This week’s UFC Fight Night from the APEX center in Las Vegas presents us with 13 bouts featuring a wide range of fighters, from the 115-pound women’s strawweight division all the way to the 266-pound heavyweight division. Athletes from Tibet, Peru, Australia, Brazil and Ireland, among other countries, will be represented.
Last week was a bad one not to have released an underdog, as dogs won seven of 13 fights to drop favorites to 87-44-2 (65%) in 2022.
Jessica Andrade (-170) vs. Amanda Lemos (+ 150)
Women’s strawweight (115 pounds) | Main event
Amanda Lemos, the 10th-ranked women’s strawweight talent, is a Brazilian striker who will enjoy height and reach advantages against Jessica Andrade. Lemos, 11-1-1, has overwhelmed most of her opponents with her striking and effective ground attack. Tremendous aggression, bludgeoning leg kicks and straight power striking are her weapons and have rewarded her nicely.
Lemos achieves main-event status after just five UFC bouts, but these five-round tests will be the most stringent of her career.
In the women’s flyweight division, there is the champion, Valentina Shevchenko, then a substantial gap in talent before we get to Andrade and her level of expertise. After those two, we arrive at a level of combatant where all of the other ladies in the division dwell.
It must be noted that strawweights are 10 pounds lighter than the heavier flyweight division, where Shevchenko rules and Andrade sits as the No. 1 contender.
Here at 115 pounds, Rose Namajunas owns the title that once belonged to Andrade, and it seems Andrade wants to earn it back. I find it intriguing that Andrade chose to drop to this division for a fight. She’s never struggled with weight, but surely the scales will be required before any investment consideration will be given to Andrade.
Andrade’s real concern is how to contend with this ferocious, aggressive striker in fellow Brazilian Lemos. In two of Andrade’s last three losses, she was overwhelmed physically and mentally by aggressive, physical, power-striking opponents, which is exactly what Lemos is.
I judge this bout to be a substantial step up in class for Lemos, but one in which she could excel based on her athletic ability and the style of her attack.
Andrade must employ unrelenting grappling pressure, smothering Lemos and negating her striking space so she is unable to fire. Andrade’s strength, her experience in main-event and championship bouts and the fact she’s dominated the flyweight division forces me to believe she is the rightful chalk, as long as she’s fighting at full capacity Saturday night.
Play: Andrade -170 in Leg 1 of a two-fighter parlay. I expect this price to close closer to -190.
Total for this fight: 3.5 rounds Under -130.
Manel Kape (-185) vs. Su Mudaerji (+ 160)
Flyweight (125 pounds)
Su Mudaerji arrives as the 12th-ranked flyweight. At 26, the Tibetan will sport substantial height and arm/leg reach advantages against Manel Kape. What makes this fight most interesting is both of these rising talents are southpaws, which can add oddity and awkwardness to a fight.
Early in his UFC run, Kape was unable to live up to the expectations and hype that followed him into the organization. However, in his last bout, Kape brutally finished Zhalgas Zhumagulov, a durable Russian who had only been stopped once, and that was more than seven years ago.
As I handicap this bout, it’s the physical characteristics and precision striking of Su that make him an attractive underdog.
On the Kape side, we have a fighting specimen who is quicker, more explosive and packs more power than his opponent. Kape has competed against a deeper level of competition than Su, which earns him the favorite position.
Su opened a slight + 120 underdog and I like the way this line is moving. I’ll wait until weigh-ins and the release of prop wagers for further comment.
Total for this fight: 2.5 rounds Over -170.
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