What to Expect:
We are back at it again on Fight Island on a Wednesday night. The UFC has 750 million reasons to have these mid-week cards in light of the pandemic shut down for most of March and April, and as a fan of the sport, I cannot complain about Wednesday night fighting. As much as I want to say that the card is “set,” who knows? We have one fight (Bergh and Gonzalez) that is no longer happening. So just keep on the lookout for this. The betting picks that I make will live on this site, at least for the time being. Where you can see the picks, I make for free. Whether you want to tail them, or even bet against them is up to you. Finally, before I get into the picks, please read the blurbs before complaining about my picks before an event happens. It is appreciated for all parties.
Aaron Philips vs. Jack Shore
This being the first fight of the night, it should end fairly quickly, not knowing how Philips can survive for too long. We don’t have large UFC sample sizes for either fighter (3 fights between the two). But what we do know is that Shore has tremendous wrestling/grappling skills while Philips seems more like a ragdoll to such fighters. In two UFC appearances, Phillips has been taken down a total of 11 times. Philips is defending only 35% of all takedown attempts. Neither fighter has huge striking volume, so I’m not considering their skills there. If this fight, for whatever reason, stays standing, this could be a dud all around for fantasy. But I guess that the majority of the time, Shore submits Philips early on.
Shore by Finish (Submission)
Diana Belbita vs. Liana Jojua
Vegas makes this fight seem close (-182 for Belbita and 156 for Jojua), and I can see why. Belbita has shown that she loves to throw hands with her opponents, averaging 6.53 significant strikes per minute. Though this is to her detriment as well, absorbing 7.53 significant strikes per minute. Jojua is an entirely different fighter all together, showing that she is much more willing to grapple with her opponents then Belbita. Before being knocked out by Sarah Moras, she landed 2/3 takedown attempts. The volume wasn’t there, but you can tell she wanted this to stay on the ground. Belbita is vulnerable to the takedown, being taken down five times in her lone UFC appearance (a loss) to Molly McCann. But her 64% takedown defense percentage makes me think this was a fluke more than anything else. Belbita should win in what I believe to be a finish.
Belbita by Finish (TKO)
Chris Fishgold vs. Jared Gordon
Neither fighter comes into this one looking great. Both of them losing two of their last three. If we’ve seen anything from either fighter, it’s that they’re both able to both finish and be finished. Gordon has lost two out of his last three fights by being knocked out, and Fishgold has been submitted and knocked out in his three UFC fights. You can consider Gordon a striker, as he averages 6.26 significant strikes per minute. In comparison, we see a much lower volume out of Fishgold. However, Fishgold is a much more active grappler, which gives him an advantage over someone who only defends takedowns at a rate of 57%, which is why I give the edge to Fishgold in this matchup. However, this is by far the closest fight that my model has on the night.
Fishgold by Finish (Submission)
Modestas Bukauskas vs. Andreas Michailidis
I can understand why the total for this fight is set at 1.5. Between the two fighters leading into their UFC debuts, both only have one decision each to their credit, victories for both, for whatever that might be worth. The difference between the two fighters, however is that Bukauskas has fought against much better competition leading into the UFC. Five out of his last six fights in mixed martial arts have been in the Cage Warriors promotion, which has a ton of credibility after producing fighters such as Conor McGregor. Not to say that Michailidis can’t win, he can undoubtedly finish here (and there is betting/DFS value if you are able to predict this correctly). But I tend to prefer the guys that come from more reputable promotions if we’re talking about two fighters making UFC debuts.
Bukauskas by Finish (TKO)
Ricardo Ramos vs. Lerone Murphy
I don’t think that it is entirely fair to judge Murphy on his lone UFC appearance back in September. He did perform rather poorly, but that was also after being taken down six times. However, he could see a repeat performance if he hasn’t tightened up his takedown defense because Ramos has landed three and two takedowns in his last two fights, respectively. As far as Ramos is concerned, we also haven’t seen a ton of striking volume out of him, The most significant strikes that he has landed at 54. I guess that Ramos is going to want to go for submissions, but the problem for Ramos there is that Murphy also wants to go for submissions. He attempted two of them in his last fight. I think that if Murphy can prevent all of these takedowns from occurring on him, he can win this fight. But if Ramos can get this one to the ground like I expect him to try to, then he should win. I will say Ramos should win this fight, but that’s not to say that there isn’t betting value on Murphy straight up.
Ramos by Decision
Khamzat Chimaev vs. John Philips
While I do value John Phillips having four UFC fights under his belt as opposed to Chimaev who has zero, but let’s not pretend that these fights have been all that good for Philips other than his last fight where he won by knockout. Chimaev has shown in lower promotions that he can win by KO or submission, doing so three times each in his six pro MMA fights. I do have a level of discomfort though about laying -346 on someone making their debut against someone that did get a KO win in their last fight. What makes me most uncomfortable about John Phillips however is that his defense in both striking and takedowns has been horrendous. Absorbing 5 significant strikes per minute and only defending 14% of takedown attempts against him. Which is why Chimaev gets the edge for me.
Chimaev by Finish (Submission)
Abdul Razak Alhassan vs. Mounir Lazzez
As far as fantasy is concerned, Alhassan will be one of my core guys to build around simply because I’m extremely confident in his ability to knock out Lazzez. All four of Alhassan’s UFC wins have come by knockout. Although I’m not the biggest fan of the layoff he has had compared to Lazzez (who fought in February of this year), even if the latter has fought in lesser promotions leading up to this fight. Of course, this has a chance of blowing up in my face, but I want to go with the guy who I know has the ability to finish other UFC fighters.
Alhassan by Finish (TKO)
Molly McCann vs. Talia Santos
I want to thank that Molly McCann is going to be chalk on FanDuel and DraftKings because of her fantasy scoring potential. Also, at least on DraftKings, she’s way too cheap at $8,200. She does a lot of things that are good for Fantasy scoring purposes. For example, in her last three fights, she’s landed over 100 significant strikes while landing at least two takedowns. Even if a fight goes to a decision, she’s scoring at least a hundred DraftKings points which put her into the winning lineup every time. Against Santos, the same opportunity should be presented to her. While Santos is defending 75% of takedown attempts, she did get taken down twice in her UFC debut against a pretty bad fighter in Mara Romero Borella. McCann also seems to have a huge striking advantage over Santos, Landing 6.49 significant strikes per minute, while Santos is only landing 4.23. The only chance that Santos has of winning in my opinion is if she can somehow outstrike McCann. Which is possible, given that McCann is also absorbing 4.95 significant strikes per minute. Because of this, I do think that there is fantasy scoring upside on both sides of this one. although I will give the edge to McCann because she has been more consistent with her striking, and also has the takedown upside that I mentioned before.
McCann by Decision
Jimmie Rivera vs. Cody Stamann
When your last two fights have been against Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling, you’re probably not coming out of that with a good record. Losing both of those fights, it does make Jimmie Rivera look a little worse on paper than he should. And while Cody Stamann looked really good against Brian Kelleher in his last fight a month ago, it’s not enough for me to feel confident in picking him to win this fight. At the very least, Rivera was able to outstrike Eon in their fight, and one could make the argument that Rivera should have won. I can’t say the same about any of Stamann’s losses. The ability to know that he can compete with the best in the division is enough for me to think that Rivera should have the edge in this fight. And I also think that -138 seems a little low on him.
Rivera by Decision
Tim Elliot vs. Ryan Benoit
As fun as it is to watch Tim Elliot fight, he’s never performed great while in the UFC. If you were to lose this fight, it would be his second four-fight losing streak while in the promotion. I can excuse the loss against Figueiredo, who’s competing for the Flyweight belt on Saturday, but the last two were just bad. In the fight against Askarov, Elliot basically just yelled at him for the entire third round without putting up any fight. And while he did look very competitive against Brandon Royval in the first round, things turned sour for him very quickly in the second by getting submitted. Benoit is also someone who I don’t have confidence in considering he lost back in December after a two-year layoff. The only reason why I believe Tim Elliott will win this fight is that he’s a much more active grappler, and I’m not sure that Benoit will be able to defend such a fighting strategy.
Elliot by Decision
Calvin Kattar vs. Dan Ige
This fight could play out one of two ways. Either Calvin Kattar beats up Dan Ige through his superior striking ability, Or Ige can pull off a victory with his excellent grappling ability. Because Kattar has a career 77% takedown defense percentage, I believe that the former is more likely than the latter. Also, Kattar has fought against better opponents, then Ige has leading up to this point. However, there is also the chance that Ige beats up on Kattar. Considering that Kattar is absorbing 6.46 strikes per minute. This should be a fun main event that is close. And while I do think Kattar wins the majority of the time, +250 on Ige seems off to me and is worth betting on over Kattar at -309.
I want to append a note here (writing this a few hours before the start of the fights) The roster construction for this slate does seem to gravitate toward me rostering Ige in lineups where I have guys like Shore and Alhassan. This may raise Ige’s ownership, this may make him a good leverage play with people going with Kattar. I’m not sure about the ownership. But I do think Ige along with the high upside studs can work assuming Ige stays competitive.
Kattar by Decision