UFC On ESPN5 in Newark: Complete Breakdown
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Welcome back for a fun network fight night card. Our main event has huge ramifications at the top of the welterweight division. Outside of that we have mostly fun matchups. We have a silly six orthodox versus southpaw matchups which typically lends more power and less volume so be aware of those fights. 

Again, this is the second of two weeks that have me working approximately 120 hours and the writing will be abbreviated, but back to normal next week. As always, cash, single-entry, picks and bets updated after weigh-ins with other thoughts.

**UPDATE** Two fighters missed weight. Ma was two pounds over while Williams missed badly, at five pounds over. Both fights will proceed as scheduled.

Prelims On ESPN

Hannah Goldy, -150, 8800 vs Miranda Granger, +120, 7400

Fight is at 125 lbs and is +145 to end inside the distance.

Hannah Goldy and Miranda Granger make their respective debuts against one another. Granger is primarily a grappler who likes to work the fight to the floor from the clinch. Her BJJ is better than her wrestling and she will very much need to get the wrestling to work for her to get the fight into her comfort zone, on the floor. Her striking isn’t helpless but she isn’t nearly on Goldy’s level in that department and will be behind in both effectiveness and volume. Granger likely can’t win a decision on volume alone and has just a submission path to victory and should be a low end of moderate exposure. Goldy probably won’t be finding a KO but it’s not impossible. Even still, she will throw enough volume that she isn’t boxed out of the optimal in a decision win. Limit exposure to the low end to middle of moderate on her.

Update: With the line moving towards Granger, let’s keep both fighters to the low end of moderate exposure.

Claudio Silva, -435, 9400 vs Cole Williams, +330, 6800

Fight is at 170 lbs and is -240 to end inside the distance.

BJJ ace Cláudio Silva fights a short notice replacement in Cole Williams, and let’s just say there must not have been a ton of guys available or willing to take Silva on short notice. Silva has power in his hands but make no mistake, he’s here to roll as always, and is more likely than not to find a submission in this fight. Williams has some pop in his hands, enough to make it interesting if he’s able to land on the feet before the fight hits the floor. His wrestling and BJJ both appear to be miles behind Silva’s. Note that it is possible to gas Silva, so if Williams can fight submissions long enough, he could have a cardio advantage take over late. Williams isn’t a great fade candidate, but should be at just low exposure while Silva has a great chance for an early sub and should be high end of moderate to high exposure.

Lauren Murphy, +150, 7500 vs Mara Romero-Borella, -180, 8700

Fight is at 125 lbs and is +300 to end inside the distance.

How do we explain this fight between Lauren Murphy and Mara Romero-Borella? Yuck. There’s likely to be a ton of clinch work in this one, keeping a cap on the scoring. Both are rounded fighters not resembling elite, but I do think Borella gets the edge everywhere and any finish in this fight would be her finding a submission. A decision win for either would be in the 60s or 70s on DK and would be a real longshot for the optimal. Murphy is somewhere between fade and low exposure while Borella is low to low end of moderate exposure.

Jordan Espinosa, -120, 8200 vs Matt Schnell, -110, 8000

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

This fight is kind of interesting as I have somewhat of a lean in this one that may take advantage of recency bias. I’m going to borrow an excerpt on Matt Schnell that I wrote for his previous fight and I think it applies to this fight with Jordan Espinosa.

Matt Schnell is a moderate to low output freestyle fighter, that prefers to stand and strike since he’s reached the UFC. He entered the promotion being KO’d in the 1st round in consecutive fights, and his chin is a mammoth question mark. Since those losses, he’s had two decision wins that were literal bottom of the barrel for DK scoring. He is a BJJ purple belt and has a sound guillotine that he’s willing to jump while standing, but all in all, he’s the lowest floor and ceiling fighter on any card he fights on in median 90% ranges of outcomes. 

Clearly that low percentage outcome happened, but I have to admit I was giving Smolka too much IQ credit, as he’s about as sharp as a bowling ball. That chin remains a question mark and Schnell’s output still won’t be in volume. Espinosa is the better and quicker offensive striker and if there’s a quick finish to be found in this fight, it’s for Espinosa. The knock I see on Espinosa is he hangs his chin out too often and it could be checked later in the fight as Schnell gets his timing. Schnell probably has a grappling edge as well as a fallback plan, but that’s only likely to grab a low scoring decision win if it’s the chosen path. All in all I believe the DK ceiling lies with Espinosa and he should see low to middle of moderate exposure while a viable score for Schnell is less attainable, so limit builds to just low to low end of moderate on him.

Antonina Shevchenko, -145, 8600 vs Lucie Pudilova, +115, 7600

Fight is at 125 lbs and is +320 to end inside the distance.

We have an exclusively standup affair coming between strikers Lucie Pudilova and Antonina Shevchenko. This is going to be fifteen mi utes of Pudilova pressuring and creating striking exchanges. I’d label Shevchenko the more technical and crisper striker, but she doesn’t throw with as much volume and won’t be the aggressor throughout, so I envision a close split decision here. Given pricing and with neither fighter having even a moderately attainable path to a finish, Shevchenko is capped at low exposure and you can consider a fade as she’d need at least 120 SS to sniff the optimal. Pudilova’s price means a decision could see her to the optimal and she’s much more attractive, garnering middle of moderate exposure. Pudilova is almost certain to be a cash play for me.

Mickey Gall, -105, 7900 vs Salim Touahri, -125, 8300

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

Mickey Gall returns against Salim Touahri after being decimated by Diego Sanchez in his last fight. According to him, that beating was due to kidney failure and is a one off. Whether we believe him or not, performances simply don’t get worse than that and it warrants consideration to the reasoning given. Assuming Gall is not permanently decrepit in the cage, he will have a length advantage and more notably a grappling advantage. One dominant position likely leads to a submission for Gall, and he’s proven capable of cinching in rear naked chokes. Touahri will hold the advantage in the standup but will need an early KO or to have Gall’s body fail him again to find the optimal. Gall’s underdog pricing makes him attractive for at least middle of moderate exposure while we are just going low end of moderate on Touahri. We would be considering a fade on Touahri if not for Gall’s last fight. 

Main Card On ESPN

Darko Stosic, -130, 8400 vs Kennedy Nzechukwu, +100, 7800

Fight is at 205 lbs and is -245 to end inside the distance.

Slow paced striker Darko Stosic is at a massive reach disadvantage to Kennedy Nzechukwu, giving up 5 inches of height and 7 inches of reach. Stosic has power and is perfectly capable of a KO, but he is so slow paced that this fight could be boxed out of the optimal if there are no early exchanges. Kennedy will certainly throw more volume and will have the length, so a decision would almost certainly go to the underdog. The ITD line on this fight should be in the negative but I do believe it’s a little too high. Considering pricing, I definitely want more of the underdog Kennedy, at middle of moderate exposure while keeping it at low end of moderate on Stosic, as he’s KO or bust.

Scott Holtzman, -410, 9300 vs Dong Hyun Ma, +320, 6900

Fight is at 155 lbs and is -130 to end inside the distance.

Scott Holtzman and Dong Hyun Ma doesn’t make a whole lot of sense from the matchmakers, unless they’re trying to reignite “Hot Sauce” Holtzman. While Ma can throw with enough power to find a KO, his chin is quite finishable and he will be at a large grappling disadvantage here. I made a mistake and was all in on Holtzman against Nik Lentz when he got out wrestled, but I’m going back to the well as that outcome is not in play here. Ma is just low exposure on the off chance of landing the right strike for a KO at price while Holtzman is high end of moderate to high exposure.

Trevin Giles, -170, 8500 vs Gerald Meerschart, +140, 7700

Fight is at 185 lbs and is -225 to end inside the distance.

Trevin Giles is looking to bounce back after his first career loss in this fight against Gerald Meerschaert, who is on a two-fight skid and has looked atrocious in those fights. Giles will have a decided striking and power advantage and will want this affair on the feet, as he’s very much in play for a KO. Probably more likely than not for a KO. Meerschaert has looked almost disinterested in his last two fights and just tries to clinch up at every turn. He is the better grappler in this fight and has a path to a submission, even if the fight hits the floor even once, but it’s just very hard to get behind this guy right now. The worry in this fight is Meerschaert slows the pace which kills it for DFS purposes, but that’s certainly not the most likely outcome. I want high end of moderate to high exposure on Giles with low end of moderate on Meerschaert. Note that with all the subtle line movements, Giles has become the lower priced favorite that is value by salary.

Joaquim Silva, +200, 7100 vs Nasrat Haqparast, -250, 9100

Fight is at 155 lbs and is -250 to end inside the distance.

Nasrat Haqparast is a very good striker with ample power that is quite capable of striking in volume. He is certainly the better technical and more crisp striker that can get punches home from all kinds of angles he creates and has ample, if not scary power. Joaquim Silva is a little bit more rounded as he’s the better grappler and will be the only one with thoughts of getting the fight to the floor, but the ability to land any takedowns here is a mammoth question mark. Silva kind of likes to brawl and loves to load up on a massive 1-2. His head movement isn’t the greatest and he gets his chin checked. He will be out volumed here and will need to find a finish or have top control rounds to win a decision. With pricing considered, I want middle of moderate exposure on both fighters with room for more on both or either. This certainly isn’t a spot to take a stand on one fighter or the other.

Jim Miller, -165, 8900 vs Clay Guida, +135, 7300

Fight is at 155 lbs and is +125 to end inside the distance.

Jim Miller and Clay Guida is a co main event… in 2019. What?

Despite both fighters being quite long in the tooth, one is not like the other. Guida was touched up early by the 2019 version of BJ Penn which is the most severe of red flags. His movement slows as fights progress and his wrestling will work against him here as Miller is an insanely better grappler once on the floor. I’m not one for just looking at stats as opponents are completely subjective, but with these track records there’s one glaring thing to be aware of. More than half of Miller’s 30 wins are submissions while half of Guida’s 18 losses are submissions. Miller might have to wear Guida down some and a first round finish almost certainly isn’t in the cards, but it becomes far more in play later in the fight. Guida probably doesn’t have much path to a finish and a decision wouldn’t give him a useful DFS score. Miller is in play for a similarly non useful decision or a submission. Despite there being no value to the Miller play, I still want middle of moderate, but he may be difficult to fit; just low to variance exposure on Guida.

Colby Covington, -230, 9000 vs Robbie Lawler, +185, 7200

Fight is five rounds at 170 lbs and is -120 to end inside the distance.

This main event will be a fun one to watch for the first couple rounds. If the fight is still going after that, we’ll just be watching Colby Covington grind Robbie Lawler down to a nub. It’s pretty straightforward: Lawler has to knock Colby out in the first 10 minutes or he’s going to have his tank just emptied by Colby’s grinding and mat returning. I think Colby gets it done here and his mat returning but non controlling style is great for DFS purposes. Colby should see high ownership and should probably be your highest-owned fighter. Lawler is still Lawler and a KO on anyone should be far from shocking, so we’re still putting a hard minimum on middle of moderate exposure on him with room for more. This fight will certainly be a cash stack.

Cash and Single Entry

Cash lineups start with a main event stack and Lucie Pudilova’s value and volume. We are then going to jam in the top two prices on the card in CSilva and Holtzman, leaving a decision to be made at 7500 or less. Guida and Granger bring value versus betting line, and picking one of these two is probably most prudent for cash. JSilva would be the only other candidate for the last slot.

For single entry, it’s Lawler that comes out of the lineup, to be replaced by JSilva. If leaving the rest of the lineup intact, Granger is the best punt with salary remaining. The other option is to pivot off Holtzman or CSilva and to play Giles and and Espinosa in those last two spots.

Picks and Bets

Picks with personal confidence percentage:

  • Goldy 65%
  • CSilva 95%
  • Romero-Borella 83%
  • Espinosa 69%
  • Pudilova 52%
  • Gall 65%
  • Nzechukwu 66%
  • Holtzman 94%
  • Giles 73%
  • Haqparast 68%
  • Miller 75%
  • Covington 75%


  • Goldy -135
  • Romero-Borella -175
  • Pudilova +120
  • Gall -105
  • Nzechukwu +100
  • Giles -170
  • Miller -150

Note that CSilva and Holtzman are highly likely to win and laying those prices are probably +EV.

Some partial unit punts to look at:

  • Silva by submission -130 (full unit is fine)
  • Espinosa by KO +570
  • Gall by sub +200
  • JSilva ITD +625
  • Miller by sub +225


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