of confidence that he can KO his opponent early. Anything less, even as a cheaper favorite boxes him out of the optimal.
Ilir Latifi is a compact well-rounded fighter. He does have surprising length in his arms as he’s giving up 4 inches of height without reach and throws an effective overhand right, which is a shot Oezdemir has been susceptible to. He will also work takedowns to try for ground and poind. With salary considered, he’s the better play in this fight. He can win by decision or KO.
As mentioned, Oezdemir needs a KO for the optimal, and I’m only comfortable with low to middle of moderate exposure. Latifi doesn’t truly need the ceiling outcome with the underdog pricing, but it is also attainable. I certainly want more exposure to him at middle to high end of moderate.
Humberto Bandenay, +105, 7800 vs Luiz Garagorri, -135, 8400
Fight is at 145 lbs and is -245 to end inside the distance.
Luiz Garagorri makes his UFC debut in his home country of Uruguay. He’s a Thai striker who has faced extremely questionable competition and this is his toughest test to date without question. The truth is with his fight history, we don’t know exactly what we’re getting. His striking is ahead of his grappling and he doesn’t seem helpless on the floor and has submissions to his record, but again, grain of salt, the level of competition is changing. I think his opponent generally stinks overall and I’ll want more exposure to Garagorri but this is just such an odd fight to be third last.
Humberto Bandenay is a bottom-of-the-barrel UFC fighter. He is capable of a KO or a submission if the opportunity blatantly presents itself but he has cardio issues and was pretty thoroughly dominated by an ungood fighter in his last fight and showed some cardio issues. Too much unknown to truly identify a path to victory or defeat given his opponent.
Again, super odd fight this late in the card, and I’m attacking it differently in MME than I am in 20 max. In 20 max I’m taking a stand and playing just one of the fighters, probably Garagorri, or fading the fight completely. In MME I’m taking enough on both sides to not have my build devastated by a ceiling outcome, which means middle of moderate exposure on Garagorri and low end of moderate on Bandenay.
Vincente Luque, -225, 9000 vs Mike Perry, +180, 7200
Fight is at 170 lbs and is -195 to end inside the distance.
Vincente Luque is always someone we’re excited to see on a card, and that went up a notch after his all timer with Bryan Baberena two fights ago. He’s a high-output, powerful and technical striker with power and is a true KO threat. His opponent has quite a chin, so a finish could also come from a savvy choke that he also has in his arsenal. He’s just better than his opponent in most facets. The cautions for him are don’t end up in the clinch with his back against the fence and don’t punch yourself out to ultimately gas in the third and potentially be KO’d.
Mike Perry is well known for being a durable low-fight-IQ striker. He probably does his best work with elbows in the clinch and will eat shots to land them, but sometimes it’s just eat the shots. His chin is very real, and to KO him you need to truly pour it on. He’s got a way of not seeing submissions coming so he can be finished that way. His path to victory is realistically to eat enough shots to gas Luque and knock him out late.
Luque is a high exposure in all formats while Perry is low end of moderate just due to pricing and durability.
Valentina Shevchenko, -1200, 9600 vs Liz Carmouche, +730, 6600
Fight is five rounds at 125 lbs for the women’s flyweight championship and is -155 to end inside the distance.
Valentina Shevchenko needed an opponent to defend her belt, and since there weren’t any worthy ones available, this is the fight they made. Valentina is simply better everywhere and will win, it’s just a matter of whether she can pay off pricing in DK points. She almost certainly needs a finish in the first two rounds for that to come to fruition, and even then it’s no guarantee.
Liz Carmouche has been a good soldier for the promotion for almost a decade now and gets thrown a bone to maybe find a miracle in a title shot despite her signature win being against the 2013 version of Jéssica Andrade at a higher weight class. It’s just not happening and I’m not sure she’s even a viable cash stack.
Carmouche is either a fade or just variance exposure while Valentina’s salary keeps her down at the middle to high end of moderate.
Cash And Single Entry
I’ve put a good deal of thought into the proper attack for cash on this card, and landed on thinking swerving away from the main event being the best play. There isn’t a path to victory for the underdog and the 9600 favorite is just too prohibitive for the remainder of the lineup. Cash and single entry teams are going to be the same or similar with this being the case let’s put it together.
The first four fighters in are fairly clear cut for me. Macedo and Gane are the fighters we need in for defensive purposes as ownership should be substantial. The next two fighters in due to probability of and actual scoring ceilings are Luque and de Freitas. This leaves 7850 per on the last two slots and I think they’re best filled with the value of Burns and the floor/ceiling of Bontorin.
Picks And Bets
Picks with personal confidence percentage
- Macedo 55%
- Da Silva 95%
- de Freitas 80%
- Bontorin 62%
- Torres 60%
- Gane 88%
- Burns 55%
- Barzola 73%
- Vieira 65%
- Oezdemir 50%
- Garagorri 60%
- Luque 85%
- Valentina 100%
- Da Silva -275
- de Freitas -130
- Bontorin -115
- Burns +115
- Barzola -130
- Luque -225