This week’s UFC card is populated with athletes from Hong Kong, Mexico, Latvia, Tibet and all locations in between. Earnings, fame and a better life drive each to present their best for their own well-being as well our investment purposes.
So far in 2022, favorites are running 41-18-1 68.3%. In last week’s event, David Onama (-150; closed -190) brutally knocked out Gabriel Benitez in the first round to push Insight the Octagon profitability to 2-1 .65 units earned.
Holding profit after a 68% run on chalk has me encouraged to confront these next several fight slates aggressively.
Islam Makhachev (-750) vs. Bobby Green ( 550)
Lightweight (155 pounds) Main Event
Makhachev is an International Master of Sport in Combat Sambo in Russia. Besides being born and bred to fight, he has trained with and is the protégé of the top lightweight mixed martial artist of all time, Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Makhachev, ranked fourth in the lightweight division, is 21-1 and has defeated his last nine opponents, the last five of which are without question world-class athletes.
Makhachev is unrelenting with his pressure grappling/Sambo and he’s unusually skilled at striking, which is something many Russian fighters must develop over time in order to compete with world-class Muay Thai/kickboxing specialists. Makhachev’s striking is advanced.
A late-notice replacement, Green steps into main event status to headline this week’s UFC LV49 event after a victory just two weeks ago when he defeated Nasrat Haqparast on Feb. 12.
Green is not ranked, but he possesses great athleticism, superior movement skills offensively and defensively and employs an unorthodox, street-style form of striking-based fighting. He has a wealth of combat experience and he’ll need every bit of it against Makhachev’s smothering forward pressure.
Green does have the wares to deal with said pressure as he employs a tremendous fluidity of movement with deft counter-striking ability. Green is not a power guy, rather he has a pitter-patter volume striking approach. Defensively he relies on his ability to use precision footwork to bob-and-weave his way into, then out of, striking range.
Green is endearing himself to the UFC for taking a fight no one else wanted to take. Without question, several top lightweight fighters were first approached to fill in for this short-notice thumping with zero wanting to risk themselves against Makhachev.
Green will do all he can to evade the unrelenting forward pressure of Makhachev by using athleticism and footwork then counter striking, knees and uppercuts to try to catch the shooter coming in to engage. He must not allow the Russian to clasp him or press him into the fence as that’s the first step to being underneath an absolute savage on the mat.
However, I believe there will come a time when Makhachev’s pressure will in fact force Green against the fence. When that happens, Green’s effectiveness will be squelched and Makhachev’s dominance will be on display.
Props for this bout are just coming out, so I’ll need later into the week to arrive at any angles for this matchup.
Total for this fight: 2.5 rounds Over -120
Arman Tsarukyan (-215) vs. Joel Alvarez ( 185)
Lightweight (155 pounds)
In 2021, 46 fighters missed weight. Of the 31 who were allowed to compete, only 13 won. One of those winners was Alvarez in his last bout, his second miss in a row.
Alvarez is huge for the weight class and, still growing at age 28, really needs to be fighting at 170 pounds. But he refuses to search for a fair fight and it seems the organization is allowing it.
I believe Alvarez angles to fight smaller men he holds a size advantage over as opposed to athletes that are similar to him in frame and weight on fight night.
Alvarez has good hands and is more than capable on the ground. The Spaniard displays great confidence in the cage because he relies on the substantial size advantage he sports over most lightweight combatants.
Alvarez has a most worthy opponent Saturday in Tsarukyan, though.
Tsarukyan, a Russian, is ranked 13th in a very competitive lightweight division. A Master of Sport in wrestling and MMA, the 25-year-old is undefeated in the UFC, save for a highly competitive decision loss to Makhachev in 2019, and Tsarukyan longs for a rematch.
Tsarukyan’s guile, savvy and his unrelenting forward pressure will be mandatory tools against Alvarez as he’ll need to penetrate his opponent’s striking range to work his way inside Alvarez’s reach, then clasp him and force him to the floor for a mauling.
Even if Tsarukyan is able to ground the Spanish giant, he’ll need to be intelligent as Alvarez’s length and ground skill make him difficult to control from top position.
With any Alvarez fight, there can be no wagering until he steps on the scale. If he can make weight (and I question his ability to do so), his effort could well be compromised come the night of the fight and I would be more than willing to fade him should the opportunity present itself.
However, if he is allowed to waltz onto the scale over the limit, which he has done in his last two bouts, knowing that any reduction in purse money will be made up down the line, he’ll be at a tremendous advantage over an opponent he towers over and has a five-inch reach advantage on. That’s not to mention the fact that he’ll enter the cage at close to 180 pounds.
If Alvarez steps onto the scale 156.5 or higher and is allowed to compete … I’ll be forced to consider him a worthy underdog. Remember readers, it’s business.
If he makes the weight fair and square, I’ll scan his physique closely to see what toll that cut did to a man too large for the division. He surely then becomes potential fade material, especially given the unrelenting pressure style of fight in his opponent.
Tsarukyan opened -340 to Alvarez 275 and Alvarez money came quickly, pushing the price to its current Tsarukyan -215 vs. Alvarez 175.
I have strong ideas on this bout, but it would be unwise to speak or invest until after weigh-in results Friday morning. Suffice it to say that I’m foaming at the mouth for this one.
Total in this fight: 2.5 rounds Under -125
Future release (May 7 fight)
Charles Oliveira (-155) vs. Justin Gaethje ( 130)
I'm publicizing a wager for the upcoming UFC 274, which will be held May 7. A full breakdown of the fight will be available at “Insight the Octagon” on May 4.
Take Oliveira at -155 (DraftKings).