On Saturday, the UFC returns to London for their second event in The O2 this year, and once again, they are rolling out the red carpet for their biggest U.K. stars: Paddy Pimblett, Molly McCann, Paul Craig, Muhammad Mokaev, and Jai Herbert, all of whom are back for the UFC’s second trip to London in 2022, as well as Tom Aspinall, who takes on Curtis Blaydes in the main event. It’s a big weekend of fights, so let’s get to the bets.
As always, all odds are courtesy of our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Curtis Blaydes, +115
On this week’s No Bets Barred, I backed Tom Aspinall, strictly because it is the more fun bet to make. I still stand by that, but the smart money in this fight is very clearly on Curtis Blaydes. Yes, Aspinall has looked sensational thus far in his UFC stint, but Blaydes is by far the biggest step up in competition for him, and he brings the most unique skill set in the heavyweight division.
Some guys can wrestle a bit at heavyweight, but Blaydes is tremendous at it, and he makes a point of using it. Furthermore, Blaydes is a proven cardio machine, which is always a concern considering Aspinall has never even seen a third round. Lastly and perhaps most importantly, though, athleticism is a cheat code in MMA, especially in the heavyweight division. Aspinall has looked so good in his fights in part because he was simply a superior athlete to his opposition. That won’t be the case here. Blaydes can match him athletically, and has proven to be a tough stylistic match for damn near anyone. If Aspinall can get past him, it’s a huge win, but I need to see it before I believe it.
Chris Curtis, -110
In the co-main event, Chris Curtis steps in on short notice to face Jack Hermansson, and while the short notice could be a concern for many fighters, that’s not really the case for Curtis. “Action Man” lives up to his name by seemingly fighting every other weekend, and indeed just faced Rodolfo Vieira less than a month ago. That fight is instructive for this one as is basically the same matchup.
Hermansson, like Vieira, is going to want to take Curtis down and put his grappling on display. But as the BJJ world champion found out, that is a tall order. Curtis excels at keeping fights on the feet, having surrendered zero takedowns in his three UFC bouts despite facing decent wrestlers. Curtis should be able to do the same and let his more diverse and higher volume boxing game carry the day.
Paul Craig by Submission, +250
Why bet Paul Craig to win at +135 when you can bet him by Submission at +250? Volkan Oezdemir is the favorite in this fight, and that’s probably justifiable given his decent takedown defense and just how hittable Craig has been on the feet. But Oezdemir is not the greatest grappler in the world, and Craig has this uncanny knack for pulling victory from the jaws of defeat. If Oezdemir plays it all the way safe, he probably wins, but Oezdemir is wont to making mistakes, and at this number, I’m taking a shot.
Makwan Amirkhani by Submission, +330
Amirkhani is an underdog to Jonathan Pearce, and while I think there is possibly some value on him straight at those odds, the submission prop offers more. Pearce is a bit of a slow starter, with three of his four career losses coming in the first round, and Amirkhani is anything but. “Mr. Finland” comes out of the gates storming and tends to blow his gas tank if he can’t finish the drill. More importantly, though, Amirkhani hits takedowns early and gets his grappling going, resulting in four of his seven UFC wins coming by submission. Given that, I like a bet on that prop here, and with Amirkhani’s most recent two wins coming by first-round submission, a play on him by Sub in Round 1, at +700 isn’t bad either.
Parlay of the Week
Muhammad Mokaev, -460
I’ll keep this brief: Mokaev is, in my opinion, the best prospect in all of MMA. The question with this guy isn’t whether he’ll become champion, it’s over how many divisions. At only 22 years old, Mokaev is excellent at everything, he’s a superior athlete, and he has a deep well of experience from his amateur days. This kid is special and will prove it again on Saturday against Charles Johnson.
Mason Jones, -345
In the prelim main event, Mason Jones takes on Ludovit Klein in what should serve as a showcase fight for the highly-touted prospect. Jones has not quite lived up to the hype since arriving in the UFC from Cage Warriors, but he’s still young and has a ton of potential. Klein is certainly not a bad fighter, but Jones is much bigger and works at a much higher pace than Klein. This is a fight set up for Jones to get a big win in front of the British crowd, and he should deliver.
Paul Craig/Volkan Oezdemir Does Not Go To Decision, -360
In the 23 combined UFC fights between Craig and Oezdemir, they have just five decisions between them. Craig in particular is a get-or-get-got fighter, having been to the judge’s scorecards just once in his entire career. If Craig can’t get the submission, he’s going to get knocked out trying. That’s just the way this man fights.
Parlay these three bets together for +100 odds.
Long Shot of the Week
We’re doing something a bit different for the Long Shot this week, and it’s doing the dumbest thing you can do when sports betting: We’re parlaying some underdogs! And to make matters worse, we’re going to parlay the underdogs facing off against the London faithful’s favorite fighters. I’m calling this the Hometown Long Shot Fade Parlay.
I’ve already addressed why I’m backing Blaydes to beat Aspinall in the main event, so let’s quickly establish why you should bet against Paddy Pimblett and Molly McCann respectively.
For Pimblett, the answer is simply that he’s not a great fighter. The man was hurt badly in both UFC bouts before this one, and Leavitt is a step up in competition. Add in that Leavitt is an unorthodox guy — and Pimblett is a bit overconfident — and this has upset potential.
For McCann, this is simply a value suggestion. McCann is a better fighter than Hannah Goldy, but she shouldn’t be -390 against anyone in the UFC. “Meatball” is the most likely parlay-breaker of the bunch, but I still think things could go awry for her. We’ll soon find out.
Another winning week in the books! Love the look of these next two events, so make sure you check out No Bets Barred to get a deeper breakdown and a few more bets. Otherwise, enjoy the fights, good luck, and gamble responsibly!
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