After eight straight weekends of action, the UFC finally ends its first quarter run with UFC San Antonio on Saturday. Headlined by a pivotal bantamweight matchup between Marlon Vera and Cory Sandhagen, the UFC is also offering up 11 other fights of varying degrees of importance. That’s a lot of potential bets so let’s get to it.
As always, all odds are courtesy of our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Yana Santos, +210
There’s a fun mirroring going on in this fight. In her previous two bouts, Holm beat Irene Aldana and then lost to Ketlen Vieira, while Santos beat Vieira and then lost to Aldana. And while MMA Math is normally entirely useless, I think it is illustrative here of a fight that is pretty darn close. Holm is the better technical fighter, but to be frank, Holm has not looked good in years. She relies a lot on clinch physicality these days and her work rate has slowed dramatically, neither of which bodes all that well for someone pushing 42. On the other side of things, Santos has been out for two years, and was never an A+ fighter to begin with.
In the end, reasonable bettors may well look at this fight and say there are too many wildcards to place a bet, and I wouldn’t blame them — but this fight feels like it could go either way. At more than +200 on the odds, I’m OK with a shot.
Marlon Vera by Decision, +600
I’ll talk a little more about this fight later, but this boils down to the fact that though “Chito” is widely hailed as a finisher, in two of his previous four bouts he’s won by decision. Cory Sandhagen is incredibly durable, and on-paper should outwork “Chito,” but Vera brings the more high-powered offense, so I can see this fight looking a lot like Vera vs. Rob Font. At these massive odds, I’m taking a flyer.
Manel Kape by Submission, +600
People think of Kape as a striking savant, and he is, but Kape has a sneaky aggressive ground game as well. Five of his 18 career wins have come by submission, and that number most likely would be up to six if David Dvorak hadn’t been saved by the bell when they two fought back in December. Add in that five of Perez’s seven career losses have come by tapout and this is another bet I’m going to take a flyer on.
Preston Parsons by Submission, +225
If you listened to No Bets Barred this week, you’ll know there’s a very specific reason I’m taking this bet; however, after looking into it, I do like the wager outright. Nine of Parsons’ 10 career victories have come by submission, while two of Giles’ four career losses have been by tap. Giles isn’t a terrible grappler, but I do think Parsons is superior on the floor and he’s a good enough wrestler to get the fight there, repeatedly if necessary.
Parlay of the Week
We’re going with the Pacifist Parlay this week, under the belief that all three of these fights are destined for deep waters.
Marlon Vera/Cory Sandhagen Over 2.5 Rounds, -300
In 28 career fights, “Chito” has never been stopped. In 19 career fights, Sandhagen has only been stopped once — the rear-naked choke loss to Aljamain Sterling. It’s exceedingly unlikely that Vera is going to score a quick submission here, and exceedingly likely that this fight heads into the championship rounds.
Holly Holm/Yana Santos Over 2.5 Rounds
Though eight of Holm’s 14 career wins are by stoppage, six of those came in her pre-UFC days. Aside from Ronda Rousey and Bethe Correira, Holm has gone to the cards with everyone else she’s beaten in the promotion and she’s hit this Over in 10 of her 13 UFC bouts. Santos, meanwhile, has not stopped anyone since 2016, and while she has been pretty knockout-able, I’m willing to bet that won’t happen against a 41-year-old who hasn’t finished anyone in six years.
Andrea Lee/Maycee Barber Over 2.5 Rounds
In 19 career fights, Lee has been finished just once, back in Invicta in 2016. In 13 career fights, Barber has never been finished, and she’s also gone to five decisions in a row inside the UFC. Like the main event, this is another one that seems destined to go long.
Parlay these three bets together for +149 odds.
Long Shot of the Week
Marlon Vera and Cory Sandhagen To Go To A Draw, +5000
This one is obviously pretty bold. +5000 is as big of a long shot as I’ve ever bet on, but can’t you just see it? As mentioned above, I have a strong belief that this fight goes long and that it’s Sandhagen’s volume vs. Vera’s power for much of the fight. That sort of dynamic is exactly the kind of thing that leads to one fighter losing three rounds but getting a 10-8 in one of the others. Add in that the judging has been a bit wonky lately, and we very nearly got a draw last weekend thanks to Herb Dean taking a point, and this feels imminently possible. Probable? Of course not. But still, dare to dream.
Don’t look now, but that’s two plus-money weeks in a row! 2023 has been a tough year but we’re finally starting to build some momentum. Let’s try and cash out once again this week so we head into the off weekend on a high.
Until next week, enjoy the fights, good luck, and gamble responsibly!
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