The UFC returns to the cozy confines of their home arena, the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, this Saturday for a sneaky-good UFC Fight Night card. The UFC’s plan for the near future is for all their Fight Night offerings to be hosted from this venue, with their big monthly pay-per-views being in arenas around the world.
The main event this weekend is between two of the world’s top 135-pound fighters in what could very well be a #1 contender fight for the UFC Bantamweight Championship. In one corner we’ll have former champion Cody ‘No Love’ Garbrandt, who is coming off a knockout victory over Raphael Assuncao last June. In the other corner, the surging Rob Font, winner of three straight and four of five.
No Love for ‘No Love’
I’m fading Garbrandt in this fight (you could say I’m giving no love to No Love) due to his reckless and frankly dumb fighting style. It was this sloppiness that got him knocked out three straight times before the Assuncao win last summer. While Font isn’t necessarily a knockout artist, he should be able to piece Garbrandt up when he’s given the inevitable openings. Plus, he’s the better grappler in this matchup. Font at
20/23 is the pick.
The co-main event also houses a former UFC champion in the UFC’s inaugural women’s 115-pound champ, Carla ‘Cookie Monster’ Esparza. She’ll be facing Yan Xiaonan, who is 6-0 in her UFC career. This is a textbook striker vs grappler matchup, with the former strawweight champion relying on his smothering wrestler and control to win her fights, while her Chinese counterpart has posted historic striking stats since her debut in the promotion in 2017.
I’ve always said that you should go with the striker in matchups like this, so I’m following my own advice and taking Xiaonan at
5/7. If you want to make it juicier, take her via decision at
6/5, as she has yet to finish an opponent in the octagon and I don’t expect the tough Esparza to be her first.
Battle of the Big Boys: K.O. Machine v Grappler
Next up we have a couple of really big boys in heavyweights Justin Tafa and Jared Vanderaa. Tafa is the epitome of a knockout machine, winning all five of his pro MMA fights via KO. While he lost his last fight and has only gone 1-2 in the UFC, I think this is a good matchup for him, as Vanderaa is more of a grappler than striker. Tafa has the striking stats in his favour, including landing twice as many strikes as Vanderaa does. While Tafa at
1/2 isn’t really appealing, especially in a heavyweight fight where anything can happen, taking him via knockout at
20/21 is probably the route you want to go if you want to make some money here.
You’re going to have to go with some prop bets this weekend if you want plus money, as I’m finding this card rather chalky. The only underdog I’m liking is Ricardo Ramos at
1/1 for his bantamweight fight against Bill Algeo. He’s gone a very impressive 5-2 in the UFC, is the superior grappler, and is six years younger than ‘Senor Perfecto’ (who needs a new nickname since he has lost five times, which is far from perfect).
My “lock pick” of the week is Claudio Silva at
10/11 against Court McGee. McGee, who won The Ultimate Fighter way back in 2010, has lost three straight fights and only has one win in his last six. Meanwhile, Silva is 5-1 in the UFC and is the better grappler in this matchup, so getting him at such an advantageous number looks good to me.
The main card starts around midnight on Saturday night (UK time) and is available to watch on BT Sport 1.
*All odds correct at time of writing.