Welcome fight enthusiasts to Insight the Octagon’s betting coverage of mixed martial arts in 2022. I focus on the UFC, but I’ll occasionally weigh in on a meaningful Bellator. But Bellator is a chalk parade, which is why I avoid it as a whole.
I strive to make at least one official release for readers each week in this column. Each official position is tracked and recorded. Accounting is published for each card and each year there is a running total. Readers have been able to profit handsomely each year that I’ve been writing this column.
Last year’s results included a one-unit loss in the heavyweight main event Dec. 19, which made final results for the year: 29-23 + 9.72 units, which is an average of + 113 per winning position.
Readers who invested a mere $50 per Insight the Octagon position last year would have been able to purchase their yearly subscription to VSiN and banked a few dollars besides!
Now, let’s dive into 2022.
UFC Fight Night Kattar vs. Chikadze will be held at the UFC’s APEX center in Las Vegas. The setup allows the organization to most effectively present fight productions despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
The octagon used in the APEX is a 25-foot cage, which is smaller than the typical 30-foot cages we see when the UFC holds PPV events. The fact is usually noted in these columns as the cage size absolutely affects fight outcomes.
This Fight Night has already lost several bouts/athletes, which is another reason that conducting fight research late into the week, up to and though the Friday morning weigh-ins is mandatory for my handicapping.
All of my final UFC releases can be obtained by tuning into “GambLou’s ‘Bout Business Podcast,” which drops Friday afternoon every UFC fight week. Access it on all podcast platforms.
CALVIN KATTAR + 195 VS. GIGA CHIKADZE -230
Featherweight (145 pounds) Main Event
Kattar, 5-3 in UFC since 2018, fights as a striker/boxer complimented with a blue belt in BJJ. He’s ranked fifth in the division yet is an underdog to his eighth-ranked opponent, which only proves how unreliable anyone’s UFC rankings are.
Kattar has beaten solid competition, and when things are going his way, he’s backing opponents up behind a powerful jab and controlling the center of the octagon. Kattar’s previous losses have come at the hands of quick, fluid-moving fighters who are long, fast, precision strikers like Max Holloway, Zabit Magomedsharipov and Renato Moicano.
Chikadze is a Georgian fighter who’s earned black belts in Goju-ryu karate and Kyokushin karate and trained in the Netherlands to refine his lethal kickboxing skills. He happens to be a tall, long, lightning-quick precision striker exactly of the ilk that has given Kattar fits. Chikadze has been raised from his youth to be a world champion.
The thicker more power-based Kattar will need to take this bout directly to Chikadze, back him up and try to limit his space, ideally pressing him into the fence and administering damage from close quarters.
Chikadze’s plan will be to “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee” in that he’ll use his athleticism, fluid movement and precision striking to maintain distance in order to dictate this fight.
Because Kattar has seen this type of opponent before, I wonder what he could have improved to better combat fighters like Chikadze. Kattar does represent a step up for Chikadze in his UFC path, but make no mistake: Chikadze has chopped down many like Kattar, and my expectation is that’s exactly what will transpire.
Durability, toughness, forward pressure and determination will deliver Kattar into the third round, where perhaps he may begin to wear on Chikadze, but if Edson Barboza could not execute that plan, it may be difficult for Kattar to do so.
Chikadze looked sharp, explosive and devastating in his last couple of outings, and Kattar took a one-sided beating from Holloway just about a year ago and Chikadze compares favorably to Holloway.
I believe recency is having a double effect on the price in this bout as Chikadze carries huge momentum, while Kattar’s beatdown at the hands of Holloway has bettors (myself included) believing that this may be a one-sided fight.
I do handicap Chikadze to be a favorite in this bout, but I can’t quite agree with the current pricing and will allow more time to transpire this week because his price may continue to grow in value.
Total for the fight: 2.5 Over -165
I released this fight Over 2.5 -140 upon its opening via Twitter.
At current pricing, this is still an official release, but I would not go any higher. I believe the market is underestimating Kattar’s durability.
JAKE COLLIER -125 VS. CHASE SHERMAN + 105
Heavyweight (265 pounds)
In November of 2017, Collier won a UFC bout at light heavyweight, where the limit is 205 pounds. In July of 2020, after a couple of years away from the cage, he took a heavyweight bout, weighing in at 264 pounds. He looked bloated, slow, telegraphed his punches and was unable to keep much pace. However, he brings power and bad intentions into the cage with him.
He’s fought twice again since that bout, each time teetering on the heavyweight limit (265). His only heavyweight win was against Gian Villante, another undisciplined light heavyweight unable to put the fork down who’s also now in the heavyweight division.
Collier, who is best described as a pure brawler will try to KO opponents immediately then grope with them once he’s run out of cardio.
Sherman is on his second tour in the UFC. He earned a blue belt in BJJ and a purple belt in kickboxing under Duke Roufus, so he is more a legitimate mixed martial artist, though he’s had poor results against lower-level competition in the heavyweight division. Sherman is more mixed martial artist than his opponent, but his athleticism and fluidity are limited and his cranium is ultra large and he keeps it high and centered during fights, which leaves him vulnerable to getting clipped.
This fight is lined tight because few have any idea how it will play out. We can expect it to be exciting for about 120 seconds before it manifests into a couple of oversized slow dancers at the high school prom.
Total for this bout 2.5 Over -150
I’ll have more fight insight after weigh-ins Friday morning and on VSiN’s “First Strike.”
Also, please remember to tune into “GambLou’s ‘Bout Business Podcast” for all of my official releases Friday afternoon.