The UFC heads to Boston, Massachusetts, this Friday for an interesting fight card. The lines have moved substantially on the fights where I have action, but nevertheless here are my breakdowns.
Boston Salmon vs. Randy Costa
Despite getting obliterated in the early stages of his last fight, Boston Salmon is a highly skilled striker with an extensive amateur boxing background (once going toe to toe with Errol Spence).
Fighting from the southpaw stance, Salmon’s straight left is deadly and his right hook is sneaky. He throws beautiful combinations with power and precision. His takedown defense looks pretty good as well, although I don’t think it will be needed this weekend.
On the other hand, Randy Costa is nowhere near as technically sophisticated on the feet, but he’s a savage. Loading up on every shot, Costa is going out there to kill you – not to point fight.
Ultimately, I see this being a striking battle with one fighter being more precise and defensively sound than the other. Costa has a legitimate puncher’s chance, but I think it’s far more likely Salmon capitalizes on his defensive openings.
I managed to bet 2.75 units on Boston Salmon at -104, although I feel his current -170 price tag is about accurate.
Sean Woodson vs. Kyle Bochniak
I’m not sure what to say about Sean Woodson, other than his body type is outrageous for the featherweight division. Standing 6’2 with a 79-inch reach, the Missouri native has a good jab – but I’m not impressed by his overall striking.
He’s quite slow and lumbering. We’ve seen lesser opponents back him up against the fence and I question his takedown defense.
Despite his flying knee knockout on the Contender Series, Woodson isn’t really a finisher and will likely have to go three rounds with Kyle Bochniak in order to win.
Fighting out of Boston, Bochniak will have the crowd behind him. While he hasn’t set the world ablaze since entering the UFC, he’s consistently fought tough opponents and has usually held his own.
With good movement, an endless gas tank, solid pocket boxing and underrated grappling, I think Bochniak can cause some major issues for the UFC newcomer.
As we saw in his fight against Zabit Magomedsharipov, Bochniak understands what you have to do against a much taller opponent. With constant pressure, I think the Bostonian can neutralize Woodson’s main weapons, box him up on the inside and perhaps take him down.
While Bochniak is only 5’7, he’ll have a significant advantage in terms of speed and athleticism.
My money is on Kyle Bochniak at -137, as I believe the UFC has arranged this favorable match-up for the hometown crowd to enjoy.
Deron Winn vs. Darren Stewart
This is one of the most contentious contests on the card, and you can make an argument for either fighter.
Standing at 5’6 (allegedly), Deron Winn is ridiculously short for the middleweight division. To his credit, he understands the nuances of fighting with a height and reach disadvantage – utilizing effective slips at distance and blitzing forward to land combinations in the pocket.
Winn is also a decorated wrestler, although he hasn’t drawn on that particular skill set in his last two fights. Perhaps this is because he was facing another strong wrestler in Tom Lawlor and a crafty jiu-jitsu black belt in Eric Spicely?
A protege of Daniel Cromier, Winn will face his toughest test this weekend against heavy-handed Englishman, Darren Stewart.
When he first came into the UFC, I wasn’t convinced Stewart could hang at the top level. He had some scary knockout power, but his cardio and takedown defense were both suspect.
Over the past few years and since dropping down to middleweight, Stewart has improved vastly. His last fight was the first time he’d been able to train without a full-time job, and he looked better than ever.
I can tell you firsthand, nothing is more destructive to the mind, body and soul than office employment – so I expect Stewart to go from strength to strength now that he’s eliminated this burden from his life.
The Englishman is a solid kickboxer with crushing power in his right hand. He’s also a tough guy to take down and even harder to hold down – which makes me think Winn’s wrestling won’t be a path to victory for him.
The thing that concerns me about Stewart is that he throws at a low clip, which makes him susceptible to being out-hustled on the feet. However, “The Dentist” does have a good understanding of distance and unlike Winn’s previous opponents, has the power to gain Winn’s respect.
You can’t just blitz forward on a guy that can knock your block off with one shot.
Winn probably has the advantage in the pocket, but the pocket is also an invitation to the clinch where Stewart will have leverage as the taller fighter (we saw Eric Spicely absolutely smash Winn in the clinch).
I can see this fight going either way, but I cap Darren Stewart’s chances of victory at over 50%. This made him an easy bet for me at +137.
Dominick Reyes vs. Chris Weidman
This is an intriguing main event and there are plenty of unknown variables.
Dominick Reyes has looked like one of the best prospects in the notoriously thin light heavyweight division. Fighting from the southpaw stance, Reyes throws clean combinations with his hands plus deadly left kicks to the body and head.
Although his jiu-jitsu is proficient, he will be at a disadvantage in terms of wrestling. I’m inclined to believe his takedown defense holds up, but he’s never faced an All-American wrestler like Chris Weidman.
Having been on the wrong side of numerous knockout losses in recent years, Weidman makes the move up from middleweight to light heavyweight. Whether this will rejuvenate his career at 35-years-of-age, I’m not so sure.
Weidman is a well-rounded fighter. His boxing looked better than ever against Jacare, before he slowed down and got finished in the third round.
At his best, he blends his boxing and his grappling beautifully – catching opponents off guard because they’re not sure whether to expect a takedown or a punch in the face.
I believe Weidman will be at a disadvantage standing against the more dynamic kickboxer, but may have some success with his wrestling early. However, if a finish on the mat doesn’t emerge, Weidman may find himself in trouble as I don’t think he has the cardio to wrestle consistently for more than a few rounds.
If I have to predict the outcome of this fight, I think “The Devastator” probably weather an early storm and then picks Weidman apart standing.
While I favor Dominick Reyes to win, I’m not enthusiastic about betting him at -170. I may consider live betting Reyes after round one, because I think Weidman has a strong start to the fight.
My Main Plays
- 2.75 units on Boston Salmon at -104
- 2.83 units on Kyle Bochniak at -121 (the final unit was added 2 hours before the event start time)
- 1 unit on Darren Stewart at +137
- 1 unit on Jeremy Stephens at +100 (read my breakdown here)
If I have any plays for Combate Americas or PFL #8 this week, I will be sending my tips out via email. Sign up to my newsletter!