UFC Fight Night: Whittaker vs. Till Rundown

What to Expect:

This is our last event on Fight Island. Does this make me sad? A little. But that’s because we have to return to the annoying, but entertaining to a degree UFC Apex next week. We have a crapload of fights going on on this card, fifteen to be exact. As far as fantasy is concerned, this should be one of the best weights we’ve ever had. This is because there will be far fewer ties with all of these fights on the board. And many of them close.  Of course, all of my bets can be found here

John Castaneda vs. Nathaniel Wood

I’m surprised that this fightline is set at 2.5. Only because both Fighters have either finished or been finished throughout their MMA careers up to this point. Although of course Nathaniel wood does have UFC experience, as opposed to John Castaneda, who’s making his UFC debut (for the record, my spell check corrected Castenda to Constanza several times and I laughed). Both look to be very active grapplers, but Wood does have an edge in striking. Both in volume and power. I’d like to give the edge to him in this fight. Although I have this odd gut feeling of Castaneda being competitive.

Wood by Finish (TKO)

Niklas Stolze vs. Ramazan Emeev

For the record, I don’t think that this fight will have a lot of fantasy appeal due to the low volume of both fighters. With that being said, however, I do believe that there’s betting value on Emeev’s chances of winning by a decision. Although he does not output a ton of striking volume, he makes up for this by trying to take fights to the ground. The control on the ground is how he has won ⅘ fights in the UFC. I don’t think this fight is going to be great for fantasy like I said before. However, I think the best move is to bet Emeev by decision if you want financial action at all here. 

Emeev by Decision

Bethe Correia vs. Pannie Kianzad

This is a fight between two women that don’t look too good as fighters overall. However, it’s worth noting that both of them won their previous fights by decisions. I also think that the odds should be reversed here, making Correria the favorite instead. Neither are huge on grappling, so we cancel that out. But looking at the striking, Correia is better at avoiding being struck by her opponents. This fight could be useful for fantasy purposes if both perform at or above their striking per-minute averages. Though I think Correia wins in the upset if you will.

Corriea by Finish (TKO)

Tanner Boeser vs. Raphael Pessoa

We recently saw Boser fight (June 27th), and he knocked out Philipe Lins in what was a pretty quick fight. Meanwhile, we last saw Pessoa winning in a boring decision win back in October. In a heavyweight fight, anything can happen (this is the most volatile weight class to predict). But Boser just looks better all around. Far more active in striking, and much better at defending his opponents’ strikes then Pessoa. Pessoa’s lone path to a win, in my mind, is if he can make Boser fight at his pace and control the fight in that manner. But I think more often than not, that Boser will win this one and inside the distance.

Boser by Finish (TKO)

Movsar Evloev vs. Mike Gundy

Not much UFC experience for either fighter, but both are undefeated in three combined fights. However, these wins are not made equal. The victories that Evloev has accumulated have been against higher quality opponents, and he has looked better in his two wins then Grundy did in his single win. The fact that Evloev is such an active grappler increases his fantasy point floor. While also being the more active striker. However, his efficiency and defense of strikes are not very sharp. Absorbs more and is less efficient as a striker when compared to Grundy. However, I don’t see this being an issue unless Grundy can land a hard one and finish.

Evloev by Decision

Tom Aspinall vs. Jake Collier

Aspinall is making his UFC debut after two fights in the prestigious Cage Warrior promotion, and Collier is making his first UFC appearance since 2017. So it makes sense that the former is favored. One is much fresher than the other. Aspinall has had some impressive knockouts in his two CW fights. Since we don’t have any tape on Collier since 2017, it’s hard to gauge where he might be. For what it might be worth, he was somewhat inactive as a striker while he was more consistent with his MMA. I just can’t see how he can compete with this long of a layoff.

Aspinall by Finish (TKO) 

Nicolas Dalby vs. Jesse Ronson

This fight is going to suck for fantasy, so keep that in mind when making lineups. I would keep my financial action here to betting only. This isn’t Ronson’s first stint in the UFC. He lost three fights in 2014 and got the boot. Worked his way back in by competing in lower quality promotions. Dalby at least has a decent quality win in the UFC recently. I don’t trust Ronson a lot since he’s not coming from a quality promotion before returning to the UFC. Which is why I have to think Dalby wins here.

Dalby by Decision

Francisco Trinaldo vs. Jai Herbert 

I’m not sure many people will go here for fantasy, mainly because Vega believes that this fight will go the distance. Though I think that the contrary will be true, ending inside the distance. Herbert is another fighter who is making his UFC debut coming out of Cage Warriors, where he won four out of five of his fights by knockout. Trinaldo has been in the UFC for a long time now, with two wins in his two previous fights by decision. The problem with Trinaldo though, is that I’m not sure he has the chin to handle the power that Herbert has. You have to think that Herbert is one of the better pivot plays that should go under-owned due to being an underdog.

Herbert by Finish (TKO)

Khamzat Chimaev vs. Rhys McKee

If you remember seeing Chimaev’s name recently, you would be pretty sharp-minded, he last fought ten days ago. He won his fight against John Philips in a low effort second-round win.  The fact that he’s a -1226 favorite seems insane to think about. But I don’t see him losing at all. McKee has been okay in his MMA career leading up to this point, but nothing that I think can compete with Chimaev. However, there could be value in betting such a long line for McKee. MMA is a volatile sport. 

Chimaev by Finish (TKO)

Alex Oliveira vs. Peter Sobotta

Again, another fight that doesn’t seem appealing for fantasy purposes. But on the flip side, both are always looking for the takedown so that I could be wrong here. This one should come down to the fighter that gets more control on the ground, which makes sense given how both fight. The only reason I would want to favor Sobota over Oliveira is his superior strike avoidance and better takedown defense. He’s not a very efficient striker but can make up for it through grappling and defending takedowns.

Sobotta by Decision

Paul Craig vs. Gadzhimurad Antigulov

The only thing I can tell you for sure here is that it should end quickly. Both fighters tend to finish or be finished by their opponents. They are doing so by using superior grappling techniques to win these fights by submission, for the most part. The problem with Antigulov here is that he’s never faced off against another grappler like himself, which explains his 0% takedown defense. Because of this lack of experience here, I’m not sure that he will be able not to be submitted by an experienced guy like Craig.

Craig by Submission

Carla Esparza vs. Marina Rodriguez

Honestly, don’t know why the Vegas lines are what they are here. I can give Rodriguez the fact that she is the superior striker, which has value for sure. But Esparza is a great grappler and solid at racking up those takedowns, which is preferable for both real-life fighting results and fantasy point-scoring. The only thing that can spoil the party for Esparza is that Rodriguez does have a 70% takedown defense rating in her UFC career. If Rodriguez is defending a lot of Esparza’s takedown attempts, this can hurt her chances of winning. I do think though that Esparza wins this fight more often than not.

Esparza by Decision

Fabrico Werdum vs. Alexander Gustafsson

If you told me a few years ago that this fight would happen in the heavyweight division, I’d be excited. But it seems a little gimmick-like to me.  However you think about it, this could be a good fight for fantasy, especially if you believe it can end inside the distance. I can’t, in my heart, put any money on Werdum. He’s looked terrible for some time now and can’t see how he wins against Gustafsson. Maybe if he can take it to a decision, but I doubt that can happen.

Gustafsson by Finish (TKO)

Mauricio Rua vs. Rogerio Nogueira

Assuming that this one ends inside the distance, you may need one of these two fighters to build the winning DFS lineup. From the looks of things, it seems like Rua might have the edge in both striking and grappling. He’s landing more, and at a more efficient pace. He’s also averaging 2.17 takedowns per fight. Which should up his fantasy point floor if this fight goes longer then expected. But of course, there’s also knockout upside on both sides. So there is betting value even on a Nogueira finish. Keep this in mind.

Rua by Finish (TKO)

Robert Whittaker vs. Darren Till

The main event to close out Fight Island should be a fun one. Oddly enough, this is the closest fight that I have on the board. Dead even between the two. The path for Whittaker winning here is by simply being the better striker in this one than Till. He’s landing far more strikes at what is even efficiency between the two. At the same time, they are both defending strikes at the same rate. Till’s path to victory is that he is a slight active grappler (at least more so than Whittaker). But this could be a moot point because of Whittaker’s career takedown defense rating of 84%. Because of this, Whittaker should be winning this fight more often than not.

Whittaker by Decision