Duke’s UFC Fight Night Breakdown and Predictions!!!
UFC Fight Night Info
- February 6, 2021
- UFC APEX, Las Vegas, NV
- Main Card: ESPN+ – 8:00pm
- Prelims: ESPN+ – 5:00pm
UPDATE: STAMANN/ASKAR FIGHT IS OFF!!!
WELCOME BACK! Thank goodness we had an extra week to watch film on this card because we are LOADED with fights. Before we jump into this week, as always, a quick review of the last card. Was Dustin Poirier juicing? I’m not throwing slander. I’m genuinely curious. He looked much better and much bigger than he did just a few weeks ago against Hooker. I don’t want to take away from his big win over Conor, but I do have my questions. The leg kicks were simply too much, and you could tell fairly early on that Conor couldn’t put any weight on that lead leg, and he was dead in the water. Selfishly, I hope Conor is done, but it sure sounds like he’s ready for the trilogy.
I also can’t believe I bailed on my system I’d been tracking for six months after one bad week. I listed the plays for tracking purposes but didn’t change my actual record. We would have hit big dogs in Rodriguez (+265) and Prachnio (+305) had we followed through. On the night, it would have finished 5-2 and +6.27u. That stung for a minute, but it’s a reminder to stick to the math, which we’ll do this week.
I have a special guest for the podcast on Friday, and of course, I’ll add updates if there are any after weigh-ins. With this many fights, I’ll save the long read for the fight breakdowns. As a reminder, we are back in Vegas, and we are back in the smaller cage. Enjoy and GL!
Pricing = (DraftKings, FanDuel, SuperDraft)
MAIN EVENT Alexander Volkov ($8600/$21/1.8x) vs. Alistair Overeem ($7600/$18/2.2x)
What are we doing here with this line? I know Volkov is a giant and a hell of a tough dude with a good all-around game, but Overeem has made a shift in his game. Reminder, Curtis Blaydes landed 14 takedowns. I fully understand that Overeem has been KO’d 14 times in his pro career, and it’s hard to remove this picture from my mind.
BUT Overeem is such a live dog here.
Here is my worry with Overeem. Obviously, he gets dominated by Blaydes in 2018 and decides it’s time to change up the game a bit here and improve. He takes on 3,000-year-old Oleinik and doesn’t even get a chance to show his evolution because Aleksei puts his head down and oddly boxes with Overeem. Goodnight Aleksei.
He then dominates Rozenstruik for 4.9 rounds and gets knocked out in a fight he was DEFINITELY winning with four seconds left in the fifth round. OK, good performance but dude, close it out. Now we start to see the takedowns come into play.
Harris is notorious for gassing out and of course, he does. Overeem gets the stoppage in round two. Then he takes on Sakai, who by the way was on a five-fight win streak in the UFC, takes him down three times, doubles his control time, and gets the stoppage early in the fifth when he’d worn down Augusto. Can Overeem get this one to the ground? It’s not that he can’t stand with Volkov. He can. But why would he when he can lay his big ass, strong body on Volkov and pound away to wear out the big man?
Let’s be honest here, Volkov hasn’t found a ton of guys who want to even attempt a takedown. If you go all the way back to Timothy Johnson in 2016, he landed just one of eight takedowns. Big Roy Nelson: one of eight takedowns. Struve – the bean pole attempted zero takedowns. Werdum is a wizard and landed three of nine. He was in the match but was dropped in the fourth. Derrick Lewis. You kidding me? Greg Hardy? 0-for-2, but Hardy was literally just trying not to get embarrassed in that fight. Blaydes ragdolls Volkov in a dominant win. Walt Harris with the bagel.
Why am I harping on this? It’s not like Overeem is some badass wrestler now who’s going to shoot for the takedown 20 seconds into the fight, but if I were in his corner, I’d always look for the path of least resistance. His ground game evolution is still miles behind Curtis Blaydes but better than a Greg Hardy type of fighter. That is one way to win this fight.
I’ll ask you this; who has the edge in power? Volkov can be nasty but a lot of his finishes come from volume. Overeem, even off the juice, can still sling it. The bigger question probably comes from the chin and the cardio. I’ll give both edges to Volkov.
The interesting piece is the current TOTAL. It’s sitting at 2.5 with about equal juice on both sides. Remember, this is a five-round fight. Vegas does not think this is going the distance.
This is one where I might even have a bit more of the dog than the favorite, but I’m leaning Volkov. Reem is getting up there, and Overeem will need a finish to get this done. Perhaps Volkov gets a finish here, but I really like him if this starts getting into the fourth and fifth rounds.
OFFICIAL PICK: VOLKOV
Cory Sandhagen ($9400/$23/1.5x) vs. Frankie Edgar ($6800/$8/2.45x)
I get it. Sandhagen can be a monster, and Edgar is a former stud who feels like he’s maybe hanging on a touch long here. But $6800?? This is a three-round spot, and Sandhagen has a 33% takedown defense. While Sandhagen’s height and length are most definitely an advantage, from a leverage perspective, Edgar has very long legs, torso and body to shoot and ragdoll to the mat. Frankie averages 2.34 takedowns per 15 minutes. With Sandhagen’s 6.95 significant strikes per minute, I don’t think the old head of Edgar wants to keep this baby standing very long. Look at the resume for Frankie and not even the wins….
Pedro Munhoz – wins by split decision
Chan Sung Jung – KO’d, but Sung Jung is a beast
Holloway – Takes him five rounds and loses to maybe the best boxer in the promotion
Swanson – Older guys face-off, and Frankie shows he still has it
Ortega – Monster who KO’d Edgar in the first
This dude is not riding off into retirement against nobodies. Ortega, Holloway and Sung Jung are the who’s who of the 145. The tough part? Two of those were Frankie sleeping inside five minutes.
With that all said, Sandhagen is a beast. Outside of the Sterling loss, which might be a blueprint for Frankie, he’s been flawless in the UFC. The criticism for Sanhagen has to be the competition. You don’t see the big names on the win/loss list as you do for Frankie except for one; Aljamain Sterling, and he lost. The KO of Moraes is great and all, but he was just dropped by Font in the first, as well. This feels like leaping from one lily pad to the next for Sandhagen. If he can avoid the deep waters, he wins this fight going away. Frankie can’t stand and bang with Cory.
OFFICIAL PICK: SANDHAGEN
Michael Johnson ($8800/$19/1.75x) vs. Clay Guida ($7400/$11/2.25x)
Combined, they’ve lost five straight fights, but I’m strangely drawn to both of these guys. Clay Guida is 39 years old, but after 52 pro fights, his ring age is basically in dog years. Michael Johnson is a classic case of what could have been. He has wins over Poirier (2016), Tony Ferguson (2012) and dinged up Gaethje in the first round not too long after taking Khabib to the third round. He’s a striker with a touch of wrestling who seems to be struggling with his commitment to the sport. That doesn’t mean he’s not a hard worker. He comes out like a ball of fire and then flames out. That’s my worry here.
Guida is the energizer bunny. You could argue that Guida has done more with his talent level than almost anyone in the division. He’s been around the promotion for 14-15 years. He has upwards of 30 fights in the UFC. I’m just not super excited to put my money behind either of these guys.
If it goes the distance, I’ll take the cardio and work rate of Guida. If Johnson can land combinations early, it could be a rough night for Guida. There are certainly paths for both here. I really like Johnson’s 3.5” reach advantage here. I’m assuming he’ll have the better of the stand up early. I’m going to pick Johnson but be watching this one close to see if he’s sucking wind towards the end of the first.
OFFICIAL PICK: JOHNSON
Alexandre Pantoja ($8300/$16/1.9x) vs. Manel Kape ($7900/$14/2.05x)
This could be the fight of the night. Both of these guys are absolute psychopaths. Pantoja will stand in front of you and throw absolute bombs. Kape will stand right in front of you and throw bombs. Both of these guys are explosive in all aspects of the sport, but I have Pantoja with a pretty big edge on the ground. Whether he’s on top or off his back, he’s much more dangerous than Kape. Pantoja, to me, is one of the more underrated fighters on the promotion. I don’t know that he’ll ever have, or even challenge for a title, but I’ll sign up for a Pantoja fight on every card until I die. He’s electric.
You look at his run in the UFC as well and wonder what could have been. He goes the distance with Deiveson Figueiredo, which we now know was quite the feat and an unbelievable fight. He lost to Askar, but he’s sneaky awesome, as well. This is for sure a fight to find Pantoja and Kape’s level. The winner of this is destined for big things.
Kape is coming in with a little bit of hype, but the guy hasn’t fought in two years. I’m looking through his wins and wondering what impresses me. His chin is both good and bad. The Horiguchi fight is one I recommend you go back and watch. It’s on YouTube. Horiguchi wobbled him like, five times? Six times? That is why I say good and bad. Horiguchi is a monster, but Kape had jelly legs on multiple occasions.
Considering Pantoja will stand in the pocket and throw those bombs, we could be in for a situation where Kape is chin checked, and we get this baby to the ground to let Pantoja get to work. Pantoja by submission is a frisky little exotic that I have some interest in, but I’m not sure I’ll actually unload the bet. Pantoja does have some gas tank issues, but this is a three-round fight, and he has plenty of other edges in the fight that has me picking Alexandre.
OFFICIAL PICK: PANTOJA
Cody Stamann ($9200/$22/1.5x) vs. Askar Askar ($6700/$9/2.45x)
This fight will take place in the Featherweight division. Both of these guys are 135 lb fighters, but obviously, with the extremely-short notice for Askar, he accepted the fight at 145. Askar will still have to cut weight. He’s not a guy who gets finished, but if you’d like, enjoy this short YouTube clip of the entire fight against Kakhramonov.
He gets clipped with a left hook inside of 10 seconds. Instead of backing off and recalibrating, he steps right back into the pocket. He landed a few shots, but the big takeaway for me was the punches he was throwing. Remember, he was touched up a bit. It wasn’t straight, technical punches. These were uppercuts and hooks. He was trying to tie them together, but he was second to the mark every time. Ultimately he goes to sleep. (ish..stumbles all over the ring while protesting he was fine after getting up..)
Could Stamann let him hang around? Askar does have a bit of pop in his hands if he happens to land, but Stamann is not a finisher. If anything, Stamann might trade with him a little bit before yanking him down and having a little fun on the mat.
This is one I’m considering for cash and one of the few fights where I don’t realistically give the dog a ton of a chance to win.
OFFICIAL PICK: STAMANN
Diego Ferreira ($8200/$15/1.95x) vs. Beneil Dariush ($8000/$15/2.05x)
I’m torn here. This is one where I’d love to watch 60 seconds of this fight, hit pause, and then post my breakdown. Ferreira is a certified badass on the ground. It’d been a while, but he wrapped up the submission against Pettis last time out, but think about that wording….last time out. The guy has only fought five times since 2016. His last fight was over a year ago. Yes, he’s on a six-fight win streak and won 17 of 19. Yes, his only two losses were to Dustin Poirier, who just dropped Conor McGregor, and beat the balls of Dan Hooker AND…Beneil Dariush.
Look, that fight was seven years ago. I just mentioned Poirier/McGregor. One of those fighters massively improved, while the other marginally improved. There is nothing to sneeze at with losses to Poirier and Dariush, but has Ferreira’s game evolved that much? His striking has definitely improved. It’s much straight and much sharper. His game is on the ground and specifically on top. That was his issue the first time around with Beneil.
Dariush is a big 155er. He looks massive in the cage and likes to use that size to his advantage. He’s a rare case where his finish % INCREASED once he entered the UFC. He’s coming off four straight wins inside of two rounds, and he’s fought some badass guys in there. My only hesitation with grabbing a boatload of Dariush is the lack of like-for-like opponents that could compare to Ferreira’s style. Dober, Camacho, Klose and Holtzman aren’t giving too many people the problem that Fereira could present.
I’m going with Dariush to bring this one home after a couple of takedowns.
OFFICIAL PICK: DARIUSH
Mike Rodriguez ($9000/$20/1.75x) vs. Danilo Marques ($7200/$10/2.25x)
This one could be over in a hurry. Under 1.5 rounds is sitting with anything from -115 to -125 juice. To me, this fight comes down to trust. Who do you trust more? I don’t trust Rodriguez because he’s inconsistent at best. He certainly has big power. He varies his striking, as well. It’s not all headhunting. He landed 17 blows to the leg and 30 to the body in a fight he was winning until he was submitted by Herman. That was such a weird fight, by the way. Herman faked a low blow when Rodriguez was pouring it on and caught a second wind. I’m not saying that’s why Herman won the fight, but it certainly allowed him to re-gather himself and push forward when he was in big trouble. But then Rodriguez walks into a kimura and we are all left holding the bag.
That will leave a bad taste in your mouth. If Rodriguez can keep this standing, he’ll make the -240 price tag look like great value, but with the smaller ring and some questionable decisions of late by Rodriguez, that’s a steep price to pay.
Marques comes in at 10-2, but I’m scouring his record for a quality win. Surely, we aren’t counting the UFC debut against Ibragimov. That guy could kick my ass, but I’m not sure he would ever get a win in the UFC if you let him try the whole roster. Marques will look for single legs and clinches to get this to the ground, but he’s not a super smooth wrestler. Even worse, his hands looked very slow after a little wrestlin’ exchange against Ibragimov. His leg kicks could be a problem as well for Rodriguez. Marques does tend to block with his hands as opposed to using head movement to avoid strikes.
If Marques can get this one down, we likely head over the 1.5 round total, but I have Mike Rodriguez winning this one inside the distance.
OFFICIAL PICK: RODRIGUEZ
Devonte Smith ($9200/?/1.65x) vs. Justin Jaynes ($7000/?/2.35x)
You gotta love these fights that come together ON FIGHT WEEK. This should be a fun card. Smith has 10 wins with 9 KOs. Jaynes has 16 wins, and half (8) were by KO. Each of these guys has been dropped, as well.
Smith typically likes to get his work done nice and early. He’s had five straight fights end in the first round. The loss to Worthy is not something to throw out with the bathwater but understand they used to train together. That always adds an interesting wrinkle to any fight. It was an odd flight plan from Smith. We’ve certainly seen our fair share of those lately… But Smith didn’t fly in aggressively, looking for the KO. It was a more measured approach, and honestly, he wasn’t the same fighter. He didn’t put the fear in Worthy. It was a boatload of shadow boxing and one punch jabs.
Honestly, it looked like Smith had tasted Worthy’s power in training and knew he could be in trouble if he eats one. He didn’t even eat one. Worthy dropped him with a little left hook to the ear that shut off his legs and down he went. That’s a worry! Does Smith have the chin because we know Jaynes will be throwing hands.
Jaynes is both a benefactor and victim of circumstance. He just happened to be around to take the Camacho fight on short notice. Forty-one seconds later, his life is changed, and he’s a UFC fighter. He hurt Gavin Tucker in spots, but Tucker’s class came through, and Jaynes was submitted in the third. Most recently, he was simply outclassed by Moggly and was dropped in the first. I do think Jaynes can compete with a lot of guys in the division, and he is a UFC fighter, but he’s not on the same level as Tucker and Benitez. THAT’S OK. He just needs to beat Smith.
Smith has a ridiculous 8” reach advantage. Smith probably has the edge from the power standpoint. Athletically, this isn’t even that close in favor of Smith. Jaynes is a bulldog and isn’t afraid to bite down on his mouthpiece. The DK pricing and line seem a bit disrespectful to Jaynes and give him zero shot to win. It’s about 0% but below 20% in my eyes. The long layoff is a worry for Smith. We’ve seen guys come back a little rusty and start slow. That typically isn’t Smith’s MO…with hesitation, I’ll take Devonte Smith.
OFFICIAL PICK: SMITH
Karol Rosa ($8700/?/1.75x) vs. Joselyne Edwards ($7500/?/2.25x)
I love aggressive fighters, but I especially like aggressive female fighters. Often, I see the first to the punch is going to win. Rosa also has wrestled when she needs to. Part of the reason why I got tricked into Sarah Moras was that Rosa didn’t have much trouble taking down Melo. Moras’ dumbass didn’t even try a takedown! But I digress. Rosa’s game is all about volume. The 120 significant strikes landed alone kicks out a pretty decent DK score, but add in the two takedowns and the win, and she’s a cash option in a matchup like that.
Edwards is relatively new to UFC fight fans, but she was very impressive against Wu Yanan. I liked what I saw on tape from Joselyne’s striking heading into that fight but wasn’t overly impressed with her ability on the ground. She was taken down just a minute into the fight, and the nerves on my end were high. Edwards immediately grabbed a wrist and set up an armbar. Defense through offense. Edwards finished on top with some slick transitions for some ground and pound before getting both hooks in. In short, I saw enough from Edwards to remove “ground game” from the weakness column. Edwards can walk into some strikes at times but does a good job of keeping her opponent at distance with front kicks.
I do have Edwards as a live dog here and might actually end up betting on her, but Rosa’s volume is what should win her the fight. I don’t know that either of these women has the power to finish the other, and that volume should impress the judges.
OFFICIAL PICK: ROSA
Molly McCann ($8500/$17/1.8x) vs. Lara Procopio ($7700/$13/2.2x)
Give me a nasty English woman any day of the week, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to trust her with my money. McCann is a striker with short arms. Her height is only 5’4” with a 62” reach. A striker with short arms means you have to be quick, agile, and get inside. Molly McCann said screw all that – these short arms will do more damage on the ground – and turned into a wrestler after losing to Gillian Robertson. She landed 2/11 TDs against Cachoeira. 2/2 against Lipski. 5/14 against Belbita. Three fights where she won the wrestling battle and three wins. The formula seems to be there.
Then she fights Taila Santos. Taila is a monster and is going to give a lot of women in the division issues, but she dominated Molly. McCann was taken down five times and controlled for nearly eight minutes. There are levels to this game, and McCann is a striker who uses wrestling. She’s not a wrestler.
Procopio is coming down to 125 after her scrap with Rosa. Yes, that Rosa who is fighting Joselyne Edwards on this card. It’s been a long layoff for Procopio, but she’s made a concerted effort to change her body and make a run at 125. She is a striker and will have a 5.5” reach advantage on McCann. Procopio threw 239 strikes in a three-round war with Rosa. It was a split decision loss, and now she’s coming down a division. I’m excited about her prospects. She’s a BJJ black belt and could very well look to take Molly to the ground. She was 0/5 on takedowns against Rosa, but she was willing to take those shots.
On a card with 14 fights, we are going to have some dogs coming in. This is one that I think will give us an idea of who is going to win fairly early in the first round, but I can’t back meatball here.
OFFICIAL PICK: PROCOPIO
Youssef Zalal ($9100/$20/1.75x) vs. Seungwoo Choi ($7100/$10/2.25x)
Did anyone else remember Zalal being like 5’7”? He’s not, he’s 5’10”. He’ll be the smaller guy in this fight, but only because Choi is a giant for 145. Choi’s 74” reach is very respectable for the division and 2” longer than Zalal. Stylistically, it’s an awesome fight. Each of these guys has takedowns in their back pocket but prefers to stand and create.
I’d argue that Choi had about the toughest first two fights in the UFC in recent memory. Evloev could potentially be a champion one day. Choi lasted all three, but we know that’s Evloev’s game plan. Choi was taken down five times. Gavin Tucker is a stud as well and followed up his submission win over Choi with wins against Jaynes and Billy Q. Gavin Tucker took him down….five times. Dana White gives him Suman Mokhtarian, and of course, Choi kills him on the feet over 15 minutes. That’s the key here for Choi. Keep this one standing. You might see the 10 takedowns over the last two and assume his takedown defense is god awful, but it isn’t.
Zalal has more fanfare than I would have thought, considering he’d lost two of his last three fights. He picks up three straight wins by decision in the UFC, mixing up his wrestling and his striking. Jordan Griffin is just miles off the pace for this level, so Youssef decides just to win the fight on the feet. He was constantly stuck in the clinch with Griffin and only landed 37 significant strikes.
Against Lingo and Barrett, he relied on his wrestling because the edge wasn’t as big on the feet and grinds out decision wins. Then he faced some serious UFC talent in Topuria, who was making his debut. Zalal looked over his skis, and the confidence we were used to seeing disappeared from his face. This is gut-check time for Youssef. He was a potential rising star in the division until he came up against an actual rising star in the division. A loss here means he’s back in the mix with the other also-rans, who will have an uphill battle to make it back to the main card moving forward.
There is no doubt that Zalal will be the more comfortable fighter if this does go to the ground. Does he try to get this baby to the ground? Choi has better takedown defense than he’s given credit for. Zalal is getting less credit for his ability after getting bullied by Topuria. I can see this going either way but do think Zalal is more well-rounded than Choi. This fight isn’t in Korea. It might go to the judges’ scorecards. I’ll take Zalal.
OFFICIAL PICK: ZALAL
Timur Valiev ($9300/$16/1.6x) vs. Martin Day ($6900/?/2.4x)
This is an interesting fight in that Martin Day is such an awkward height and length for the division. Day will bring a 6.5” reach advantage into the cage, but can he use it effectively?
Valiev came into the UFC with a ton of hype. He’s another one of these rising stars who lost the first pro fight of their career and has been relatively flawless ever since. He avenged his second loss, against Chris Gutierrez (split dec), the same year and has run clean since. Valiev threw about 30 different types of strikes in that first round against Jones. He skewered Jones with a very quick question mark kick to the head. My love for his striking cannot be understated, so where is the downside? He was dropped with a counter right hook to the jaw. Trevin Jones has power that Martin Day does not possess, so yes, I’m all in on Valiev.
Day is set up to fail. This is a win or go home, as in off the promotion, fight for Martin Day. He’s dropped three straight in the UFC and obviously wasn’t the original opponent for Valiev. I simply don’t know what his path to victory is in this spot. I’d say stay on the outside and try to pick shots. Well, it’s a small cage, and Valiev will just murder him with kicks. Maybe Day can throw some of his own kicking techniques… Valiev will just feint, dodge, and attack.
Valiev is a massive favorite. I’m taking him. Valiev wins by TKO/KO is +185 on BetOnline. I don’t hate that.
OFFICIAL PICK: VALIEV
Ode’ Osbourne ($7800/?/1.75x) vs. Jerome Rivera ($7500/?/2.2x)
Doesn’t it feel like we were just breaking down Jerome Rivera? We were. He fought the lesser Figueiredo on Jan 20, 2021…as in 20 days ago. It wasn’t the best performance for Rivera in the loss, but it wasn’t like he was awful and didn’t wear a ton of the damage. Unfortunately, he was just slightly worse than Francisco in a lot of areas, namely wrestling. Figueiredo had over seven minutes of control time in the fight, but Rivera was able to win a round and showed decent striking. Rivera is a bit Martin Day like in that he’s very tall for the division and can be rangy, but you wonder what his actual strengths are. What is the one definable asset to his game that makes him stand out? Typically, it’s his ground game and BJJ, but he’s yet to show he belongs at this level just yet.
Ode Osbourne, huh? He’s super fast and fights long, but he’s going to stand right in front of you. Kelleher took a couple of punches and said screw this; I’m taking it to the ground. Ode has decent offense off his back, but he looked surprisingly green, giving up his neck to Kelleher. He’s another one of these fighters who leaves his chin on a plate and tries to use extreme head movement to dodge punches and kicks. It’s not a slight movement with a hand up to block, it’s punch-punch, tuck your chin, lean back, and move slightly. That kind of shit can get you put to sleep at this level. Don’t know that Rivera is the guy to do it to Ode.
I think Ode is too fast for Rivera and might get this done. I do think this will be the first time Ode Osbourne sees the second round of a UFC fight.
OFFICIAL PICK: OSBOURNE
DFS: SEE CHEAT SHEET
BETS: COMING SATURDAY