“UFC Fight Night” on ESPN drops Saturday from the Apex Center in Las Vegas with 11 scheduled fights. From 115-pound female mixed martial artists to 265-pound heavyweight behemoths, this card offers some fascinating matchups featuring athletes from around the globe.
One trend to note: Favorites have realized a 20-1-2 tally over the last two UFC cards. I’ve managed to profit in these two weeks by remaining selective. Last week we invested (and lost) only .5u, which shows that sometimes the best wagers are the ones not made.
Running a profitable sports gaming business is no different from running any profitable endeavor in that reducing or eliminating loss is as important as maximizing profit. Last week we paused at the correct time. This week I believe certain fights present opportunity.
Thiago Santos -240 vs. Glover Teixeira + 210, light-heavyweight (205 pounds), main event
These two incredibly likable Brazilians outside the cage are destroyers inside it. What’s most interesting about this bout is that stylistically, each man seems made for the other.
The third-ranked Teixeira is 41, has been a professional mixed martial artist for 18 years and is fully decorated in all combat specialties. Teixeira has faced an array of elite talent in his quest for the title, which he received in 2014. That result was a loss to Jon Jones, which should shame no fighter. Since then Teixeira has had to battle up a division steeped with talent. He has earned this elimination bout and enters on a four-fight winning streak.
Teixeira’s diverse fighting arsenal makes him dangerous everywhere. In this bout he’ll hold experience and ground advantages. Each will serve him well, for Teixeira understands that his clearest route to winning is to get this fight to the floor, where he may mute his opponent’s power and protect his most glaring weakness, his inability to absorb a flush power strike.
Santos, 36, is sculpted like a marble statue, and his kicks and strikes are delivered with explosive damaging effect. Santos specializes in Capoeira, Muay Thai and to a degree BJJ, but his forte is to engage opponents on the feet, then batter them into unconsciousness with bludgeoning strikes.
Santos is the No. 1-ranked light-heavyweight based on a solid body of work. He destroyed four top-ranked opponents on his way to a title fight against Jones in July 2019. But in that fight, Santos tore his left LCL, PCL, MCL and meniscus, cracked his tibia and partly tore his right ACL.
Those injuries kept Santos away from fighting to rehab his knees and try to prepare for this bout, while his opponent has earned two victories since.
If Santos is fully rehabbed and ready to fire, his striking speed and power will annihilate Teixeira over time if this fight remains on the feet, which is why this may be a poor spot for Teixeira.
Teixeira must be patient and survive the early fury by clasping onto Santos, eliminating his space. Taxing Santos physically and forcing him to expend precious energy early must be part of Teixeira’s plan. As the fight progresses and Santos begins to tire, Teixeira must drag him to the mat, where Teixeira’s savvy, grit and guile may expose Santos’ lack of ground acumen.
If Teixeira fights the perfect fight, he may be able to take Santos deep and submit him late. But I believe the more likely circumstance is that Santos starches Teixeira early and ends his night and this event.
This fight opened Santos -195.
Total for this fight is Over 1.5 -140.
Leg 1 of two-fight parlay. Second leg will be filled at a later date.
Tanner Boser -280 vs. Andrei Arlovski + 235, heavyweight (265 pounds), co-main event
At 41, Arlovski is quite a story. He has competed 50 times as a professional MMA fighter (29-19-2). He enters off a win over a fighter who is not of legitimate UFC caliber, in my judgment. But the division is so lacking in talent that many robust fighters with ambition and dubious credentials are allowed to compete.
Arlovski’s background is in Sambo and BJJ, but at this stage of his career he stands and strikes. As an opponent for any heavyweight regarded as a top-15 talent, he is there for the taking as only his granite jaw, his stubbornness and his innate toughness allow him to endure his lack of footwork, movement and evasion.
Across the octagon will be one of three talented young heavyweight prospects on the UFC horizon.
Boser last competed in July weighing 235 pounds, so he’s undersized for the division. But that did not stop the Canadian from dominating his 264-pound opponent that night via KO in Round 2.
Though a smaller heavyweight, Boser utilizes deft footwork, which positions him to deliver precision arm and leg striking with power. Aiding Boser in his quest for the top ranking in the division is his ability to evade incoming strikes and take a ferocious punch if one lands.
If this were a five-round fight, even tough old Arlovski would not be able to endure the whuppin’ coming his way. But this is a three-rounder, so Boser might not finish Arlovski. Boser is well put together and he’ll compete for a title soon enough.
Boser opened -250, and he can be used in parlays with confidence.
Total in the fight is Over -135, which indicates Arlovski’s grotesque ability to endure punishment.
Ian Heinisch -115 vs. Brendan Allen -105, middleweight (185 pounds)
These combatants have been jawing at one another for years and were scheduled to fight a few months ago. Finally, these young middleweight talents meet in a critical fight for positioning within the division.
Heinisch is ranked 15th, and he has had to earn his way into the rankings with limited MMA tools but an abundance of heart, determination and grit. His path to the UFC is one very few wish to endure, but the journey has made him extremely mentally tough. Heinisch’s fighting style includes some wrestling base, Muay Thai striking and plenty of toughness.
At 24, Allen is eight years younger. He’s taller by 3 inches and will hold a 5-inch arm reach advantage. Though Allen is much younger, he has virtually the same professional experience, so neither holds a true experience edge.
Allen owns a more diverse array of MMA weaponry, while Heinisch sports a determination that will allow us to understand clearly who wins this fight. Heinisch will march straight in and engage Allen as soon as the bell rings for Round 1.
I handicap Allen to be the more complete, talented fighter. I give Heinisch credit for heart and toughness, but Allen’s size, his more complete arsenal and his cardio late in this bout should enable him to defeat a most determined opponent.
Insight the Octagon 2020: 35-24 + 18.52u.