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Lock 'em Down & Underdog Analysis

08/15/2020

 

UFC 252: Miocic vs Cormier III

Top Underdog Selection

UFC

Fight: Jim Miller (+115) vs Vince Pichel (-130)

Selection: Jim Miller (+115)

 

Jim Miller pulled off an upset win in his last fight when he submitted Roosevelt Roberts back in June of this year. His opponent, Vince Pichel, is also coming off a victory against the same opponent, although he fought him back in June of 2019. Pichel won the fight by unanimous decision and it was 5th win in 6 fights.

This betting line does not make sense to us. Jim Miller has the better resume and a lot more experience than his opponent. Perhaps they feel Jim Miller is little up there in age? He fights more than the normal fighter does, so to most it might seem like he is washed up. When in fact, Pichel is the older fighter by a year and has far less experience in the octagon.

Jim Miller (+120) is the right choice here. Vince Pichel mixes it up well and is comfortable standing or taking the fight to the ground, but his kryptonite in the past has been fighters that can control him on the ground. Jim Miller has the tools to take the fight to the ground and dominate. Vince is the stronger fighter and might have more success early on if they clinch or grapple, but Jim Miller’s relentless pace and overall game will be the difference. Standing wise, Miller will have the advantage in kicks and movement with Pichel having the power advantage, although he doesn’t pose a huge threat. Jim Miller (+115) wins this bout by decision if he doesn’t sub Pichel. 

- Juan The Don

 

Lock ‘em Down Selection

UFC

Fight: Livinha Souza (-150) vs Ashley Yoder (+130)

Selection: Livinha Souza (-150)

 

Great matchup in the women’s strawweight division as the former Invicta Champion, Livinha Souza faces the tough and well-rounded Ashley Yoder. Both ladies are knocking on the door for that top 15 ranking and an impressive win could land either of them in there. Yoder is coming off a split decision loss against the proven and durable, Randa Markos.  Many believed Yoder controlled most of the fight through takedowns, so the decision was a little puzzling. She showed great wrestling, stand up and clinch in the fight but the experience of Randa might have won her that fight.

Livinha Souza most recently lost a decision to Brianna Van Buren in which it seemed like it was just a bad match up. She never seemed to get going and seemed to be worried about the takedown. Her previous fights with Frota and Chambers displayed here strong jiu-jitsu game, durability, and aggressiveness. She will need to do the same but be a little more tactical as Yoder’s technique and all-around game can compete with most in the division.

 

It should be a competitive fight but the difference in strength of ladies could determine the winner. Souza is the much stronger fighter and has the better wrestling. She can out wrestle her early on but her cardio is not the best so the third round might be a coasting round if she cannot get a finish in the first two rounds. Yoder’s tank isn’t the best either, but I would give her the slight advantage in the department. Look for Souza to dominate early but could back off later in the fight. Souza (-150)

- Juan The Don

Lock ‘em Down Selection

UFC

Fight: Stipe Miocic (-105) vs Daniel Cormier (-115)

Selection: Daniel Cormier (-115)

 

The trilogy fight between Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic might be the biggest Heavyweight fight in UFC history. Stipe will look to defend his belt after he stopped Cormier with strikes in the 4th round of their last matchup. And for DC, he will look to continue his success prior to the tko where he was out-landing Stipe by 32% in significant strikes. Interesting to see if Cormier will implement more wrestling or stay with the same plan?

Cormier has been the faster fighter of the two and it clearly shows in their boxing. DC has not had trouble with the 8” reach dis-advantage vs Stipe. He has been the sharper boxer and has landed with much more accuracy landing 68% of his shots in their last bout and 67% in their 1st bout. He moves a little better than Stipe in the pocket, but he cannot stay in there and box with him. Cormier needs to make this into a wrestling match and tire the arms of his opponent. He had success in the first round with his wrestling and it looked as if he would use it more throughout his fight, but he only shot for 1 more takedown the rest of the fight.

The pride of Cleveland, Ohio- Stipe Miocic, will look to further cement his name as the best UFC heavyweight of all time. He has great boxing, footwork, powerful hands, and wrestling. Although he was getting out-struck on the feet in his last fight, Stipe never stopped coming forward and it paid off with his tko win the 4th, mainly due to vicious body shots to let DC’s guard down. Stipe looked fresh in the fight and his power stayed with him throughout the fight. He also surprised Cormier with 3 takedown attempts in the 3rd, while securing 1.

Cormier has made it clear that this fight will be his last and for his legacy meaning he will do anything to not lose the fight. He knows if he and Miocic wrestled all night, he would win hands down but, on the feet, it is more of an even matchup. He cannot play with those odds so he must take the fight to the ground. Think when he fought Anderson Silva and he beat him easily to a lackluster decision win that was dominated by his wrestling. He considered that a “legacy fight” and a fight he just needed to win so he stuck to wrestling. Granted, Anderson Silva doesn’t have the wrestling prowess as Stipe Miocic, so takedowns will be harder to come by but look for him to fight against the cage a lot more, clinch, and use his inside boxing to score points while looking for repeated takedowns to avoid to huge power of Miocic. If it truly is Cormier’s last fight, he won’t let this fight be determined by who has the better hands but the better wrestling. Cormier (-115) is the safer bet here.

- Juan The Don

08/11/2020

 

Lock ‘em Down Selection

MLB

Game: Seattle Mariners (+120) vs Texas Rangers (-130)

Selection: Mariners (Gonzales, +120)

 

The Rangers bats just have not been able to get going as they’d hope to. After an impressive sweep over the LA Angels, they were defeated 10-2 and although their front 3 hitters hit 5-13, big bats like Joey Gallo, Elvis Andrus, Todd Frazier and Rougned Odor continued to stay quiet.

The Mariners will be starting their hottest pitcher in Gonzales who has been on fire his last two starts. And he will be facing a lineup in the Rangers that hasn’t been the best as of late despite their recent sweep. The Rangers did do well against Gonzales last year, batting .285 while scoring 18 runs in 30 IP, but the momentum of Gonzalez and hot bats for the Mariners in the opener are too hard to pass up.

Minor’s horrid play as of late allowing 11 ER, 13 hits, 4 BB in 10.2 IP- the Mariners should continue their success offensively and look for the Mariners to look a little more comfortable with Gonzales on board. Right-handed batters are hitting .145 (8/55) vs the lefty to start the season. The Mariners (+120) are the right play here.

- Juan The Don

08/05/2020

Lock ‘em Down Selection

NBA

Game: LA Lakers -5.5 vs OKC Thunder, total 218

Selection: Total Under 218

 

The Lakers have been averaging 10 fewer ppg since the NBA restart. Perhaps they are having trouble adjusting with the new feel of the game. Regardless of their lack of offensive play, they are still at the top defensively as a team and they have looked even better as of late. They are certainly missing Avery Bradley and his defensive game, but they have adjusted well.

 

OKC played well in their opening game, displaying great defensive, causing the Utah Jazz to shoot 39.1% from the field and 25.8% from beyond the arc. Behind defensive powerhouse Steven Adams and savvy vet, Chris Paul, they like to slow the pace down- ranking 24th in the league in total team possessions.

 

The under 218 is the right play here, both teams are great defensively and this line might be a little high to due to the high frequency of overs to start the season.

- Juan The Don

08/01/2020

UFC on ESPN: Brunson vs Shahbazyan

 

Top Underdog Selection

Fight: Trevin Giles (+175) vs Kevin Holland (-195)

Selections: Trevin Giles (+175)

 

An exciting matchup in the middleweight division as Trevin Giles faces Kevin Holland. Both guys are coming off victories and will look to continue their rise as prospects. These well-rounded fighters could have crossed paths in the regional scene but narrowly missed each other for the opportunity to get the UFC.

Kevin Holland is as game as it gets. He never turns down a fight and is always one of the few to be willing to step in on short notice. The Riverside, CA native, is coming off a spectacular TKO victory over Anthony Hernandez which boosted his record to 4-2 in the UFC. He has faced nothing but stiff competition so far and Giles does not get any easier for him.

Fighting out of Houston, TX, Trevin Giles continues to evolve his game every fight. Before beating James Krause by split decision this past February, Giles had dropped two straight fights to Gerald Meerschaert and Zak Cummings. Similarly, he lost both fights by guillotine choke in the 3rd round. Both bouts were close and had they gone to the judges’ score cards; he might have had a couple of victories.

A pair of fighters that have a true MMA base, this fight can go anywhere and be competitive. With Holland being the longer fighter, he should have the advantage on the feet. He has great hands and throws good kicks. He doesn’t lose a lot of striking battles, but his problems have come from his inability to stuff enough takedowns. Statistically he only defends 48% of opponent’s takedowns and he could have his troubles there this fight as well. Giles currently sports a 100% takedown accuracy rate in UFC bouts but doesn’t shoot in on opponents often with only takedowns attempts in 2/5 UFC fights. Trevin Giles never lets pride affect his game, he is a patient and smart fighter that likes to take the fight wherever he has the advantage, and that advantage is the wrestling game. He matches up well with Holland, his strength and patience will win him this fight. He has fast hands with great power so it could stay on the feet longer than it should and he does keep his hands a little low which has me worried, but his chin has held up in the past and knows his best chance should be by taking the fight down and using his great grappling.

This fight should be closer to a pick ‘em, take Trevin Giles (+175) with the big value here.

- Juan The Don

Lock ‘em Down Section

Fight: Randy Brown (+155) vs Vicente Luque (-175)

Selection: Vicente Luque (-175)

 

 

Great matchup between fighters at different spots in their careers as Vicente Luque takes on Randy Brown. Both are coming off stoppage victories and will look to climb the welterweight ladder. The winner of this match is sure to get a big fight next so look for both to be at the top of their games.

 

Randy Brown has impressed in his last two fights stopping the tough Bryan Barbarena by strikes in the 3rd round of his last fight and shortly before that he surprised Warley Alves by submitting him in the 2nd round. He has shown ridiculous potential and people are paying attention now. He has finished 10 of 12 career fights and uses his 78” reach to keep opponents in his range and better implement his fight. He has also shown great grappling, wrestling ability, and control although only averages close to one takedown a fight.

Vicente Luque is never in a boring fight. He is as tough as they get and one of the most technical strikers in the welterweight division. His last fight was a TKO doctor stoppage vs Niko Price, a fight that was back and forth but ultimately the power shots of Luque were too much and forced the doctor to intervene. Though impressive, it was a dangerous fight for him as Price was coming into the bout with HUGE momentum and with already beating Niko Price before, he did not have much to gain. Regardless, he got the win and did prove that his consistent game plan is still effective.

Close fight to the eye but their stats determine the winner. There is no secret what Luque wants to do and that is to strike! He has fast hands and sports a Muay Thai style that helps him land a whopping 5.66 significant strikes per minute. And with his great technique, it seems as his shots land hard throughout the whole fight, showing little signs of inefficient cardio. He might not throw with so much volume this match as the reach of Brown will likely give him a problem, but all in all he should have the advantage on the feet. Randy Brown does have great striking, but it isn’t as technical as Luque’s. And given Luque’s proven durability with only being finished twice in his career- Brown’s best shot at winning this bout is by securing takedowns and being active. Luque has been taken down before and slightly controlled so he could have success, but it is easier said than done. Luque sports a 65% takedown defense rate and only pure wrestlers have given him trouble. With that said, Randy Brown is not a pure wrestler and although he might get a few takedowns, the activity of Luque will be too much.

Possibly losing the first round, look for Luque (-175) to finish strong and get the late tko finish. Not great odds but we love the matchup.

- Juan The Don

Lock ‘em Down Selection

Fight: Joanne Calderwood (-160) vs Jennifer Maia (+140)

Selection: Joanne Calderwood (-160)

 

Originally scheduled to fight for the belt, Joanne Calderwood did not want to wait for the champ, Shevchenko. Instead, she takes a bout on short notice against the durable fighter, Jennifer Maia. In a fight where Maia has everything to gain and Calderwood has everything to lose, this creates a tighter matchup than numbers can tell.

Jennifer Maia is coming off a decision loss to Kaitlyn Chookagian where she lost two rounds on all judges’ score cards. It was a close fight but the difference in significant strikes was the key. Prior to that she was on a two-fight winning streak, beating two good grapplers in Roxanne Modaferri and Alexa Davis. She showed great takedown defense and outpointed both to a decision win.

Scottish fighter, Joanne Calderwood, has been in the top 10 of the division for some time now. She is widely considered one of the best well-rounded fighters in the division and can beat you in a variety of ways. Her victory last fight vs the tough Andrea Lee, secured her shot at the title. She won the bout by split decision but seemed to be the clear winner despite close rounds. Looking to stay active, Calderwood wants to ride that momentum to keep her better prepared and re-validate her initial shot at the title.

Calderwood likes to mix it up in fights, using her long reach, great boxing to keep opponents at bay, and loves to throw a lot of volume. That will be the key to victory in this fight for her. She might have some trouble taking this fight to the ground given the strength of Maia, but frequent takedown attempts will help her slow Maia and open her striking. Do not get me wrong, Maia is a solid fighter with great Muay Thai, but she has had a problem with fighters that can strike. Her strength is clearly against grappling and ground based fighters, as she uses her great takedown defense and physical strength to score points in tight spots and situations. Calderwood is too smart to stay close with her opponent for long and she would be wise to stick and move. Too many tools, take Joanne Calderwood (-160) as the favorite here and look for her to cruise to a decision win.

- Juan The Don

07/31/2020

 

Lock em Down Selection

NBA

Game: Magic (-7) vs Nets (+7), total 212.5 (-110)

Selection: Magic/Nets Under 212.5 (-110)

 

 

The Magic and the Nets face off in the first game of the NBA restart. The Nets will be without most of their starters throughout the NBA restart. More importantly they will be without their top scorers in Spencer Dinwiddie and Kyrie Irving. They still have Levert to lead the guard play and they did add Jamal Crawford, but they certainly will not be the same Nets squad.

Before Johnathon Isaac of the Magic was injured on the first of January, Magic were allowing 104.2 ppg in 34 games. The team allowed 110.16 ppg without Isaac in 31 games following that. The numbers do not lie, this team is much better defensively when Isaac is on the floor and they will be fortunate for him to play a healthy number of minutes to get them back as one of the best defensive

This number has gone out of control. This game started close to pick ‘em and with the injuries that occurred for the Nets, has seen this line move to (-7)! Too much value lost in taking the Magic and you simply cannot trust the Nets with half their team gone. The Magic average 106.4 ppg and a ‘healthy’ Nets team averages 110.8, the bet is in the total. The Magic might try to implement their defensive minded game plan more that Isaac is good to go. It will be tough for the Nets to score points without their big players… take the under 212.5 in this game.

07/29/2020        

Lock ‘em Down Selection

MLB

Game: White Sox (Giolito, -108) vs Indians (Plesac, -107)

Selection: White Sox (Giolito, -108)

 

The Indians will try to look for the sweep on Wednesday against the White Sox but Giolito might have other plans. He pitches much better on the road for whatever reason, allowing 31 runs in 92 innings compared to 38 runs in 84 innings at home. The opposing pitcher, Zach Plesac, will make his sophomore season debut. After a good rookie season, he will look to improve in some categories, but he could have trouble in his opener. In his two games vs the Sox last year, he allowed 7 runs in 12 innings and they hit .261 off him. That number at home does not fare well for him either with a .246 OBA.

Although the White Sox have lost the first two games of this series (with one being postponed) they have been hitting the ball decently though have struggled with runners in scoring position. But with their best pitcher on the mound and their success against Plesac last year, the White Sox (-108) are the right choice here. Sweeps are hard to come by, especially within the division.

- Juan The Don

07/28/2020

Lock ‘em Down Selection

MLB

Game: Dodgers (Buehler, -130) vs Astros (Valdez, +120)

Selection: Dodgers (Buehler, -130)

 

Tight offensive matchup here as the Dodgers take on the Astros. Buehler is coming off a 14-4 2019 season with a stellar 1.04 whip. Last season opener was a rough one as he allowed 5 runs in 3 innings and although it would look as the Astros power offense could do the same, the numbers do not make sense to take Framber Valdez. The Astros pitcher allowed a HR every 7.8 inings last year to go with a 1.67 WHIP, 5.86 ERA, and had an OBA .267. Buehler on the other hand is coming off a phenomenal post season performance. We have to go with the stats here and our model indicates a spread closer to (-155) in favor of the Dodgers, they are the right bet here at (-130).

- Dpduece1

07/26/2020

Lock ‘em Down Selection

MLB

Game: Twins (Maeda, -145) vs White Sox (Lopez, +135)

Selection: Twins (Maeda, -145)

Pitching has been far from decent for the Twins to being the season. Berrios struggled in the opener despite the team getting the win and Dobnak did decent enough to only allow 1 run in 4 innings but then their relievers collapsed allowing 9 runs. Don’t expect the white sox to have that much success against Maeda. Statistically, the beginning of the season isn’t his best ball, but he has pitched a couple season opening shutout appearances in his career. Only 3 batters on the White Sox stating lineup have faced Maeda in the past: Abreu, Anderson and Encarnacion, all which are a combined 0-7 against him. It’s not a huge stat but nevertheless, the unfamiliarity favors the Twins. Meanwhile, The Twins’ starting lineup are a combined 20-83 against Lopez, an average of .240. Look for Maeda to pitch 5-6 innings and look for the bullpen to tighten up as their numbers should even up.

- Juan The Don

07/25/2020

 

UFC on ESPN: Whittaker vs Till

Top Underdog Selection

Fight: Paul Craig (-130) vs Gadzhimurad Antigulov (+110)

Selection: Gadzhimurad Antigulov (+110)

 

Fireworks are guaranteed as the submission specialist Antigulov faces the tough and crowd-pleasing fighter, Paul Craig. Both guys are known for their quick finishes and punishing style. The winner of this bout will likely get a finish and possibly a performance of the night check- 50 g’s baby.

In his most recent appearance, Paul Craig faced the MMA great, Shougun Rua on short notice. Fighting him in enemy territory (Brazil), Paul Craig excited the crowd proving more durable than expected. The back in forth fight was ultimately declared a split draw but Craig’s performance did not go unnoticed. In his nine UFC fights, he holds a 4-4-1 record with all wins coming by submission. He always goes for the finish which makes him dangerous throughout the whole fight, but his aggression leads him to many defensive mistakes, something he will need to avoid early on vs Antigulov.

A master at freestyle wrestling, Gadzhimurad Antigulov is good as it gets when it comes to taking down opponents. He is an exceptionally strong wrestler which helps hold on to you and work for submissions. He holds a 2-2 record inside the octagon and is currently on a 2-fight skid having lost both bouts by tko/ko in the 1st round. He has shown weakness in some areas including his cardio, but his explosive takedowns and strong ground game gives him the capability to rag doll opponents and end fights quick.

 

If Paul Craig wins this fight, it will likely be due to his better cardio and toughness. But can he survive the 1st round? Antigulov is an animal early in fights with 16 of his 20 wins being finishes in the 1st round. 3 of Paul Craig’s losses have come in the first round which is not a huge stat to consider but it tells you that Antigulov’s strength has been a slight weakness in Craigs game. On the verge of losing three straight fights and facing a cut from the UFC roster, Antigulov should be more tactical getting this fight to the ground while clearly looking for a submission early on while both fighters are dry. Complete domination if Antigulov takes it to the ground but if he is unable to get a finish in the first half of the fight, he could be in trouble with stamina issues. A close decision win is not out of the question but the explosiveness of Antigulov (+110) leads us to believe he will get another first round finish.

- Juan The Don

Lock ‘em Down Selection

Fight: Carla Esparza (+150) vs Marina Rodriguez (-170)

Selection: Carla Esparza (+150)

 

Coming off a win against Michelle Waterson in May, Carla Esparza will look to continue her positive momentum when she faces the fearsome striker, Marina Rodriguez. In a classic matchup between striker vs grappler, this is a key fight in the women’s strawweight division. And with an impressive performance, the winner of this match could hold a spot inside the top 5 of the division.

The native of Bagé, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil- Marina Rodriguez will enter the UFC octagon for her 5th time. Her last fight against Cynthia Calvillo was competitive and she showed great striking but ultimately the fight ended up as a majority draw. It looked as if Rodriguez was slightly controlling the standup but unfortunately for her, the few takedowns from Calvillo helped to sway 1 judge. Rodriguez allowed 3 of 4 takedowns in the fight and with her going against the best pure wrestler she has ever faced in Carla Esparza, her training camp will be based on nothing but takedown defense and working from the cage as she undoubtedly holds the advantage on the feet.

The “Cookie Monster” is on a 3-fight win streak and although they might not have been too exciting, it is getting her the big fights she needs to get back to that championship bout. The former All-American wrestler showed a patient approach against Waterson in her last fight. She won by split decision and seemed to be happy to stay on the feet rather than aggressively going for takedowns. She did attempt 10 and only secured 1, but never really tried to stay on a takedown, possibly wary of the slick submission of Waterson. She did land a couple hard shots on the feet and had good movement, showing an improved standup game although, she wants nothing to do with that in this fight.

By the numbers Esparza gets out-landed in significant strikes (2.30-2.87) every fight. With her clear takedown approach and as one of the smallest fighters in the strawweight division standing at 5’1”, that number could be a little misleading. She has no choice but to get in there and eat some shots going in for takedowns but ultimately, she is trading a significant strike for a sure takedown and beats you with control. In this match it might look like these two are in separate weight classes with Rodriguez standing at 5’7” but in reach she only holds a 2” advantage over Esparza and it only plays a factor if Rodriguez can keep it standing long enough. Esparza will need to be a little more aggressive than she was in her last fight because Rodriguez will pick her apart on the outside. Carla Esparza and her team know this, so they are going for takedowns wherever they see an opportunity. Rodriguez does not impose a huge threat with submissions so expect Esparza to shoot more aggressively. These two fighters have faced a lot of common opponents and the only weakness of Rodriguez falls into place with the strength of Esparza. Styles make matchups- don’t believe the hype just yet, experience will win. Take Carla Esparza (+150)

- Juan The Don

Lock ‘em Down Selection

Fight: Bethe Correia (+130) vs Pannie Kianzad (-150)

Selection: Bethe Correia (+130)

 

High ranked matchup on the prelims of the nights card as the proven veteran, Bethe Correia faces TUF alumni and skilled striker, Pannie Kianzad. Correia comes in as the underdog even as her #13 ranking is warranted by past competition. Perhaps the oddsmakers believe that Kianzad is on the way up and Correia is on the decline due to their age, which could be true but their latest work inside the octagon could be different.

Bethe Correia is coming off a huge upset win over Sijara Eubanks. Correia went into the fight as high as a (+300) underdog and her experience won her that fight. It was her first win in 3 years, last defeating Jessica Eye by split-decision back in September of 2016. Her last proved that she had not been declining in performance rather just facing tough and top-level opponents in which she was just outmatched. She has a sprawl and brawl approach in her fights displaying great takedown defense, good boxing skills, exceptional strength in the clinch and constant pressure. Kianzad only averages 0.4 takedowns a fight, so Correia should be in her comfort zone.

Former Invicta champion and TUF veteran, Pannie Kianzad will look to add to her accomplishments by beating her toughest task to date in Correia. Never afraid to get in a good scrap, the Swedish fighter prefers to keep the fight standing. She won her last bout vs Jessica-Rose Clark where she used her superb boxing to cruise for a win. It was her first win in the octagon after losing competitive bouts vs Macy Chiasson and Julia Avila. Neither loss was a bad one as she faced stiff competition and has clearly shown improvement since those bouts.

This fight should stay on the feet barring any knockdowns. Kianzad took a lot of opponents down early in her career but has shied away from that in her UFC bouts although she is not known for being a strong wrestler. Both fighters like to keep the fight standing and use their boxing. Kianzad is a little longer and will likely try to stay on the outside, sticking and moving. While Correia likes to stay in the pocket and trade shots inside. An interesting and close matchup with the winner possibly determined by the experience in similar past opponents. Correia has faced taller strikers before and has fared well in most. In fact, 9 out of 10 of Correia’s opponents have had at least a 2” reach advantage and she has been the shorter (in height) fighter in all her UFC fights. Given those details Kianzad’s reach should not play a big factor and we expect Bethe Correia to control the fight by landing the more powerful shots, pressuring more, controlling the clinch, muscling through, and scoring points. Kianzad could likely win the early battle but Correia’s pressure late in fights could prove too much. Take the bigger sample size here in Bethe Correia (+130) and collect the dog money.

- Juan The Don

07/24/2020

Lock ‘em Down Selection

MLB

Game: Braves (Soroka) vs Mets (deGrom)

Selection: Mets (-160)

Coming off a spectacular NL CY Young winning performance in 2019, Jacob deGrom might have been an MVP if he had gotten decent run support.  For the past 5 season he has been the most dominant pitcher sporting a 2.61 era. deGrom has pitched well vs the Braves throughout his career despite what the numbers say from last year. He went 1-2 vs the Braves but in those 2 losses, he got a total of 2 runs in support from his offense. With the Mets’ offense a little healthier coming into the year, his awful run support trend should not continue into this year. Hopes are higher than normal in this short season. Take deGrom and the Mets (-160) here

- DPduece1

 

07/23/2020

Lock ‘em Down Selection

MLB

Game: Yankees vs Nationals

Selection: Under 7.5 runs (-120)

 

Coming off arguably the best season of his career, Gerrit Cole will look to continue his success in the season opener vs Scherzer and the Nationals. A matchup of pitchers who are truly at the prime of their careers and are historically great pitchers opening seasons, we are taking the under 7.5 runs scored in this game.

  • Gerrit Cole has an opposing BA of .215, a whip of 1.053, and averages 10.4 strikeouts per nine in the first month of baseball throughout his career.

  • Max Scherzer has an opposing BA of .239, a whip of 1.186, and average 10.5 strikeouts per nine in the first month of baseball throughout his career

 

We see both pitchers going the full 6 innings. If there is significant scoring, it might come from the Yankees as the first month of baseball isn’t the best for Scherzer, but damage should be minimal here. Gerrit Cole is coming off an amazing season and he has been healthy! We look for him to continue that momentum. Pitching is too dominant to call a side here, let's roll with the pitchers.

- Juan The Don

07/18/2020

UFC on ESPN: Benavidez vs Figueiredo

Top Underdog Selection

Fight: Askar Askarov (+170) vs Alexandre Pantoja (-190)

 

Selection: Askar Askarov (+170)

 

A key fight in the flyweight division as the proven TUF alumn, Alexandre Pantoja fights the tough and undefeated prospect, Askar Askarov. The winner of this bout will most likely have the next title shot against the winner of the night's main event between Benavidez and Figueiredo. They both create difficult matchups for each other, and the better man’s defense could determine the winner in this high-level fight.

Askar Askarov has shown in his first two fights in the UFC that he can hang with the big boys. In his debut, he faced Brandon Moreno where he fought him to a split draw. It was a tough test and he showed a lot of great skill, but it left a sour taste in his mouth. His last fight vs Tim Elliott, he wanted to be the definitive winner and it ended up being his coming out party. He showed elite skill level wherever the fight took place, controlling the standup, displaying great technique in his hands, and having power behind them too; rocking Elliott in 1st which nearly ended the fight. Even in bad moments where Elliott took him down, Askarov threatened with submissions and/or got up relatively quickly. It will be interesting to see which route his team will take to earn a victory as he has shown to be well-versed.

Although losing a big bout which likely cost him a shot at the title, Pantoja’s close fight with title challenger Deiveson Figueiredo back in July of 2019, proved he has the game to compete for a championship. Six months later, Alexandre Pantoja got back in the winning column by knocking out Matt Schnell in the 1st round. It was a fight he needed (confidence wise) to keep him on track for a future title shot. He has shown great skill as a fighter and is known as a finisher, having ended 16 of his 21 victories: 8 wins by submission and 8 wins by tko/ko. His well-rounded game speaks for itself and he will need to use all of it to beat the tough Russian fighter.

Pantoja was reported as being the replacement if Figueiredo’s COVID-19 test was indeed positive. Results indicated he was not infected so everything went back on as originally scheduled. But you must wonder if that negatively affected Pantoja by not having a sure opponent to train for? It did not help him that is for sure. Regardless, I feel Askarov's unique and solid all-round game will be enough to get the victory. Pantoja is an exceptionally good striker and good wrestler, but he has had some problems with some pressure fighters that can wrestle. I believe Askarov has the tools to take Pantoja down and give him more problems than he has seen in the past. I see the advantages of strength, wrestling, and clinch fighting on the side of Askarov; he would be wise to do that more often than strike. I love the plus money here, too close off a match to take the 2-1 favorite. The value is all on Askarov, he has nothing to lose in this fight and everything to gain. Take Askar Askarov (+170)

- Juan The Don

 

Top Underdog Selection (bonus)

Fight: Joe Duffy (-350) vs Joel Alvarez (+275)

 

Selection: Joel Alvarez (+275)


This prelim fight features a young prospect in Joel Alvarez going against a fighter who gave Connor McGregor one of his first defeats, Irish Joe Duffy. Alvarez is coming off his first win in the octagon while Duffy is trying to get back to winning ways after losing 2 straight fights.

 

Joe Duffy, once considered a top prospect, is a fighter with a pro boxing background who can also finish people on the ground. He came into the UFC winning his first two fights, 1 by sub 1 by KO before losing to Dustin Poirier, a fight he fought very well early on giving Poirier some trouble with his striking. (granted it was one of Poirier’s first fights moving up to the lightweight division) Duffy has always shown a great standup game using his boxing skills to get in on opponents while also mixing in some great leg kicks. Not afraid to stand up in bang with people he does tend to take some damage while inflicting his own which has been attributed to his long layoffs lately due to injuries, only 2 Fights in the last 3 years. In his past two fights he has shown vulnerability to leg strikes really slowing down his attack which was his downfall in losing those fights. That could spell trouble against someone tall and long like Álvarez who can utilize his long legs to cripple his movement.

 

Joel "El Fenomino" Alvarez is fighting in his 3rd UFC fight coming in with an impressive 15-1 record before splitting a pair of bouts in the octagon. He has finished all his fights mostly by submission (14 subs) and a couple by KO. In his first fight he was completely dominated against Ismagulov getting picked apart on his feet. He did show an impressive chin taking constant punishment from Ismagulov all the way to a decision loss. He did come into the fight on short notice not having much time to prepare against an experienced MMA fighter who has elite striking abilities. In his 2nd fight he did show much more promise and confidence in striking landing some great leg kicks and putting pressure on Danilo Belluardo although he was taken down a couple times. He is 6'3”, very tall for the lightweight division and has great advantage over fighters with his length and reach. He has good leg kicks but hasn't seemed to use them too much which he has been working on in training along with his jab. He also works well off his back having 8 subs with him on the mat and even reversing position to earn a TKO in his last fight.

 

Coming into this fight Duffy is in desperation mode needing a win to keep his name in the UFC while Alvarez is looking to further improve his status to move up in ranks and fight more formidable opponents. Duffy comes in with the experience and a definite advantage in the striking department. I see him getting after Alvarez early on trying to get in on his opponent’s long reach and height advantage. If Alvarez can use his length utilizing his jab and kicks to keep Duffy on the outside, I don’t see Duffy having any success executing his offense. Alvarez should take a page from Diakiese's book and use his long leg kicks to take away Duffy's lead leg to limit his movement and ability to move forward and land his combinations. With Duffy on his last stand in the UFC I do see some motivation to get a win here, but I think he hit his peak years back. Put in the fact of his inactivity the last few years and another 1 1/2-year layoff I just don't see him pulling it off against a young hungry prospect in Alvarez. Although Alvarez also had a 1-year layoff, there is a difference between taking the time to train to get better and taking the time to recover for Duffy. I see this fight being somewhat of a coming out party for Alvarez and a goodbye to Duffy. With Alvarez being a big-time dog, it makes the pick that much better. Take Alvarez +275!!

- DPduece1

Lock ‘em Down Selection

Fight: Jack Hermansson (-105) vs Kelvin Gastelum (-115)

Selections: Kelvin Gastelum (-115)

 

A top contender’s matchup in the middleweight division is scheduled as TUF: 18 winner, Kelvin Gastelum meets the experience Sweedish fighter, Jack Hermansson. A very even match on paper and to oddsmakers as this fight moves closer to a pick ‘em coming into fight day. The winner of this match is surely to be in the Top 5 of the division and might be one fight away from a title shot.

Kelvin Gastelum has come a long way since his time in The Ultimate Fighter: 18. In the season, he mainly used his wrestling to win most of his bouts, a style in which he doesn’t really go to nowadays. Since moving over to the famed- Kings MMA in Huntington Beach, CA, he has looked great on the feet, using great footwork and technical striking. Most of his bouts lately have been won due to his striking and he has clearly fallen in love with it. He is currently on a 2-fight losing skid but to opponents at the top of division. His last bout vs Darren Till was very close, losing by split decision. The bout before that was a close UD loss to Champion, Israel Adasanya. The bouts were close in which he could have won if he had secured a couple takedowns.

Jack Hermansson came onto the scene in 2016 with a win over Scott Askham. He has a wrestling base but has shown to give opponents great problems on the feet. He has compiled a UFC record of 7-3 beating proven fighters in Jacare Souza, Dave Branch, and Thales Leites. He is coming off a main event- KO loss to powerful striker, Jarod Cannonier. It was a bout that ended in 1st and it was only his second tko/ko loss of his career. Hermansson has great striking, using his long frame and 77” reach to outland most opponents. He averages 5.13 sig. strikes per minute while only absorbs 2.56. He is very well rounded in his game, 11 of his wins have come by tko/ko and 5 by submission.

This fight has the capability to be fought everywhere and no one fighter has a clear advantage anywhere- this fight is as even as it gets. Hermansson sits at #6 in the middleweight rankings, while Gastelum sits right behind him at #7. Tough matchup but we feel the big fight experience, training camp and past similar opponents will be the difference here. Might be a strange stat to follow but with these guys are so evenly matched, having fought similar styled opponents in the past will prove pivotal. Gastelum has faced high level wrestlers, elite strikers, and opponents from short and stocky, to tall and lanky. Hermansson’s past opponents were high level as well but he has never faced a wrestler like Gastelum, and to add to that, he has never fought a fighter with the body type of Gastelum. On paper it would seem as the taller fighter with the longer reach will have the advantage but if you have no experience facing a smaller and quicker opponent, there is no way of knowing how you will deal with it. We must go with the stats here and take Kelvin Gastelum (-115) as he is the most logical choice. He usually gives up height and reach in most fights and proved well in all, so I do not think the size of the fighter will prove any more difficult for him. Kelvin has fought his opponents’ style before, Hermannson simply has not. 

- Juan The Don

Lock ‘em Down Selection

Fight: Joseph Benavidez (+185) vs Deiveson Figueiredo (-205)

Selections: Joseph Benavidez (+185)

 

The men’s flyweight belt has been vacant for some time now. These two met back in February for a shot at the belt but ultimately, Benavidez was the only one eligible to win the strap after Figueiredo missed weight. The bout went on as planned and in the fight, both guys had success but after an accidental headbutt (missed by the ref), the fight changed quickly. Figueiredo won by vicious KO which most likely was contributed by the headbutt but regardless, the win meant almost nothing as these two were scheduled for an immediate rematch.

Joe Benavidez might be the most experienced guy in the UFC to never be champion. He has been fighting at the highest level for over 12 years, has fought in 3 title fights but cannot get over that hump. He trains at one of the best camps in the world (Team Alpha Male), so finding the right training partner is never tough to imitate a scheduled opponent. Benavidez is as well-rounded as they get, he uses great boxing, kicks, and superb wrestling. He averages 3.53 Sig. Strikes per minute and only absorbs 2.55 a minute. He holds a 63% Sig. strike defense rate and stuffs 65% of opponent’s takedowns while being able to secure at least 1.5 takedowns a fight.

 

Figueiredo was eying a title shot for a while before his last match with Benavidez. He is currently on a 3-fight win streak with his last loss coming to the hands of Jussier Formiga. He is a very explosive striker with one punch KO power but has the tools to beat opponents anywhere the fight goes. He secures 1.81 takedowns a fight, while fights off 61% of opponent’s takedowns. He is more worried about landing hard-significant strikes rather than outpoint his opponent. He averages 2.54 Sig. strikes per minute and absorbs 2.76.

 

Although, Figueiredo was able to get the KO win early in the 2nd round- we saw a lot in the fight which leads us to believe this closer than the odds indicate. Benavidez threw twice as many shots than Figueiredo and looked like the better fighter in round 1. Joe claims to have been rocked by the accidental headbutt in the 2nd, which led to his KO loss and we could not agree more. Accidental headbutts are almost a death sentence. The hardest bones in your body are in the head and rarely do you see a fighter completely recover from one whether he/she is rocked or cut by one. In the previous fight it was a “game-changer” and the fight would have been a lot different if it did not happen. Joe’s plan should be to avoid huge shots and avoid the ground game (jiu-jitsu) of Figueiredo which are the only areas where he clearly holds an advantage. We do not understand how the line went up in favor of Figueiredo from the previous fight. The previous fight looked to be even before the headbutt with Joe controlling most of the action. Weird line but we believe Joe has too many tools to take the fight where he has the best shot at winning. We have been eying this rematch for a while and nothing has changed, we love Benavidez (+185) here.

- Juan The Don

07/15/2020

 

UFC on ESPN: Kattar vs Ige

Lock ‘em Down Selection

Fight: Molly McCann (-110) vs Talia Santos (-110)

Selections: Molly McCann (-110)

              

It’s not every day that you get a true pick ‘em matchup in MMA but we have it here with touted prospect, Talia Santos meeting the outspoken English fighter, Molly McCann. This fight is sure to create another contender in the division and will put the winner in a good position for a top 12 ranking.  

Entering her 2nd UFC bout, Talia Santos is a top women’s flyweight prospect hailing from Santa Catarina, Brazil. She debuted in the octagon last February of 2019 against Mara Romero-Borella, losing a split decision. It was her first loss of her career after starting 15-0 but she did show promise in the fight, stuffing 75% of Borella’s takedowns. She is an exceptionally long fighter and would prefer to keep the fight standing using her 68” reach.

              

Molly McCann is coming off a UD win vs Diana Delbita. An even fight on the feet but pure domination on the ground for McCann. She was able to score 5/12 takedowns and frequently pass guard. She has a very well-rounded game and can win the standing as well, never shying away from a good fight. She is currently on a 3-fight win streak, clearly winning all fights by UD. Her only loss has come from ground specialist and rising contender, Gillian Robertson. Although, if they fought again it would be a totally different fight.

It is always tough to scout a fighter that comes from a small regional MMA scene and holds a great record. That is the case with Talia Santos. I feel as her record is a little padded- 13 of her wins have come to fighters with less than 2 wins (tapology.com). This is not uncommon for the first handful of fights for many beginners, but it seemed as if she was favorably and unevenly matched in all. Granted she did fight an experienced fighter in her UFC debut against Borella and looked decent, but Borella has not been fighting great lately and her best days might be behind her. Not discounting Talia Santos’ talent but Molly McCann might be too well-rounded for her. Her experience in big fights could be the difference in this one. She was the Cage Warriors flyweight champion before leaving for the UFC and has faced top competition since getting there. A crowd-pleasing fighter, Molly McCann said her loss to Gillian made her become much smarter and tactical going into fights. It was a fight that she says she needed to become humbler and better herself. She can truly take the fight wherever she feels she has an advantage and has more ways of winning than Santos.

With the right game plan, which I believe they will have; Molly and her team win this fight hands down. She will have success on the feet, but her wrestling will be the difference as she never stops fighting for takedowns and it might be the most secure way of winning this fight. Take the proven experience over the potential of a fighter. Molly McCann (-110) is the right choice here

- Juan The Don

Lock ‘em Down Selection

Fight: Cody Stamann (+115) vs Jimmie Rivera (-135)

Selection: Jimmie Rivera (-135)

 

A late add-on to this card, Jimmie Rivera vs Cody Stamann is a matchup of top fighters looking to gain position in the top ten of the division. These fighters are at different points of their careers, they both possess the talent to fight for a title shot soon. With both fighters matching up similarly, the winner could be determined by who can control the pace.

Jimmie Rivera will be making his featherweight debut when he steps in vs Cody Stamann in a fight at “fight island.” Coming off a loss a year ago vs newly crowned champion, Petr Yan. Rivera will look to gain traction in a division where competing at the top will likely prove just as tough as fighting at bantamweight. Using a patient and tactical approach, Jimmie Rivera’s defense is probably his best attribute. He holds an outstanding 95% takedown defense rate which says a lot given the top wrestlers he has faced. He can keep the fight on the feet where he is able to use his elite boxing and stay consistent throughout the fight.

 

Cody Stamann went into his last fight vs Brian Kelleher with a heavy heart- despite his younger brother passing away shortly before the fight, he stepped in and dominated at UFC 250. It showed his heart, toughness, ability to handle adversity, and displayed his dominant wrestling. The fight could have been the most dominant of his career and more impressively, he did it in a division where it was his first fight (as Rivera is now). He is taking a 2nd fight at featherweight and it is unknown if he will stay in the division as he is currently still ranked #10 in the bantamweight division. Regardless, it is an evenly matched fight with both fighters competing with similar circumstances.

 

Cody shows great all-around game, but his true background is clearly his wrestling. He is a dominant wrestler who controls his opponents with pure strength. He is the stronger fighter out of the two, but will he be able to take Rivera down? Rivera’s elite defense and ability to stick to a game plan makes it tough to go against him. Stamann might be the best pure wrestler his opponent has ever faced, but Rivera’s takedown defense will likely nullify the wrestling game forcing this fight to stay on the feet. I believe Stamann is too good of a wrestler to not secure at least one takedown but will not have as much success as in the past. Rivera is simply too sound here. He matches up perfectly with Stamann’s style and I see this as a cruise for Jimmie Rivera. Sprawling, scoring points by sticking and moving will be the plan for Rivera but a finish might be unlikely due to the high level of competition. I see a clear win for the slight favorite here, take Jimmie Rivera (-135) to take this fight by decision.

- Juan The Don

Lock ‘em Down Selection

Fight: Ryan Benoit (+100) vs Tim Elliott (-120)

Selections: Tim Elliott (-120)

              

A flyweight bout is scheduled for the night’s co-main event as the always exciting Tim Elliott faces Ryan “baby face” Benoit. Styles will clash when Elliott’s high pace meets Benoit’s patient attack. Both guys have so much to gain in this fight so expect the bout to be keenly contested.

Tim Elliott is currently on a 3-fight losing streak and most recently defeated by Brandon Royval via arm-triangle choke. It was a fight where he looked to be winning until getting caught in the submission. It is something that he has had a lot of trouble within the past (sub defense). He has been submitted 4 times in the UFC and they all have come early or mid-fight. His strategy is clearly to out-work his opponent by pushing at a high pace, finishing few but mainly wearing opponents down. One of the most diverse fighting styles in the UFC; he is skillful wherever the fight may go.

Ryan Benoit presents a tough matchup for anyone. He stays real calm in fights and his great kickboxing and cardio has made it tough for all past opponents. He holds a notable win against Sergio Pettis, a fight where he stayed patient after getting outclassed in the first round; he came back in the 2nd to land clean punches and drop Pettis for a TKO finish. He has failed to get a big win after that fight in 2015 but has been competitive in all, especially in his split-decision loss to surging contender, Brandon Moreno. An exceptionally durable fighter, his best chance of winning is staying on the feet and turning this fight into a boxing match.

An interesting matchup, the winner of this fight could easily dominate the others game. Elliott is too much of a veteran to play into Benoits strong suit which is his stand-up. Elliott has good boxing, kicks, and moves well on the feet but holds a huge advantage if he can get the fight to the ground. He averages 4.31 takedowns a fight which come from all angles and positions. Undoubtedly being one of the best grapplers in the division, he can completely dominate on the ground if he can stay more patient than usual. I feel as though most of his losses have come from him being too aggressive at times. He is always looking to score points, so he exposes himself to bad positions. Benoit does have the power to end this fight with a single punch, but I think that might be his only shot- by winning from ko. Bottom line, Elliott is too experienced here, he has too much to lose and another loss could possibly be his last fight in the UFC. He has overcome tough career obstacles before, and I think he will prevail again. Too many tools for Elliott (-120) in this fight, look for a late submission or unanimous decision win.

- Juan The Don

07/11/2020

 

UFC 251: Masvidal vs Usman

Top Underdog Selection

Fight: Davey Grant (+155) vs Martin Day (-175)

Selection: Davey Grant (+155)

 

In the first fight on fight Island we have Davey "Dangerous" Grant going against Martin "The Spartan" Day. Grant is looking to win a 2nd consecutive bout while Day is still looking for his first win inside the octagon. A closer match up than the odds indicate, avoiding past mistake will key in this fight.

 

Davey Grant is 2-3 in the UFC but is coming off a decision victory over Grigory Popov after losing 2 in a row by sub. Grant has great cardio who puts constant pressure on fighters. He has some good ground and pound consistently going for takedowns. Shows a good power right hook but does tend to loop out punches making him suspect for quick straight punches.

 

His opponent Martin Day lost his contender series match against Jaime Alvarez in August of 2017. He then won 3 matches at a smaller promotion- Destiny MMA and earned a shot in the UFC. The fight did not go as planned, he lost a decision against Pingyaun Liu, a fight that he out struck him and was winning until getting rocked midway through the 3rd which I believe lost him the split decision. He showed his athleticism with great fast striking and kicks throwing some nice spinning back kicks on top of that. I feel like he needs to throw a little more power in his shots to become a feared striker. One negative is that he has shown to be taken down a little more than usual, something he cannot do fighting in the top promotion in the world.

 

In this fight I see Day winning the stand up early and landing straight punches mixing it well while adding strikes to the body and some kicks. Grant does keep his hands a little low, so he needs to be aware of the quick hands and kicks of Day. Therefore, he needs to put constant pressure getting inside the length of Day, maybe putting him against the cage and changing levels to secure takedowns. In the clinch game I like Grant's ability to throw some sharp elbows and knees to the body. After softening up Day, Grant should be able to secure a few takedowns and control Day on the ground who has struggled to get to his feet when on his back. Although Grant is suspect to submissions when on the floor, I have not seen anything in Martin Day's submission game to threaten Grant. If Day can defend the takedown and keep it standing, the fight is his. Although, I cannot expect what you have not seen. I see Grant taking advantage of his superior grappling game by keeping it on the ground all the way to a decision win. Cash in on the first fight on Fight Island by taking the live dog! Grant (+155) by decision.

- DPduece1

Lock ‘em Down Selections

Fight: Volkan Oezdemir (-160) vs Jiri Prochazka (+140)

Selections: Volkan Oezdemir (-160) and

Oezdemir/Prochazka Over 1.5 (-140)

 

A lot of hype is coming in for Jiri Prochazka who makes his UFC debut on fight island. Prochazka has not tasted defeat in 4 ½ years, his last loss was to King Mo in late 2015. Maybe his toughest test to date, Volkan Oezdemir brings a well-rounded game to give anyone trouble in the division. He has fought for the title and the top guys at light-heavyweight. The winner of this match will likely be 1 or 2 fights away from a title shot. This fight is sure to be a fight of the night candidate as both men like to keep it standing and throw big bombs.

Jiri Prochazka is a highly touted prospect who has been inching his way into the UFC for a while. According to Tapology.com, he is rated as the 24th best light heavyweight in the world, but a win vs Oezdemir could see him easily climb into the top 6. He is an exceptionally long, technical, and precise as a striker and shows great movement on the defensive side. He is currently on a 11-fight win streak, beating the likes CB Dollaway, Brandon Halsey, Fabio Maldonado and avenging a previous loss by knocking out King Mo. He has finished 10 of those 11 fights and although most of the finishes came early in the fight, he never recklessly charged in- he lets the knockouts go to him.

Known for his toughness and willingness to fight anyone, Volkan Oezdemir looks to improve on a 2-fight win streak and climb the rankings for another title shot. He most recently beat Aleksandar Rakic in a close split decision and shortly before that knocking out Ilir Latifi in the 2nd round. Volkan has HUGE power in his hands, so his opponents had a clear game plan to take the fight straight to the ground but to no success. His takedown defense looked phenomenal in both fights, stuffing 12 of 14 total takedown attempts. I do not expect Jiri Prochazka to try and take Volkan down but if he does get into some trouble on the feet, it will be tough to take the fight there.

 I feel as if experience will prevail here. Both guys have it but Volkan just has it at a different level. All his previous 8 fights have been against guys in the top 15 and three of those opponents were either champions or have fought for the title. Better yet, he has faced a variety of different HIGH-LEVEL specialists which makes him more adaptable to wherever the fight will go. I do not think Volkan will stand and trade as much as he wants to. Jiri’s strength by far is his technical striking game, Volkan has too many tools to risk getting caught. He will likely try and take this fight to the cage and work from the clinch. He is extraordinarily strong and loves to throw short punches and elbows in that position. He does not go for too many takedowns, but it would not be surprising to see him score a few. Could be an even fight on the feet but he could dominate in every other position. Both guys are extremely tough and durable and although according to the stats, a knockout is highly probable; I see fighter IQ steering this fight to a decision with Volkan Oezdemir (-160) getting his hand raised. Take the straight bets with Volkan Oezdemir (-160) and the OVER 1.5 rounds (-140)

- Juan The Don

Lock ‘em Down Selection

Fight: Maxim Grishin (-105) vs Marcin Tybura (-115)

Selections: Maxim Grishin (-105)

 

A late scratch of Alexander Romanov, prompts the UFC to call up 38-fight veteran and PFL alumni, Maxim Grishin. For Tybura, he faces a different style opponent but his experience in high profiled matchups should help adjust well. In a fight where it is close stylistically and nearly a pick ‘em at sportsbooks, these two guys are experienced in their own right but it might be the one who has more film to study on his opponent that determines the winner.

Maxim Grishin will be making his 39th professional MMA fight on Saturday and will be making his 1st UFC appearance. It could not come against a more experienced opponent, but his well-rounded game should fare well. And although he is taking this fight at heavyweight- a weight class in which he has not fought in since a loss back in 2011- he did start his career there and has a notable win over current UFC top contending heavyweight, Alexander Volkav. Naturally, he is a light-heavyweight but perhaps an opportunity to fight in the UFC was too good to pass up. He has good technical striking with decent power and uses a patient approach. He likes to keep the fight standing and rarely shoots for takedowns. With his clear stand-up approach, most of his opponents use a wrestling heavy game plan but to little success. Grishin is good at fighting off takedowns against the cage and his quickness makes it tough to get him down on the open mat. In this fight, we should see a clear speed advantage for Grishin, but he will need to use it to stay off the cage against the 250lb+, Tybura.

Having fought the best guys that the UFC has had to offer, Marcin Tybura, had no worries of the opponent change. He was previously around (-110) pick ‘em against his original scheduled opponent, Alexander Romanov, but now is a slight (-115) favorite against Grishin. With the level of competition still somewhat similar, his mindset should not be too different. It is still a high-level fight and a win could push him closer to the top of the division. He is coming off a decision win over Serghei Spivac, where he used his wrestling to secure the win. Tybura has the skill set to take the fight wherever it goes and be more than competitive. He does not excel in anything but is very well-rounded with his best attribute probably being his defense. His diverse game makes it tough for opponents to impose their game plans and it should be interesting to see if he can have any success against probably the quickest opponent he has faced in the UFC.

 

With the little information Tybura has on his newly scheduled opponent, he has a dis-advantage. There is more tape on Tybura than there is on Grishin, which should give the edge in that department to the coaches of Grishin. I know that is only one aspect of the fight, but it is the base for every fighter.  Furthermore, Grishin does train at a more established gym given the pro fighters he trains with. No disrespect to S4 Fight Club where Tybura trains out of, but the quick change of opponent does him no good. Bottomline, Grishin is the hungrier, faster, and a more style-imposing fighter. Grishin will be the smaller fighter and faster which will help him stick and move like he does. He is very technical standing up and has a real solid defensive base. I just do not see Tybura landing anything significant on the feet, his obvious best bet is to take it to the ground but will not see much success getting it there. Take Maxim Grishin (-105) as the slight underdog!

- Juan The Don

06/27/2020

 

UFC on ESPN: Poirier vs Hooker

Top Underdog Selection

Fight: Dustin Poirier (-220) vs Dan Hooker (+190)

Selection: Dan Hooker (+190)

A fight between Hooker and Poirier is sure to be a nominee for fight of the night. The striking of these two are as elite as it gets; Hooker displays probably the best kickboxing skills in the division while Poirier might be the most technical and diverse fighter in the division. Both guys clearly have a ‘finishing mentality” with Poirier stopping 76% of his opponents and Hooker finishing 86% of opponents. A fight in which there is a high possibility of a finish, an impressive win could shoot the winner to a number one contenders match.

Dan Hooker is coming off a 5-round “fight of the night” win against, Paul Felder, in which he landed a career high- 122 significant strikes in the fight. The Aussie went the full 25 minutes and it was a first for Hooker. He was well prepared as his conditioning looked good in the late rounds, even securing a surprising late takedown. He gained so much experience in the fight and it can only help him be more confident in his upcoming 5-round bout against Poirier. He has fought stiff competition in the past and notably, has a win over welterweight champion challenger, Gilbert Burns. But given this high-ranking bout, a win for him will likely be the biggest win of his career and secure his spot in the top 3 of the division.

Dustin Poirier has not fought since a championship loss to, Khabib Nurmegomedov, back in September of 2019. After the fight he revealed he needed to surgically repair multiple town labrums near his hip and reshape a femur bone to prevent future injuries. The biggest injury setback he has had to date, and he will look to return to normal form on Saturday. Prior to his title bout with Khabib, he was one a 5-fight win streak beating the likes of Max Holloway, Eddie Alverez, Anthony Pettis, and Justin Gaethje. An impressive resume to say the least, a win over Hooker could likely lead to another title shot or even better for him, a rematch with Conor McGregor.

Coming off perhaps his toughest and longest layoff, Dustin Poirier, is not likely to be at his 100% self. Although, the surgery might help him in the future, it is hard to see him come back from an injury like that and outperform someone who has fought two- top 10 opponents and has looked great in both. Hooker might be the longest fighter Poirier has faced and he has had some trouble with elite strikers in the past. Even with Dustin Poirier averaging a whopping 5.51 significant shots per minute, expect Hooker to pick his shots a little better, show improvement in striking defense and make this fight into a kickboxing match. Dustin has great submissions, so avoiding the ground will be the usual for the Australian native. Dan Hooker is the fresher fighter, the better striker (technically), has proved to hang with the best and has done it recently in 5 rounds. Not that Poirier is new to 5-round fights, but can he fight one given his circumstances? Realistically, the odds of winning have never been more against him. Even if the betting odds have him as the favorite (and a large one), this fight should be closer to a pick ‘em. So, with that said, Dan Hooker is the right choice here and has MAJOR value at (+190)! Dustin Poirier has headlined a lot more fights than Hooker and obviously has the more recognizable name which will likely have most casual betters take the large favorite. Take Dan Hooker later in the week for slightly better odds and look for Hooker to out-strike his opponent possibly getting a knockout win.

- Juan The Don

Lock 'em Down Selection

Fight: Tanner Boser (+100) vs Philipe Lins (-120)

Selection: Tanner Boser (+100)

 

Two guys relatively new to the UFC scene will be looking to get back in the win column after losses against tough fighters. Lins is coming off a loss to former champ Andrei Arlovski while Boser is coming off a loss to surging contender, Cyril Gane. Both guys are highly skilled and have fought tough fighters in smaller promotions, and now look to use that experience to win big bouts in the UFC.

Canadian born fighter, Tanner Boser will be making his 3rd UFC appearance. His last bout, a loss to Gane- he showed great fight for going into the fight as a +700 underdog. He showed good striking and composure but could not capitalize. In his UFC debut, he defeated Daniel Spitz by unanimous decision, outpointing his opponent on the feet for the entire fight. Tanner Boser shows great movement, good cardio, and speed. Philipe Lins is a good striker and probably will have the power advantage, so Boser will need to avoid those big shots so the judges are swayed in Lins favor. I feel as Boser will land more shots, but will they be significant than Lins?

Facing a season vet and former champion in your Heavyweight debut is never an easy task. Philipe Lins was put to the test his last fight vs Arvlovski and lost a unanimous decision. The fight stayed on the feet the whole 3 rounds and it seemed as Lins was just a few strikes behind. Not one takedown attempted by the BJJ black belt which was a little surprising. It was only the 3rd time Lins has gone to the scorecards as he has finished 12/14 career opponents. Prior to entering the UFC, he won the PFL Heavyweight Tournament Championship; in the process defeating UFC vets Alex Nicholson, Jared Rosholt, and Josh Copeland. He has good experience for a UFC rookie, and he will need to use that against Boser to win the fight.

A close fight for the oddsmakers and rightfully so, these guys match up as even as it can get. The only clear advantage I see is for Philipe Lins who is a BJJ black belt. With that said, can he get it to the ground? Tanner Boser has good takedown defense; his great cardio, frame, and wide stance makes it tough for opponents to take him down. He only has 1 stuffed takedown in the UFC but his prior fights in M-1 and ACB have prepared him well, facing a handful of pressure wrestlers and defending takedowns exceptionally well. That is why in this fight, I have the advantage to Boser. He is a little unorthodox but is a great striker, constantly moves and throws from different angles. Lins has a little more traditional boxing/muay thai style and that helped him land 2.73 significant shots per minute in his debut. Boser has landed 4.17 significant shots a minute in his 2 UFC bouts while only absorbing 3.23. Time will only tell what their true stats are but as of now I see Boser keeping this fight on the feet, pressuring, landing more total shots, and landing significant shots in the clinch from Lins’ attempted takedowns. Might be a little lackluster but if Tanner Boser keeps this fight on the feet, he wins hands down. Take the slight underdog at (+100).

- Juan The Don

Lock 'em Down Selection

Fight: Maurice Green (-225) vs Gian Villante (+190)

Selection: Gian Villante (+190)

 

A big heavyweight showdown as 6’7”, Maurice Green, faces gritty veteran and heavyweight newcomer, Gian Villante. Both coming off losses so we should expect a tight and nail-biting fight. Two guys that favor the standup in fights should translate into an exciting one, but it could be the one who lands the occasional takedown that wins this fight.

Hailing from Norfolk, Virginia, Maurice Green will be entering his 13th pro bout and 6th UFC fight. Originally making his way to the UFC by way of The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights, he is one of the biggest heavyweights in the division, tipping the scales at the limit of 265. A very imposing figure, he has great striking and a good submission game; earning all career submission wins by triangle chokes. He has exceptionally long legs, so opponents are always weary of taking him down but lately, great ground fighters have been able to expose his ground game. He has yet to attempt a takedown in his UFC career and probably will not land one this fight given the 83% takedown defense of Villante. It is a clear striking-first approach for Greene in a fight where that might be his only advantage.

Gian Villante never fails to put on an exciting fight. Originally a wrestler, Villante rarely takes the fight to the ground, instead uses his base to keep the fight standing. He likes to trade shots, make the fight dirty, sprawl and brawl but in this matchup; he will likely reconsider. He has a great all-around game with his biggest flaw being his striking defense, so limiting risks will be crucial. Moving up to heavyweight for the first time shows that he is still looking to improve late in his career. He has the experience and toughness to beat a lot of good fighters in the division, but he will not be able to stand and trade as much in the heavier division.

I feel like in this fight Villante’s wrestling will be the difference. Like I said, he rarely used his wrestling, but he is going to be forced to use it this fight. Maurice Green’s last fight was a complete domination loss to, Aleksei Oleinik. Granted, Olenik is a specialist on the ground but he was out classed in every area. Villante has the ability in this fight to take it where he is most comfortable at and has the tools to take it to the ground but needs to be careful with the long limbs.  Look for Villante to push the bigger Greene to the cage and fight him in the clinch, while securing some late takedowns to secure rounds. The move to heavyweight is a good decision for Villante, he has the cardio to constantly pressure and should fare a little better at this division from not being depleted by a weight cut. Expect a stronger, faster, and better improved Gian Villante and look for a decision win or late tko. Take the underdog here at (+190)

- Juan The Don

06/20/2020

UFC on ESPN: Blaydes vs Volkav

Top Underdog Selection

Fight: Gillian Robertson (-125) vs Courtney Casey (+105)

Selection: Courtney Casey (+105)

 

A premier matchup in the women’s flyweight division as Gillian Robertson faces Courtney Casey. Likely for a spot in the top 15 of the division, both ladies are training out of top camps in the MMA world and look to climb the division. The differences in styles makes this an interesting fight, these ladies are aggressive in their own game so a finish in this fight is highly possible.

Hailing from Niagara Falls, Canada- Gillian Robertson, is coming off a loss to the talented prospect, Maycee Barber. Gillian was just overwhelmed by the pressure and hard punches of Barber and lost the fight by TKO in the opening round. Robertson isn’t known for her standup game and has yet to show legitimate skills standing up, but her ground game is vicious. One of the best specialists in the division, she is clearly a 10 top wrestler and arguably one of the top 5 grapplers in the division. There is no secret for Robertson, she wants to take the fight to the ground and constantly move and pass to search for the submission. All her UFC wins have come by finishes, winning 3 by submission and 1 by tko. She has a dominate ground game but if she has problems getting the fight there, it could be a long night for her.

Making her flyweight debut, Courtney Casey secured her 2nd UFC submission (armbar) win last month against Mara Romero-Borella. The fight was quickly taken to the ground by Borella but Casey was prepared. She usually has trouble with strong wrestlers, but she looked very composed on the floor and her switch to the armbar was exceptionally smooth. Training at the MMA Lab in Phoenix, AZ, has improved Casey’s game to a better version every fight. She was noticeably big at strawweight and perhaps this move to flyweight was due to her body frame being more suitable at the division. She has good boxing and should fair a lot better now that she is facing fighters her size and with similar speed.

I feel as Casey will have a huge advantage on the feet. She is the longer fighter of the two and imposes a much better striking game. She more than doubles the significant strikes landed per minute of Gillian Robertson, 4.72 strikes to 2.18 strikes. Gillian likes to come in for takedowns aggressively but recklessly and although she lands 47 percent of them, she needs to come in more careful to avoid big punches from her opponent. Casey likes to pick her opponents apart and Gillian’s lackluster defense on the feet makes her very susceptible to getting hit. I feel like most of this fight could be fought on the cage and in the clinch. Casey has a great clinch game and imposes good knees but might be limited in fear of getting taken down. Look for Courtney Casey to be in full takedown defense mode while attacking with volume shots. She will need to sprawl and score points with strikes while defending takedowns. It could be a lackluster fight but if Casey can keep the fight on the feet long enough, she wins the fight easily. Take the slight underdog here, Courtney Casey (-105).

- Juan The Don

Lock 'em Down Selection

Fight: Lauren Murphy (+105) vs Roxanne Modafferi (-125)

Selection: Lauren Murphy (+105)

 

In a division where the champion is short of contenders, the winner of this match between Roxanne Modafferi and Lauren Murphy could possibly get a shot (with the right circumstances) to fight for the title. Both have a clear difference in fighting styles and mentality but have the skills to compete for a championship. Close to a pick ‘em fight, the oddsmakers seem to be right on with this line. Modafferi opened as a (-135) favorite but early money on Lauren Murphy has dropped the line (-120).

Roxanne Modafferi is coming off a win over prospect, Maycee Barber. It was a huge win, but it was not without controversy as Barber stated she tore her ACL early in that fight. Nevertheless, the win was pure domination by Modafferi in a fight where she came in as a 5-1 underdog. The win might have opened oddsmakers eyes because before this fight, she had never been a favorite in a UFC fight. The closest she has been was her bout before the Barber fight when she faced, Jennifer Maia. It was a fight she lost in which she originally came in as a (-105) underdog and moved down to a (+130) dog at the end. Modaferri is probably the most experienced women’s fighter on the roster and could get a shot at her 2nd title fight if she could come up with an impressive win streak.

Like her opponent, Murphy is also coming off a big upset win in which she was a 2.5/1 underdog to, Andrea Lee. A fight where she out wrestled Lee and held her own fighting on the feet against the experienced striker- displaying grit, toughness, and a great all-around game. She won the bout by split-decision and recently has had everyone on notice. She came into the UFC at 8-0 and gained great experience early. She lost her debut against, Sara McMann, by split-decision and her next bout to the experienced, Liz Carmouche. It seems as of late; she has put that all together and has looked great. She adapts to her opponents exceptionally well and is always competitive in fights, comfortable wherever the fight goes.

A fighter in which she fought the best women in the world and has a ton of experience, Roxanne Modafferi, has failed to pull off a win streak to gain traction in the division and unfortunately she will continue her “1 win, 1 loss” pattern as of late. Stylistically, Lauren Murphy is a tough matchup for her. Murphy has a true MMA base fighting style; she is good everywhere and even better when you turn the fight into a scrap. Never afraid to take a punch, Murphy should feel more confident in this fight standing with Modafferi, given she does not pack much power in her punches. For Murphy, “sprawl and brawl” has never been more important, she wants absolutely nothing to do with the ground game of Modafferi. She throws great strikes from the clinch, although, I don’t think she will want to engage in a fight there, rather use it to breakaway. Her strong takedown defense should hold up and allow her to pick the slower Modafferi apart. Lauren Murphy (+105) is on her way to a title shot, take her as the slight underdog to win a decision, possibly get a tko.

- Juan The Don

Lock 'em Down Selection

Fight: Raquel Pennington (-145) vs Marion Reneau (+125)

Selection: Raquel Pennington (-145)

 

Styles will clash when boxing based fighter, Raquel Pennington, faces the Jiu Jitsu ace, Marion Reneau. Both are very experienced, Pennington has the most fights all-time in the UFC women’s bantamweight division with 12 bouts, while Reneau is right behind her with 11. Although these ladies are coming off decision losses, they still hold a place in the top 10 of the division and will look to rebound to move up in the rankings.

Currently sitting at #6 in the women’s bantamweight division, Pennington is only a couple wins from possibly securing a rematch against title holder, Amanda Nunes. Since her bout with the champion in May of 2018, she has gone 1-2 with a win over rising contender, Irene Aldana. Her other two losses came from #1 contender, Germaine De Randamie and #2 contender, Holly Holm. She was outpointed in both fights but did have her moments. Known for her exciting, aggressive, and grinding style- her ability to take damage makes her a tough opponent for any women in the division. Her well rounded game to go along with her elite level boxing helped her land 2.84 significant shots per minute vs Amanda Nunes. The champion had never been hit more times per minute in any fight; that says a lot given the current GOAT status of Nunes.

Marion Reneau will be celebrating her 43rd birthday on the day of her scheduled bout with Raquel Pennington. She got a relatively late start in MMA by debuting at the age of 33. She has never let her age show in bouts and has proven toughness having not been finished in her entire career. That says a lot given she has fought top fighters like Cat Zingano, Jessica Andrade, Holly Holm, Sara McMann and most recently, Yana Kunitskaya. She had good moments in all those fights but unfortunately, lost 3 of them. In those loses, she was unable to pull the trigger and was outclassed by her opponents by letting her opponents implement their game plans more accordingly. Her top wins vs Sara McMann and Jessica Andrade were due to her ability to take use her elite Jiu Jitsu- submitting both opponents by triangle choke. It is clear what her game plan is in her upcoming bout, but will she be able to take it there?

Opening as a (-135) favorite, Pennington was as high as (-160) after weigh-ins on Friday. Big money coming in and would not be surprised if it ends up closer to (-200). Pennington is absolutely the right side here. She has the proven track record and although the stats indicate that these ladies are almost even, Pennington’s strength of past opponents make her stats a little more solid and viable. Reneau has also faced stiff competition but cannot seem to get that quality win to put in her the elite of the division and at 43, time is against her. Reneau’s best chance of winning is to take the fight to the mat but with Pennington sporting a 63% takedown defense rate, Reneau will have tough time taking her down. Pennington is exceptionally good in the clinch and will score a lot of points if she can hold her opponent there. While standing, I feel she has a huge advantage. Reneau is known more for her defense than offense when it comes to striking, but Pennington’s boxing is too good and will be the difference. Stuffing takedowns and working from every position will give Pennington her 8th UFC win and back on her way to another top contender’s match.

- Juan The Don

06/13/2020

UFC Fight Night: Calvillo vs Eye

Top Underdog Selection

Fight: Charles Jourdain (+190) vs Andre Fili (-220)

Selection: Charles Jourdain (+190)

 

An interesting matchup in the featherweight division as the young and striking based fighter, Charles Jourdain, faces the well-rounded and experienced fighter from Team Alpha Male, Andre Fili. Although both fighters are at different points of their career, they are just outside the top 15 and present a threat to a lot of fighters in the division. A fight in which it could very well end up being fight of the night, we will have to see who comes out victorious at the APEX.

Charles Jourdain will be fighting in just his 3rd UFC bout, but he has already made a name for himself. He knocked out DooHo Choi in hostile territory last December, after a great striking fight with one of the best knock out artist in the division. He was as high as a 3.5-1 underdog in the fight but displayed a great chin, very technical striking and looked extremely confident fighting Choi in his home country of South Korea. He was underestimated by the oddsmakers and you probably won’t see odds that high for him in the future if the UFC decides to match him up more favorably or evenly to build him up.

A UFC veteran of 14 fights, Andre Fili will be looking to make his 15th appearance a win. Coming off a competitive unanimous decision loss to rising prospect- Sodiq Yusuff, Fili was mainly out struck on the feet with an apparent speed disadvantage. He did land some takedowns, securing 3 of 7 but was unable to throw any offense. It was another speedbump in the career of Fili, who was searching for his 3rd straight win before the loss. The positive for Fili is that he has yet to lose 2 straight bouts in the UFC, he comes from a great camp and they adjust their game plan accordingly.

Fili comes in as a 2-1 favorite and sports a more recognizable name which might be the reason why he is such a large favorite. I could not disagree more with the line of the oddsmakers.  Jourdain shows very elite striking and stays tight in the pocket which will pose some problems for Fili who is clearly the bigger fighter of the two. He has had some problems with faster and technical strikers, that is the reason why I believe Jourdain has true value as an underdog and has a much better chance than the odds indicate. If Jourdain can keep the fight on the feet, he wins the fight. Major value at (+190), could possibly get it up to (+200) if you wait last minute.

- Juan The Don

Lock 'em Down Selection

Fight: Jessica Eye (-115) vs Cynthia Calvillo (-105)

Selection: Cynthia Calvillo (-105)

              

The main event of the nights card features two women at the top of the flyweight division. Cynthia Calvillo is a promising contender who is on the right path to getting a title shot soon. Meanwhile, Jessica Eye, has fought the best of the best in two divisions while fighting for the title at flyweight. Two ladies to have yet to experience a fight go past the 3rd round, the winner could be decided by whoever has the better cardio. 

Jessica Eye is coming off a decision win vs Viviana Araujo, a fight in which she came in as high as +190 underdog. She stuffed enough takedowns (5/7), out boxed her opponent and implemented good kicks to score points. It was a much-needed win after a title shot loss to, Valentina Shevchenko, in which she lost the fight by a brutal head kick knockout. For her, it was a win she needed to keep her relevant in the division. A loss would have made it tough for her to ever compete for a title again. But then again you see fighters like Joe Benavidez in the top 3 for over a decade, so you never know. An impressive win over Calvillo could boost her to that 2nd title shot, if not possibly create a top contender’s fight. In this match vs Calvillo she does have the boxing and takedown defense to impose her game plan more effectively. She can fight wherever the match goes and has is well rounded everywhere but not elite in any area- although, she is known for her toughness. Sprawl and brawl could be the game plan for Eye but Calvillo’s improving striking could cause some difficulties.

Cynthia Calvillo is looking to bounce back from a split-draw last December to, Marina Rodriguez. The fight was close and could have gone to any lady. Originally the opening favorite in the fight, Calvillo ended up as the slight underdog at around +115. One of the most well rounded and interesting prospects in the women’s strawweight division, Calvillo will be making her debut at flyweight. The move is not entirely surprising as it seemed to be that her biggest opponent was the scale, missing weight 2 out her last 3 fights. She likes to push the pace in fights and it never seemed like conditioning was an issue in her fights so maybe she wants to implement her pressure game a little better by being at a more natural weight. She won’t be giving up that much in size by going up in weight, Eye will only posses a 2” height and reach advantage.

Since switching her training to Tiger Muay Thai and having her main camps at AKA in San Jose, CA- Cynthia Calvillo has looked more fluid on the feet. I believe she will have the speed advantage over Jessica Eye and have the better cardio. Eye doesn’t have too much of a submission game, so I feel there is little threat to Calvillo in pressuring Eye to the cage and looking for takedowns. Both ladies like to stay busy, Eye averages 3.79 significant shots landed a minute, while Calvillo lands 4.12 a minute. Defensively, they’re pretty even as well with Calvillo absorbing just .16 more significant shots than Eye a minute. I feel like the constant pressure of Calvillo will be too much for her opponent. Jessica Eye is a tough as they come but the difference will be the wrestling of Calvillo and the speed. Fighting at a lighter weight and fighting a 5-round match is more ideal for Calvillo. Take her as the slight underdog (-105)

- Juan The Don

06/06/2020

UFC 250: Nunes vs Spencer

Top Underdog Selection

Fight: Jussier Formiga (+120) vs Alex Perez (-140)

Selection: Jussier Formiga (+120)

 

The Flyweight division is still without a champion. Both guys are in the top 10 of the division and are looking to get the next title shot against the winner of Figueiredo and Benavidez. Given this is a highly profiled flyweight match, an impressive win from any of the two could likely secure that flyweight championship fight.

 

Jussier Formiga, has fought the who’s who in the division. He continually fights the top guys in the division and has always received respect from his opponents. He is a master of jiu-jitsu, formerly training at the famed Nova União in Brazil and currently training at American Top Team- which is arguably the top gym in the world right now. He is regarded as one of the best jiu-jitsu practitioners in MMA. Currently, he is on a two-fight losing skid. His last loss was against, Brandon Moreno, a fight in which was keenly contested and surprisingly competitive on the ground. The difference was the takedown defense of Moreno, he was able to stuff eight of Formiga’s nine total takedowns and implement his game plan a little better. I think with a different game plan, Formiga wins that rematch. But in his current scheduled fight, I believe that Formiga and his team learned from his last fight and will not force takedowns, especially against a decorated wrestler in, Alex Perez. He will need to let the takedowns come to him by timing shots from his at-times overly aggressive opponent. Perez has an average fight time of 7 minutes and 12 seconds, and always looks for the finish. That will create more opportunities for the more patient Formiga to take the fight where he wants. He likes to wait for the right opportunity to be aggressive rather than recklessly charging in to finish a fight.

Alex Perez is currently on a two-fight win streak beating the likes of Mark De La Rosa and Jordan Espinosa. Both fights were dominated by Perez, he finished the Espinosa fight by arm triangle choke, and took De La Rosa to decision. He is a former all-American wrestler from West Hills Lemoore College and currently trains with Team Oyama. Perez is highly skilled from position to position, he is a good striker, the better wrestler of the two, and does have good submission skills. Although, I do not feel like he would want to test himself against Formiga on the ground. He will likely want to keep it standing and try to stay off his back, not that it is an easy task to take him down- he holds a strong takedown defense rate of 87%. If he wants to continue that success in that this fight, his kicking game will be limited. He averages 1.42 leg kicks a minute, something he cannot do against Formiga. His opponent is great with timing and catching leg kicks. But even if Perez stuffs the takedown, he will need to keep Formiga from holding on to him. Formiga is a top-notch grappler in which he is not afraid to pull guard to possibly sweep his opponent. I feel like Perez will not be able to fully show display his talent which makes it tough to choose him.

In this matchup I believe Formiga is just way too experienced for Perez. He has faced every top guy in the division and is always competitive in bouts. He has great hands, kicks, knees and is a monster if he can get the fight to the ground. Bottom line, he is just the better fighter. He is on a two-fight losing streak with having been knocked out and losing a decision in which he was supposed to win, the +120 line for him is probably an indication from the oddsmakers thinking Formiga is on the downfall. Which could not be further from the truth. If this fight happened this time last year, Formiga would easily be the favorite. His performance was not bad, he just needed a better game plan. Styles make matchups and this line is not based off that; it is based off current win streaks. Formiga is the all-around better fighter here, he can take the fight anywhere and still be elite. Perez has had troubles with his defense, 80% of his losses have been finishes and it is likely due to his aggressive offense.  

If Formiga’s chin holds up, he wins. Take Jussier Formiga +120

- Juan The Don

Lock 'em Down Selection

Fight: Ian Heinisch (-125) vs Gerald Meerschaert (+105)

Selection: Ian Heinisch (-125)

 

Not too long ago, Ian Heinisch was living his life behind bars and didn’t know what his future held. It was not until after he finished his sentence that he realized he wanted to pursue a career in MMA, and the rest is history. Since turning pro in 2015, he has amassed a record of 13-3 (2-2 UFC). Proving the ability to hang with high caliber opponents, Heinisch is never out of a fight. He is currently riding a 2-fight losing streak, but it’s not to worry as they aren’t considered bad losses. In his last bout vs Amahri Okmedov, it was an even match on paper, but it seemed like experience lost him that fight. Same thing with his previous fight vs Derek Brunson. I feel as Brunson threw attacks from angles that Heinisch has not seen before and it threw him off. Despite those losses, he is still relatively new the MMA game and can only learn and grow from them. His gas tank is also good, he really comes on late in fights and usually finishes the fight strong. He recently started training at Tiger Muay Thai which is something he needed. He has good boxing and kicks well but does not incorporate too many elbows or knees. I like the move; he is a strong and built guy, so I feel people try and wear him down, but his cardio has stood up. He has faced nothing but top-level wrestlers and jiu-jitsu fighters and has displayed good takedown defense. Now, when defending takedowns, he can use his new added element of muay thai a little more to score points and wear down opponents himself.

Although unknown to many MMA fans, Gerald Meerschaert is as experienced as they get. Training out of Rofusport in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he has been fighting professionally since 2007. Primarily a jiu-jitsu fighter, he shows great technique wherever the fight may go and make no mistake, this guy is a fighter. Not afraid to get in a good scarp, he is always putting on a good show. His last fight was vs Deron Winn where he won the bout by submission (rear-naked choke), although the fight was mainly on the feet, he displayed great all around game and great kicks. Meerschaert is a threat to anyone in the division and poses great finishing ability.

 

Although, Meerschaert is more experienced, I see this fight in favor of Heinisch. I think his defense on the feet is a little better and takedown defense has looked better every fight. I think he can keep the fight on the feet long enough to secure more points striking, using his boxing, and landing leg kicks. He needs to be weary of Meerschaerts big body kicks and careful with submissions on the ground. With Heinisch stuffing enough takedowns, his boxing will be the difference. Look for Heinisch to keep the fight standing and outland Meerschaert in significant strikes, while staying in defense mode for most of the fight.

Both guys are tough,

 

- Juan The Don

Lock 'Em Down Selection

Fight: Neil Magny (-140) vs Anthony Rocco Martin (+120)

Selection: Neil Magny (-140)

 

A Fight between UFC vets, Magny and Martin, presents an interesting and close matchup. Both are well rounded in every area and like to put the pressure on their opponent. They are also both coming off wins so building momentum is key for these fighters who are in their fighting prime and look to start a winning streak worthy of title contention.

Many wondered if Magny was durable enough to withstand the power of, Jingliang Li, in his last fight. He went into the bout as high as a 1.8/1 underdog according to the books, but he looked nothing like it; Jiagliang could not touch him. Neill Magny used his 80” reach to keep his opponent at bay and land significant takedowns to secure the fight. It was a cake walk for Magny and it was something he needed to gain confidence to beat the best in the world again. More impressively, the fight was his first in nearly two years, so ring rust was expected but he prevailed. Although it was a big win, it was not enough to put him back into the rankings. With an impressive win over Martin, he should see his name pop in there.

Anthony Martin is not a huge name, but he has been around in the UFC for over 6 years. He fought tough guys early in his UFC career and used that experience to win 8 of his last 10 fights. His only losses during that streak coming by majority-decision to Demian Maia and split-decision to Olivier Aubin-Mercier. He has proven to hang with game opponents and is always looking to finish the fight. Mainly a jiu-jitsu-based fighter, he will need to pressure, fight on the inside and look for takedowns. He cannot stand around and wait for opportunities, he will get picked apart. Magny has a 9-inch reach advantage and not many of his opponents win fights by staying on the outside.

A close fight according to oddsmakers, I feel like they are right on point with this line. Neil Magny is legitimately the slight favorite here. He has the more impressive resume and has proven to beat the best. Anthony Martin has faced good competition throughout his career as well, but it seems like he just can’t get over that hump of beating a big-name opponent; not that it cannot happen, he’s just not there yet. I see Magny obviously using his reach to keep Martin away, pawing and jabbing. He patiently waits to throw big shots and likes to throw a straight-right after the usual smaller opponent lunges forward. He doesn’t throw too many power shots, but he has that “Nick Diaz effect” in which he throws shots at maybe 70%, focuses on accuracy and volume - it’s a tough pace to keep up with.

I’ll take Magny here. He sets a good pace, implements his fight better and is more well-rounded. He will need to avoid the big shots from Martin and work from the clinch to tire him out. Look for a decision win by Magny but I would not be surprised if the pressure is too much for Martin and the gas tank doesn’t hold up to prevent a tko loss. Tired = hands down.

- Juan The Don

Lock 'Em Down Selection

Fight: Cory Sandhagen (+100) vs Aljamain Sterling (-120)

Selection: Cory Sandhagen (+100)

 

               The recent retirement of Henry Cejudo has opened the opportunities for fighters to get a shot at the bantamweight strap. The winner of this matchup between Sterling and Sandhagen should undoubtedly get a title shot. These fighters come from top level camps and the game plan might be the determining factor for who wins this fight.  Defense vs Offense, who wins?

Aljamain Sterling is arguably one of the best defensive fighters in the division. He is currently on a 4-fight win streak and is coming off two straight fights against top contenders where he completely dominated using his reach and displaying great defense. He absorbs only a total of 1.95 significant strikes per minute and only 34% of strikes attempted land for his opponents. He sways with the punches of defenders and not too many connect cleanly. A style in which is primarily defensive, Sterling does not take many chances on the feet. He is an accurate striker and prefers to score points rather than throw a big strike. He does throw exceptionally good kicks and its due to being confident in taking the fight wherever it goes. He is not afraid to get taken down and fight on the mat. Training at Serra-Longo has polished his ground game to becoming one of the best grapplers in the division. The more experienced fighter out of the two, Sterling will need to display his diverse game and probably need to attack for takedowns to beat the younger and more aggressive Sandhagen.

Finishing his first 3 fights in the UFC by impressive fashion, Cory Sandhagen, took a huge step up in competition on April 27, 2019 by facing John Lineker. Given the knockout ability of John Lineker, Sandhagen was fearless in trading big shots with him. A fight in which his Lineker was as high as a 2.5/1 favorite, Sanhagen won the fight by Split-Decision and proved to be a game opponent and future contender. His last fight against, Rafael Assuncao, displayed his all-around game. He was aggressive the whole fight, pressuring the more experienced fighter, landing significant strikes and handling adversity greatly by quickly getting up from takedowns. Rafael Assuncao usually displays great striking defense, absorbing only 32% of opponent’s shots but against Sandhagen, Assuncao was hit 53% of the time. Fighting out of Team Elevation in Colorado- Cory Sandhagen’s non-stop pressure, cardio, toughness, and all-around game is tough to deal with. Even in bad situations, Cory Sandhagen is always battling for position, which makes it tough for his opponents to definitively win rounds.

Striking wise, this fight is interesting. Aljamain likes to strategically and patiently pick at his opponents to score points while keeping a defensive base. Sandhagen is more offensive as he imposes more power in his shots and is a high-volume striker. To win this fight, Sandhagen will need to land with a little more power. He needs to be careful doing so, Aljamain throws a great jab at opponents coming in. He might not out land Aljo in total strikes, but significant shots should be controlled by him as Aljo has not really proven to have big power in past fights. He has only one TKO win in the UFC and that was from ground strikes. Also, Sandhagen might be the tallest and rangiest fighter that Aljo has fought, which could possibly frustrate the vet. That would have to make Sandhagen feel a lot more at ease on the feet and allow him to pressure as he does. Take the safer bet here and go with the slight underdog. Look for Sandhagen to win a close decision or possibly finish the fight by tko/ko.

- Juan The Don

05/30/2020        

UFC Fight Night: Woodley vs Burns

Top Value Underdog Selection

Fight: Antonina Shevchenko (-135) vs Katlyn Chookagian (+115)

Selection: Katlyn Chookagian (+115)

The nights undercard features a highly touted bout in the women’s flyweight division as, Katlyn Chookagian faces, Antonina Shevchenko. Both ladies are on top of the division and look to continue that with a win. A close fight on paper when weighing all factors and the difference in resumes but similarity in talent probably had the oddsmakers scratching their heads making a line for this fight. Both fighters are really grounded to one style and the one to switch up their game might come out the winner.

 

Katlyn Chookagian, is coming off a championship tko loss to, Valentina Shevckenko, the sister of current scheduled opponent, Antonina. For Chookagian, she will be looking to get revenge on the camp that last defeated her. She will look to cover all mistakes in the last fight and given her current scheduled opponent has the same style as her sister, the coaches game plan should not change too much. A fight with a similar opponent but not as skilled, she will be more prepared. Training at Renzo Gracie Combat Team with the likes of Frankie Edgar, Sijara Eubanks, and Claudia Gadehla (naming a few), should give her an advantage, especially on the ground.

 

Antonina, sporting an 8-1 record, seems relatively new to the MMA scene for many but she has been competing since 2002. Originally starting in MMA, she fought in kickboxing and Muay-Thai from 2003-2017 before she made a permanent move back to MMA. She likes to keep the fight standing using her elite striking skills but in her last fight against, Lucie Pudilova, she displayed great ground game and takedown defense by stuffing 80% of takedowns and attempting 3 submissions before securing a fight ending rear naked choke. She improved from her fight before that with Roxanne Modeferi, where she allowed 5 of 6 takedowns and lost a split decision.

 

Like I said before, oddsmakers had a tough time with this line. But given that, Chookagian, is coming off a similar opponent and comes from a great and experienced camp, I think they can make the adjustments to win this fight. Antonina is a highly technical fighter just like her sister, but the difference in past "high level" competition gives the MMA experience advantage to Chookagian. Both fighters are point based fighters, they like to secure the rounds scoring points instead of aggressively trying to finish a fight. Also, both ladies rarely take it to the ground. Chookagian, has yet to land ONE takedown in her UFC career- with that said, she needs to look for opportunities to take this fight to the ground. In a pure striking match vs Antonina, she loses. Chookagian averages .8 fewer significant shots landed per minute compared to Antonina and absorbs 2.57 more shots a minute.  Antonina is much too technical for her but by switching positions, throwing kicks frequently, and attempting takedowns will create more opportunities to be able to win the fight.

Super close fight but I take the UFC experience and value, Katlyn Chookagian (+115)

- Juan The Don

Lock 'Em Down Selection

Fight: Blagoy Ivanov (-105) vs Augusto Sakai (-115)

Selection: Blagoy Ivanov (-105)

 

A top 15 heavyweight match-up will be featured during the co-main event. As, Blagoy Ivanov faces Augusto Sakai. Both are highly skilled heavyweights and have faced tough competition so far in their short UFC careers. They look to gain some momentum in a loaded heavyweight division and climb the rankings but only one will be victor. 

Blagoy Ivanov is coming off a split-decision loss to Derrick Lewis. Although, controlling most of the fight with pressure and landing 3 of 6 takedowns, I feel as if he followed a great game plan instilled by his coaches, trying to take the bigger Lewis down using great clinch work and his black belt Judo game. He did land some huge shots but could not land enough that significantly affected Lewis. All rounds were close with the determining factor being Lewis’ aggressiveness towards the end of rounds, possibly securing the win.

Sakai, is coming off a big knockout win against a very experienced fighter in Marcin Tybura. The fight ended in the early first and not too much was seen but the power of Sakai. Exceptionally good win, especially in a division where a few KO wins against a “named” opponent can get you a title shot relatively quicker. Before the Tybura knockout win, he fought Andrei Arlovski to a split-decision, winning the close contested fight, but the win was not without controversy. Sakai, was outpointed the whole night 51 total strikes to Arlovski’s 82 total strikes. It was a headscratcher for many, but his powerful shots were the difference in the judge’s eyes.

The fight could come down to who has the better defense. Both sport a defensive striking percentage of 55% or better and have one of the better takedown defense percentages in the division- Ivanov stuffing 75% of takedowns, while Sakai defends 88%. For this upcoming fight, Blagoy Ivanov will need to use a similar game plan to what was used against Lewis. I feel as his boxing is a little more fluid, quicker and technical. He will need to work on the inside against the bigger Sakai, pressuring him to the cage, tiring him down and scoring takedowns. The 5’11” Ivanov has superb conditioning and “rock iron” chin for a heavyweight, something he needs to consider against the bigger Sakai who cuts weight to make the heavyweight limit.

I see this fight in favor of Ivanov. I think he is better in every area except for punch power, so avoiding the big shots and countering with his quick hands is imperative. Slick boxing and pressure to the cage for takedowns.

Take Ivanov (-105) in this close fight and line

- Juan The Don

05/16/2020

UFC Fight Night: Overeem vs Harris

Top Value Underdog Selection

Fight: Edson Barboza (-115) vs Dan Ige (+115)

Selection: Dan Ige (+115)

Fireworks guaranteed! Dan Ige and Edson Barboza bring two of the most exciting fighting styles to the featherweight division. Both at different stages in their career, they look to secure a win to stay atop of the division.

Dan Ige, a product of Las Vegas’ Xtreme Couture team, is currently riding a 5-fight win streak. His last fight came against top 15 featherweight, Mirsad Bektic, in which he beat him by split decision. The victory is the biggest of his career and will be looking to ride the wave against the veteran, Barboza. He imposes an aggressive attack, using great kicks/punches and has superb cardio. Ige, averages 2.38 takedowns a fight and his pressure will be the difference in the fight. Barboza has good takedown defense despite his beatings on the ground to Kevin Lee and Khabib Nurmagomedoz. He sports an 80% takedown defense rate, so Ige will have a tough time taking it to the ground. But by pressuring, landing punches in the clinch and tiring the bigger Barboza, Ige will have a better chance at getting the fight to the ground and using his black belt in jiu-jitsu. If it stays on the feet, he is going to need to push forward and not let Barboza use any kicks. Damage is almost inevitable from a defense stand point if you’re facing the technical wizard in Barboza, so switching levels and being the first to attack is key for Ige.

After 28 fights at lightweight, Edson Barboza is dropping down ten pounds to fight at featherweight. Coming off tough and close losses to Paul Felder and Justin Gaethje, Edson’s move down in weight might premature. 1-4 in his last five fights, he has faced nothing but the best at lightweight, so his record does not necessarily indicate a decline in ability to perform. The jump down in weight seems like the most logical thing to do, having the feeling of increased strength vs opponent is always tempting to a top fighter on a losing streak. At lightweight he showed great takedown defense, elite striking and probably the best kicking game in the UFC. But dropping down in weight could prove inefficient, he won’t have the huge speed advantage as he did at lightweight and if had a problem with the high paced fighters before, 145 pounders will be sure to impose their cardio’s a bit more. Edson was already a big 155 pounder and although he never missed weight, he usually looked pretty drawn out at weigh ins. He officially weighed in at 145.5, looking noticeably more drawn from the face.

Dan Ige is really making a name for himself and the whole MMA world will soon know his name. I see this fight going in his direction. I feel as the weight cut for Barboza is going to be too much. Many fighters in the past have struggled on their first cut down to a new division, looking depleted at weigh ins and not just having the same explosiveness as they did in their previous division. Ige’s exciting style, pressure, and ability to take the fight anywhere will be the difference. Look for Ige to throw big shots standing, avoid a technical battle, pressure, land takedowns from the clinch, create wild scrambles and possibly secure a submission late. Should be an exciting fight.

Ige by Sub

- Juan The Don

Lock 'em Down Selection Analysis

Fight: Krzysztof Jotko (-140) vs Eryk Anders (+120)

Selection: Krzysztof Jotko

 

 

 

      A matchup of experienced and young fighters, these guys might be fighting for a spot in the UFC’s top 15 middleweight rankings. Both fighters are currently riding 2-fight win streaks and look to continue their momentum in Jacksonville. An evenly matched fight to the eye, the stats of these fighters will determine the winner.

Going back and forth from middleweight to light-heavyweight, Anders is as tough as they come and has never declined a fight. The former Crimson-Tide football player has faced top competition throughout his whole UFC career. He is a well-rounded fighter who is not afraid to make a fight nasty and brawl for a win. His current win streak has come in two divisions, after knocking out Vinicius Moreira in the first round, he went back down to middleweight to face Gerald Meerschaert, a bout in which he won the close contested fight by split decision.

Jotko’s is coming off 2 straight decision wins against game opponents. Although, they do not have huge names behind them, they presented tough matchups regardless. The Polish fighter was a future title contender a few years ago, before losing 3 straight fights in 2017 and 2018. The buzz around him slowly faded but has recently made changes in game plan and proves to be on the way back onto the middleweight rankings.

Erik Anders aggressive and at-times reckless approach, falls right into the expertise of Jotko. A patient and defensive striker, Jotko, likes to wait on opponents rather than engage first. He has a significant strike differential (strikes landed - strikes absorbed) of +1.03 per minute, opposed to Eryk Anders’ -1.09 per minute. Meaning, Jotko will statistically land at least 1 more significant shot per minute in a 15-minute fight where points will be will most likely be the difference. Look for Jotko to remain patient the whole fight, sticking, moving and waiting for the more aggressive- Anders, to rush in, use his great timing to counter with significant shots and secure the “end of the round” takedown. Krzysztof Jotko wins this fight by decision due to the toughness of Anders, but a KO would not be surprising at all. Jotko’s clean striking and Anders’ susceptibility to absorbing shots are the key here.

The line open at around -135 to -140, so it is getting action on both sides. Look for the public to drive this line up towards the favorite here, so take Jotko early in the day rather than closer to fight time.

 

- Juan The Don

 

 

       Anders vs Jotko should be interesting. Is one of them finally going to break out and live up to the hype they once had? Anders an ex-Alabama football star is big and athletic for the middleweight division. He has a powerful left hook that can drop anyone. He brings that football toughness to the octagon, only been finished once against former title challenger Thiago Santos but that was at 205. He's on a 2-fight win streak bouncing back from 3 straight losses. Jotko a former top contender in the division is also on 2 fight win streak after dropping 3 straight. He questioned his career but after fixing his ways feels like he's on his way back up the ladder. Jotko has a great motor keeping constant pressure on opponents. He doesn’t have the stopping power Anders has but is a well-versed striker. Jotko uses a variety of punches and kicks that is going to keep Anders on defense mode. Anders struggled with leg kicks against Roundtree and I see Jotko doing the same. He should be able land some nice combos on Anders who I feel only has a powerful left hand in his arsenal. Anders may be the bigger fighter but doesn’t utilize his strength to take people down relying mainly on his stand-up game which isn’t the best. Jotko should win, most likely by decision.

- DPduece1

05/13/2020

UFC Fight Night: Smith vs Teixeira

Top Value Underdog Selection

Fight: Ben Rothwell (+130) vs Ovince Saint Pruex (-150)

Selection: Ben Rothwell (+130)

A big heavyweight showdown is in store for UFC FN 176 as the well experienced Rothwell takes on the former Tennessee Vols division- 1 football player, OSP. Both fighters are coming of a win and looking to secure another victory to pile on.

OSP, is coming of a win against Michal Oleksiejczuk. He submitted him in the 2nd round after losing the striking battle in the first round. A month removed from his 37th birthday, OSP is fighting in first heavyweight match ever. He brings an elusive and well-rounded set of skills to the division. He lands 46% of significant strikes while absorbing 44%. He is expected to sway away from more strikes at heavyweight giving that heavyweights do not and as much as LHW’s, but the question is how many he can absorb.

Entering his 14th UFC bout, Rothwell is not pleased with the perception of fighters coming to heavyweight thinking they have an advantage over the presumed- slower and less technical heavyweight fighter. He was originally scheduled to fight Gian Villante, a bout in which Villante was coming up from LHW as OSP is for this fight. Although, Rothwell, feels disrespected, he welcomes the challenge. He is as seasoned as they come and has fought the best of all styles and has proven to be one of the most durable heavyweight fighters in the world.  The veteran is coming off a win against Stefen Struve in which he starched him towards the end of the 2nd round, winning by TKO. For Rothwell, he returned to his winning ways in which he had not experienced since 2016- a win against Josh Barnett. His 3-year layoff was in part of the doping violation back in 2016. Most see the layoff as a bad thing, but with time to recoup in a heavyweight division where any shot can slowly derail your career, it only helped his career longevity.

Look for Rothwell to gauge the distance early, possibly giving the first round to OSP, but then pressuring OSP into the cage, in the clinch and use some dirty boxing, hopefully landing a takedown. Rothwell has huge power and great striking but, in this matchup, OSP might be quicker than most of the fighters Rothwell has faced in the past giving he is coming from a lighter weight division. Rothwell needs to make OSP feel his brute strength and force him to fight off tough positions up close, tiring OSP’s arms and defense. Rothwell by decision or late KO

- Juan The Don

 

Lock 'em Down Selection Analysis

Hunter Azure (-175) vs Brian Kelleher (+155)

Selection: Hunter Azure (-175)

Kelleher
-1.25 takedowns per 15 mins
-4.87 sig. strikes against 5.83 sig. strikes absorbed per minute
-81% of sig. strikes landed are from standing position
-85% takedown defense
-30% of fights end in decision (57% wins)

 

Azure
-75% takedown defense
-4 sig. strikes against 1.56 sig. strikes absorbed per minute
-56% striking defense
-3-inch reach advantage
-avg fight time 9:24

 

This is a fight that is going to show where Azure fits in the bantamweight division. Kelleher is a big step up in competition having already competed in 7 UFC fights and has faced a few top ranked fighters during his time. I like Azures game, somewhat raw, comes from a wrestling background but showed that he has a good stand up game by out striking Katona in his last fight and some hard leg kicks that helped win his fight during the contender series. His opponent Kelleher is not really a guy that goes for takedown or is taken down often, although he does have some good submission skills if it goes to the ground. Azure is not going to want to test him on the floor being new to the game. Kelleher has a short reach, so he really must get in there get combinations in. In his fight against John Lineker he got overmatched with Lineker just pushing forward and not letting him setup anything getting rocked a few times until the eventual knockout with the long-left hook of Lineker. Azure does not have the striking of Lineker but I him pushing forward with his length catching him a few times and not letting him get inside to throw his combinations.  It is going to be a great back and forth fight that goes to a decision with Azure winning by again showing his improving stand up and out striking Kelleher.

 

 

- DPduece1

 

Lock 'em Down Selection Analysis

Drew Dober (-125) Vs Alexander Hernandez (+105)

Selection: Alexander Hernandez (+105)

 

Another pair of young and talented fighters matched up as Hernandez takes on the Denver trained fighter, Drew Dober in a lightweight battle. Dober is coming off two straight first round knockouts against Polo Reyes and Noah Haqparast. Meanwhile, Hernandez is coming off a decision win against Francisco Trinaldo and shortly before losing an exciting fight against seasoned, Donald Cerrone.

Dober sports a 62% takedown defense and lands 4.52 significant shots a minute. He is a big and accurate puncher causing big problems on the feet. He is headed by Trevor Whitman- one of the best coaches in MMA.

Hernandez- fighting out of San Antonio, TX, instills a fighting style in which he is not afraid to give take a big shot to give one. Although, his last fight against Trinaldo was a little lackluster, it showed that he can slow the pace down and win a technical battle. I feel like the loss to Donald Cerrone really taught Hernandez to be a little more patient and use his defense into offense. He was picked apart that night and took way too many significant shots ultimately leading to a TKO loss. Every fight is a learning experience and the way Hernandez fought last fight proved he can change the game plan and be affective. He already has shown the ability to knock people out and control a fight from start to finish using his wrestling, showing it against top competition, Beniel Dariush and Aubin-Mercier.

This fight should be competitive on the feet, but if Hernandez can get ahold of him and take this fight to the clinch, I feel he can out position Dober to land big shots and takedowns. Pushing the pace, landing takedowns, and controlling the octagon is going to be key for a Hernandez victory.  Look for a decision win by or a late tko.

- Juan The Don

 

Hernandez and Dober fight should be exciting. Dober being a UFC veteran with excellent striking and power winning his last two fights by KO in the 1st round. He trains with Justin Gaethe the Interim LW champ saying they had a great camp leading up to both their fights with Gaethe beating Ferguson badly a few days ago. Seeing what Gaethe showed at UFC 249, Dober should be on point for Wednesdays fight. Hernandez, an up and coming talent, knows what he is up against and should be ready for the test. He is improving fight by fight showcasing his many skills. He has a good stand up game with quick striking constantly putting pressure on opponents. Dober has more power but I think he is going to beat him to the punch with his quickness.  Another factor is that Hernandez has a lot to lose. Lose the fight and has out of the rankings and a new start to try and get back into contention to make a run for the title. A win for Hernandez moves him up and puts his name in there to fight a top 10 opponent. Having already fought Cerrone (lost by KO) gives experience in fighting a top caliber fighter and I think helped him refocus on what he needed to work on. That showed in the Trinaldo fight where he was calmer, not putting pressure on the fighter where it left him vulnerable. Look for this fight to stay standing and a possible fight of the night! In the end, I see Hernandez making a statement here saying that he belongs on Main Cards and fighting only the best to work his way up to title contention!

- DPDuece1

05/09/2020

UFC 249

Top Value Underdog Selection

Fight: Jeremy Stephens (+190) vs Calvin Kattar (-200)

Selection: Jeremy Stephens (+200)

 

Key Stats

Stephens:

  • 3.09 significant strikes landed per minute (offense)

  • 38% of takedowns accuracy (offense)

  • 35% of takedowns completed (defense)

  • 42% of significant strikes landed (defense)

  • 2.98 of opponent’s significant strikes landed per minute (defense)

Kattar:

  • 5.12 significant strikes landed per minute (offense)

  • 34% takedown accuracy

  • 53% of takedowns completed

  • 50% of significant strikes landed

 

Jeremy Stephens will appear in his 33rd fight under the UFC banner. The seasoned vet is coming off a loss to Yair Rodriguez in which it went decision. The fight was a little lackluster compared to the hype but all in all, it was a highly contested match in which the most aggressive fighter won. Stephens himself would probably say being more aggressive would have won him the fight.

I feel as Stephens is as hungry as he has been in a long time. He has not had a victory since February of 2018, when he knocked out Josh Emmett and just one month before that knocking out Doo Ho Choi. And his losses during his current stretch have been against high caliber opponents (Jose Aldo, Zabit Magomedsharipov and Yair Rodriguez). I think the odds-makers feel Stephens is on the decline due to his recent losing streak, but I do not feel as Calvin Kattar will surprise Stephens with anything new. Do not get me wrong, Kattar is an absolute beast, he is one the best well rounded fighters in his division and I feel is definite future title contender but, in this fight, Stephens experience will be just enough. I feel as Kattar throws a little too many shots and gets hit a lot more than a top contender should. Stephens defensive is a little better and can throw shots from any angle. He does not impose a leg kick game but does mix it up when he needs too.

Look for a close contested fight. I do not see this fight going to the ground. Both guys are good boxers and normally keep the fight standing, Stephens sporting a more traditional boxing stance while Kattar uses more of a muay thai approach. Also, both guys have good takedown defense and do not commonly go for significant number of takedowns in fights, though a takedown could be the difference in this fight. And with all that said, Stephens has proven to control a fight through takedowns in the past to go along with his past viscous ko victories...     

 

Take the value bet here despite Stephens missing weight.

- Juan The Don

 

Lock 'em Down Analysis

Fight: Carla Esparza (-140) vs Michelle Waterson (+120)

Selection: Carla Esparza (-140)

Esparza’s last fight was against Alexa Grasso in Mexico City in which she beat her by majority decision. It was a competitive fight with Grasso controlling most of the stand up and Esparza winning the ground battle while avoiding some submission attempts. She is currently on a two-fight win streak after losing her previous two fights before, one to former title contender Claudia Gadelha in a close battle and the other to surging contender, Tatiana Suarez. Neither which was a bad loss.

Michelle Waterson:

Waterson is coming off a main event loss vs Joanna Jed. The fight was mainly controlled by Joana, though Waterson did threaten with a tight choke but could not secure it. She compiled a three-fight win streak before the loss against Courtney Casey, Felice Herrig and Karolina Kowalkiewicz.

 

Key Stats

Esparza:

  • 36% takedown offense

  • 3.53 takedowns per fight

  • 54% striking defense

  • 2.86 significant strikes absorbed per min

Waterson:

  • 57% takedown defense

  • 48% striking defense

  • 3.88 significant strikes absorbed per min

 

Selection

Carla Esparza (-135)

The first ever UFC strawweight champion has one thing in my mind when entering a fight- Takedown. The former wrestling all American is clearly one of the best wrestlers in her division, Esparza has a total of 31 takedowns in her UFC career, which lands her in the top three all time at strawweight. Her clear wrestling approach and non-stop pressure in fights gives all fighters trouble on the cage and on the mat. Michelle Waterson style of fighting falls right into the style of Esparza.

Waterson’s aggressive attack sees her absorb an average of 3.88 significant strikes per minute. She also imposes a kick heavy game averaging just under 20 kicks a fight, making her susceptible to getting taken down. Although, Waterson does sport a 57% takedown defense, she has not faced a caliber wrestler like Esparza.

Esparza must pressure Waterson and force her to throw strikes while backing up. Esparza will have to be careful on the ground with Waterson’s somewhat aggressive submission attacks but fairs well in submission defense, only having been submitted once in her career which came about 10 years ago.

 

Expect Esparza to grind out a decision victory and land more than the usual significant shots due to Waterson's at- times lackluster defense.

- Juan The Don

Lock 'em Down Selection Analysis

Fight: Bryce Mitchell (-160) vs Charles Rosa (+140)

Selection: Charles Rosa (+140)

Bryce Mitchell:  

Mitchell is currently undefeated and coming off a victory in which he won the 2019 submission of the year award with his twister submission vs Matt Sayles back in December. Out of his 12-0 professional record, 3 wins have come in the UFC.

Charles Rosa:

After a little more than a 2-year layoff, Rosa return to action in October of 2019 and upset slight favorite- Manny Bermudez by submission (armbar). He sports a 12-3 professional record with 3 of those wins coming from UFC competition.

Key Stats

Mitchell:

  • 1.78 significant strikes landed per minute

  • 28% of takedowns accuracy

  • 67% of takedowns completed

  • 41% of significant strikes landed

Rosa:

  • 3.79 significant strikes landed per minute

  • 34% takedown accuracy

  • 53% of takedowns completed

  • 50% of significant strikes landed

 

 

Charles Rosa never seems to fail on giving an exciting fight. The crowd-pleasing fighter has had incredibly close fights against high caliber opponents. He mixes it up well, primarily using a karate-ish type stance using a lot of side push kicks as a defensive strategy.

In his debut, he faced the UFC Veteran- Dennis Siver on short notice and surprised MMA fans with his all-around game. Although, he lost that fight, it could have gone either way. The same can be said for his other two losses. His fight of the night performance and close split-decision loss against top contender, Yair Rodriguez, proved his toughness and ability to compete with the top guys in the world. And his 2017 fight with future title contender, Shane Burgos, displayed his well-rounded game and iron will. Although, he did lose the fight, many MMA sites had him winning the fight prior to him losing by tko in the last round.

Bryce Mitchell has shown a lot of promise in the UFC. He competed in The Ultimate Fighter: Undefeated season before losing an exhibition bout (not counted against pro record) in the semifinals before ultimately getting a shot in the TUF Finale. He has a good ground game with 75% of wins coming by submission. He has gotten a lot of attention lately due to his submission of the year victory in late 2019.

Ultimately, I believe the line is a little higher than it should be due to the hype behind Mitchell. Charles Rosa is a solid pick with outstanding value. He has proven to hang with the best fighters in the division while Mitchell has yet to face an opponent that has a notable track record. Look for Charles Rosa to use his experience and all elements of MMA (kicks, takedowns, clinch...etc.) to try to overwhelm Mitchell and take the fight into deep waters.

 

- Juan The Don

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