UFC Fight Night: Moraes vs Sandhagen Preview

The UFC returns to Fight Island and our expert tipster takes you through the card and picks his winners.

Cory Sandhagen wins his UFC fight

While this week’s UFC’s offering from the mythical “UFC FIGHT ISLAND” is a bit stronger on paper than last week’s, it still isn’t very consequential. There are some fun matchups, but there is no real serious “star power” on the card.

But, as I’ve said before, the strength of a card matters not to us when it comes to money making time. Maybe a weaker card on paper even allows us to exploit some lines that aren’t getting much action, who knows (I haven’t done the research on this, so I don’t).

Top Bantamweight Clash on Fight Island

The main event on Saturday from the Flash Forum on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi (oops, I mean from UFC FIGHT ISLAND) is a clash between top bantamweight contenders Marlon Moraes and Cory Sandhagen. The bookies have this fight a close one, with Moraes at 11/10 and Sandhagen currently sitting at 4/6 on Mansion’s board.

I recently published an article listing five factors that help predict the outcome of a UFC fight, so let’s use that as a guide to break down this fight (it’s author is super smart and cool and handsome I hear). The most important thing you can do to predict a winner of a fight is determine which combatant is the best striker – the fighter with the best career striking stats heading into a fight wins 72% of the time. In this matchup, that would be Sandhagen, as he’s far more active (lands almost twice as often as Moraes) and accurate with his blows, and successfully defends the same percentage of strikes as his Brazilian counterpart. In fact, Moraes gets hit more often in fights than he hits his opponent, so Sandhagen is the winner here.

He’s also the betting favourite, has better grappling stats, is younger and is bigger than Moraes. It’s a clean sweep for Sandhagen in respect to my key factors. I’m a smart enough guy to not argue against someone as smart as I am, so Sandhagen is the pick here. While he has a better gas tank than Moraes, who tends to run out of steam in fights, I’m going with Sandhagen via decision. But the chances of him getting a TKO or submission win late in the fight is a real possibility (he’s currently at 3/1 to win via TKO, 4/1 by submission).

Scary Barboza vs Mr. Finland

The co-main event is a featherweight battle between scary striker Edson Barboza and ‘Mr. Finland’, Makwan Amirkhani. The Brazilian is a massive 1/3 favourite over the Finn, despite losing three-straight fights and five out of six. Looking at the stats, both men are equal in the striking and grappling departments, Amirkhani is two years younger, while Barboza will be the bigger man. This makes it look like a closer fight than the odds are hinting at. One big factor, however, is Amirkhani is taking this fight on only a few weeks’ notice. A late replacement fighter has only won their fight 37% of the time this year. We’ll have to ride with Barboza on this one, but if you want to go for the big bucks, Amirkhani at 41/20 isn’t that crazy of a pick.

If you’re looking for another dog worthy of your hard-earned money, I’ve been reading good things about UFC newcomer Stephanie Egger. She’s an accomplished grappler and very physically strong, making her the wrong kind of opponent for Tracy Cortez on Saturday. Cortez is a striker who relies on being stronger than her opponent. She also used to fight at 125 pounds, while Egger used to be a featherweight (145 pounds) – this fight will be at bantamweight (135 pounds). Egger at 31/20 is certainly worth a splash of money it would seem.

*All odds correct at time of writing.

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