Best bets for UFC LV 74: Kai Kara-France vs. Amir Albazi

June 2, 2023 03:45 PM


Best bets for UFC Las Vegas 74

After a week away from mixed martial arts competition, the UFC returns this week for UFC LV74 at the APEX in Las Vegas which will kick off nine straight weeks of UFC fight cards taking us to August.

To date, favorites in the UFC stand 110-61-11, 60.4%

Insight the octagon results stand: 7-8 < .90u>

Let’s focus on erasing that negative profit number immediately!

Kai Kara-France -110 vs. Amir Albazi -110 

Flyweight (125 lbs) main event

Contrary to the heavyweight division where there are only four or five viable elite talents, in the flyweight division there are two—Brandon Moreno and Alexandre Pantoja. After those two, there are about thirteen cats that are all very similar in size, shape and pedigree.

Differentiating these fighters is difficult as they all generally lack finishing ability with their hands. In this division, athletes with elite BJJ/submission skills who can execute submission expertise can rise to special status; see Flyweight champion Brandon Moreno and number one title contender Alexandre Pantoja.

In fact, last year there were 32 men’s flyweight bouts, 44% ended in decision while 31% ended in submission, so submission skill is a differentiator in a division where the talent is all relatively similar.

In this bout, Albazi arrives as the seventh-ranked flyweight who is a purple belt in BJJ. He’s shown the ability to ground opponents and then effectively submit them which gives him that differentiating skill entering this bout.

The Iraqi athlete has a 4-0 tally in the UFC, fighting twice last year. However, the level of athlete he’s been competing against cannot in any way be regarded as elite within the ranks of the UFC.

In third-ranked Aussie Kara-France, Albazi makes a substantial step up in the caliber of opponent based on who Kara-France has competed against and the fact that he’s been in five-round main event situations before.

Kara-France is coming off a loss to current champion Moreno, so he’s familiar with all the potential distractions that come with headlining a UFC main event.

When the bell rings to start this bout, I expect Kara-France to strive to keep Albazi at the end of his strikes, for France uses volume striking to wear down opponents before putting them away utilizing combinations of strikes and kicks. I expect that’s the approach he’ll take Saturday.

For his part, Albazi will be giving up too much expertise, experience and effectiveness on the feet, so he’ll need to find a way to pressure Kara-France backward to close distance, smother, clasp and maul, doing all in his power to drag the Aussie striker to the ground where he will hold the advantage.

It will be Kara-France’s ability to keep this a standing fight against Albazi’s forward pressure and takedown effectiveness. This does present us with an interesting stylistic matchup and should the young Iraqi find a way to beat Kara-France, he moves right to the top of the mass of athletes trying to vie with Moreno and Pantoja.

Total in this fight: 3.5 Rds. Over -160


Maxim Grishin -130 vs. Philipe Lins +110

Light heavyweight (205 lbs) 

Grishin, 39, is a large, physical, unranked Russian athlete armed with a Master of Sport in Army hand-to-hand combat. He last competed in the UFC at the heavyweight division in a 2022 fight with William Knight, another natural light heavyweight.

That fight’s been Grishin’s only activity since February of 2021 which is of concern for a larger fighter late in years and long on damage ingestion.

Grishin is at his best pressing forward and forcing striking engagement. While he’s durable and tough as cast iron, he’s as slow as evolution.

For Grishin to enter the octagon with so little recent activity at almost forty years of age against a younger, larger, faster athlete dropping in weight seems a difficult task.

In this case, Philipe Lins, a black belt in BJJ, is also a fighter who has transversed between heavyweight and light heavyweight. However, he’s done it in that order which is the key to this fight.

At heavyweight, Lins was flabby, undefined, undersized and in need of conditioning. At light heavyweight, Lins has transformed his body. He’s well nimbler on his feet. He moves more freely and is more explosive. Lins has also felt the power of heavyweight foes.

Lins’ move to 205 pounds was clearly overdue as his only two bouts in the weight class were both impressive wins that showed a more explosive, violent fighter. Provided Lins and camp continue to build off of his two past fights this bout seems a natural progression for a fighter with hopes of ascending the light heavyweight ranks.

Lins’ speed, movement and conditioning will be the difference between these two men when the leather begins to fly. In what looks to be a tough, grueling fifteen minutes of fight, I handicap Lins to be the superior mixed martial artist and one that could find a finish late in this fight.

Lins opened -115 in this bout so to catch him at an underdog price is opportune.

Pick: Lins +115

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