It's fight night and so we are back again with another gambling preview of the fights, the odds, and my own personal breakdown of where the value lies. This week I've only gone in depth on the main card fights instead of doing the whole card since a lot of the undercard fights are between inexperienced fighters and it's much tougher to analyze or feel confident about those bouts. I've also added in the Fight Pass and FS1 main events because those fights are between guys with established resumes and you can more readily predict what will happen.
As always, all stats come from FightMetric and all the odds are from Best Fight Odds. Net Value means how much money you would have made if you bet $100 on that fighter in every one of his/her fights that odds could be found for and is calculated using the closing odds for each fight.
Doubly as always, I'm trying to provide the most thorough guide I can for those who want to legally bet or who just enjoy following along. If you are a person who chooses to gamble, only do so legally, responsibly, and at your own risk.
Yair Rodriguez is a hot-shot featherweight prospect. Alex Caceres is a guy that never got his due and has ultimately carved out a niche for himself as a funky, entertaining veteran, but one who had most of his best success at bantamweight.
Rodriguez has a very peculiar game for someone as highly touted as he is. On the feet he is creative - sometimes to his own detriment - but limited. He has an array of acrobatic and exciting kicks, but throws very few punches and has little else to connect his striking together. His defense is almost entirely predicated on his ability to maintain a lengthy distance via his kicking game, but when people get inside that range he is hittable. However, more often than not, Rodriguez's good movement and stance switches enable him to keep his preferred range. When fighters work inside on him, he can initiate a clinch where he can use a sneaky selection of tosses and trips to get his opponent off balance.
Grappling is probably the strongest part of Rodriguez's game. He is a sound defensive wrestler and a sneakily good offensive one, timing power doubles well and finishing cleanly. As a top position grappler, he works sharp ground and pound and is good at passing and holding position. From the bottom, he is even more aggressive, constantly moving his hips to find attacks but like many Jackson-Wink fighters, he works quickly and then looks to stand should his guard game find no traction.
Caceres is a more fundamentally sound striker than Rodriguez, blending kicks and punches well with a solid understanding of range and timing. On the ground, he's a dynamic grappler in the same vein as Rodriguez with an active guard and strong ground striking. Caceres' big weakness is his wrestling which has been improving recently but is still below average.
Rodriguez is a talented young fighter with a funky game that doesn't necessarily blend well together, and when matched against a fundamentally sound fighter who can get inside and ground him, he will have tons of trouble. The problem for Caceres is that he doesn't have the technical acumen to do that. On the feet, Rodriguez will be dictating the range and if Caceres starts to have success there, Rodriguez has the ability to take it to the floor and work "Bruce Leeroy" over on top. The pace and style of fighting Rodriguez employs make me concerned about his ability to go for five rounds, but I don't think Caceres will even get the opportunity to drag this to the later rounds. I expect Rodriguez to win impressively.
There doesn't look to be a ton of value in Rodriguez though I expect a lot of people will include him in parlays. I don't personally love that, but I can understand the thinking.
Dennis Bermudez has a thoroughly fundamental game all-around. On the feet, he works at a high pace behind technically solid, body head combinations. He has a sharp jab and stinging low kicks which are the bread and butter of his combinations. In the clinch, he is exceptionally powerful, doing a great job of blending strikes into his fierce cage control. He is also an outstanding wrestler both defensively and offensively. Defensively, he is almost impossible to take down and offensively he can finish singles or doubles with authority. Bermudez's big liability is his striking defense. While not bad, he does find a way to get his and hit hard in most of his fights. He has excellent recovery, but elite finishers can put him away.
Rony Jason is almost the exact opposite of Bermudez. He is a big ball of dynamic finishing and none of the connective tissue to bridge the gaps. On the feet, he throws wild, powerful strikes and jumping attacks but there is little set up to these and they are mostly thrown individually. On the ground, is where he thrives with one of the more active guards in the division. The problem here is that Bezerra isn't a great wrestler and against Bermudez the ground exchanges won't be on his terms.
This fight should be Bermudez's to lose. He has all the technical advantages on the feet and works at a pace that should clearly give him rounds over the sometimes tentative Bezerra. Moreover, Bezerra's attacks are wild and undisguised. Bermudez isn't a defensive genius but when he is focused on not getting hit, he's pretty adept at it. However, Bezerra's dynamism, and Bermudez's tendency to get himself in trouble, give Rony Jason a very real chance at the upset here.
On the whole, Bermudez should win this fight more often than not but the odds are a bit off. Bermudez has most of the technical advantages, but Bezerra's finishing ability is the exact type of game that could ruin Bermudez's day. To me, this looks like a clear "dog or pass" situation. I certainly wouldn't be laying -235 on Bermudez here though.
This fight pretty much comes down to how much Thales Leites has left in the tank and whether he can get this fight to the floor. Though Leites has shown a willingness to strike lately, his boxing game is still predicated mostly on aggression which disguises his clinch entries. Leites' strong suit is really his grappling game where he is an elite top position worker. He has an excellent pass and control top game and mixes in strikes well. To get it to the floor, Leites has an underrated takedown game, working trips and chaining takedowns with throws to get the fight to his preferred space.
Camozzi is fundamentally, a kickboxer. He has a good jab and low kick which helps him maintain his preferred range and his movement is constantly improving. He doesn't have a lot of power on the feet but makes up for it by working at a good pace to rack up points. In the clinch, Camozzi uses his size to his advantage to create leverage for sharp elbows. Camozzi isn't a great grappler but he is knowledgeable enough to protect himself while working back up to his feet. The problem though is that he isn't a great defensive wrestler and dedicated wrestlers will have success there.
In many ways, Thales Leites is a lesser version of Jacare Souza who had his way with Camozzi. However, Jacare is in his physical prime and Leites is 34 and looked like he may be declining in his last fight. If the fight stays standing, Camozzi's volume will likely win the day over the power punches of Leites. If it goes to the floor, Leites almost assuredly can hold Camozzi down, and likely finish him. The question really becomes how much does Leites have left in the tank, and how much do you believe in Camozzi's defensive wrestling?
Leites' last two losses are to two of the best guys in the division so I think he should probably get the benefit of the doubt here. Having said that, Camozzi seems a tad undervalued here. Also, Leites by submission at +300 seems insanely low since that seems like Leites' most likely way to win.
The texture of this fight is pretty clear: Ponzinibbio is a good pressure fighter who throws a lot and Zak Cummings is a counter puncher who throws hard and accurately. Ponzinibbio wants to back his opponent up to the fence and unload with combinations on them. Conversely, Cummings uses tight footwork to angle off incoming fighters and land big time counter punches. Neither man is a dynamite wrestler (though Cummings likely has the ability to take Ponzi down if needed) so I expect this to be a striking affair.
To me, Ponzinibbio's style plays directly into what Cummings wants to do. Cummings does his best work in close and on the counter and Ponzinibbio's entire game requires him to force that range. Ponzinibbio is also very hittable in that range and Cummings has salt in his hands. I expect Ponzinibbio to get hit a lot as he closes the distance and, if that doesn't get him knocked out, will result in him losing the rounds and losing his confidence in coming forward. Cummings at plus money definitely looks like value to me.
Joe Gigliotti is a legitimate middleweight prospect making his UFC debut, and Trevor Smith is a serviceable middleweight veteran. I almost always favor the prospect in these types of fights but betting on debuting fighters is a risky proposition and Smith is the type of guy who could give the underdeveloped and slightly undersized Gigliotti problems. However, Smith is also 35, hasn't fought in over a year, and is facing a guy with miles more athleticism than himself.
Let's cut to the chase: don't bet this fight. Gigliotti can do everything pretty well but until you see him on the big stage you shouldn't feel confident in what he will look like. Moreover, Smith has a size advantage here and can probably win clinch exchanges with Gigliotti. I expect Gigliotti to look good striking at range and mixing in takedowns, but honestly, wouldn't be surprised if Gigliotti wore down and Smith was able to capitalize late.
This fight comes down almost entirely to the height and reach differences. Moroz is a true strawweight whereas Taylor is an atomweight and woefully undersized here, which is unfortunate because Taylor has a lot of talent.
Moroz is an excellent boxer with good combinations punctuated by a sharp jab and an innate understanding of range and timing. On the floor, she has shown intuitive grappling but the reality is that isn't where she wants to be.Taylor also prefers to strike where her speed and surprising power pay big dividends for her.
This fight is just a nightmare for Taylor. Moroz is the better technician on the feet and has enormous physical advantages heading into this. She can fight long and use the jab to keep the diminutive Taylor out of range. In the clinch, Taylor's size mean she can get bullied with relative impunity. Add on top that Taylor is coming in on short notice and this looks like one-way traffic for Moroz. I expect Moroz to be included in many parlays, but I'd never suggest betting those odds on such an unproven commodity like Moroz.
Court McGee is the definition of a fighter who makes the most out of what he has. McGee isn't an athletic marvel, and thus his game is entirely predicated around the things he can control namely, pressing a high pace and making conditioning a factor. McGee has an exceptional work rate, constantly throwing strikes and shooting for takedowns. He is durable and defensively sound and he leans on those fundamentals combined with relentless pressure to break his opponents.
Steele is on the opposite end of the spectrum. Steele is thick and powerful and fights like it. He throws strikes with the intent to hurt and he finds success by imposing his physically on his opponents. But, as is often the case with this type of fighting, Steele is prone to fading later in fights.
If this were five rounds, you would have to favor McGee. However, so long as these two guys are in the UFC they likely won't be fighting five rounds any time soon and over three rounds Steele's physical superiority may be enough to notch a victory. I expect Steele to win the first and McGee to win the third round. It just comes down to how the second round looks and if Steele's power game can impress the judges enough to take a decision. I favor McGee ever so slightly here, but the odds on this fight are way off. At +190, Dominique looks like a steal...
This fight doesn't need an enormous breakdown. Cub Swanson is younger, faster, and a far better striker in almost every capacity. Kawajiri is a fan favorite and remarkable for his ability to maintain his relevance this far into his career, but it doesn't look good for him here. Swanson has dynamic finishing ability on the feet and is a competent defensive wrestler. Kawajiri is wild on the feet and fairly hittable. For Kawajiri to win, he would need to employ a measured pressure game and be able to consistently hit takedowns. That doesn't seem to be in Kawajiri's arsenal anymore, and at 38, it is far more likely that his starts to decline rapidly. Moreover, Cub Swanson has only lost to the very elite of his division and at this point, and Kawajiri isn't that. I like Swanson to win this fight, but -300 is not something I'd be interested in.
Viktor Pesta (+125/44%) vs. Marcin Tybura (-135/57.5%)
Don't bet low level heavyweight MMA. Pesta wins a wrestling heavy decision, but I have no confidence in this pick.
David Teymur (-145/59%) vs. Jason Novelli (+135/42.5%)
I think Teymur's sharp counter boxing game should be the difference here, but Novelli's range could give him troubles.
Teruto Ishihara (-220/68.75%) vs. Horacio Gutierrez (+200/33%)
This fight seems closer than the odds suggest, but I am not confident in Gutierrez. Honestly, I just don't have enough to go on to feel good about a pick in this one.
Chase Sherman (+110/47.6%) vs. Justin Ledet (-120/ 54.5%)
Do not bet on low level heavyweight MMA. Just don't do it. I'm picking Ledet's speed advantage, here but he's giving up a ton of size and really, you can't feel good about either side of this.
And there you have it. Enjoy the fights this evening and good luck to those who need it. If you've got any questions, feel free to hit me up on Twitter @JedKMeshew
(Editor's note: All this advice is for entertainment purposes only.)