Steve Seufert | May 29th, 2020
There is a full slate of action for the UFC on ESPN 9 Saturday night. Here is a breakdown of all the action and some tips on how to try to bet on the action.
Tyron Woodley (-175) vs Gilbert Burns (+152)
Woodley is finally making his return since losing his championship belt to Kamaru Usman over a year ago. On the other hand, we have Burns who has been on a tear, winning five fights in a row against notable names like Gunner Nelson and Demian Maia. I know that Woodley is 38 years of age but I’m not throwing him to the wolves yet. He still holds the athletic and power advantage over most of the guys in the 170-pound division. Not to mention, he’s an elite wrestler with some of the best takedown defense in UFC history.
Burns is one of the best pure grapplers in the UFC and his striking has improved tremendously over the years. However, like Woodley, he isn’t invincible. Less than two years ago he got knocked out by 155 pounder, Dan Hooker. I don’t really see a path to victory for Burns unless Woodley just completely folds. The takedown defense of Woodley is too good and the power is too dangerous to even risk shooting on the tree trunk legs of Woodley. I think Woodley sparks Burns inside three rounds.
Prediction: Woodley wins by a devastating KO in round three and calls out Colby Covington in dramatic fashion.
The Bet: Woodley to win (-175) – keep an eye on this line dropping into even better value as most casual fans will just view Woodley as an old man on the decline, leading them to bet Burns.
Augusto Sakai (-115) vs Blagoy Ivanov (-105)
This is an interesting bout. Everyone talks about Ivanov and his great grappling but he’s literally never used it in the UFC. He likes to sit on the edge of the cage and just counter-strike, showing off a slick right hand and elite chin. His opponent, Sakai, is strictly a standup fighter and doesn’t throw a ton of volume either. However, he will press forward and initiate the striking flurries.
This is a tough fight to handicap because it’s going to be boring. Neither guy throws for volume but I expect Sakai to completely control the octagon as Ivanov just sits there looking for the counter right. Unless Ivanov somehow decides to grapple, I don’t see him winning this bout.
Prediction: Sakai wins a split decision in a boring fight that is won on octagon control.
The Bet: I don’t see how you can bet this one.
Billy Quarantillo (-140) vs Spike Carlyle (+120)
The fourth of July is coming early this year because we got fireworks, baby! Okay, I won’t do that again. But seriously, Carlyle “The Alpha Ginger” is my new favorite fighter, and he’s so legit. Quarantillo is good, too. However, he’s fought no one like Carlyle and he typically just bites down on the mouthpiece and goes to work.
Carlyle is 9-1 on his career and that one loss was to an opponent that sported an atrocious 8-11 record. Many handicappers hold that one against him but this is a different version of the Alpha Ginger. He looks like a physical specimen, similar to Alexander Hernandez except even thicker. Featherweight is a tough cut so they made this one a catchweight bout, that should further benefit Carlyle. Did you know that Carlyle is a black belt in Judo and a brown belt in BJJ? Yeah, no one talks about it. Everyone acts like Carlyle is just a short spark plug that plays some sorta funny gimmick.
Quarantillo has a 70-inch reach in its big for the featherweight division, he’s also tall for the division and uses that to his advantage. He’s tough as nails, but what’s he going to do when Carlyle gets those hands on him? Now that you know that Carlyle is a good grappler, did you know he hits like an absolute truck? Yeah, I bet you can guess where this prediction is going.
Prediction: Carlyle wins by KO/TKO in round 2.
The Bet: MAX BET on Spike Carlyle to win at +120. I can’t believe he’s the underdog.
Roosevelt Roberts (-350) vs Brok Weaver (+285)
Weaver has a cool story, as he’s from Alabama and apart of the Native American tribe, the MOWA Choctaw Indians. The cool story has developed a solid following, and that’s likely why he’s even in the UFC because he isn’t very good. Roberts on the other hand is really technical and uses his length to his advantage. He’s 6’2 with a 73-inch reach advantage at 155 pounds.
Weaver is tough, and it’ll take a lot to get him out of there but I don’t see how his brawling style even comes close to competing with Roberts. Even if Roberts is in danger, don’t forget that he’s a brown belt in BJJ and the much better grappler. This is an easy call in my opinion.
Prediction: Roberts wins by submission in round one.
The Bet: Roberts wins by submission +260 or wins by decision +125. Also, feel free to parlay the -350 with any bets.
Mackenzie Dern (-390) vs Hannah Cifers (+320)
Not a huge fan of Dern for a bunch of reasons that I don’t want to get into. And that doesn’t include the fact that she can never make weight. I get that she’s one of the best women’s BJJ practitioners in the world, and Dana White wants to build her back up, but why is she fighting a girl that could pretty much make atom weight? Cifers could fight at 105 pounds if there were an atom weight division in the UFC and Dern should be fighting at 125 pounds.
Cifers is tough and a decent striker but this isn’t a fair fight. Dern is too big and will just eat any decent shot that is thrown. Not to mention, Dern has some heavy hands that will probably put Cifers down immediately with no grappling needed. I’m kind of frustrated this fight is happening.
Prediction: Dern rocks Cifers and submits her in the first round.
The Bet: Dern by submission is only -138, which is insane. Plug her into parlays at your own risk, though. I wouldn’t trust this girl to watch my puppy.
Katlyn Chookagian (+115) vs Antonina Shevchenko (-135)
Chookagian just fought Antonina’s sister for the UFC title and some of you’re going to ask how could the lady that just fought for the title already be an underdog? Well, Chookagian is a brown belt under Renzo Gracie and never uses her grappling. She insists on striking, where she often throws at the air and tricks judges into decision wins. Schevchenko is a striker but nothing like her sister, Valentina. She’s not nearly the gifted athlete.
This is a tough fight to handicap because if this gets to the mat, I would expect Chookagian to win pretty handily. She’s just way to content to throw punches at the air for me to ever bet on her. Schevchenko is the better strike with some heavy kicks that should keep Chookagian moving backward, even if she should be trying to catch a leg. Chookagian hasn’t submitted anyone since 2015 and it won’t start here.
Prediction: Schevchenko wins a decision that some are gonna be confused by because of all the air that Chookagian punches.
The Bet: I would advise you to not bet anything from this fight because Chookagian could easily win a split decision in her home country, as she throws volume at the air.
Daniel Rodriguez (-375) vs Gabriel Green (+310)
Green is an average-sized 155 pounder that is fighting a big 170 pounder on short notice. Green is tough and will give you all you can handle but those bigger guys eat those shots. This is a short breakdown for me and it’s Rodriguez all the way.
Prediction: Rodriguez wins by second-round KO.
The Bet: Rodriguez wins by TKO/KO -130
Jamahal Hill (-124) vs Klidson Abreu (+104)
I’m pretty high on Hill as a UFC prospect, even if he’s already 29. I think he’s a legit striker and he made Darko Stosic look like a child inside the octagon. We’ve seen Hill get taken down before and that’s a part of the reason I bet on Stosic in the last bout, but with every takedown comes a “get up” game, and Hill has no issues with getting back up.
Abreu is a legit fighter and he’s going to win a lot of UFC fights. I like his grappling and he’s clearly more advanced than a lot of the opponents he’s faced. Everyone is steaming Abreu and acting like he’s just going to go out there, grab Hill’s leg, and maul him. I mean he’s a good grappler but he’s not that good. Even if he does take him down, can he keep him there? I usually side with grapplers but I prefer wrestlers. Give me Hill in this bout where he keeps it standing and takes it to Abreu.
Prediction: Hill wins by decision.
The Bet: Hill to win -124.
Brandon Royval(+145) vs Tim Elliott (-175)
When people think of Elliott, they think of his unorthodox style that stole a round against one of the best MMA fighters of all time, Demetrious Johnson. Even though he didn’t win, it was a solid bout for Elliott. Since then, he’s gone 2-3 and he’s been submitted twice. Royval is a prospect who is a legitimate black belt and is more than content with fighting from his back. He will also have the reach advantage that could help on the feet.
I just have to follow my formula here. Really good wrestling will beat your best BJJ practitioner in an MMA match. You combine the wrestling with the octagon experience, maturity, and unorthodox striking I think Elliott gets the job done. I am afraid that Elliott gets too aggressive like he’s shown recently. He’s also thrown desperation headlocks in some of his previous fights, ultimately causing him to get submitted.
Prediction: Elliott wins by decision.
The Bet: Fight goes to decision +100
Louis Smolka (+235) vs Casey Kenney (-275)
Smolka is an interesting fighter because he’s struggled with his weight due to drinking issues that he’s admitted to and seemingly taken control of. He’s a good fighter but I just think he’s stepping into the cage with a complete buzzsaw in Kenney. While handicapping and taping this fight, I watched Smolka get taken down 12 times by Elliot who although he is a very good wrestler, he’s not nearly as good as Kenney. Kenney is a great wrestler but also sports a black belt in judo.
Kenney threw Ray Borg and Manny Bermudez around at catchweight bouts and both of those fighters are better than Smolka. The awful takedown defense from Smolka, which is one of the worst in the entire UFC, will come back to bite him in this bout.
Prediction: Kenney wins a dominant decision, bouncing back from his last fight.
The Bet: Feel free to add Kenney to into any parlays at -275. He’s a legit threat in the bantamweight division.
Chris Gutierrez (-110) vs Vince Morales (-110)
This is truly a toss-up fight here. The loser likely gets cut from the UFC. Morales has faced some tough competition since making his debut, including Song Yadong in China. I don’t expect to see much from either of these guys and I’m just going to predict the guy with more UFC experience in Morales.
Prediction: Morales wins by split decision
The Bet: Absolutely no bet on this fight. Flip a coin. Or go get dinner.
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