Orlando, FL hosts this week’s UFC Fight Night. Prelims for the fifteen scheduled bouts kick off at 4 p.m. PT with the main card beginning at 7 p.m. PT.
Three events remain in 2022 before a break until mid-January which provides time to update my UFC roster/database.
Two weeks ago, I went 1-1-1 on digital releases. The Spivak bout was canceled, and the release of Sherman +190 lost, but Salikhov ITD +250 was a winner.
2022 profitability stands: 25-19-1 +8.57 units
Main Event: Kevin Holland -160 vs. Stephen Thompson +140 Welterweight (170 lbs.)
Unlike many other fight night events, in Orlando, they utilize the larger 30’ octagon. That extra real estate provides a certain advantage to fighters who operate in space, at distance, and who are reliant on footwork/athleticism.
Sixth-ranked welterweight Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson is such a mixed martial artist.
At age 39, Thompson still has an incredible fluidity of movement, deft reactionary counterstriking, an abundance of experience against the elite of this division, and extraordinary results when pitted against striking-based opponents.
Favored in this bout is unranked Kevin Holland, who has realized success since he dropped from middleweight to welterweight. Holland is a black belt in both BJJ and Kung Fu though he prefers to utilize his size, speed, and explosion to expose opponents on the feet, for Holland has attitude and finishing ability.
Holland’s kryptonite is wrestling, as in he can barely even spell the word, but in this bout, we’re sure to see two specialized strikers ‘getting it on.’ Thompson’s forte is standing, as wrestling prowess also escapes him. Like Holland, Thompson has only been beaten by fighters able to take them down to the mat and gain top position, which is exactly the blueprint for defeating either of these two lethal strikers.
In this matchup, Holland’s physical advantages stand out. He’s nine years younger, three inches taller, and holds a six-inch reach advantage over Thompson. That may be why he’s gone from -110 at opening to -160 currently. He also fights with purpose.
Thompson's assets are the level of competition faced, main event experience and guile. He’s a fighter who still has plenty to offer, and he’s proven time and time again that he’s got the game to defeat any welterweight on the planet provided the fight remains standing.
Something’s got to give here, and I’ll have more on this bout later this week.
Total in this fight: UNDER* 4.5 rounds (-170)
*This fight opened at some locations (DraftKings to name one) 2.5 rds. OVER -130. Immediately after finding this price, then checking the markets twice (to make sure this was correct), I went on TikTok and Twitter to notify fight enthusiasts of this unique betting opportunity as the total has risen to current! That was Saturday, 11/26.
This number is now drastically changed, and the lesson here may be to follow me on social if you are serious about gaining an advantage in these bouts. I share all my bets publicly and strive to offer readers every advantage when the opportunity arises.
Co-Main Event: Rafael dos Anjos -500 vs. Bryan Barberena +430 Welterweight
Barberena, unranked in the division, has won his last three bouts after a disappointing loss in early 2021. ‘Bam Bam,’ a blue belt in BJJ, is the poster boy for ‘dad bod,’ but he is country strong, tough as nails, and has a granite chin. What Barberena lacks in polish, skill, and refinement, he owns in determination, grit, and power.
Dos Anjos is a fighter who’s competed for most of his career at lightweight, so he moves up for this bout on the heels of an absolutely devastating late-round KO at the hands of Rafael Fiziev in July. Prior to that bout, he bludgeoned Renato Moicano in a grueling five-round barrage.
Dos Anjos is now 35, so what’s in question here is whether his speed, quickness, and footwork are still able to translate to his advantage at the welterweight level.
In this bout, Barberena will look to force dos Anjos backward, then against the fence where he may close distance on the physically slighter man and inflict damage upon him with power knees, elbows, fists, and shins. Bam Bam must make this a dirty, grimy fight. He knows that dos Anjos has incurred the most significant strikes in UFC history so Bam Bam will want to test that Brazilian beak early and often!
Dos Anjos, for his part, will be the quicker, fleeter athlete in the cage, despite being three years older. He’ll need to fight smart, make Barberena work in the early portion of the fight, then as the forward charging bull slowly gasses, dos Anjos, the matador, will attempt to use his conditioning and volume counterstriking attack to quell the beast.
This matchup is the epitome of ‘styles make fights.’
Total in this fight: OVER 2.5 rounds (-195)
Nikko Price -140 vs. Phil Rowe +120 Welterweight
At age 33, Nikko Price is the more experienced fighter, having competed in 12 UFC bouts entering this one. He’s as tough as he is looney though. Through the years, he’s developed a completeness of attack. Price can be quite dangerous anywhere this fight goes, though it’s been some time since he’s displayed any finishing aptitude.
Rowe has only three UFC bouts under his belt, but he’ll enter this fight with three inches of arm reach advantage, two inches of leg reach, and he’s three inches taller, which will be very odd for Price who is used to being the rangier, longer athlete in the cage in this weight class. Rowe is a monster for this division.
Rowe hasn’t competed against the level of opponent Price has, so this fight goes a long way in determining each man’s career trajectory moving forward.
Rowe’s massive size, length, power, and the fact that Price may now be on the other side of his physical/mental aptitude may make this a difficult night for Price. This seems like a positive spot for Rowe.
Pick: Rowe +120
Total in this fight: UNDER 2.5 rounds (-175)