I hope everyone enjoyed the break, but we are back. We get what’s best described as a tune-up card leading up to next week’s utter monster PPV card. There’s not a single fight that’s truly a draw on this card, perhaps save for seeing if there’s a legitimate heavyweight contender in Jair. We get a few fighters coming back after being KO’d in their last fight, and we will have to sort which ones are the bounceback candidates.
A reminder of the fight classifications for tournaments:
I will take each fight and assign it to one of five categories for tournament deployment. Those categories are:
- “Lock It In” – This will be for fights that the build should have at or near 100% exposure.
- “Over The Field” – This will be for attractive fights that are likely to see the winner to the optimal, but not quite at the “Lock It In” level. These fights should be deployed at approximately 80% total fight exposure.
- “Stance Fight” – This will be for fights for which we have a real expectation on one fighter winning and being probable for the optimal. The exposure level will vary. I’ll explain both the level of exposure of our stance fighter and whether their opponent is a fade or low-level exposure.
- “Defensive Fight” – This will be for fights that are middle of the road for the optimal and have a wide range of outcomes. We will generally deploy the total fight exposure at 35-50%.
- “Ugly Fight” – This will be for fights in which the winner is unlikely for the optimal.
As always, check back after weigh-ins for cash, single entry, picks, bets and any other final thoughts.
***UPDATE*** Calvillo has missed weight by 4.5 lbs and Sayles has missed weight by 2.5 lbs. Neither of these misses have a huge bearing aside from potentially mitigating the strength of the Rodriguez play.
Lock It In
Alistair Overeem, -125, 8300 vs. Jair Rozenstruick, -105, 7900
Fight is five rounds at heavyweight and is -705 to end inside the distance.
At this juncture of Alistair Overeem‘s career, he doesn’t have the chin or quickness to stand and bang with a striker like Jair Rozenstruick. Rozenstruick has had his last two fights last a total of 38 seconds as he got two quick KOs. With his limited grappling skill set, another similar performance should be a point of emphasis as the longer he gives Overeem to get to the clinch or floor, the more he’s putting himself in the danger zone. Overeem still has some power, but certainly doesn’t have the chin to take any real shots from Jair, and if he wastes any time trying to take advantage of the green grappling nature of his opponent, it could already be too late. Overeem has been much more willing to grapple of late, and if he can get the fight to the floor, he will have a considerable advantage. Ground-and-pound is likely the path for him once it gets there as he’s not the savviest submission fighter and attacking submissions might risk allowing Jair to get back to the feet. I tend not to believe that Overeem will understand that he needs to press the grappling issue immediately, and eating just one moderately heavy shot would make it too late — for this reason, I lean Jair. With the middling pricing on this fight and the virtual certainty that we don’t get a third-round or more, this is a true lock-it-in fight. I want 60-65% Jair with 30-35% Overeem.
Over The Field
Stefan Struve, +115, 7600 vs. Ben Rothwell, -145, 8600
Fight is at heavyweight and is -160 to end inside the distance.
Stefan Struve just couldn’t walk away when he wanted to, and it could be a mistake to come back, particularly if the desire isn’t there for a fighter who has seemed disinterested for a while now. Ben Rothwell is 0-2 in his comeback from the long layoff, but in fairness, one of those was a bad decision call. Struve was able to secure a submission win in his last fight despite being dropped and admitting he was out in his post-fight interview. Rothwell is much heavier handed than his previous opponent, and his chin is in real danger here as Rothwell hunts to get back in the winning call. Pressure has been the theme for Rothwell recently, and counter-punching at range and movement has been his downfall. If Struve pumps the jab out consistently (this is and has always been a massive question mark with him) and keeps any degree of movement and doesn’t stick his back on the cage, he should be able to point his way to a decision. The more likely fighter for a ceiling score is Rothwell, who does still have big power, even if it’s not at the level of previous years. Pricing dictates playing both fighters, with Struve in the 20-30% range and Rothwell in the 40-50% range.
Billy Quarantillo, -325, 9200 vs. Jacob Kilburn, +255, 7000
Fight is at 145 lbs and is -150 to end inside the distance.
This is the pre-event front runner for the fight of the night. Both fighters have fought on DWCS, and both make their UFC debut. Billy Quarantillo is a sound and rounded fighter, but on the dawn of his UFC career, I wonder what his actual attainable ceiling is. He presses forward and likes to trade and break down opponents with pressure. I’ve heard a lot of talk about Quarantillo’s wrestling in this fight, but this has more to do with the fact that Jacob Kilburn‘s takedown defense is highly suspect than that Quarantillo is a high-end wrestler. Kilburn is a striker with real power, and throws some fun kicks that are KO threats, but from what I’ve watched, he is even more dangerous with his punches as they are much higher percentage and can secure a KO. Both fighters have true KO potential here, and the pricing difference makes Kilburn much more of a value, but paying up for Quarantillo covers outcomes where he wins on the mat. I want 35-40% of each fighter with an exposure edge to Kilburn if you’re not deploying evenly, as I think this line is far too wide, and both have ceilings.
Marina Rodriguez, -135, 8400 vs. Cynthia Calvillo, +105, 7800
Fight is at 115 lbs and is +160 to end inside the distance.
Cynthia Calvillo draws Marina Rodriguez after her fight with Claudia Gadelha fell through. Calvillo is a better grappler than a striker and made her name in the promotion with submissions on girls no longer with the promotion in her first two fights. Calvillo isn’t an awful striker by any means, but she is far from high-level and will be at a disadvantage on the feet and will be hit often by the high volume Rodriguez. Rodriguez needs to defend the takedowns. She will have a hard time returning to her feet if taken down, and she will pick Calvillo apart on the feet, so she needs to be hyper-aware of that. Calvillo isn’t out of play for a submission, but even as an underdog, that is her only path to the optimal. I want 30-40% Rodriguez and 15-20% Calvillo. This one could have just as easily been listed as a defensive fight.
Cody Stamann, +160, 7300 vs. Yadong Song, -190, 8900
Fight is at 135 lbs and is +100 to end inside the distance.
Yadong Song is 4-0 in the promotion, and the matchup with Cody Stamann will move that record to 5-0. Stamann is the better wrestler, but that is the only advantage he will have, and he will need to successfully work that advantage early and often. Song has a massive striking advantage here, and he has real power that could sleep Stamann at any point. Stamann finding a finish seems far-fetched, and his path would be a ground control based decision win. Stamann is just not threatening on the feet and will be touched up good. Song probably needs a KO to find the optimal, but I would give that at least a 50% probability. Stamann is a fade candidate to low-level exposure while Song should be in the 40-50% range.
Rob Font, -145, 8500 vs. Ricky Simon, +115, 7700
Fight is at 135 lbs and is +160 to end inside the distance.
Ricky Simon returns after being KO’d as a massive favorite in his last fight, but in fairness to him, the stoppage was questionable at best. He is a high-end wrestler that will pressure and is better at securing takedowns than holding position, so mat return scoring is really in play here for Simon. Rob Font is a better striker on the feet, but his takedown defense is a real problem, and he could find himself ground down by Simon. Font likes to attack guillotine in grappling spots, and that’s a bad strategy against a wrestler that’s perfectly seasoned with that particular submission. Font has pop in his punches and could hurt Simon on the feet. A KO is likely Font’s path to victory, given the takedown defense liability. Simon is a fighter who doesn’t need to finish to find the optimal and is a very live dog. I want 40-50% of him with a 15-20% hedge on Font.
Thiago Alves, +215, 7200 vs. Tim Means, -265, 9000
Fight is at 170 lbs and is -115 to end inside the distance.
This fight matches up two fighters fairly near the end, as they are 35 and 36 years old. Tim Means is a durable volume striker who is much longer than Thiago Alves. Means will have 5 inches of height and reach and is set up well to pour on the volume in this one. Means has one of the safest floors on the card, and he comes with ceiling as well, as he could add some grappling points to the striking volume. Alves doesn’t offer much at this juncture in his career, and this matchup is just an ugly one for him. He will eat a ton of strikes and ultimately wilt under the volume. Means should be 50-60% while Alves is a fade to low-level exposure.
Ben Solecki, -325, 9300 vs. Matt Wiman, +250, 6900
Fight is at 155 lbs and is +140 to end inside the distance.
Matt Wiman inexplicably came back to the UFC after a five-year absence and was thoroughly dominated in his return. He draws debuting Ben Solecki, and the line should probably be even wider than it is. Solecki’s strength is his BJJ game, and he will be a force on the floor. His striking is okay and potentially even better than the veteran Wiman’s already, and simply put, it’s difficult to envision a path to victory for Wiman. This one should be a grappling-heavy affair that sees Wiman ultimately finished on the floor. I want a ton of Solecki — a minimum of 50%, but room for much more if it can be fit. Wiman is a fade.
Aspen Ladd, -155, 8700 vs. Yana Kunitskaya, +125, 7500
Fight is at 135 lbs and is +145 to end inside the distance.
I’ll be honest — this is the most difficult fight on the card for me to get a strong read on. Both fighters are coming off unideal showings in their last fight. Aspen Ladd was finished early by a questionable stoppage. Yana Kunitskaya got a decision win, but her striking defense deficiency was on display. Kunitskaya likes to control in the clinch and will work takedowns from there and will generally be a decision fighter. Ladd will be the better striker on the feet and will be more dangerous there, and a KO is in play. Ladd also has some very nice ground and pound if she can get top position and could finish from there. We do, however, have a big question mark on Ladd’s ability to eat shots after her last fight and is an area of unknown. I want 30-35% Ladd and 20-30% Kunitskaya.
Bryce Mitchell, -110, 8000 vs. Matt Sayles, -120, 8200
Fight is at 145 lbs and is +130 to end inside the distance.
Both Bryce Mitchell and Matt Sayles enter their third fight with the promotion. Sayles is the better striker here and will have a large advantage inside, and will have a cardio advantage in this one. While Sayles is a capable grappler, Mitchell is the fighter here that will push for grappling in this fight, particularly as he’s outclassed on the feet. I think Mitchell will find that grappling won’t get him where he’s trying to go in this one and will begin to be hurt as the cardio fades. Mitchell is not out of play, and the fight is a little closer than I’ve made it sound, but I want an exposure edge on the Sayles side. Sayles should be 25-35% while Mitchell is 15-25%.
Mallory Martin, +220, 7100 vs. Virna Jandiroba, -280, 9100
Fight is at 115 lbs and is +175 to end inside the distance.
Mallory Martin makes her debut, and Virna Jandiroba enters her second fight with the promotion. Neither fighter has a high-end striking skill set, but Jandiroba probably has the edge in striking defense and power, as Martin is quite hittable. We should see a good deal of grappling in this one, as I think it’s what both ladies want to do. Jandiroba is the better fighter on the floor, but Martin might be the one taking more shots. Jandiroba is far better equipped to get back to her feet, and she is the submission threat in this fight. Any ceiling in this fight is dicey, and we want to cap exposure on each fighter at 20%, with an exposure edge to Jandiroba if separating exposure.
Makhmud Muradov, -405, 9400 vs. Trevor Smith, +310, 6800
Fight is at 185 lbs and is -115 to end inside the distance.
This is a fight that is the epitome of one not to let kill your build by being overexposed when a decision win for the favorite is very much in play. Needless to say, a middling striking output without a finish for the highest-priced favorite on the card will be absent from the optimal. Makhmud Muradov enters the octagon for the second time and will be the better and more dangerous striker. He will be more athletic and will have more power, but it is far from a given that he will be able to finish the durable vet, Trevor Smith. Smith is gritty, and he probably has the better grappling skill set, and in any event, he will fare better initiating grappling with Muradov than he will standing for 15 minutes. As I said, get enough exposure to this fight so that a ceiling or floor outcome doesn’t kill your build — 10-20% on Smith and 20-30% on Muradov.
Cash and Single Entry
With the nature of the heavyweight main event, one will hit and one will bust. With this being the case we are left with the options of stacking for security in the hit or taking a stance and attempting to get another win in lieu of the main event loser. With what’s available from a roster construction perspective, I want to take a stand on the small underdog in Rozenstruick and play the single entry lineup in cash as well. I do believe he wins the fight but it isn’t the firmest of stances, it’s more what the savings from Overeem can do with the rest of the lineup. With Rozenstruick in, we can then add my three favorite favorites in Solecki, Means and Song. That leaves us needing two underdogs and a punt with Kilburn that certainly has ceiling and my lean for the last spot is the wrestling of Simon.
Picks and Bets
Picks With Personal Confidence Percentage
- Muradov 84%
- Jandiroba 80%
- Solecki 98%
- Sayles 65%
- Quarantillo 59%
- Means 89%
- Simon 60%
- Song 80%
- Ladd 65%
- Rothwell 65%
- Rodriguez 75%
- Rozenstruick 70%
- Solecki ITD +160
- Simon +115
- Song -195
- Rodriguez -135
- Rozenstruick ITD +110