This week’s UFC 275 takes place early Sunday morning in Singapore, but fortunately for us in the Western Hemisphere, the first bout starts at 3:30 p.m. PT Saturday.
An international array of diverse fighting styles, philosophies and physical body types will all descend on Singapore for one purpose: to enhance standing within their respective divisions by earning impressive victories.
Last week, I recommended Jeff Molina at -150, and he closed a -185 favorite for his bout against Zhalgas Zhumagulov. In a tight decision, Molina was victorious. His win contributes to 2022 profitability, which stands at 12-6 (+ 5.29 units).
This week I’ll break down potentially advantageous wagering opportunities at UFC 275 outside the main and co-main events.
Weili Zhang (-160) vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk (+ 140)
Women’s strawweight (115 pounds)
This is a rematch of a 25-minute war waged in March of 2020. After that bout, Joanna’s face was worse for wear from Zhang’s powerful striking. Zhang won the title in an ultra-close split decision to plant herself atop the division.
Since that bout Joanna has not competed inside the cage, in the ring or on the mat. No doubt she needed some time off from the damage she undertook that night in 2020.
Since 2017 Joanna is 3-4 in the division only beating Andrade (five years ago), Tecla Torres in 2018 and Michelle Waterson in 2019, all when Joanna was a skinny striker with length, determination and unrelenting striking force/pressure.
Since the Zhang loss, Joanna has shown interest in pursuing life outside of the cage. We’ve all witnessed her physical transformation from a scrawny, wiry, striking assassin early in her career to a young woman who is now model attractive and has had the opportunity to change her pencil-like physique by body augmentation.
I mention this only to make a fight point, which is this: refining one’s looks and improving one’s lifestyle are traits we all admire in ambitious people. However, the most toxic corrodents for any fighter throughout the history of man are money and recognition.
All fighters long for money and fame. The paradox is that the achievement of those are exactly what ruin the fighting athlete. It’s my belief that Joanna, unranked in the division and inactive since these two last fought, is at disadvantage in this bout based on her inactivity as well the effect of what life’s finer things may have had on her ability to properly prepare for this form of war.
On the other side of the Octagon stands Ms. Zhang, the No. 2-ranked Strawweight who followed her battering of Joanna up with a couple of title fight losses to Rose Namajunas. Zhang has spent the last two-plus years competing at the top of this division, grinding in sweaty gyms and improving on her mixed martial arts game — she is still on an ascent when it comes to the overall effectiveness of her fighting. Mentally, Zhang longs to retain the title she lost to Rose and is working tirelessly, without distraction to earn it back. That’s what fighters do.
Zhang’s an improving athlete and she’s been the busier fighter. Though she’ll be giving away height and reach to Joanna, it’s my position that her activity, focus and drive are the difference here. I just need time to review the various ways in which to invest in her — and those offerings will be out later this week.
Total in this fight: Over 2.5 rounds -265
Jack Della Maddalena (-155) vs. Ramazan Emeev (+ 135)
Welterweight (170 pounds)
Aussie Della Maddalena enters the cage Saturday night with one UFC bout under his belt, yet he’s appearing on the main card of a PPV event. Jack is here because he’s a striker extraordinaire. He combines effective movement with combination striking, and he does it with aggression: choosing to wage most of his offense from inside the pocket while employing forward pressure.
Jack enters with momentum, but a closer look into his past opponents shows a lack of UFC-caliber opposition. Sure, he looked powerful and dynamic in his latest bout, but in this bout he steps up substantially in class.
Della Maddalena’s opponent Emeev has a 5-2 record inside the UFC, and he’s faced a substantially higher caliber of opponent than Jack. The issues are that Emeev is a Russian vice grip and he’ll want to engage Jack in tight and up close. Therein lies the risk, for inside is where Jack wants this fight to be with just the slightest amount of distance in order to toss haymakers.
Della Maddalena must keep this bout off the mat.
Emeev -- the older fighter at 35 by almost a decade has faced more capable opponents -- has an experience advantage, and though his style is boring and deliberate he does show submission wins as well as finishes in earlier bouts.
If Emeev can earn the inside, grip onto the Aussie then eventually take him against the cage then to the floor, he’ll hold dominance over a more singularly developed fighter -- one whom we’ve not seen have to compete on the floor.
This fight holds interest in that it will display for us if Della Maddalena’s take down skills are UFC level or if Emeev, who is the more well-rounded fighter will be able to award young Della Maddalena with his PhD. in MMA. I regard Emeev as live and his price continues to rise.
Total in this fight: 2.5 rounds Over -185
Andre Fialho (-160) vs. Jake Matthews (+ 135)
Welterweight (170 pounds)
Portugal’s Andre Fialho is a man possessed.
This will be his fourth UFC bout in 2022 having won his last three after taking a short notice loss to top ranked welterweight fighter Michel Pereira in January. Fialho waited years to earn his way into the organization. His zeal for finishing fights coupled with willingness to take on anyone anywhere endears him to both fans and the UFC alike.
Fialho’s an aggressive forward-marching power-punching stand-up striker but he sports a negative 2.52 significant strikes per minute ratio -- which is alarming. In this bout, he’ll be the slightly larger man in the cage holding a slight reach advantage.
After three competitive welterweight bouts already in 2022, Fialho now travels across the world to take on an Aussie opponent who is stylistically opposite of him and basically fighting in his own back yard.
Jake Matthews arrives off a one-sided beatdown from Sean Brady, which of course is no shame to any welterweight as Brady is a top-three talent in the division. Matthews brings a firm wrestling base, forceful pressure, great cardio and is an adequate striker who is tough, durable and desperate for a victory.
In this fight Fialho’s plan is simple: walk Matthews down and attack him as Matthews tries to enter the pocket to engage in wrestling.
Matthew’s plan is pretty apparent also: He must navigate the power of Fialho then find a way to defensively negate his space, press him up against the fence then drag him down to the mat.
Matthews will hold advantage over Fialho on the floor as Fialho has barely faced anyone who would even feint a take down on him, let alone be able to execute one. Though Fialho shows 75% take-down defense, the floor is where one goes to defeat Fialho and the question will be if Matthews can get the fight there.
I believe Matthews is in the best possible spot against this opponent. His take-down ability will be a pivotal weapon in this fight as will the fact that Matthews may be the much fresher athlete fighting close to home. It’s possible the activity, travel and Jake Matthews catch up to Fialho Saturday in Singapore.
Play: Matthews + 135
Total in this fight: 2.5 rounds Under -130
Idea: Under seems to correlate with a Fialho KO, which I do not see