The UFC normally competes with college football on Saturdays in the fall, but this year its growth might be boosted due to the shortage of NCAA football. The college teams in the western U.S. that compete on Saturday nights won’t be playing this year, leaving the UFC as the potential bailout for bettors.
Selfishly, I welcome an opening in Saturday night gaming for the UFC — and few others will take advantage of it like Dana White.
Last week Alistair Overeem and Ovince Saint Preux scored impressive wins, which padded Insight the Octagon profitability in 2020 to 27-16 + 14.7u.
Favorites stand 188-92-9 (65%) in 2020, which is about the average over the last several years. Obtaining advantages over the opening lines and uncovering value remain our single focus with the understanding that value-laden underdogs are specifically targeted.
This week we have a Las Vegas fight card in which the original main event was canceled. The new main event is compelling but unworthy of main-event status, in my judgment. As we approach the final couple of cards before the UFC heads to Fight Island, it’s my take that they are cleaning out the closet and giving domestic fighters yearning to earn and be active an opportunity to fight. This manifests itself in cards such as this week’s, which does, by the way, offer a couple of interesting sides.
Here are thoughts on the main event plus some opinions on bouts I have targeted as potential investments.
Angela Hill -145 vs. Michelle Waterson + 125, women’s strawweight (115 pounds), main event
Fans viewing this bout had better be patient, because the result will be a five-round decision. Watching this fight will be like observing two flies in a gallon jug for 25 minutes — yes, brutal.
Little differentiates these two. Hill has slight height and reach advantages supplemented with aggression, which provides her an advantage in stand-up striking. Waterson has faced superior competition and is a bit more complete as a fighter. She’ll own the advantage should she be able to get Hill to the mat.
Hill opened -125 and has been bet up slightly.
No total is listed yet, but “Fight goes to decision” is a steep -295.
Therefore I lean to Hill via decision + 110, Waterson via decision + 195.
Khama Worthy -130 vs. Ottman Azaitar + 120, lightweight (155 pounds), co-main event
A couple of dangerous strikers will meet in this co-main event. Worthy is more experienced and owns an edge in the level of fighters faced, but he has been finished in all six defeats. Azaitar makes his sophomore appearance in the cage and is sure to meet Worthy in the middle for a good old-fashioned throwdown.
Azaitar is a short, explosive, hungry power striker trying to make his name in the UFC. Worthy is the slightly taller man but will not hold a reach advantage, and he’s more than willing to take in order to give. Against this opponent, that may be a bad combination.
Worthy opened + 120 and has now been bet to chalk status. UFC fighters who open as favorites but get bet into underdog status are in a profitable position.
Lean to Azaitar, but I’ll use patience as this price rises.
Andrea Lee -325 vs. Roxanne Modafferi + 270, women’s flyweight (125 pounds)
This is a rematch of a 2014 fight Modafferi won via split decision. At that time Modafferi, a grappling savant, was 32 and in the prime of her career. Lee, then 25, was still coming of fighting age and was not yet the professional she is today.
Lee is a cowboy-boot-wearing power striker who can wrestle in the mud or brawl in the barroom. She’s tough, determined and dangerous. Modafferi is more of a finesse fighter using stand-up tactics only long enough to clasp and cling. She will not want to stand with Lee. Modafferi’s only angle is to try to use Lee’s aggression against her and lure her into a submission, but I believe Lee is too savvy to fall into that trap. Lee is the worthy chalk.
Mike Rodriguez -260 vs. Ed Herman + 220, light-heavyweight (205 pounds)
Rodriguez makes a quick turnaround after knocking out Marcin Prachnio on Aug. 22. Rodriguez is 3 inches taller than Herman and will hold substantial reach advantages. The kickboxing-based striker will want to keep this fight standing and force Herman to remain on the outside and at range so he can club him with leg kicks and strikes.
Herman, 39, has won his last two fights and three of his last six, so he’s no sodbuster. Though Herman is well older than his opponent, he’ll hold vast advantages in experience and level of opponent faced besides being the much more complete fighter.
Herman wants this fight dirty. He’ll strive to immediately close distance so he can gain inside position and maul, clasp and grapple. I expect Herman to drag Rodriguez to the floor as quickly as possible and test him there.
Herman was prepped and ready to fight a few weeks ago against another opponent before that bout was canceled. I look for him to be amped up to take this fight right to Rodriguez, who I think may be flawed by a lack of grappling.
I’ll use Herman as a release this week but advise patience as this price is rising.
Herman + 220
Tyson Nam -120 vs. Matt Schnell + 100, flyweight (125 pounds)
Nam is conditioned and tough. Had he not won his last bout, he most likely would have been released. Schnell is seven years younger at 30. He’ll have a slight height advantage with strong edges in reach. Schnell’s grappling might be more refined than Nam’s, and I expect this fight to hit the floor sometime with Schnell on top.
This line opened Schell -125, and I believe that is more reflective of this bout than current pricing.
Schnell + 100
Again, patience, as this line is moving in Schnell’s favor.