Best bets for UFC on ESPN 50: Sandhagen vs. Font
Justin Gaethje captured the UFC’s BMF title with last week’s dynamic head-kick knockout of Justin Poirier.
Favorites ran 7-3-1 on the card and are realizing a 62.7%-win rate in 2023, down a full 5% from last year’s obtuse 67+%!
My release of Justin Poirier ITD +130 leaves me on the wrong end of profitability for the first time since I began writing these columns some five years ago, as results are 12-14 <.85u>.
A major correction is on the way.
Cory Sandhagen -265 vs. Rob Font +220
Bantamweight (135 pounds) main event
Seventh-ranked Font steps into this fight on short notice, which is as impressive for him as it is that Sandhagen had accepted this bout originally with Umar Nurmagomedov. Nurmagomedov, a Russian vice grip, fell out of the fight due to injury, so now Sandhagen faces a stylistically different athlete in Font.
With Font, we have a fighter who arrives off of presenting young up-and-coming bantam Adrian Yanez with his PhD. in MMA as Font dominated the younger man in his last outing.
Font is a slick boxer with a piston jab, good footwork and extreme durability. A brown belt in BJJ compliments his fight arsenal.
At 36, on short notice, and giving up three inches of height in this bout, Font will have his work cut out for him Saturday.
Third-ranked Sandhagen, a psychology major from Boulder, is an accomplished kickboxer with a brown belt in BJJ. He prepares for a different challenge in striker Font than grappler Nurmagomedov, but Sandhagen should be familiar with elite striking adversaries as he has tussled with the likes of Champion Aljamain Sterling, Petr Yan, Song Yadong and other elite talent at the weight class.
Once this bout begins, I look for Sandhagen’s high fight IQ, his extremely well-rounded fight arsenal complete with footwork and cardio to simply be a little too much for a tough, grinding, unrelenting forward-pressure striker like Font.
This fight revolves around cardio, striking volume and efficient movement. These are all Sandhagen assets, and this is where he holds the advantages.
Sandhagen opened -165 and has shot up in price, making playing the props necessary in order to derive value from this fight.
Total in the fight: 4.5 Rds. Under -120
Pick: Over 3.5 Rds -140 (alternate total DraftKings)
I believe this bout has decision written all over it.
Kyler Phillips -195 vs. Raoni Barcelos +165
Bantamweight (135 pounds)
Barcelos is an athletic Brazilian athlete with a black belt in BJJ, a solid wrestling base, heavy hands and ill intention. Barcelos, 1-3 in his last 4 fights, has displayed an inconsistency that makes it hard to predict what fighter steps into the cage on any particular occasion.
Dangerous to start but uneven after early violence seems to best describe Barcelos.
Phillips arrives off a suspension, so he battles inactivity besides the freakishly talented Barcelos.
Phillip’s wrestling base, cardio and durability are all assets, but perhaps his biggest weapon is his intelligence. It’s here where I believe these athletes vary most.
Once this fight begins, Phillips will need to navigate through the damage and destruction that Barcelos is sure to offer early. However, once and if Phillips is able to weather that first five minutes of fury then it’s my judgment that he’ll be in position to use his cardio, wrestling and pressure late in order to suck the will from Barcelos.
I’ll await props for this bout
Total in this fight: 2.5 Rds Over -185
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Enjoy the fights and thank you for reading!