UFC 239 could not have been a more exciting, action-packed fight card. Unfortunately, my play of Holly Holm to make it a competitive fight was wrong. Betting underdogs of 350 or better will result in losses on occasion, but the important thing to remember is to remain committed to the process of uncovering value and then gaining the best of the number in any sporting event. That’s always my plan.
Sacramento hosts this week’s UFC on ESPN 13. The card takes a bit of a theme with fighters from Northern California’s “Alpha Male” gym sprinkled throughout the slate, so understanding which fights those are (and the styles of each participant) will be helpful in determining potential advantage in those fights.
ASPEN LADD -165 VS.
GERMAINE DE RANDOMIE 145
Woman’s Bantamweight (135 pounds) Main Event
I’ll begin by stating how difficult it is to try to release value-laden positions on Saturday fights by Tuesday noon deadlines! As a UFC handicapper, I strive to uncover value in underdogs while not being afraid to pull the trigger on any value-laden position provided my research is comprehensive and the price earns market advantage.
Market advantage in this Main Event is currently nebulous as there are weight concerns to be aware of with each fighter. De Randomie, who at 35, is dropping from featherweight (145 pounds) to compete again at bantamweight for this fight.
Ladd has had past fights where she has looked very shaky up to and throughout the weighin process and though she looked fine on the scales in her last fight, her performance was less than dominant albeit against a live opponent. Saturday night, De Randomie will be a certain step up in class for the 24-year-old Ladd and her chances for a victory become more reasonable if De Randomie is all she’s fighting and not the scale also.
So, Friday weigh-ins become critical in grasping every angle to this fight, but here’s what I see playing out.
This is a Striker (De Randomie) vs. Grappler (Ladd) battle. De Randomie has proven difficult to take down and as long as she can keep this fight upright and, on the feet, she’ll be able to employ deft movement and kicks to maintain her spacing so she may liberate Ladd with precision punching. I see little chance of De Randomie finishing Ladd (of course, pending some form of horrible weight cut) as her path to victory will rely on her movement and volumes if not overly powerful striking.
Ladd who trains in nearby Folsum, Calif., at an MMAGold gym, is not as skilled at striking effectiveness. She is the shorter fighter who will give up five inches of reach to her opponent and a prolonged stand up striking battle is the last thing she can allow this fight to become. Ladd, more a boxer brawler on the feet, does have a purple belt in BJJ so her advantage must be and will be to grope De Randomie, drag her to the floor, gain top position and reign devastation on the Duchess.
My key to this fight is conditioning and the fact that it’s scheduled for five rounds. De Randomie has been a full five recently (Holly Holm) and in a pitter-patter, stand-up striking affair we know she can survive 25 but with an unrelenting pressure fighter 11 years her younger I have my doubts about her ability to maintain distance.
Ladd must not allow De Randomie that critical space and distance. She must be unrelenting in making this a brawl only as long as it takes her to close distance then smother the taller woman and do it from the first bell until her smothering swarming pressure drains the energy and will from her opponent.
In order to place herself among the UFC women’s bantamweight elite, Ladd must arrive in perfect condition and make weight early in the process Friday morning so she can rehydrate and prepare to gruel for 25 minutes or fewer.
Mirad Bectic -155 vs. Josh Emmett 135
Here, the Alpha Male member Emmett is the underdog. He opened 155 so some love is arriving on the durable, wrestling-based Emmett, but he’s in there with a true killer. Emmett was actually a bit lucky in his most recent fight against Michael Johnson and preceding that was a devastating loss that Bectic has the pure punching power to remind him of. I may be fading Emmett here but will wait until there is more compression on Bectic before I release him.
Hall -110 vs. Elkins -110
Hall is a highly talented BJJ grappler and possibly the most one-dimensional fighter in the UFC. Hall has nothing if he can’t fight on the floor and I don’t believe he’ll be able to manipulate Elkins to the mat unless Elkins hammers him there.
I am surprised at this price as I do believe Elkins to be the more well-rounded, durable, tougher fighter and he’s also a team Alpha Male member who’ll be fighting in front of his homies. The flow of dough to Hall may be because Elkins has dropped his last two but those were against fighters well more apt than Hall. Elkins is in a favorable spot to perform at his best Saturday.