Best bets for UFC Vegas 82
This week, it’s UFC LV82 from the APEX in Las Vegas before the organization hits the road again for Dallas, then Singapore, before returning Dec. 16th to T-Mobile for UFC 296 Edwards vs. Covington, which will close out 2023.
Last week, UFC 295 presented MMA fans with marquee matchups and frenetic finishing action. However, we experienced minimal barking from the underdogs as favorites marched to an 8-2-2 result.
Favorites are 262-121-22 on the year or 64.7%.
Digital results last week saw Diego Lopes +115 finish Pat Sabatini early, as predicted. Sabatini’s snout is made of porcelain, and he’s unable to absorb a flush fist to the face.
I stand 20-18 +2.3u for the year with ambitions of adding to that profit with these few remaining fight cards.
Brendan Allen -425 vs. Paul Craig +340
Middleweight (185 pounds) main event
It's a fascinating matchup and even more fascinating betting trends on this main event.
Allen, a black belt in BJJ, is the 10th-ranked middleweight. He’s earned his way to that pedestal by winning his last five straight. As importantly, Allen has beaten ranked athletes, all with a diversity of skill and approach up to this bout.
Allen is a forward-pressing grappler who is especially dangerous engaged, against the cage and rolling, but he’s still in need of refining his striking aptitude.
Allen submitted a dangerous striker in Bruno Silva in his last fight. Prior to that, he submitted a world-class Brazilian grappler in Andre Muniz.
When focused and on plan, Allen employs movement to set up his engagements, but his end game is a submission. I do not see him damaging elite middleweight talent with his standup ability at this point in his evolution.
For Paul Craig, we have a warrior of Scottish descent who himself is singularly dimensioned, for he too relies almost exclusively on his mastery of grappling and clinching. Craig’s a multi-degreed black belt in BJJ, but like his opponent, his striking is only approaching average, and he’ll be giving away striking acumen to Allen as he does to all of his adversaries.
Thirteenth-ranked Craig will be the larger man in the octagon on Saturday, which I believe provides him grappling advantage. His height and reach advantages will be less pronounced as neither of these cats is looking to play stand-up any longer than they must.
Craig has dropped into middleweight from the 205-pound light heavyweight division, which is foundational in this fight. In his last outing, his first at middleweight, he had little difficulty in submitting the aforementioned Andre Muniz to set up this confrontation.
In that bout, it was his ability to set up his BJJ with efficient striking that provided Craig the opportunity to impose his size and submission game on Muniz.
That will be his plan in this bout.
In this fight, each man will attempt to execute their grappling—Craig by grappling immediately, for it’s his sole path to victory, and Allen by folding it in behind his striking, for he’s the more well-rounded fighter.
Aspects of this fight that are important to me are Craig’s massive size advantage and how he utilizes it and Allen’s struggle with a lack of fight IQ in previous fights.
Allen’s attack will be based on striking the Scottish warrior to set up his grappling, which he executed perfectly in his last fight. Can he remain focused on the plan of attack, or will he get proud and attempt to roll with Craig from the start? To me, this is key to the fight.
Allen opened -260 for this fight, and he’s been smashed to -430.
Lean Craig, but wish to shop submission props
Total in this fight: 1.5 Rds. Under -120
Pick: Lean Over
Chase Hooper -215 vs. Jordan Leavitt +190
Lightweight (155 pounds) co-main event
Neither of these two is threatening the top fifteen yet. Both may be fighting for their UFC livelihood; certainly Leavitt is.
Hooper, now 24, debuted in the UFC in his early twenties, and it was a touch too early. He’s long, tall, gangly, and not yet overly gifted on his feet, but he is tough, durable, willing and capable when he can get opponents to grapple and roll with him.
Originally a featherweight, Hooper has now grown into a lightweight frame. His stamina, power and ability to take a shot all seem to have improved based on what we saw in his sole lightweight fight last out against ultra-journeyman Nick Fiore.
The 28-year-old Leavitt, 4-2 in the UFC, has competed against larger and more capable athletes than has Hooper. ‘The Monkey King’ is a unique, odd, quirky personality. But he is athletic, practices deft footwork, has decent striking ability, and grapples above the level of his purple belt in BJJ.
Leavitt, 4-2 in UFC competition, will be giving away height and reach, but he’s the more dangerous, experienced mixed martial artist, and I believe the local Las Vegan will arrive poised to perform.
Hooper, still a young, developing, ascending MMA talent, will be in with a more mature mixed martial artist Saturday, one who will hold an advantage in experience and has competed against a higher caliber of UFC opponent.
Total in this fight: 2.5 Rds. Over -150
Pick: Leavitt +190, Lean Over
GambLou’s ‘Bout Business Podcast (97-90 +31.60u 17%ROI) drops Friday just after 12 p.m. PT. Look for it across all podcast platforms.
Enjoy the fights, and thank you for reading!