Action in the Bantamweight division this week, for your UFC Fight Night Picks. The UFC remains in Vegas as #8 China’s Song Yadong takes on #10 Ricky Simon at the Apex.
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On Saturday April 29, the main card is headlined by Bantamweight contenders looking to edge closer to a title shot in a division currently owned by the Funk Master, Aljamain Sterling – and who defends his title at UFC 288 just one week later.
The #8 contender is Song Yadong (19-7-1 1NC), who enters this fight on the back of a loss to Cory Sandhagen, the current #3 contender. His opponent, #10 contender Ricky Simon (20-3-0), comes in riding a five-win tear, albeit against lower calibre fighters.
Song has landed some big-blow finishes in his time as his highlight reel shows.
Ricky Simon’s weapon seems to be his gas, but he’s also a talented striker and grappler. Of his 20 career wins, 10 went to decision – and his 50% finish rate has delivered six KO/TKOs and four submissions.
What the Books Say
I don’t know if this says more about Las Vegas sportsbooks, or the UFC contender rankings – but this is yet another fight where we have a disconnect. The bookmakers again have the lower-ranked fighter going into the fight as the favorite.
As a gentle reminder – if it’s needed – both the favorites on the top of the last Fight Night card lost. Sergei Pavlovich, despite his higher contender ranking was priced the underdog against Curtis Blaydes. In the co-main event, Bruno Silva outshone Brad Tavares despite being priced +130/+150.
That said, there isn’t really a whole lot in it, for this fight. Simon’s odds to win are around -120/-135 (remember, with the vig, an even fight is usually priced at -110), while the man from Harbin is priced at +105/+110.
Our last UFC Fight Night Picks backed the two main event outsiders, and we’re getting behind the underdog again this week. Expect another close fight, with the man from China taking it.
Figuring out how is the tough bit. We could see this go down a KO/TKO route, but given the number of fights both fighters have had that have gone to a decision – win or lose – we’re gonna say this adds one more.
UFC Fight Night Picks – Winner: Yadong Song
UFC Fight Night Picks and Predictions: Borralho vs Oleksiejczuk
The co-main event pits two Middleweights against each other as the Brazilian Caio “The Natural” Borralho (13-1-0) squares off against Poland’s Michal “Hussar” Oleksiejczuk (18-5-0 1NC).
“The Natural” enters the fight having not lost in his last 10 outings, including his last five since entering The Contender series in 2021. In 2020, he defeated Wildemar Santos to claim the vacant Future MMA Middleweight crown.
He enters the Octagon on the back of a unanimous decision win over Makhmud Muradov. Of his 13 victories, six have gone the distance and were decided by decision, his 54% finish rate being divided between four KO/TKOs and three submissions.
In contrast, the Hussar is a knockout artist. With a 78% finish rate, 13 of his 18 wins are by KO/TKO, with just one submission, and four by decision.
The Vegas sportsbooks have made The Natural the overwhelming favorite. Borralho’s odds to win currently range anywhere from -370 at the extreme to -305. The Pole is therefore a real outside long shot for this fight, with odds ranging from +295 to +240.
Given Oleksiejczuk’s ability to end a fight, there’s always a chance he lands a blow that ends it all… but given the Brazilian’s track record, undefeated in 10, and with the odds so heavily in his favor it’s hard to make a UFC Fight night Pick against that.
That said, it won’t be over before the final bell.
UFC Fight Night Picks – Winner: Caio Barrolho
UFC Fight Night Picks and Predictions: Pavlovich vs Blaydes
(First published April 21, 2023)
It’s a UFC homecoming as the UFC Apex beckons. And it’s the big men too, as the #3 and #4 Heavyweight contenders clash in the main event.
Not only that, but both men have made a habit of finishing opponents before the distance – so we’re expecting a slugfest.
#3 is Russia’s Sergei Pavlovich (17-1-0) – with 14 of his 17 wins coming via KO/TKO – has zero submissions to his name, and only three wins by decision. His solitary loss was by KO/TKO to Alistair Overeem back in November 2018.
He comes into this fight on the back of a five fight win streak, having stopped Tai Tuivasa at 0:54 of Round 1 in a demolition job on his last outing. He has a mightily impressive 83% finish rate.
The #4 American, Curtis “Razor” Blaydes (17-3-0 1NC), comes into the fight off of a very impressive sounding 15-second stoppage of Tom Aspinall, but the Brit blew his knee out in agonizing fashion.
Still, Blaydes is the #4 contender for good reason. Of his 17 wins, 11 have come via KO/TKO, one by submission and five by decision. While he only has one submission finish, he does like to take his opponents to the mat – so expect Pavlovich to try to defend the takedown and keep things upright.
Blaydes’ three losses were to Derrick Lewis in February 2021, and twice to champion-in-the-making Francis N’Gannou (in 2018 and 2016).
The point: decent calibre fighters. Which may be why the bookies are backing him.
What the Books Say
Current odds across a number of leading online sportsbooks are bucking the contender rankings. There’s also a fair variety of width between the odds between books. Maybe there’s hometown bias here – which might leave value on the table for a sharp bettor.
Do they know something we don’t know? Will Donald Trump be ringside again? Someone call Rogan and ask.
Maybe the hometown crowd will make the difference.
Pavlovich is the underdog, at around +125/+145, while Blaydes is favored, by quite a bit as well, at around -150/-170.
Be sure to check the latest odds at the best online sportsbooks available to you before the action begins.
Always a fan of an upset, we’re gonna call the oddsmakers and side with the Russian here. Expect a close fight, but it wont make it to the judges scorecard.
UFC Fight Night Picks – Winner: Sergei Pavlovich
UFC Fight Night Picks and Predictions: Tavares vs Silva
The co-main event is a Middleweight bout between the American Brad Tavares (19-7-0) and Brazil’s Bruno “Blindado” Silva (22-8-0).
Neither is a ranked contender in the weight division owned – once again – by Israel Adesanya.
Tavares comes into the fight off of a loss to Dricus Du Plessis at UFC 276, losing on the judges scorecard. Silva comes in after back-to-back losses, last to Gerald Meerschaert and before that to Alex Pereira (on his way to ultimately taking the belt off Stylebender).
Of Tavares’s 19 wins, a remarkable 13 have gone the distance and ended in decisions (as have four of his seven losses). His finish rate is a lowly 32% – but this means he goes the distance… which implies two things – he has the gas to hang in a fight, and he can take some punishment.
Silva on the other hand is an out and out knockout artist. 19 of his 22 wins have come via KO/TKO, with only three going to a decision. He doesn’t have a professional submission on his record. Of his eight losses, six have been by submission, so it seems pretty clear where the weakness in his arsenal lies.
Alas, Tavares has only won twice by submission, so he may not be the fighter best suited to use this to his advantage. Still, expect Silva to want to keep this off the mat – and that’s prob going to be fine by Tavares given his proclivity to see fights out till the end.
Tavares in the sportsbook’s favorite, at current odds of around -145/-155, leaving Blindado as a +130/+150 outsider.
Two upsets in one night? This fight could very easily go either way.
First scenario – it goes three rounds and, as seems the norm, Brad takes the dub. Or, two… the Brazilian pulls something off and ends it early – in the second (or third?!) round.
It may seem like a fairy tale, but if you’re gonna dream, dream big, no? Let’s call it the second.
UFC Fight Night Picks – Winner: Bruno Silva
UFC Fight Night Picks and Predictions: Holloway vs Allen
(First published April 13, 2023)
UFC Fight Night Picks for Holloway vs Allen – the #2 and #4 Featherweight contenders clash in Kansas City at the T-Mobile Center, Saturday 15 April.
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UFC Fight Night Picks and Predictions: Holloway vs Allen
In the main event, Hawaiian Max “Blessed” Holloway (23-7-0) takes on Arnold “Almighty” Allen (19-1-0), an Englishman fighting a long way from home.
The fight – between the former champ and now the #2 contender and the #4 from across the pond – should be a banger.
Of Holloway’s 23 wins, 10 have come via KO/TKO and just two by submission, with 11 decisions going his way. Of his seven losses, six have been by decision – meaning he can go the distance – with one submission early in his career to Dustin Poirier. Holloway comes into the fight after a second loss to Alexander Volkanovski at UFC276 in July 2022 – the man who took the title off him back in December 2019.
The #2 contender – looking Blessed with his family – will want to challenge Yair Rodriguez (who he beat when they fought last) for the #1 contender spot, with a win over #4 Allen.
For his part, of Allen’s 19 wins, he too has seven by KO/TKO, but also four wins by submission, with eight decisions going his way. He only has one loss to his name, which long pre-dates his UFC debut. In the UFC, he’s unbeaten.
Current odds across a number of leading online sportsbooks reflect their contender rankings. Holloway is favored, at around -180/-190 and Allen is the underdog at around +145/+155. Check the latest odds at the best online sportsbooks available to you.
It wouldn’t be surprising if the majority of people were to make this pick in line with expectations as implied by the odds and UFC contender rankings.
Although the Englishman’s record is undeniable, there’s a solid case to make that the Hawaiian has faced tougher fighters in his career so far. Not only did Holloway once hold the Featherweight crown, but he has wins over some big names in the weight class.
He may have tried unsuccessfully to take the belt back from Volk, but with all that experience it’s hard to pick against him in Kansas City this weekend.
UFC Fight Night Picks – Winner: Max Holloway
UFC Fight Night Picks and Predictions: Barboza vs Quarantillo
In the co-main event, another Featherweight bout pitches Brazil’s Edson “Junior” Barboza (22-11-0), the #14 contender, against America’s Billy Quarantillo (17-4-0).
Neither fighter has fought too much recently. This will be only Barboza’s third fight in almost two years, and he enters it coming off of two losses (first to Giga Chikadze and more recently to Bryce Mitchell at UFC 272). His last win was over Shane Burgos at UFC 262.
Quarantillo, on the other hand, comes into the fight having beaten Alexander Hernandez in his last outing at UFC 282. His previous fight before that, at UFC 268, was a loss to Shane Burgos.
After beating Hernandez, the man from Florida immediately called out Barboza – so this is the fight he asked for.
Despite his #14 contender ranking, the bookmakers make Barboza the underdog, with odds at +140/+150.
Quarantillo is, for the time being, a -160/-180 favorite.
I’m not going in there to milk out a decision… I’m hoping to get a big finish, a big knockout, and something that can go viral.Billy Quarantillo ahead of his KC Fight Night showdown
Being cautious of hubris here at at The AllStar – remember, he called out Barboza for this – we’re giving this UFC Fight Night pick to Barboza.
Commentators, and Quarantillo himself, expect the Brazilian to go for the leg chops, but if that’s all telegraphed before we’ve even started, maybe (and as a fan, hopefully) he’ll surprise.
UFC Fight Night Picks – Winner: Edson Barboza
UFC Fight Night Picks and Predictions – Rest of Main Card
Dustin Jacoby vs Azamat Murzakanov – Light Heavyweight Bout
Dustin “The Hanyak” Jacoby (18-6-0), the #13 contender, takes on the unbeaten Russian #15 contender, Azamat “The Professional” Murzakanov (12-0-0).
Both fighters are graduates of the Contender Series, Jacoby in the class of 2020 and Murzakanov a year behind him. The Russian has only had two fights in the UFC proper, while the American has had eight – six wins, one loss and a draw.
Jacoby also out-measures his opponent – five inches taller, with a reach that measures a whole extra 7 inches.
He enters the fight as the bookies favorite, with odds of around -165/-185, while odds on Murzakanov currently sit around +140.
It’s worth mentioning that the Russian fighter likes to get things done – he has an impressive 84% finish rate, and of his 12 wins, 9 have come by KO/TKO.
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A tough UFC fight Night Pick to make, but we’re gonna go with the favorite, even though it’s a close call.
UFC Fight Night Picks: Jacoby, Decision, Round 3
Tanner Boser vs Ion Cutelaba – Light Heavyweight Bout
Another tight match-up according to the odds, but “The Hulk” from Moldova, Ion Cutelaba (16-9-0) pips it to the favorite spot over “The Bulldozer” Canadian Tanner Boser (20-9-0).
The Moldovan veteran made his UFC debut back in 2016. He comes into this fight, however, looking to reverse a three-fight losing streak (and in his last seven fights he only has one win, and a draw). He still boasts an impressive 88% finish rate.
Boser also comes into Kansas City on the back of a loss, and with only one win from his last four.
Expect both fighters to have something to prove.
Sportsbooks have Cutelaba favored, but not by much. His odds are -125/-135 to the Canadian’s +110/+115. That’s almost a Pick ’em.
As any sports bettor, or fan who has made picks for a while knows, there’s always an upset somewhere on the card. Choosing the right underdog is the tricky bit. Could this be the bout for the Kansas City Fight Night?
UFC Fight Night Picks: Boser, KO/TKO, Round 2
Pedro Munhoz vs Chris Gutierrez – Bantamweight Bout
In the Bantamweight division, we have two ranked contenders going at it. The #9 contender, from Brazil, is Pedro “The Young Punisher” Munhoz (19-7-0 2NC), who takes on #13 Chris “El Guapo” Gutierrez (19-3-2).
We have another fight where the records suggest a clash of fighting styles in the Octagon. On the one hand, the Brazilian has nine of his 19 wins by tap out (with four KO/TKOs and six decisions). On the other, nine of the American’s 19 wins came via KO/TKO (with just one sub and nine decisions).
Munhoz’s last fight ended as a No Contest against Sugar Sean O’Malley after an accidental eye poke, but before that he suffered back to back losses against Dominick Cruz and José Aldo. It’s worth noting that all of his losses so far have only been by decision, so we know he has the gas to go the distance, and he’s hard to put down.
Gutierrez comes into this matchup having not lost in eight (seven wins and a draw), but the calibre of fighter he’s faced hasn’t been as testing. That’s likely been a factor in his contender ranking being lower than his opponent’s, but the bookmakers have him as the favorite.
Current odds have Gutierrez at around -215 to Munhoz’s +170/+180, most likely a reflection of their most recent win/loss history.
We’re going with the bookmakers over the official UFC contender rankings here.
UFC Fight Night Picks: Gutierrez, Decision, Round 3
Clay Guida vs Rafa Garcia – Lightweight Bout
Clay “The Carpenter” Guida, having made his UFC debut back in 2006, has racked up 35 fights in the promotion. At 41, he’s amassed a 38-22-0 professional record, and enters this fight on a victory in his last UFC outing.
Of his 38 wins, 16 have come via submission, and 16 by decision.
His opponent, Mexican Rafa “Gifted” Garcia (15-3-0) also like to grapple, with eight of his 15 wins coming via submission – so the fight is likely to play out on the mat.
Will age and experience be able to overcome youth?
The sportsbooks don’t think so, as Gifted is quite strongly favored at around -260/-280. Guida’s odds to win are at round +205/+225.
Hard to see the veteran pulling off an upset here, so we’re going with youth – and the odds.
UFC Fight Night Picks: Garcia, Submission, Round 3
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