This week the UFC travels to UBS Arena on Long Island, New York, for UFC on ABC 3, a 12-bout slate headlined by a featherweight main event. With the fighters competing in the larger, 30-foot octagon and with eight of the bouts scheduled for 145 pounds or less, decisions may be in abundance.
There has been a rash of questionable decisions handed down in recent fights, with Exhibit A being Michael Johnson’s loss last week. Don’t be surprised if we see more of the same on Saturday. The New York State Athletic Commission has a history of strangely scored fights, so I will be treading lightly in the lower-weight-division bouts.
Last week, Rafael Fiziev (-230) finished Rafael dos Anjos in the fifth round of a highly competitive main event. Insight the Octagon profits in 2022: 15-10 3.59 units.
Brian Ortega (-160) vs. Yair Rodriguez ( 135)
Featherweight (145 pounds) | Main event
This is ostensibly a title elimination bout as No. 2 Ortega faces No. 3 Rodriguez. Fundamentally, this is a bout that may be less competitive than the current pricing indicates.
Rodriguez is a flashy, technically efficient striker whose speed and athleticism have carried him into this opportunity. In any standing fight, he has the potential to score efficiently and over time pile damage upon opponents.
Rodriguez’s price in this fight is propped by the recency of his last bout, a competitive loss to Max Holloway. My view of Holloway and that result make me believe that Rodriguez, while a capable featherweight fighter, is not on the same level as his opponent Saturday night.
In my breakdown of Holloway’s fight with Alexander Volkanovski, I made it clear that Volkanovski would dominate based on his continued improvement and Holloway’s waning effectiveness. I believe the market is viewing Rodriguez as getting a premium for the result against Holloway, even though Holloway was a shell of the man who faced Ortega in 2018.
Considering Ortega’s experience in main event bouts and his dominant grappling ability, it’s my judgment that getting him under -200 is an outright bargain.
Ortega has the striking to compete with Rodriguez long enough to set up his grappling. And his skills on the mat allow him to control anyone in the division. Just ask Volkanovski, the champ, whom Ortega nearly finished in their bout.
The Ortega plan will look like the Frankie Edgar plan against Rodriguez, which mandates a striking battle only long enough to transition this bout to the floor. The Rodriguez blueprint is to keep the shorter Ortega on the outside and by any means keep this fight on the feet.
Play: I released Ortega -155 last week in the "GambLou's 'Bout Business Podcast" and advise him now at current pricing.
Total in this fight: 4.5 rounds Under -110
Miesha Tate (-225) vs. Lauren Murphy ( 195)
Women’s strawweight (125 pounds)
This bout offers similar value to the main event, but it’s an underdog release so I’ll land here for a release.
Tate has credibility, technical ability and durability, but she’s been a bantamweight fighter her whole career. Now after a retirement, which began in 2016, and two fights into her return, she decides to drop a weight class in order to squeeze out one more big main event opportunity after a complete one-sided beat-down loss to Ketlen Vieira.
Tate has the name recognition, an inch of height, three years of age advantage and a very well-rounded fight arsenal on top of being tough as a three-dollar steak.
Murphy has few dynamic advantages but no weakness in her game. She’s been the busier athlete entering this bout and is coming off a disappointing championship loss to Valentina Shevchenko. Can you say bounce back?
Without question, Murphy has earned the standing of a legit top-six flyweight talent based on her activity, the athletes she has faced and defeated as well her grit, grind and unrelenting forward pressure style.
Tate’s name recognition is overpowering the fact that she’s dropping a division (must watch weigh-ins) and that the direction of this line (Tate opened -145) is based on that.
Murphy moved camps to Colorado and is the more viable strawweight talent.
Play: Murphy 195 (half-unit wager) and Murphy via decision 250 (half-unit wager)
Total in this fight: 2.5 rounds Over -310
"GambLou's 'Bout Business Podcast" will have all formal releases Friday afternoon wherever you get your podcasts.