In last week’s column I wrote that UFC Fight Night: Reyes vs Prochazka would likely not come close to topping the previous week’s UFC 261 for crazy excitement. And, for the first nine fights of the night, I was pretty much correct. Then the last two fights of the card changed things, with Giga Chikadze landing a vicious body kick to Cub Swanson’s liver, shutting him down, and in the main event Jiri Prochazka had a star-making performance, winning with a crazy spinning back elbow knockout in a wild slugfest with Dominick Reyes.
Who’ll be the breakout star this week? Well, it definitely won’t be Diego Sanchez, who got fired after crossing the bosses and is out of his scheduled co-main event fight against fellow legend Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone. Alex Morono instead will be taking on the Cowboy on only a few days’ notice. But that’s not the only part of the card that was in flux right up to the last minute – the main event wasn’t confirmed until the Tuesday of fight week.
Easy Victory on the Cards for Rodriguez
The original main event between Cory Sandhagen and the returning T.J. Dillashaw got scuppered when Dillashaw got injured in training. In step female straw-weights Marina Rodriguez and Michelle Waterson, who will be fighting in a hastily arranged flyweight bout to allow both women the chance to not cut as much weight on short notice.
I see this move to 125 pounds to only benefit Rodriguez, however, as Waterson is a natural atomweight (105 pounds) who just happens to fight at 115 pounds because that’s the lowest weight class the UFC offers. In fact, I don’t see any real plausible path to victory for Waterson to win this fight, so Rodriguez at
10/23 is the pick. She’ll be bigger, stronger and is the better and more powerful striker of the two women. I think this will be an easy victory for her, and there’s a good chance she finishes the fight via strikes, if you want to throw some money down on a prop.
Morono to Out-Muscle the Cowboy
Which brings us to the Cerrone-Morono co-main event. Fighters accepting a fight on less than a months’ notice have only won 35% of the time since I started tracking this stat at the start of 2020. However, I’m going to go against the stats here and pick Morono at the very advantageous number of
31/20. Having several of his Fortis MMA teammates fighting on this card means he’s surely been training hard to help them get ready, so he should be in fighting shape. Plus, I think his physicality, strength and striking will best the Cowboy.
Morono isn’t the only underdog I’m supporting on Saturday night, so it could be a profitable evening (or a complete disaster). Take Maurice Greene at
8/5 to beat Marcos Rogerio de Lima in a big boy heavyweight battle on the main card. The last five of Rogerio de Lima’s losses have come via submission, and more than half (five out of nine) of Greene’s victories come via tap-out, so I’m smelling a nice prop bet here also, if you’d like to sweeten the payout even more.
While not an underdog (it’s currently a pick ‘em fight, with both men at
20/23), I’m also liking Philipe Lins in another heavyweight fight, this one against 20-year veteran Ben Rothwell. While Lins hasn’t looked great in the octagon, going 0-2 thus far, I think he’s got much more left in the tank than Rothwell. Finally, in the opener I’m taking Christian Aguilera (
13/10) against the debuting Carlston Harris. I think Aguilera’s punching power will be too much for the newcomer.
*All odds correct at time of writing.