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Miscellaneous MMA/Wrestling/Boxing

UFC on ESPN 12: Poirier vs Hooker | Preview, Predictions, Bets

Exciting card with a lot of showcase talent to wrap up our UFC Apex series before the UFC begins the trip to Fight Island in Abu Dhabi. There may not be a ton of names you recognize but this should be a banger of a fight card. I’m just still so happy I have a sport to watch and wrapping up this UFC Apex series hopefully means we will be a little closer to normalcy.

Dustin Poirier (-225) vs Dan Hooker (+185)

Wow, I thought Hooker lost his last fight against Paul Felder and I’m not a huge Hooker fan, but I think people are a little overzealous in backing Poirier. ‘Diamond’ Poirier has notoriously been a contender at both 145 and 155. He’s an icon and veteran of the fight business. His confident and southern boy attitude is a favorite of fans across the world. Although he’s tasted the glory of the interim belt, he’s never actually come close to winning a real one. When he gets to the top, he gets shot down.

You have to wonder where he’s at mentally. After getting throttled by Khabib Nurmagomedov, he hinted at retirement but quickly realized that if he wins this Hooker matchup, he’s back into title contention.

Now as far as the breakdown goes, I really think Poirier is one of the most underrated grapplers in the game. He’s a black belt in BJJ and he has a wicked standing guillotine that comes out of nowhere. We already know he is a legit southpaw on the feet and one of the better MMA boxers of all-time. I love when people say he doesn’t have a chin because that’s something only Conor McGregor started when they fought back in the day. He’s only been knocked out by southpaw strikers, Michael Johnson and McGregor.

Across the octagon, we have Hooker, a tough and orthodox kickboxer with a signature win over Gilbert Burns. He’s only lost once at 155 and it was to Edson Barboza who just put him away with kicks and body shots like he does to many. I like Hooker’s calf kicks and I know Poirier doesn’t like the leg kicks. He couldn’t walk for weeks after the Justin Gaethje fight, even though he did win. I like the chin on both of these guys and expect a five-round war. I’m leaning Poirier because he doesn’t get hit as much as Hooker, and he fairs well against orthodox fighters that don’t threaten him on the ground.

Give me Poirier by decision but I’m not betting it over -175. Hooker is tough and will attack the lower limbs. He could land one on Poirier and put him away, making him worth a shot at +185.

Prediction: Poirier wins via decision (48-47).

The Bet: Poirier via submission at +600 is really my only interest.

Mike Perry (-290) vs Mickey Gall (+245)

What a bizarre fight we have here. Perry isn’t very teachable and got sick of all the different voices in his head. He’s ditched his camps and he’s putting his girlfriend in his corner, which is a slap in the face to his wife (not yet divorced), who always was in his corner. Perry has some big fights under his belt and wanted someone low in the rankings to beat up on.

Gall has beaten up on some slugs like Sage Northcutt and CM Punk. He’s a weird character himself but he at least has some legit attributes and coaching surrounding him. He has length and a black belt in BJJ. Perry has improved on the ground but he will get mauled by Gall. Perry needs a knockout and worry about fending off Gall for 15 minutes. With no real training or coaching, I don’t think Perry’s savage mode is going to work against Gall. And at these odds, I’m betting that Gall gets it to the ground at least twice.

Prediction: Gall via submission in round three.

The Bet: Gall wins +245.

Brendan Allen (-300) vs Kyle Daukaus (+250)

Allen has some good wins over Kevin Holland and Tom Breese. He has a legit ground game and he was the LFA middleweight champion. I’m pretty sure he’s a brown belt in BJJ but can’t confirm it. He’s honestly not that good of a striker and I expect him to work on getting it to the mat.

Daukaus is an underrated fighter but he’s taking it on short notice. He’s a kickboxing coach at a really good gym in Philadelphia but he’s known for his grappling and BJJ brown belt. In the limited tape I could find, Daukaus has a weird shaped physique with really heavy hips. He’s so difficult to takedown. His length on the feet is nice with some solid kicks behind his frame. I think it’s possible he has the advantage there. On the mat, it’ll be interesting to watch.

The fight being on short notice is concerning and I’d like to watch the weigh-in tomorrow before placing a bet. At +250 and having an advantage on the feet, I like to think Daukaus could steal rounds. His takedown defense is also advantageous. Allen might have an advantage on the mat but it’s a slight advantage. Daukaus has a wicked D’arce choke that he’s finished everyone with on the regional scene. At +250, I think I like Daukaus but I haven’t decided if I’ll bet it. Should Allen be a -300 against anyone?

Prediction: Daukaus wins via submission (D’arce choke) in round two.

The Bet: Daukaus +250 or better (maybe).

Gian Villante (+190) vs Maurice Greene (-230)

Villante was so slow at 205 and is moving his way up to heavyweight. Four of his last five fights have gone to split decision and that’s just the type of fighter he is. He’s a slow paced fighter that will get hit a lot. Villante is a tough fighter but his chin is fading. He’s not much of a threat on the ground, even with a decent wrestling background. He doesn’t use it because he knows he will gas.

Green is 6’7″ and has to cut weight to make the 265 lb limit. He will have a four-inch reach and height advantage. I even think he has the athletic and speed advantage. Greene is also a slow paced fighter but he doesn’t get hit and stays at range. He’s recently moved to Jackson-Wink which is really exciting. His ground game is decent and I think he’d be comfortable if Villante shot in on his legs. I don’t see where Villante has a clear advantage. I think Greene at -230 is worth a look. He can win on both the mat and the feet. He’s just such a big man for a guy that was just fighting at 205.

Prediction: Greene wins via decision (30-27)

The Bet: Greens wins -230 in a parlay is a good look.

Sean Woodson (-490) vs Julian Erosa (+330)

I feel really comfortable calling Woodson a top 20 fighter already in his career. He’s an absolute monster for this division and he’s a wicked athlete with fundamentally sound striking. It’s not just technical but he will get dirty inside and throw wild bombs. The guy is 6’2″ at featherweight and that will cause problems for anyone

Erosa is replacing Kyle Nelson on short notice. Erosa is back for his third stint with the UFC and he’s lost his last three fights, two of those by knockout. I think Erosa is a trashcan at this point. He has a head kick knockout over Jamall Emmers in 2018 but other than that, the resume isn’t impressive. He gets hit way too much, he’s on short notice and he’s fighting a guy that is going to just knock out any gatekeeper in his way.

Prediction: Woodson via brutal knockout in round one.

The Bet: I’ll have Woodson in most parlays if not all.

Luis Pena (-230)  vs Khama Worthy (+190)

I think Pena has been a little overrated. He’s a decent striker and good grappler but I don’t think he’s going to have the striking advantage in this spot. Worthy is an athletic fighter and if Pena gets it to the mat, there’s no guarantee that he keeps Worthy from standing back up. I actually don’t think Pena has the size advantage like many people do. Worthy is a brick wall at 155.

I’m just skeptical of Pena. I’ve seen him gas and although he destroyed Steve Garcia, Garcia had once fought at Bantamweight and he was even tough to control for Pena. Worthy is 33 years old and he’s not a prospect but he has one shot to make a run. Pena is a good start to do it and I think he puts him away.

Prediction: Worthy wins via TKO/KO in round one.

The Bet: Worthy +190 or Worthy wins via TKO/KO +440

Mara Romero Borella (+250) vs Miranda Maverick (-300)

Borella has lost three in a row and got submitted by Courtney Casey in round one, in her last outing. Maverick is only 22 years old and has a ton of upside for this women’s division. I think Borella is decent on the ground but after we saw the dominant performance from Casey, you have to scratch your head.

Maverick is a good wrestler and Borella likes to fight off her back. You know my motto. Bet on the wrestler. I think Maverick dominates her opponent and wins via dominant decision or submission. Once Maverick takes Borella down, it’s over.

Prediction: Maverick wins via submission (rear-naked choke) round two.

The Bet: Maverick -300 in most parlays.

Philipe Lins (-105) vs Tanner Boser (-115)

I have high hopes for Lins as a fighter. Even though he looked bad against Andrei Arlovski, Maybe I can toss it out. Arlovski was a former teammate of Lins and Arlovski is such an experienced veteran. The only problem I have with Lins is that he folded under that Arlovski forward pressure. He didn’t like the fact that Arlovski was standing in front of his face for the entire fight.

That’s going to be a problem, Boser is similar to Arlovski where he will pressure Lins, potentially making him fold. Boser also has a better chin than Arlovski and will be even tougher to stun or slow down. I also like the leg kicks of Boser which can really make it difficult for Lins to circle out when Boser is pressuring. Lins does have a huge grappling advantage but he has to commit to getting the fight to the ground.

This is such a tough fight for me to pick but when in doubt, I will take the grappler. I know it’s a heavyweight bout but after seeing the UFC striking in his debut, perhaps the plan is for Lins to work the clinch and get this to the mat. Could two takedown’s steal rounds? I think it’s possible.

Prediction: Lins wins via decision (29-28)

The Bet: Lins -105 has some value to it. I think Boser comes out hot and Lins steals rounds late with clinch work and takedown after takedown up against the fence.

Taskashi Sato (-125)  vs Ramiz Brahimaj (+105)

I really like Brahimaj who trains at Fortis MMA in Dallas, Texas. He’s a really good grappler and was on a 6-0 tear where he was submitting everyone. He lost two fights since then and took some time off to sharpen the MMA tools. I think that time off could be good for Brahimaj where he honed in on some of his striking skills to make himself a more well-rounded fighter. Brahimaj was +145, I hope we didn’t miss the value.

Sato is a good striker and recently against Ben Saunders, he didn’t look bad on the ground but he was actually getting out struck by Saunders before knocking him out. We know that Sato has some wicked power but Brahimaj should know that too. I think if Brahimaj gets this to the mat, Sato will have difficulty and he could even gas from the grappling. I really like the grappler in this bout and that should come as no surprise. Brahimaj might need to weather the storm in the first round but he should be able to coast with the grappling in the later portions of the fight.

Prediction: Brahimaj via submission in round three.

The Bet: I wish I got this sooner but I’m still betting this at +105.

Jordan Griffin (+105) vs Youssef Zalal (-125)

Griffin’s only win in the UFC was against T.J. Brown and he was getting dominated in that fight. Brown’s fight IQ gave it to Griffin and he eventually won by submission. I like Griffin’s striking at times but it tends to fade. He also gets hit a lot. Zalal has really good footwork and striking. He doesn’t get hit a ton and should win this fight with ease on the feet.

Zalal does clinch and take opponents down but I think it would be wise to just pick Griffin apart for 15 minutes. Griffin is crafty off his back and Zalal should look to avoid that position. I’m not all that worried about Griffin taking this thing to the mat because his wrestling offense isn’t all that great. If Zalal’s takedown defense holds up against some average wrestling, he should win with little to no problem.

Prediction: Zalal wins via dominant decision (30-27)

The Bet: I bet this early in the week. I usually like to wait for weigh-in’s and the article, but I couldn’t pass it up at dog odds. I’d still recommend at -125 and up to -135.

Jinh Yu Frey (+145) vs Kay Hansen (-165)

Frey is moving up to in weight-class but had a tough cut to 105 at Invicta. Many say Hansen is going to be the much bigger fighter and I’m not really buying that. Frey is a nasty striker and she’s a southpaw fighter. I know Frey likes to clinch and she typically dominates in the clinch. However, in this fight, Hansen is the better wrestler and grappler so Frey might want to avoid that position.

Hansen is a really good wrestler and I like that about her. I typically bet the wrestler when it’s a close fight but Frey is so much better in the striking department. I think Hansen is going to get boxed around leaving her to shoot for her life. These odds should be flipped, in my opinion. Is it because people think Hansen is that much bigger? She’s definitely not, and Frey also has the reach advantage. Don’t forget about the experience advantage. Hansen is only 20 years old.

Prediction: Frey wins via decision (30-27).

The Bet: Frey +145 seems like a really good value.

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