There’s a big weekend in combat sports ahead of us, y’all, with multiple major events set to take place. On Saturday, the UFC returns with UFC Vegas 70, headlined by a light heavyweight matchup between top-10 fighters Nikita Krylov and Ryan Spann. Saturday also features another strong effort from Bellator with Bellator 291, headlined by a welterweight title unification bout between Yaroslav Amosov and Logan Storley. Then we wrap things up with a good old-fashioned grudge match when Jake Paul and Tommy Fury finally get in the ring and settle their differences. There’s a lot to dissect, so let’s jump in.
As always, all odds are courtesy of our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Jake Paul, -160
Welp, might as well start at the top.
Here are the facts: Jake Paul is not bad at boxing. He’s not great, and he probably isn’t even good, but he’s definitely not bad. The man has tons of resources, and he’s used them to his advantage, put in the time, and made something of himself in between the ropes. The Anderson Silva fight should be a wake-up call to all of his doubters. Sure, Silva is nearly a senior citizen, but “The Spider” still has some game, and Paul beat him, straight up. And in Tommy Fury, he’s taking a marked step down.
Like Paul, Fury is not a good boxer, but unlike Paul, we’ve yet to see him demonstrate that he’s anything other than bad. He’s young, with a famous last name and a perfect record, but that’s about it. The combined record of his eight professional opponents is 24-176-5. And he hasn’t exactly annihilated them all, either. By virtue of being young and sharing a last name with the heavyweight champion of the world, Fury has somehow kept this betting line close, but the fight is unlikely to be the same. Paul is no fool and he’s shown himself to be the far more dangerous and talented boxer. The Jake Paul express keeps right on rolling on Sunday.
Ryan Spann, +145
Now, onto MMA!
The main event of UFC Vegas 70 looks for all intents and purposes like a two-true outcome fight. Either Spann comes in and finishes Krylov quickly, either by KO or with his nasty guillotine, or Krylov keeps the pressure on and breaks Spann as the fight drags into the later rounds. I’m choosing to believe it will be the former as Krylov consistently puts himself in dangerous positions, which is really dangerous against someone like Spann.
There’s also the matter of Spann’s recent win over Dominick Reyes. Following the bout, Spann revealed he had never really trained for a fight before then, and coincidentally, it was the best Spann has ever looked. Still only 31-years-old and loaded with talent, if Spann has now buckled down to become serious about his career, he’s going to be a very dangerous contender at 205 pounds.
Andre Muniz, -225
Speaking of dangerous contenders, Andre Muniz is good enough to win the middleweight belt tomorrow. We’re talking about a man with highly effective wrestling who submitted Ronaldo Souza inside the UFC. Do you know how many people have ever submitted “Jacare”? One! He’s it! Muniz is nothing more than serviceable on the feet, for sure. But when you have an A-plus skill like he does, and the skill and wherewithal to get to your spots, those limitations don’t matter as much. They certainly shouldn’t be a major issue against Brendan Allen, who is a solid, well-rounded fighter, but who lacks the elite skills to really put Muniz under pressure.
Logan Storley by Decision, +240
This is the bet I feel the worst about. Not because of the odds (I actually think this is some of the best value of the weekend) but because it feels wrong to bet Amosov in this spot.
Twenty-seven months ago, Amosov and Storley fought a back-and-forth scrap in a welterweight title eliminator at Bellator 252. Amosov ended up winning a close split decision, and then he claimed the title with a dominant win over Douglas Lima. And then, Russia invaded Amosov’s home country of Ukraine, and he’s spent most of the past year fighting for his nation. Now he’s back, and in the meantime, Storley has continued to improve and develop, with two five-round fights under his belt since then. He’s going to present a very serious challenge to Amosov.
The basic structure of the fight is the same as their first: Amosov is the much better striker, while Storley is the accomplished wrestler and control grappler. Storley also appears to have the edge in cardio, and won’t be beset by ring rust. That all adds up for the American. It’s entirely possible that Amosov has improved over the past two years, and that he will channel the tragedy of his nation to deliver the best performance of his career. But it’s just as likely that the guy he struggled mightily with two years ago, who has been able to focus solely on his MMA career and development since then, flips the script on Amosov this time around. At +240 (five of Storley’s seven Bellator wins have come by decision), that’s worth the play.
Tatiana Suarez by KO/TKO/DQ or Submission, +130
Another fighter returning from a long layoff, the last time Tatiana Suarez fought, the world had not yet heard of COVID-19. This is the same woman who steamrolled former two-time strawweight champion Carla Esparza, and the woman who will challenge for the flyweight title next weekend, Alexa Grasso. Now finally ready to go after dealing with some health issues, I expect Suarez to pick up right where she left off: pure domination.
Montana De La Rosa is no wilting lily, but she doesn’t have the skill or athleticism to keep up with Suarez, who by all accounts, has been looking as good as ever in the gym. I’m envisioning a Dominick Cruz vs. Takeya Mizugaki like performance from Suarez here, as she makes a statement that she’s back and ready to fight for a title.
Parlay of the Week
Tatiana Suarez, -750
Joe Solecki, -580
Solecki is a talented grappler and a solid wrestler, who can strike if the occasion calls for it. His biggest weakness has been when the takedowns haven’t come and he’s forced into uncomfortable situations. Fortunately for him, Carl Deaton III is unlikely to make those happen. Deaton comes into this bout on very short notice, and he has failed to impress in his pre-UFC career. He can box a little bit and has some grappling, but not on the same level as Solecki, who should make short work of the debuting fighter.
Nikita Krylov/Ryan Spann Under 3.5 Rounds, -500
In their combined 66 career fights, Nikita Krylov and Ryan Spann have gone to decision nine times. Furthermore, 10 of Spann’s previous 15 bouts have ended in the first round! These men simply do not get paid by the hour, and it’s highly unlikely this one is heading into the championship rounds.
Parlay these three bets together for -169 odds.
Long Shot of the Week
Augusto Sakai to Win in Round 3, +1100
I’ll admit, this one is scraping the bottom of the barrel, but there weren’t a ton of long shots that looked viable this week. I was able to sell myself on this one for a couple of reasons. First, Sakai’s average fight time in the UFC is 10:42, and Don’Tale Mayes is at 11:47; and second, two of Mayes’ four career losses have come by third-round stoppage, and Sakai does have a couple of late finishes to his name. Mostly though, I can see this one playing out. Sakai, for all his faults, will stay in your face while the fight goes on, breaking people down with pressure. Mayes, meanwhile, has shown signs of slowing as fights drag on. For a flyer, you can do worse.
The tough times keep coming. We spiked a nice prop last week, but we are still struggling to get into the black. I will say this is a week I feel pretty good about though, and it only takes one to get back on track. Let’s try to get a W before heading into the monstrous March that awaits us.
Until next week, enjoy the fights, good luck, and gamble responsibly!
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