Going all chalk last weekend at UFC 266 allowed me to hit 11 of the 13 fights on the card. Not too shabby. But a new week brings a new set of fights to try to predict correctly. This week the UFC returns to the UFC Apex in Las Vegas for UFC Fight Night: Santos vs Walker, headlined by two of the organization’s top light heavyweight fighters. Will I like an underdog ever again? Read on.
The 205-pound division is a weird one where a fighter can rise to the tippy top of it without us really knowing if they are actually any good at fighting. Take one half of Saturday’s main event – Johnny Walker. The Brazilian is 4-2 in the UFC, with all four of his victories coming via one form of spectacular knockout or the other (elbows, flying knees, spinning backfists, etc.). But it’s still hard to get a bead on whether he is really good at this sport, or just really fun to watch.
Regardless, you don’t have to be really good to win at light heavyweight, so I’m picking the underdog Walker (currently at
13/10) to beat his compatriot Thiago Santos on Saturday. Is Santos any good? After 20 fights in the UFC, including giving then-champ Jon Jones all he could handle, probably not anymore. Was he ever any good? Who knows? Maybe? Walker’s insane fighting style, constant pressure, size (four inches taller), length (six inches of reach) and youth advantage (eight years younger) should give him the edge and the W come Saturday. But it probably won’t answer the question of whether he is good at fighting.
Daukaus to Win by Submission
How about we get crazy and take an underdog in the co-main event too?! Let’s ride with Kyle Daukaus at
5/4 in his middleweight fight against Kevin Holland. I’m basing this one all on a clear path to victory for Daukaus – to take Holland down and submit him. Eight of Daukaus’s ten pro wins have come via submission, and Holland’s takedown defense percentage is only 47%. As long as Daukaus can survive long enough on his feet to get Holland down, he should win the fight. If you want to get REALLY crazy, take him via submission for
So, there’s two underdogs for you, right out of the gate. But there’s more! Take Misha Cirkunov at
6/5 in his middleweight debut against Krzysztof Jotko. The muscular Cirkunov was not exactly the smallest of light heavyweights, so first off, we’re hoping he cuts down to 185 without any issues. But, assuming his looks fine on the scales on Friday, it should be all systems go. Jotko is by no means a finisher, which you need to be to beat Cirkunov, so I see Misha having a successful entry at middleweight. And maybe even via finish, as he is a very ‘in your face’ type of fighter.
Final Underdog Pick and a Lock of the Week
My final dog is from the second fight on the night, a women’s bantamweight scrap between Shanna Young and Stephanie Egger. I’m leaning Young at
21/20 in this one due to the constant activity and pace she puts on her opponents in fights.
For my lock pick, I’m looking to another women’s bantamweight fight and taking Aspen Ladd at
10/31 over Macy Chiasson. Both women are up-and-coming prospects in the division, but Ladd is the far more talented fighter, in all aspects of the game. While Chiasson will tower over her (five-inch height advantage) and will have a half foot reach advantage, Ladd’s skills and physical strength should allow her to overcome this and win the fight.
*All odds correct at time of writing.