The UFC returns to the APEX facility for this week’s UFC FN224 Dern vs. Hill production. This bout was originally scheduled as a three-round scrap last week until Irene Aldana, one of the participants, got called up to replace Julianna Pena against Amanda Nunes for a main event title fight. Begin the shuffle.
The UFC runs some forty-two to forty-five UFC productions each year so “match reacting” must be regarded as a part of the game by handicappers because the UFC recognizes it as a regular occurrence.
The organization does a great job of offering mixed martial arts fanatics twelve to fifteen quality bouts per card, so the resilient investor must be adaptable and prepared to react to short-notice athlete replacements/changes.
Mackenzie Dern -170 vs. Angela Hill +145
Women's strawweight (115 pounds) main event
Physically, these two are very similar. Stylistically, however, they possess opposite expertise.
Hill is primarily a striking-based fighter whose background is in kickboxing, though she’s decorated with a purple belt in BJJ. She’s athletic and has a wealth of experience.
With a 15-12 record, Though Hill has won her last couple of bouts, she lost three prior to athletes regarded as top ten in the division. In this fight, she’ll be stepping up in class against an opponent ranked eighth in the division.
Mackenzie Dern is a world-class BJJ black belt under her father, world-class BJJ legend Wellington Dias. Her striking has improved but needs refining, and her strike defense is based on toughness as opposed to head movement and feints as witnessed in her loss to Yan Xionan last October.
Once this fight begins, Hill will look to use her athleticism and pitter-patter Dern from every angle, working at all times from distance and space using footwork, movement and constant evasion. She must not allow Dern to engage and clasp.
Dern must navigate her way inside on the agile Hill to clasp onto her or bulldoze her against the fence so she can grasp, grapple and maul. Remember, this is the smaller cage, and it’s scheduled as a five-round bout, so it’s likely that Dern will find a way to grasp onto Hill at some point in this fight.
Dern’s two recent losses were to tall rangy strikers, and Hill fits that description, though Hill can’t be handicapped quite on the same level as the two strikers to whom Dern just lost. She’s also toiling personally entering this bout.
Dern’s a mother who is, unfortunately, going through a divorce. To make matters more complex, she’s trying to maintain a career that is extremely challenging to anyone, let alone a single parent.
My experience with athletes in this type of situation is that Dern will either show up keenly focused because the gym has provided an escape from the challenges of daily life, or she’ll compete without focus and void of the proper mental/physical dedication required of all professional athletes preceding a major event.
Dern opened -190 for this bout, and the early flow has been toward Angela ‘Overkill’ Hill, which is interesting.
Total in this fight: 4.5 Rds. Over -155
The total does not seem to acknowledge the chance of a Dern submission, which I regard as likely should she arrive in prime condition to compete. Rather, it indicates a potential decision.
Props are not yet released, but Dern via submission in my judgment is likely, provided Dern is focused to perform and not in any manner distracted from the task ahead of her in the cage.
Passing for now.
Joaquin Buckley -225 vs. Andre Fialho +195
Welterweight (170 pounds)
It’s exciting to be able to focus on the bouts I believe will offer fans violence ultimately ending via finish. This is that bout on this card.
Buckley enters this bout on the drop in weight. He’s competed at middleweight since 2016 and now returns to welterweight for this bout. I regard this move as a strict tell for there was a reason Buckley was competing at middleweight.
When on his game, Buckley is a devastating puncher who projects power in his explosive crosses and hooks. Decades ago, when famous fight trainer Angelo Dundee would warn fighters to never “hook with a hooker,” he had fighters like Joaquin Buckley in mind. Buckley will look to confront his opponent in the center of the cage, then throw down until one man is left quivering.
Important to note: It has been just five months since Buckley’s loss in December at 185 pounds, so besides preparing to fight a natural welterweight opponent Saturday, Buckley also has had to make a substantial weight cut.
Andre Fialho is the taller man, but the southpaw Buckley owns a short reach advantage. Buckley’s wrestling is decent, and it’s not out of the question that he uses it here to set up his strikes and/or attack his opponent where he’s less able (really unable) to effectively protect himself.
Portuguese athlete Andre Fialho arrived to the UFC last year and competed five times in 2022, realizing a 2-3 tally. In his first bout, on short notice, Fialho showed a warrior’s mentality against a monster in Michel Pereira but lost via finish.
He dominated his next two fights, then toward the end of the year full of momentum, cockiness and overconfidence, he walked into a couple of losses via the finish. Prior to those bouts, I wrote about how dangerous it is for any UFC athlete to compete that often against world-class killers.
Fialho is a slick boxer in the cage, and he has the feet to allow him to create the angles needed to flush an opponent’s face with jabs, knees, elbows, and hooks. Physically, Fialho’s thick, explosive, powerful and willing, though mentally he’s still evolving and developing despite the fact he’s 29 years old.
Fialho enters this confrontation as a desperate, dangerous, focused opponent. I believe he’s prepared appropriately and is ready to “fire fresh.”
What he required was appropriate time off to improve in all states. He’s now recharged after those tough losses, and it’s my judgment that Fialho shows up Saturday mentally and physically prepared to offer us his best UFC performance to date, which is all one can ask from an underdog.
Fialho opened at +155, and that price is currently Fialho +195, which is a buy. Sunday, I released Fialho +185 on the ‘Bout Business Podcast, so my advice is to be patient and monitor the line and pounce at its apex. Fialho +195, the larger man and natural welterweight should not be this large an underdog in this situation.
Total in this fight: 1.5 Rds. Over -140
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