UFC best bets: Aspinall vs. Volkov

March 18, 2022 03:38 PM

The UFC travels to O2 arena in London, England, for a card that features 13 bouts and an international cast of fighters. O2 uses the 20% wider, 30-foot cage, which produces average finish rates that are slightly lower, especially when handicapping weight classes under 170 pounds. 

Last week, Insight the Octagon released Damon Jackson + 120. Jackson, who closed -110, finished off his opponent in the second round. 

2022 Insight the Octagon results: 5-3, + 1.85 units. 

Saturday’s card is rife with wagering opportunities. Let’s take a look: 

Tom Aspinall (-120) vs. Alexander Volkov (+ 100) 

Heavyweight (265 pounds) | Main event

Newcomer Tom Aspinall, who has compiled an 11-2 professional record, is ranked 11th in a division lacking capable young talent. The Englishman wants to become a legitimate top-10 heavyweight, and that mission takes a serious step up Saturday night in front of a voracious English fan base.

Aspinall is a black belt in BJJ. He’s athletic and fleet of foot for his size (6-foot-5, 247 pounds). He’s 4-0 in UFC but only one of those wins is worthy of a mention (defeated 15th-ranked Sergey Spivak).  

Aspinall’s 13 pro bouts were all decided early, with none reaching the third round. I judge this as foundational in Saturday’s matchup. 

At the other corner of the cage stands Alexander Volkov, the sixth-ranked heavyweight who owns advantages in experience, level of competition, height and reach. He’s previously been featured in five-round main events and enters this bout focused to retain his standing among the top-six in the division. 

Volkov’s physical advantages, experience and results against the elite of the division force me to regard him as more than fairly priced, but I’ll use patience prior to investing as the passionate fans wagering late are likely to hit Aspinall. Volkov opened -120, and it’s my judgment that the opening price was more reflective of this matchup. 

Play: Volkov + 100 or better.

Total for this fight: I’ve seen some 3.5 and some 2.5. I’m very interested in this total. Monitoring.

Dan Hooker vs. Arnold Allen (odds TBD)

Featherweight (145 pounds) | Co-main event

Fascinating fight. Sixth-ranked Arnold Allen is a legitimate top-10 fighter in this division, and though he’s been somewhat inactive over the last couple of years, the fact is he’s 8-0 in UFC and 17-1 as a professional. Allen is a slighter featherweight, which is important in this bout.

Allen’s game revolves around grappling/submissions. While he’s improving and capable on the feet, his full intent is to use his stand-up because it allows him to clasp onto opponents then drag them to the ground for some pounding. 

Dan Hooker is making his return to the featherweight division, where he once struggled to make weigh-in. His success at the higher lightweight division (155 pounds) was pronounced, but he dropped three of his last four bouts. A closer look, however, shows those losses were against elite talents in Islam Makhachev, Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler. 

This bout comes down to Friday morning weigh-ins. If Hooker can make the weight without compromise, I’ll have to regard him as a firm favorite based on his size, height, arm/leg reach advantages and the level of competition he has faced. Should Hooker look drawn and weathered from fighting the cut, Allen’s chances seem to increase. 

If Hooker makes the weight, I regard him as a -125 to -145 favorite. The wait is on.

Total for this fight: 2.5 Over -185 (DraftKings)

Molly McCann (-135) vs. Luana Carolina (+ 115) 

Women’s flyweight (125 pounds) 

“Meatball” Molly, 11-4 as a professional, is one tough Brit. She employs unrelenting forward pressure to crowd opponents in order to barrage them with knees to the midsection and power strikes/elbows to the upper extremities. Her stature is short and squat. 

McCann is shy on talent, quickness and precision but long on guts, fortitude and determination. After starting 3-1 in UFC, she’s fallen in two of her last three fights but won an all-out war in her last outing against Ji Yeon Kim. McCann’s bouts are interesting viewing because of her forceful, forward roundhousing form. 

Across the cage is Brazil’s Luana Carolina, who is 8-2 as a professional and enters this bout after snuffing out another unrelenting, forward pressure fighter in Lupita Godinez as a substantial underdog. Carolina is three years younger than McCann and holds a three-inch height edge, a massive seven-inch reach advantage with her arms and a couple of more inches with her legs. 

Carolina is also a striker, so these similar styles force me to regard the physical characteristics of Carolina as well her movement and precision striking as key advantages. 

It will be “Meatball” Molly’s task to penetrate the length of Carolina in order to earn inside position, then attack the taller, thinner lady from inside the pocket. Meanwhile, Carolina will want to utilize every inch of the 714-square-foot octagon in order to stick and move, peppering McCann with strikes as McCann works to gain the inside. 

Styles make fights and this one is sure to be a real banger.

Play: Carolina + 115.

Total for this fight: 2.5 rounds Over -350.

Prop on Carolina via decision is interesting, but McCann being English and the bout being in London means patience is required. I’ll wait for a better number.

Enjoy the fights and thank you for reading.

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