The UFC travels from Singapore to Austin, Texas, for this week’s Fight Night production. In Texas, they use the larger 30-foot cage. I’ve also learned the hard way to expect some dubious decisions in the Lone Star State (see Derrick Lewis vs. Ilir Latifi), so bettors beware.
This week’s fight slate is 14 fights deep. Preliminaries begin at 4 p.m. ET with the main card kicking off at 7 p.m. ET.
Last week Jake Matthews + 130 fought like a Celtic warrior and brutally finished his opponent in the first round. Matthews thrusts 2022 profitability to 13-6 for a net profit of + 6.59 units.
Calvin Kattar (-240) vs. Josh Emmett (+ 200)
Featherweight (145 pounds) Main Event
We last saw Emmett compete in December with a solid win over Dan Ige. Emmett, who is 17-2 and trains with the wrestlers at team Alpha Male, has deep wrestling roots, but he is also a power-based striker who uses hooks, crosses, elbows and uppercuts to batter opponents who stand with him. His right cross is his baby, and his baby puts fighters to sleep.
Emmett is a dynamic talent with unfortunate luck as he’s had to overcome some significant injuries. Those injuries have forced Emmett to devote time to recovery instead of development during his prime fighting years. Reservations about Emmett’s ability revolve around the inactivity, the attrition he’s endured and his age and cardio as he’s now fighting at 37.
Emmett must move fluidly in this fight so he can cut the cage to set up his power. He also might need a round or two to find his timing because of his time off.
The 34-year-old Kattar is 23-5 in his career and 3-1 in the UFC since 2020, his only loss coming to Max Holloway. He’s a precision striker complimented with a blue belt in BJJ, deft movement and effective counter striking.
Kattar, ranked fourth, has beaten elite competition, most recently battering Giga Chikadze. At his best, he’s backing opponents up behind a powerful jab, controlling the center of the octagon, using combination strikes with kicks and making opponents defend. Kattar’s previous losses have come at the hands of quick, fluid-moving fighters who are long, fast, precision strikers such as Holloway, Zabit Magomedsharipov and Renato Moicano. His opponent Saturday is not like those fighters and appears to offer a favorable style for Kattar.
Emmett is an aggressive, forward-pressing, sawed-off shotgun, so gaining the inside to deliver destruction is his single point of focus. Size, reach, fluidity of movement and technical striking all favor Kattar, provided he is able to maintain distance and keep the incoming Emmett at the end of his precision strikes.
I believe Kattar has an advantage because of his level of activity against elite competition in the last couple of years. Emmett seemingly has to win via finish as I can’t envision him pointing Kattar in a five-round affair.
Total in this fight: 4.5 rounds Over -140
Damir Ismagulov (-160) vs. Goran Kutateladze (+ 140)
Lightweight (155 pounds)
Holy front kick, what a fight!
Kutateladze is a Georgian living in Sweden. and he trains with Khamzat Chimaev, so we know this kid has cardio and must be able to grapple.
He is strong, forward-pressing and packs an abundance of power in all of the freelance strikes he throws. He is slightly taller, longer and younger than Ismagulov, which should provide him some advantage when this fight is standing and make no mistake about this: Kutateladze wants this fight to remain on the feet.
He’ll hold a significant power advantage on the feet, though he does receive one more significant strike per minute than he lands, which is concerning. Kutateladze has been inactive since October of 2020, so the unknown here is what he’s been doing with the time off.
Though a touch slighter than his opponent, Ismagulov, from Kazakhstan, is the more versed fighter based on his sambo/wrestling/grappling expertise. Ismagulov is no slouch on the feet as he lands 3.75 significant strikes per minute and allows only 1.90 against.
Ismagulov’s striking is precision- and volume-based and it accrues points, if not damage, over time, but he is not an overly powerful striker. Ismagulov will look to take this fight to the floor. So this bout comes down to which man can impose his will upon the other.
Kutateladze boast an impressive win over Mateusz Gamrot, but Ismagulov trumps that with victories over Rafael Alves, Joel Alvarez and Thiago Moises. The victor here is top-12 material in this talented division.
Ismagulov has faced better competition, he’s been more active and he’s the more complete fighter, yet he has been stung when tapped on the teeth, so there is some hesitation. Provided he does not choose to stand and exchange “Sunday shots” with Kutateladze, Ismagulov is the logical favorite, but something tells me there’s violence involved with this underdog.
Play: Kutateladze + 140
Total in this fight: 2.5 rounds Over -220
Kevin Holland (-250) vs. Tim Means (+ 210)
Welterweight (170 pounds)
Means is tall, long, aggressive and uses pressure striking to back opponents up and bully them into brawls. Now 38, Means is trying to put together one more run and has won three straight fights. None of those opponents was elite or ranked in the division, but that is not important to Means.
Holland is a former middleweight who has dropped to the 170-pound limit. At welterweight, he is overly tall, long, athletic and skilled, though his lack of any real wrestling ability remains his biggest weakness.
Holland is the taller fighter in the bout, which is unusual for Means. Holland, nine years younger, also holds a six-inch reach advantage in a bout that figures to be a standing affair.
Holland’s youth, his size and length, his athleticism as well the recent competition he has faced prepare him well for Means, who poses a threat only if Holland does not come prepared to battle.
Holland, a trash-talking, brash Texan (catch that) is the choice. Should this bout be close and I believe it will be, I see little way Means can earn the decision, which affects how I view its outcome.
Parlay play: Kattar -240 (Leg 1) to Holland -250 (Leg 2) for -103
Total in this fight: 2.5 rounds Over -135