The UFC is heading to Argentina for the first time with an intriguing fight card. Looking at the betting lines, I’m seeing a lot of juiced favorites that don’t look justified. Here are my breakdowns of the fights I’m interested in betting.

Hector Aldana vs. Laureano Staropoli

In a bout that could easily look like a kickboxing match in MMA gloves, gritty Mexican, Hector Aldana, takes on promotional newcomer, Laureano Staropoli.

Aldana may not have the best reputation among fight fans, but he’s a solid competitor. Watching his most recent fight against Song Kennan, Aldana proved himself to be powerful yet technical striker – landing numerous straight punches and savage low kicks throughout the contest.

Aldana also scored a couple of takedowns, which could be crucial as his opponent’s defensive wrestling does not look good on tape. Despite being caught and finished by a huge right hand in round two, Aldana performed admirably and I think he can absolutely compete in the UFC. It’s worth noting the Mexican fighter had a damaged eyelid for much of the contest and was struck by a terrible groin shot immediately before the knockout.

Looking at the limited footage of Argentinian fighter, Laureano Staropoli, I’m not overly impressed. He doesn’t seem to be a good athlete, is sloppy with his technique and doesn’t defend takedowns well. I have absolutely no idea why he’s the favorite in this contest – it feels as if the oddsmaker set these lines using Wikipedia while not bothering to watch any footage.

With Aldana’s limited fight time in recent years and the lack of complete footage on Staropoli, it’s hard to handicap this fight accurately. That being said, if we go on the footage that is available, Aldana should not be the underdog.

I have some significant action on Hector Aldana at +245. If you’re late to the party, I would still play him at +140.

Austin Arnett vs. Humberto Bandenay

Fighting out of the renowned Sik-Jitsu camp, Austin Arnett is one of Michael Chiesa’s main training partners. Although he’s coming off three losses in a row, all fights were against good opponents and there is reason to believe he’s better than what he showed in those performances.

A well-rounded fighter, Arnett’s best strength is his boxing. He landed plenty of punches on the chin of Brandon Davis in his Contender Series fight and found success in round two against Hakeem Dawodu when he decided to apply pressure. We’ve seen Arnett get stuck inside his head and fight timidly at times, and it’s of paramount importance he doesn’t do that against Peruvian striker, Humberto Bandenay.

While associated with Team Oyama, it appears Bandenay is doing this camp at Phuket Top Team in Thailand. Instagram tells me that between training, he enjoys taking romantic walks on the beach with his girlfriend. Whether that atmosphere will bring out the best or the worst in him on fight night, we’ll have to wait and see.

Given that his two UFC fights have ended in the early stages on round one, it’s hard to get a solid read on the young Peruvian. A scrappy southpaw striker, Bandenay’s best weapon is his left kick to the body. Since Arnett fights out of the orthodox stance, this attack will be open for him.

While Bandenay is dangerous as a left kick spammer, I’m not amazed by his overall skill set. Looking at his regional footage, I don’t think his hands are great and looks to be defensively vulnerable in the pocket.

If Arnett can close the distance, he should have a significant advantage at short/mid range with his boxing. So long as he fights aggressively and avoids getting picked apart at kicking range, I think he has a great chance to win.

In terms of grappling, Bandenay seems like a submission over position kind of fighter. Arnett looks like the better wrestler and the takedown is probably there for the American if things get dicey on the feet. Don’t sleep on Arnett’s ground game either, he came close to choking out Brandon Davis and has many submission wins on his record.

I’m going with Austin Arnett at +200 to get his first victory in the UFC.

Bartosz Fabinski vs. Michel Prazeres

There is a high likelihood this will be the most unentertaining fight on the card. In a battle of two renowned huggers, who will come out victorious?

Standing 5’7, Prazeres is built like a tank. Missing weight repeatedly at lightweight, the Brazilian fighter has been forced to move up to welterweight. Against a powerful wrestler in Zak Cummings, Prazeres was able to get his grind on just as he did against smaller opponents. I wonder whether this was a good performance by Prazeres, or a terrible performance by Cummings?

Here’s the thing: Prazeres is finally fighting someone who will want to play him at his own game.

Bartosz Fabinski used to fight at middleweight and is a physical specimen. Blessed with extreme functional strength and a lifetime of judo experience, Fabinski wins most of his fights with takedowns and positional control. He may actually have an advantage over Prazeres in terms of raw physicality.

Prazeres looks like the much better striker at range, but Fabinski has a significant size advantage. The Polish fighter is younger and probably has the cardio edge.

This fight is likely to be a filthy, grinding affair and I can see value on Bartosz Fabinski at +200.

Ricardo Lamas vs. Darren Elkins

While both fighters come from a wrestling background, Darren “The Brain Damage” Elkins is known as a gritty grinder whereas Ricardo Lamas is the more complete mixed martial artist.

Elkins is famous for getting punched in the face repeatedly until his opponents gas out, then he starts applying pressure and rallying for the victory. This was the case when he took a horrendous beating at the hands of top prospect, Mirsad Bektic, before staging a miracle comeback victory in the third round.

In his last fight against Alexander Volkanovski, Elkins took another dreadful beating and at this stage, I’m genuinely concerned for his health. Elkins might just be too tough for his own good and his has another seemingly unfavorable match-up here.

Ricardo Lamas has been competing at the highest level for a long time. He’s fought the top names at featherweight and at 36-years-of-age, could be slowing down. Although he lost his last contest, he showed that he can still fight competitively against an excellent opponent in Mirsad Bektic. Unless he’s fallen off a cliff, he should have enough to handle Elkins.

I don’t think a grinding game plan is going to work on Ricardo Lamas, who is too savvy with his defensive wrestling and can punish Elkins with his vastly superior striking. While Lamas is the older fighter, he’s younger in fight years and I wouldn’t be surprised if the chin of Elkins finally cracks.

I quite like Ricardo Lamas as a parlay leg at -230.

Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Neil Magny

The most world’s famous Argentinian MMA fighter, Santiago Ponzinibbio, continues his assault on the welterweight division as he headlines this event in front of his home fans. A powerful and aggressive boxing stylist, the hands of Ponzinibbio are his best weapon and he also packs some deadly low kicks.

Ponzinibbio is going from strength to strength at American Top Team and it feels like an eternity ago when Ryan Laflare was able to mix in his strikes and wrestling to secure a decision victory against the Argentinian. Since then, Ponzinibbio’s wrestling has looked better and he used some well-timed takedowns in round three to take a hard earned victory in his fight with Mike Perry.

Although we don’t see Ponzinibbio on the mat too often, he is a black belt in jiu-jitsu so shouldn’t be out of his depth if he does concede takedowns. Stylistically, the Argentinian should be able to win this fight with pressure, boxing combinations and takedown defense.

Standing in front of him will be Neil Magny, a well-rounded fighter that doesn’t excel in any particular facet. A lanky 6’3 welterweight, Magny can be tricky to deal with on the feet – although most technical strikers he’s faced have been able to work their way inside against him.

Magny is certainly going to want to grapple in this contest, as he did against Carlos Condit, but I think he’ll struggle (initially at least). However, if Magny can survive the early onslaught – his chances increase exponentially. This is a five round fight and we saw Ponzinibbio tire in round three against Mike Perry. Magny has excellent conditioning and could take over with volume and grappling after the first two rounds.

I think Ponzinibbio likely starches Magny early, but I’m not interested in playing him at -320. Instead, I’ll watch the first couple of rounds like a hawk. If I see Ponzinibbio expending a lot of energy and Magny is coping with the pressure, it’s possible we get an incredible line on Neil Magny in-play.

My Main Plays

  • 4 units on Hector Aldana at +245
  • 1 unit on Austin Arnett at +200
  • 1 unit on Bartosz Fabinski at +200
  • 1 unit on Fabinski/Prazeres goes the distance and Ricardo Lamas at +100

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