What to Expect:
After all of the hype, we finally have Fight Island fights to look forward to for the rest of July. Of course, UFC 251 seems to be by far the most exciting of all of them kicking off the life of the facility. This card is fantastic from the bottom up. With amazing preliminary fights on top of what should be one of the greatest pay per views of all time (three title fights!). With a million dollars on the line for one lucky winner, it’ll be essential to identify the fighters with the most fantasy upside that will garner the lowest ownership. As far as betting is concerned, there are still some spots where value exists in the betting lines. All of my bets can be found here so you can tail them if you’d like. I only make bets that the kelly criterion formula deems high value.
Davey Grant vs. Martin Day
Even though he lost in his UFC debut, Martin Day still deserves to be the favorite in this fight. Losing by Split Decision, this was a controversial one at that. After Day was able to land 100 significant strikes and a takedown as opposed to his opponents, 55 significant strikes, and no takedowns, this was just one of those crappy decisions made by the UFC judges. In that single fight, however, he was able to show that there is significant striking volume out of him. He is attempting 12.26 significant strike attempts per minute. There doesn’t seem to be a ground game, so we should assume that all of his action is going to be on the feet. Davey Grant can make this one close, seeing that he is the much more active grappler among the two. If he’s able to bring this down to the ground, I’m struggling to see how Martin Day will be able to compete. For me, this one is going to be close. However, I think I’m going to have to give the edge to Grant because of the aforementioned grappling advantage.
Grant by Decision
Vanessa Melo vs. Karol Rosa
Karol Rosa should have a huge Advantage here with her striking. Landing 171 significant strikes in her UFC debut back in August of last year. In that fight, she attempted 23.4 strike attempts per minute. Which if you didn’t know, is insane volume. Looking at Vanessa Melo, she too is primarily a striker with not much of a ground game to speak of. Knowing that this fight is going to stay on the feet the entire time, and seeing how much volume Rosa is able to put out compared to her opponent, this should be an easy knockout victory for her. +320 on her finish odds seems ridiculous.
Rosa by Finish (TKO)
Raulian Paiva vs. Zhalgas Zhamagulov
Here’s another fight on the card that features two guys that are very much willing to strike each other, but not willing to grapple one another to the ground. Paiva has one win in three UFC appearances, but that one win came back in February in a knockout against Mark De la Rosa. This will be Zhumagulov’s UFC debut. Before joining the UFC, he fought a ton of fights in the Fight Nights Global promotion. His most significant fight in the promotion was a win by decision against current UFC fighter Tyson Nam. I’m not sure how well Zhumagulov is going to compete against the UFC competition. However, we also don’t know how well Raulian Paiva will perform against solid MMA competition. My guess is that Paiva will win in what should be a close fight that goes to a decision.
Paiva by Decision
Marcin Tybura vs. Maxim Grishin
The odds on this fight are extremely close, they may even be the same depending on which book you’re looking at. But it’s hard to see why someone such as Marcin Tybura could even be considered an underdog against someone making his UFC debut at 36 years old. Grishin has had a successful MMA career up to this point, but it’s hard to trust him against UFC competition given how weak his own competition has been in the past relative to the UFC. In order for Grishin to win, he’s going to have to finish Tybura fairly quickly. I personally don’t see that happening, but if you do, you can get some solid odds on it through prop bets.
Tybura by Decision
Leonardo Santos vs. Roman Bogatov
The one thing that I can confidently bet on in this fight is the fact that it will end inside the distance. Neither of these Fighters enjoys allowing the fights going to a decision. Santos has won four of his six fights by finish in his UFC career. Looking at Bogatov, he has five submissions and one knockout victory in his MMA career and is undefeated. The issue for Bogatov here is that he requires the ability to take down his opponent in order to obtain these submissions. Which is not something that is very easy against Santos, who has not been taken down since 2013. As far as fantasy is concerned, there is a risk to be had in this fight. Even in fights that have gone to decisions, Santos has not been a particularly high output fighter. This means that if you are going to roster him in fantasy, you need to assure yourself that he is going to win by finish. I’m guessing the same can be said for Bogatov.
Santos by Finish (TKO)
Makwan Amirkhani vs. Danny Henry
Amirkhani is the definition of a boom-or-bust fighter in terms of what he can do for fantasy. He can either win quickly by finish or do horribly for fantasy purposes by dragging out these fights to decisions. He is not at all a very high output striker, he can knock out or submit his opponents fairly quickly. Danny Henry on the other hand has shown that he can be a high-output guy if this does end up going to a decision. Landing 93 significant strikes against Daniel Teymur back in July of 2017. His last two fights though have ended in one submission win and one submission loss. If this fight is dragged out, I have to favor Henry. Although I do think Amirkhani has a better chance of winning inside the distance. This is because he has been averaging 9.27 takedown attempts for 15 minutes in his UFC career. A quick takedown could end this fight very early with an Amirkhani submission victory.
Amirkhani by Finish (Submission)
Elizeu dos Santos vs. Muslim Salikhov
It comes with a lot of hype having the nickname king of Kungfu. But we’ll surely be seeing that being tested as he goes up against dos Santos in this fight. Statistically speaking, both of these fighters are fairly even, as far as their last three fights are concerned. Where I do give the edge to Muslim is that he does seem to be the more powerful striker of the two. Even though both of these fighters clearly have knockout upside in them. I see Muslim having a better chance of finishing here only because of the advantage in power. Though I would not be surprised if Dos Santos did the same.
Salikhov by Finish (KO)
Volkan Oezdemir vs. Jiri Prochazka
I definitely see this fight-ending inside the distance, considering that both fighters have a long history in their MMA careers of doing so. What I don’t understand is why Oezdemir is only -149 at most retail books as of this writing. I understand that he has had his struggles in the past, but considering that Prochaska is making his UFC debut, I don’t see this is such a close fight. Even though both have the chance of winning by knockout early on. I favor Oezdemir’s experience in the UFC much more than whatever Prochazka has done.
Oezdemir by Finish (TKO)
Paige VanZant vs. Amanda Ribas
I understand why the UFC and the MMA general public is a whole one Paige VanZant to succeed as a fighter. But at least to me, it seems as if her MMA career has taken a backseat to everything else she’s done while out of the octagon. Including Dancing with the Stars! This is fine to do, but not if you’re trying to prepare yourself for an MMA fight against someone who is much more talented in the art form than you are. Even at – 770, it still seems like the books are shortchanging Amanda Ribas. A lot of that probably has to do with people just wanting to pound the Paige VanZant line. Which, at such a massive underdog, makes a lot of sense. But realistically speaking, Paige has no chance of winning.
Ribas by Finish (Submission)
Jessica Andrade vs. Rose Namajunas
This will be a rematch of what was a very entertaining fight to watch back in May of last year at UFC 237. It did end in a very strange way though, as Jessica Andrade was able to beat Namajunas by a slam. For context, I’m pretty sure this has only happened four or five times in the history of the UFC. And while I do think that this fight is much closer than the Vegas lines might suggest, I do think that Namajunas has the advantage here. Overall, Namajunas is the more active of the two when it comes to striking, and that’s where this fight should playout for the most part. Although Andrade does have an active grappling game, averaging 2.51 takedown attempts per 15 minutes in her last three fights. Thought this rematch should go to Namajunas regardless.
Namajunas by Finish (TKO)
Petr Yan vs. Jose Aldo
I wasn’t expecting this fight to be the first one we see for the bantamweight belt, but it’s still very exciting to see nonetheless. Out of the two fighters, Petr Yan certainly comes into this fight much hotter than Jose Aldo, who’s lost two out of his last three. Like most bantamweight fights, this one should stay on the feet as neither has a grappling game in which to speak of. When it comes to striking, Petr Yan is averaging 11 significant strike attempts per minute, while Jose Aldo is averaging 7.93. Yan is landing at a higher clip of 43% as opposed to Aldo’s 42%. And the inverse is true when it comes to how many significant strikes both absorb. I would be surprised if Petr Yan is not holding the bantamweight title belt at the end of this one.
Yan by Finish (TKO)
Alex Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway
Here is an amazing rematch of a fight that we saw back in December at UFC 245 When Volkanovski was able to win the UFC featherweight belt from Max Holloway. This might be one of those rare instances where I want to stack both sides of a fight simply because both of these guys are huge output strikers. If you look at their last fight, Volkanovski landed 157 significant strikes, while Max Holloway landed 134. What gives Volkanovski the advantage is that throughout his UFC career, he has been far less willing to absorb significant strikes from his opponents. Absorbing only 3.4 for significant strikes per minute, while Max Holloway is absorbing 5.75 in their last three fights respectively. I can see Holloway winning of course, but more times than not, I think Volkanovski retains the belt.
Volkanovski by Decision
Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal
I’m glad that Masvidal is finally able to compete for a title belt after all this time. Although I’m not very confident in his odds of winning this fight. Taking this fight on such short notice, he needed to go through a massive weight cut. He needed to lose 20 lbs in a week, which weigh-ins confirmed that he was actually able to do. However, I didn’t like the way he looked when compared to Usman as they were facing each other. Masvidal just looked very weak in comparison. But that’s just my opinion based on what I’m looking at. Diving into each fighter’s statistics in their last three bouts, it does seem like Usman would have an edge, but not by as much as the Vegas lines might suggest. Masvidal is a much higher output striker than Usman, attempting 18.95 significant strikes per minute and landing 15.93 of them per minute in his last three fights. However, Usman is by far the better grappler and far less willing to absorb strikes from his opponents. I’m always going to favor a grappler against someone that does not have grappling skills themselves, especially when they only have a 50% takedown defense percentage in their last three fights. In the betting markets, I do still feel as if there is value in Jorge Masvidal on outright bets and prop bets that say he will win by decision. Though I do believe that Usman wins this fight more likely than not.
Usman by Decision