Last week’s UFC card was a terrific example of why it is so crucial to complete the Friday morning weigh-ins before committing to wagering.
UFC slates are usually 11 to 13 bouts deep. Last week’s was whittled to 10, and three fighters missed weight, two fighters were inserted as replacements in the days leading up to Saturday and another fighter was pulled in the final hours before the event.
Regarding last week’s release, if you did not wait until after the weigh-in, any wager on Jessica Eye should have been followed with an immediate wager on Cynthia Calvillo. So from now on, any “Insight the Octagon” release will always be pending successful completion of the weigh-ins unless I advise readers to move at the time of publication. This is the safest way to protect against what happened last week. I hope you managed to evade loss with that unfortunate yet not uncommon situation.
Last week I took the loss with Eye, making 2020 profitability: 16-6 + 10.1u
The Apex facility in Las Vegas hosts this week’s UFC event, featuring a heavyweight main event.
Curtis Blaydes -400 vs. Alexander Volkov + 340, heavyweight (265 pounds) main event
Volkov enters this fight with plenty of perceived momentum. He is 5-1 in his return to the UFC, losing only to Derrick Lewis two fights back in the waning seconds of the third round via flash KO.
Volkov must ship into Las Vegas from Russia. He stands 6-feet-7 and will be the tallest opponent Blaydes has faced.
Volkov is a striker with a base of BJJ, karate and its ancestor, Tsu Shin Gen. Volkov fights best working off his jab to press opponents backward via volume striking.
With 5.36 strikes landed per minute, he’s a busy striker who also sports solid defense, allowing only 2.5 strikes against. Volkov’s 75% takedown defense will be critical because his opponent will be unrelenting in attempting to drag him to the dirt.
One look at Volkov’s previous opponents indicates that this is a sizable step up in class. He has not been in the Octagon with a combatant as skilled in wrestling as Blaydes or one as well-rounded in all facets of MMA.
Blaydes is the highest-caliber wrestler in the heavyweight division besides Daniel Cormier. He trains in Colorado at Team Elevation, a gym experiencing tremendous success this year, so his travel to Sin City will be much easier than his opponent’s trip.
Blaydes has dominated superior strikers like Mark Hunt, Alistair Overeem and Junior dos Santos and finished superior grapplers in Aleksei Oleinik and Shamil Abdurakhimov.
Blaydes’ world-class wrestling base coupled with tough-mindedness, unrelenting pressure and enough cardio to endure 10 rounds provide him a great advantage over most opponents. His refined striking makes him a top-three heavyweight contender. At only 29, people will hear much about Blaydes for years to come.
Blaydes opened -215 for this bout and now stands -365.
Blaydes will need to navigate through some effective early striking from the larger, leveraging Volkov, but in time his pursuit and ability to work inside the taller fighter and then press him against the cage will eventually wear on the vexed Volkov. In a five-round fight, I give Volkov the ability to make it into the fourth before Blaydes forces him to relent.
Blaydes ITD* is -215. This is the only position I would consider, but my official stance is pass.
I’m most looking forward to the co-main event.
Shane Burgos -140 vs. Josh Emmett + 120, featherweight (145 pounds), co-main event
Burgos is on a 7-1 tear in the featherweight division. The 5-foot-11 New Yorker is 4 inches taller than his opponent and sports a 5-inch reach advantage, not to mention being five years younger.
Physical advantages go only so far, however. Though Burgos is tough and more than willing, his history of fighting with a reckless propensity forces me to take a deeper look.
Burgos is a busy, pressing striker who averages 7.09 strikes landed per minute, an incredibly high output. He absorbs more than 5.3 strikes per minute, which is one thing against the pedestrian competition he has faced but quite another against a power hooker like Emmett.
Emmett is a dynamic, wrestling-based fighter with highly developed BJJ aptitude and profuse power emanating from each limb. He will have to penetrate the prolific striking of Burgos to fight from the inside, which is mandatory if he is to compete in this fight.
From up close and personal, Emmett can mute the power of Burgos’ strikes and set himself up to deliver damage from the pocket.
Emmett has been in the Octagon with far superior talent than has Burgos, whom I consider stepping up in class.
I handicap Emmett as a most dangerous opponent for Burgos because he can work his wrestling to keep the “Sunday punching” Burgos off balance in anticipation of the takedown, then go upstairs to turn off the lights.
This is the most important aspect of this fight.
I believe that as we enter the second and third rounds, Burgos may return to a wilder, flailing style, allowing Emmett an opportunity to earn inside position. There Emmett might take him to the mat for a beating or catch the crowded Burgos with hooks from inside position.
Emmett + 120
Emmett did have one hiccup with the 145-pound weight limit a few fights back, and for that reason this release is pending Emmett making weight Friday morning.
Last week’s weigh-in snafus created much confusion regarding my official releases. I always post official releases, changes and other information on Twitter and, more importantly, early each Saturday morning at WWW.GambLou.com. All final and official releases for the week are displayed there.