Saturday’s UFC Fight Night will be the organization’s third since last weekend from Fight Island in Abu Dhabi. The first two cards have produced chalky results. Favorites ran 9-2 in UFC 251 on Saturday and then 7-4 on the Calvin Kattar-vs.-Dan Ige slate Wednesday.
A 16-6 run on favorites can be threatening to underdog players, yet Insight the Octagon results for the last two cards stand 2-2 1.14u, bringing 2020 profitability to 19-8 13.14u.
Uncovering value in underdogs is my goal, but that advantage could come in any form, as Saturday’s card displays. Opportunity could come through favorites, underdogs, round totals or propositions.
Let’s break down some important bouts for Saturday’s UFC Fight Night.
Deiveson Figueiredo -210 vs. Joe Benavidez 180, flyweight (125 pounds), championship
This is a rematch of a February bout when Figueiredo, who missed the championship weight limit by 2.5 pounds, stopped Benavidez in the second round. In that fight, Benavidez won the first round by employing deft movement and volume striking to keep the larger, power-striking Brazilian off balance.
Benavidez was working well until an accidental head butt sliced his forehead in the second round. That changed the dynamic of the fight, and shortly afterward Benavidez was finished.
Figueiredo has a substantial size advantage. He’s the larger, taller combatant with a 3-inch arm reach advantage and 2 inches in the legs. He’s four years younger, sports natural power in each hand and is versed in Capoeira, a striking specialty that equips him with a diverse medley of spinning, straight and teep kicks.
Figueiredo will look to press Benavidez, move him backward and shower him with strikes and kicks. He must be prepared for the movement and slick striking that Benavidez displayed in their first fight and be able to cut down the octagon, forcing Benavidez to engage.
Figueiredo will try to crowd his opponent from the opening bell. Figueiredo needs to fight a controlled bout and must guard against allowing Benavidez the space to move freely. Figueiredo cannot be overly aggressive for fear of the takedown.
Benavidez’s plan of attack begins with Figueiredo making weight, which was accomplished Friday morning. Their last bout was the first time Figueiredo missed weight, so it’s nice to see we have an equitable bout because wrestling must be involved in Benavidez’s plan, and it’s only fair that each man arrive on weight.
Benavidez must utilize deft movement, volume striking and evasive strike defense while on his feet to enable him to work his way into his wrestling. Keeping the Brazilian out of rhythm and threatened by the takedown is mandatory. Benavidez understands that his advantage lies in volume striking on the feet, eventually getting the power slugger to the mat.
Fighters who have tried to stand with Figueiredo eventually get starched, as Benavidez learned in their first bout. So I fully expect a strategic, calculated approach from Benavidez.
In the first fight Benavidez closed a -145 favorite to Figueiredo 125. This fight takes a different look with Figueiredo -210 as the favorite.
It’s my judgment that Figueiredo will dominate this fight. I believe he’ll finish Benavidez somewhere in the championship rounds.
Figueiredo KO/TKO/DQ 130 .50 unit
Kelvin Gastelum -115 vs. Jack Hermansson -105, middleweight (185 pounds), co-main event
This is an important fight because the victor can claim status as a legitimate top-five talent in a very competitive division, while the loser drops out of top consideration and must earn his way back through a murderers row of middleweight talent whose top 15 is as deep as any in the organization.
The sixth-ranked Hermansson is a 6-foot-1 grappling-based fighter. He’ll have substantial height and reach advantages. The Swede enters this bout off a loss to Jared Cannonier in which he was winning the fight early, then was tagged before being taken out in the second round.
Hermansson fights best as a front-runner and needs a positive beginning. I believe he’ll try to take command immediately by using his length and reach to keep Gastelum at the end of his strikes. Then Hermansson can attack and manage the fight to the floor, where he will have a sure advantage.
Gastelum needs to ensure that this fight remains on the feet. He must work his way inside Hermansson’s length. Situating himself inside his opponent’s reach will allow Gastelum to rain power hooks, crosses and uppercuts from the pocket to inflict damage.
This bout will come down to mental toughness, grit and heart, and I believe those are traits Gastelum possesses more than Hermansson.
Gastelum -115 1 unit.
Grant Dawson -230 vs. Nad Narimani 200, catchweight (145 pounds)
Narimani is a veteran with an experience advantage, and Dawson is a young up-and-comer from Nebraska who will be the taller, longer combatant. Narimani will want this fight to take place on the feet, where he has a striking advantage.
Dawson will need to navigate Narimani’s striking in the early going, then must drag this bout to the ground. Although Narimani is versed in BJJ, the wrestling skill and size of Dawson will be too much for the Englishman to overcome. Wrestling is kryptonite to BJJ.
Figueiredo/Dawson parlay 1.14