Best bets for UFC on ABC 5
The main event of last weekend’s UFC LV75 displayed how important conditioning and game plans are for championship athletes.
Thirty-nine-year-old Jarod Cannonier from Phoenix’s MMALab lost round one to twenty-nine-year-old Marvin Vettori. Then he took round two 10-8 before beating the brakes off of the clench-fisted number-three ranked Vettori in a unanimous decision win that even Vettori acknowledged as correct.
Cannonier +100 pushes Insight the Octagon profitability to 10-8 +3.05u
This Saturday, the theme is ‘lattes and leglocks’ as UFC Fight Night from Jacksonville, FL kicks off with preliminary bouts at 8:30 a.m. PT with the main card dropping at noon PT.
Ilia Topuria -320 vs. Josh Emmett +275
Featherweight (145 pounds) main event
Topuria has soared up the rankings to take the ninth spot in a division that is as deep as any in the organization.
Topuria, of Russian descent training in Spain, is decorated with a black belt in BJJ and has a structured Greco-Roman wrestling base. He’s twenty-six, 4-0 in the UFC and he’s looking to continue his meteoric rise in this division. This well-rounded mixed martial artist is aggressive and well-equipped to destroy but can be a bit reckless, especially on defense, and he’s relatively inexperienced compared to his opponent.
At 38, Josh Emmett is surely the older fighter, but he is the athlete with advantages in this fight that revolve around his depth of experience, the elite level of combatant he’s faced, and the fact that at this age and in this spot, Emmett’s goals are very similar to Cannonier’s last week—there is no time to incur defeat.
With a loss, Emmett morphs into a worthy gatekeeper for the top ten of this division. However, with a win, his dream of fighting for the FW title remains intact.
I believe it’s fair to expect Emmett to produce an elite performance Saturday, especially after looking so mundane against a lightning-fast title contender in Yair Rodriguez.
Once this fight begins, it will be Team Alpha Male’s Emmett trying to corner Topuria and barrage him with bludgeoning power kicks, elbows, knees and fists. Emmett’s more the powerful striker, and he’ll want to soften Topuria up over time to take some of his zing away and then finish the Spaniard.
Topuria will be hesitant to mix it up on the feet with Emmett early in this fight, opting instead to grapple, wrestle maul and grope. He must clasp onto Emmett who sports a paltry 58% takedown defense, then drag him to the mat where he holds the advantage. Grounding the slugger will allow Topuria to work some of the zip, power and damaging ability from Emmett’s strikes.
Topuria opened -300, which in my judgment was a bit high based on his experience in the UFC. That said, it’s clear that Emmett’s last clunker against Rodriguez is affecting the perception of him while there’s perhaps a bit of undue market respect for Topuria based on his four UFC bouts. Perhaps a formula for a live underdog?
I handicap opportunity with Emmett based on who he’s been in the cage with, his experience and his stand-up ability. I will be watching developments this week closely on this bout.
Total in this fight: 2.5 Rds. Under -210
Mateusz Rebecki -155 vs. Loik Radzhabov +130
Lightweight (155 pounds)
This fight is going to be absolutely crazy. Each of these land mines are mentally forged in iron. They’re deeply determined, versed with abundant cardio and equipped with tools for another man’s complete destruction.
Rebecki, a black belt in BJJ is a short, compact, ultra-explosive hand grenade who trains and lives in Poland. He is a pure unadulterated finisher. Rebecki employs frantic forward pressure to unleash his volume power striking.
His plan is to bore opponents against the cage, then ground them to gain top position. From there, the fun begins as Rebecki can rain down elbow, fist and forearm destruction from the top position.
Tajikistan’s Loik Radzhabov arrives 17-4 and trains/lives/fights out of Kill Cliff in Florida*. He has more blemishes on his record, but he also has more time competing against elite talent in the division with names like Manfio, Aliev and Schulte.
Radzhabov who is called the ‘Tajikistani tank’ is a forward-pressing, wrestling-based killer with diverse, destructive striking and a granite jaw.
Radzhabov will be the more experienced professional fighter who’s been in with a higher level of opponent and who trains at a huge international gym with plenty of body types by which to prepare for this bout.
He’s also four inches taller and will have a substantial reach and size advantage in this fight. Radzhabov opened +165 in this fight, and I happen to agree with the line movement thus far and won’t let another penny get away!
Pick: Radzhabov +130
Total in this fight: 2.5 Over -175
*Kill Cliff in Florida is mentioned because these bouts are in Florida Saturday. Handicappers must be aware of any potential factors that may sway, affect, or encumber the judging, and a local athlete with fans behind him surely fits that potential.
You may get all my final UFC Jacksonville releases from GambLou’s Bout Business Podcast 47-44 +10.94U. It drops Friday across all platforms. Enjoy the fights and thank you for reading!