Last week, in honor of UFC 200, we rolled out our first gambling guide. We will continue that here for UFC Fight Night 91: McDonald vs. Lineker but before we get to it, a few minor points to clear up.
All the odds are courtesy of Best Fight Odds and the determinations for net value are calculated from the closing odds. Also on the value tip, net value is determined by calculating the gains or losses a bettor would have incurred from betting a standard $100 on the fighter in each of his or her fights.
Also, today's guide will only cover the 5 fights from the main card because the undercard fights have no bouts I would recommend betting and feature several debuting fighters which makes for both poor analysis and fighters I would very, very rarely recommend betting. Also, since there are a bunch of debuting fighters or fighters with limited octagon experience, there aren't a lot of great stats to provide and because there is little value my commentary would mostly be "no one can really feel confident here because this fight is something more appropriately held on the regional circuit" for every fight. As far as undercard bouts go, I will say that Rani Yahya should probably be the favorite in his fight but I am picking Matt Lopez and wouldn't suggest a bet on either party. Now, let's get to it.
*All stats are from FightMetric.
This fight is fascinating and promises to be an all action affair. Neither man is a committed nor particularly good offensive wrestler, so we can expect a firefight for as long as both men can keep their feet underneath them. The texture of this striking match up is exceedingly interesting. Both men can thump though I would favor McDonald in a straight power comparison (Lineker's power seems slightly more attritive in nature) but how they go about landing those power shots is different.
Lineker pressures very well, backing his opponent into the cage and then unloading salvos of combinations, mixing body and head strikes extremely well. Early in his career he had a habit of tiring but since moving up to 135 his output has remained high, but his stamina seems much improved which will be necessary should this fight go into the 4th or 5th round. Defensively, Lineker is decent but when you throw with the volume he does, you are going to get hit a lot. Fortunately, he has an excellent chin which he will need against the powerful McDonald.
McDonald is more comfortable fighting at range and then stepping into the phone booth to land power shots, namely his uppercut. He throws uppercuts often and varied, both as lead shots and at the end of combinations when his opponent is shelled up. Defensive;y though he is less sound than Linker, especially on his entries where he leaves his chin up and open to be countered. Urijah Faber hit him several times with a counter overhand right as McDonald was stepping in, one of which ultimately resulted in the fight ending guillotine.
In a striking match I favor Lineker though I do think there are opportunities for McDonald to have success. Lineker is hittable and McDonald can crack. McDonald is also coming in with a sizable height and reach advantage. Lineker has a tendency to leave his open when he starts winging punches and McDonald's uppercut could pay real dividends as Lineker comes in. Also, Lineker's penchant for body shots results in him lowering his hands as he rips off combinations so a well timed counter from McDonald could stop Lineker in his tracks.
Unfortunately, McDonald isn't a stellar counter puncher and I don't think he has the footwork to stay off of the cage. His uppercut is also a double-edged sword in that it opens him up to the big overhand shot like the one Faber dropped him with repeatedly. Finally, McDonald's growth seems to have stagnated (Kanehara was whipping him before he pulled out that very excellent submission) and Lineker seems to be improving. I see Lineker walking McDonald down, putting combinations on him, and wearing him down with body work. Eventually the big shot will open up to the head for a 3rd or 4th round finish.
The line on this fight seems just about right to me so no real value straight, but there are some interesting prop bets worth looking at. Lineker by KO/TKO is +120 which certainly looks appetizing and the over/under is 1.5 rounds at -160 which is a little more dangerous but solid nonetheless. Both fighters have an average fight time well over 7 and a half minutes (8:54 and 10:11 respectively) so that is also appealing.
The breakdown here is simple and should give you a glimpse into why I didn't do the undercard: Landon Vannata is a promising young featherweight who is coming in on short notice against 1 of the premiere lightweights in the world, who is not only talented but has a dynamic and unorthodox style. Ferguson is going to house Vannata in violent fashion and the only real question is whether he finishes it with strikes or a choke of some kind. Ferguson should be a -900 favorite here so there is "value" in him but the ROI is garbage. However, Ferguson by KO/TKO and Ferguson by submission are both plus money so if you feel strongly about either of those they are options. Otherwise, Ferguson inside the distance is -225 which should probably hit, though as we've seen recently, short notice fights often create lackluster performance in both fighters.
Looking at this fight it really seems like it is all one way traffic for Josh Samman. He has marked advantages in all the measurables - youth, speed, athleticism, reach, etc... - and at this point he is likely both more durable and more technical than Boetsch. As you can see from Boetsch's record as an underdog though, the man can find ways to win. Usually those ways to win involve clinch work and big time hooks and uppercuts from "The Barbarian" who has big power in close. But even in close I'm not sure he is set up to win this. Samman is a decent clinch fighter in his own right and at this point in their careers the better ranged striker, having a more diverse skill set, better defense, and a dangerous kicking game. Boetsch's best avenue to victory would be to work his wrestling and force Samman to grapple with him, Samman's weakest part of his game, and work a heavy counter game on the feet. I don't really see this working out for him though as his durability is pretty questionable and Samman has the firepower to finish it. I expect Samman to put him away in the middle of the fight and think the odds are pretty spot on. Samman by KO/TKO is +220 and maybe worth consideration.
MMA math isn't the best indicator of success but just for reference, Oleinik's two UFC wins just happen to be over the two guys who beat Omielanczuk in the organization. Beyond that though, this fight really should be Oleinik's to lose. He is the much better grappler and should be able Omielanczuk down. Moreover, he is durable and a competent striker with a reach advantage which should be enough to carry him through the moments he isn't on top of Omielanczuk. My biggest concern here is the long layoff Oleinik is coming off of and the fact that he is pushing 40. Betting on 40 year olds who have been out of the game almost 2 years isn't a recipe for success, especially not at 2 to 1 odds. I would consider this a hard pass.
This one is pretty straight forward: if Noke keeps it standing he wins, if Nakamura gets multiple takedowns then he wins. On the feet Noke has a marked advantage, especially with his kicking game. Nakamura is far too hittable on the feet and isn't really a good wrestler, though he has some clever trips and throws from the clinch. Noke will probably go to the ground at least once and that is when Nakamura will need to strike. He's an opportunistic finisher and could snatch something up but Noke is a fair grappler himself and I suspect he can avoid danger long enough to return to his feet and box Nakamura up. I expect Noke to take a decision and -165 feels about right to me, maybe even a hair low. Noke by decision is at +125 so maybe that is something if you're really looking for action.
This is probably the best fight on the whole card. I've really liked what I've seen from Ben Nguyen so far in the UFC and Smolka is one of the most underrated guys in the flyweight division. Having said all that, I think the dynamics of this fight are pretty clear. Nguyen is a slick boxer with real power who lands tricky shots that catch opponents off guard. While it's not an out and out disaster if Smolka stays on the feet with Nguyen, it's definitely not a winning strategy either and Smolka is best served in this fight by using his excellent wrestling game to ground the dynamic Nguyen and hold him there. Nguyen is a good scrambler but Smolka has proven to be adept at controlling from top position. I expect an extremely competitive fight with both guys having their moments and think this fight should be at worst a pick 'em for Smolka if not Smolka as the very slight favorite. I am going to pick Nguyen to take home the victory here but I think Smolka at plus money is a value line as is Smolka by decision at +330.
*Again I would stress that this preview is for entertainment purposes only.