Fresh of the highly eventful UFC 274, the number one MMA organization in the world returns with a follow-up Fight Night card in Las Vegas to keep its momentum going. In the main event, one-time light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz takes on one of the best prospects in the division, Aleksandar Rakic, in a fight that could have huge implications for the 205-pound title. Outside of the main event, there’s a little less name value but we still have 10 more fights on Saturday, with several good betting opportunities.
As always, all odds are courtesy of our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Aleksandar Rakic, -195
In a world where judges were good at their jobs, Aleksandar Rakic would be undefeated and have substantially more hype behind him. Instead, a split decision loss to Volkan Oezdemir has it so that he is only a modest favorite over a nearly 40-year old Jan Blachowicz. Don’t get me wrong, Rakic is not the best fighter in the world, but it’s possible he is the best light heavyweight, and he should be more than a match for the former champion here. He’s younger, faster, and keeps a higher pace than Blachowicz, plus I like his low kicks to disrupt Jan’s rhythm and allow him to consistently score while Blachowicz spends the whole fight trying in vain to land his Legendary Polish Power.
Viviane Araujo, -105
In what could be one of the most entertaining fights on the entire card, Araujo takes on Andrea Lee in a flyweight undercard bout that presents a tremendous clash of styles. Lee is a solid fighter who does a little of everything and works at a very high rate on the feet, but she’s not a great defensive wrestler or grappler, and that’s where Araujo excels. Araujo will almost certainly be able to get her takedowns going early, and from there I believe she will build a lead which Lee will be unable to come back from.
This bet was suggested to me by my co-host on the No Bets Barred podcast, Conner Burks, and I’ve got to say, he sold me on it. Grant is a natural power puncher on the feet, which plays well against Smolka’s sometimes suspect chin, but he’s also a liability on the floor, having been submitted in four of his six career losses, something Smolka can take advantage of. Since returning to the UFC in 2018, Smolka has been a textbook Get-Or-Get-Got fighter, alternating stoppage wins and losses.
Katlyn Chookagian by Decision, +110
Death, Taxes, and Katlyn Chookagian winning by decision — that’s been the story of the flyweight division since Chookagian made her UFC debut in 2016. Chookagian is an elite fighter and one of the best flyweights on Earth, but she simply isn’t a finisher. Ribas, meanwhile, is a very good fighter, but she’s also a natural strawweight. The size difference here will be very difficult for her to overcome, especially given Chookagian’s ability to nullify opposing offense. Ribas might be able to score takedowns early, but she’s going to find it tough to build sustained success, and all the while Chookagian will be chipping away and piling up points.
Angela Hill by Decision, +200
I’m unsure which MMA god Angela Hill angered, but “Overkill” has had one of the more unfortunate careers that wasn’t beset by injury. In her last five bouts, Hill has lost three by split decision, and in each of them, she had a legitimate reason to feel like she was robbed. Against Virna Jandiroba, a similar fate could befall her if she gives up too many takedowns, but Jandiroba is too wild on the feet and not a great wrestler. I think Hill can pick Jandiroba apart at range and avoid most of the grappling, which should put her in line to finally get awarded a decision victory.
Parlay of the Week
Nick Maximov, -380
Maximov is the biggest favorite on this card for a reason: He is going to beat Andre Petroski. Maximov is far from a finished product and has clear weaknesses, but the man is an excellent wrestler and grappler, and if he has nothing else on Saturday, that alone should get him the victory. Petroski is also a grappler but he’s not as good at it, having famously been ninja choked by Bryan Battle on The Ultimate Fighter. Maximov should win comfortably.
Katlyn Chookagian/Amanda Ribas Goes To Decision, -225
In her 14 bouts inside the octagon, Chookagian has never stopped an opponent, and has only been stopped herself twice, against Valentina Shevchenko and Jessica Andrade. Ribas is a good fighter, but she’s not the physical force that either of those women are. If this fight doesn’t make it to the final cards, that would be stunning.
Viviane Araujo/Andrea Lee Over 1.5 Rounds, -650
Araujo and Lee have a combined 14 UFC fights between them. An Over 1.5 Rounds bet would have cashed in every one of those fights. Simply put, neither woman is a big finisher, and when they do get them (or get stopped), it’s later in the fight after attrition has set in.
Parlay these three bets together for +110 odds.
Long Shot of the Week
Louis Smolka by Submission in Round 1, +1500
As mentioned above, four of Davey Grant’s six losses have come by submission, and seven of Smolka’s 17 career wins have come by tapout. Don’t get me wrong, the most likely scenario this weekend is Davey Grant lands a big shot early and puts Smolka away, but Grant is not the world’s best finisher and if he tries to force something too early, Smolka can find himself taking of a lapse in judgment from the English fighter.
UFC 274 was one of our worst weeks ever, having been heavily invest in Rose Namajunas before she laid one of the all-time biggest eggs we’ve ever seen in a title fight. That plus Shogun Rua and Marcos Rogerio de Lima getting tough decisions against them solidified an all-time bad night. But we’re on to the next one this week.
Good luck y’all, and gamble responsibly!
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