After earning a small profit last weekend, I’m out for more cold hard cash on this exciting UFC 227 card. Here are my breakdowns of the fights I’m interested in betting.
Marlon Vera vs. Wuliji Buren
I hate to sound disrespectful, but I was extremely unimpressed by Buren’s UFC debut. He managed to land a few takedowns on a pure striker in Rolando Dy, but was unable to solidify top position. There was absolutely no fluidity to his striking.
Marlon Vera may never be a contender in the stacked bantamweight division, but he’s definitely a UFC-caliber fighter. Vera has strengths in some areas, but glaring weaknesses in others.
For instance, he has a dangerous kicking game, but doesn’t perform well at boxing range. He’s an opportunist submission threat, but doesn’t really have the westling ability to ground his opponents.
Against high level strikers like John Lineker, Vera is consistently outgunned. Buren is definitely not a high level striker and may find himself caught in a guillotine if he attempts a sloppy shot.
Unless Buren looks like a completely different fighter from the footage I’ve seen (it wouldn’t be the first time), Vera should win this convincingly.
I put Vera in a parlay earlier in the week, but I can’t really recommend him at -550. Instead, I’d take a small play on Vera inside the distance at +145.
Weili Zhang vs. Danielle Taylor
Danielle Taylor hasn’t exactly set the world alight during her UFC tenure. While she moves around a lot, her striking accuracy is dreadful.
Against another striker that enjoys hitting thin air, Maryna Moroz, the fans witnessed one of the worst fights in UFC history. I question whether the UFC are looking to cut Taylor, because they’re feeding her to one of the best female prospects in Chinese MMA.
Weili Zhang fights like a ferocious barbarian. The vocabulary king Joe Rogan may even describe her as a “beast”.
Zhang is most definitely not a point fighter. Throwing caution to the wind with zero defense, she’s looking to kill you with every strike. In addition to her brutal punches and thudding low kicks, Zhang throws devastating elbows on the ground.
Taylor does have some knockout wins on her record, so Zhang can’t be too reckless. However, the Chinese fighter does appear to have a favorable matchup for her debut.
I don’t mind Zhang as a parlay piece at -250.
Ricardo Ramos vs. Kyung Ho Kang
At only 22-years-of-age, Ricardo Ramos looks like an exciting prospect.
A jiu-jitsu black belt, Ramos has showcased excellent awareness in transitions during his past two UFC fights. However, his striking is solid too.
Typically enjoying a height and reach advantage over his opponents, he fires off clean straight punches and low kicks. His entire MMA game is somewhat reminiscent of another excellent Brazilian fighter on this card, Renato Moicano.
On a purely technical level, I believe he’s the superior fighter to his opponent.
Like other notable Korean fighters, Kang’s striking is all-action but defensively lacking. Ramos is more fundamentally sound.
On the ground, Kang is a dangerous submission threat but I believe Ramos will dominate positionally.
Ultimately, Kang is an entertaining fighter but I give the edge to Ramos everywhere except cardio. We’ve seen Ramos’ output slow after the first round in both of his UFC fights, so this is something that bears watching.
Still, I think -210 is a fair price for Ricardo Ramos.
Montel Jackson vs. Ricky Simon
Two alums from Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series will lock horns this weekend.
While I bet on Ricky Simon in his last fight against the relentless Georgian wrestler, Merab Dvalishvili, I felt lucky to win due to the somewhat controversial ending. Simon was down two rounds before sinking in a choke at the end of the third.
Simon is a good wrestler with proficient striking, but so is his opponent, Montel Jackson.
A gigantic bantamweight, Jackson will enjoy a 4 inch height and 6 inch reach advantage over Simon. Unlike some rangy fighters, Jackson knows how to use his reach to his advantage and has some great straight punches.
One would assume that wrestling would be the best path to victory for Simon, but Jackson was a member of the USA national Greco-Roman wrestling team. His balance looks good in his regional footage (albeit against lower level wrestlers) and he might punish you for shooting on him with elbows to your cranium, just like Travis Browne.
Jackson is taking this fight on short notice and evidently has a huge weight cut, but he fights at a high frequency and should be well prepared.
I played Montel Jackson at +170 which is a ridiculous line. I’d price the bigger man at -135, therefore I would still recommend a play on Jackson at +100.
Polyana Viana vs. JJ Aldrich
Highly touted Brazilian prospect, Polyana Viana, had a favorable matchup in her UFC debut against Maia Stevenson. However, she has a much more difficult task at hand when she faces JJ Aldrich – a fighter that has proved her capabilities at the top level.
Viana is a legitimate submission threat. However, I’m not convinced that she has the well-rounded skill set to be a true contender at this stage.
In her regional footage, Viana looks distinctly unpolished on the feet. You can almost see her trying to think before she throws every strike.
I also don’t think she’s a fantastic wrestler. She has a few nice judo trips in her arsenal and can take your back during a wild exchange, but I’m not sure if that’s going to be enough to get Aldrich to the mat.
On the other hand, Aldrich has developed into a slick striker. Although her base is taekwondo and she mixes in some flashy kicks here and there, her striking style looks to be boxing-centric.
As a southpaw, she has a nice jab and an accurate straight left. She showcased excellent distance control against Danielle Taylor, hitting her opponent while staying just out of range.
Aldrich also landed a few takedowns against Taylor, which shows she’s been working on her wrestling.
While I can understand why Viana is the favorite, I think these lines are a bit wacky.
I played the American striker at the outrageous price of +260 earlier in the week, but I still think Aldrich is worth a shot around the +200 mark.
Henry Cejudo vs. Demetrious Johnson
In the first match between these elite flyweights, some people thought Henry Cejudo might be a live underdog. However, the division’s kingpin, Demetrious Johnson, made quick work of the challenger – blasting him with clinch strikes in the first round.
Although he’s elite wrestler, Henry Cejudo’s striking style was that of a plodding boxer. Johnson’s superior footwork and unorthodox attacks were too much for the challenger.
Since this humiliating loss, Cejudo’s striking has looked vastly improved. Against deadly jiu-jitsu player, Wilson Reis, Cejudo looked like an entirely different fighter – comprehensively outclassing his opponent on the feet before finishing him.
There’s no question that Demetrious Johnson is a world class combatant, but I have a feeling we might be in for a competitive war this time.
Johnson has openly admitted he doesn’t want to put himself at risk of a concussion and therefore likes to take opponents down in order to finish by submission. What’s going to happen when he has to fight an Olympic freestyle wrestling champion who forces him to exchange on the feet?
I think it’s entirely possible that Cejudo keeps the fight vertical and gives Johnson a real run for his money. I hope Cejudo’s cardio holds up because I believe he’s worth a value bet at +400.
Cody Garbrandt vs. TJ Dillashaw
The intense animosity between Cody Garbrandt and TJ Dillashaw led to a spectacular fight the first time around, and I don’t think the rematch will be any different.
Garbrandt was winning the striking exchanges in round one and would likely have finished the fight if his big knockdown wasn’t in the dying stages of the round. Unfortunately for “No Love”, Dillashaw found his rhythm in the second round and was able to finish the fight with a devastating hook during an exchange (plus some following ground strikes).
In a bout that looks evenly matched, it’s hard to pick a side. Still, I will aim to.
Both fighters are athletic wrestlers, which leads me to believe the fight will be contested on the feet again.
In terms of pure striking skill, Dillashaw is the more refined of the two. With phenomenal footwork and use of angles, DIllashaw has been able to outfox the majority of his opponents in recent years. He also has far more offensive weapons than Garbrandt, who is primarily a boxer.
Garbrandt is lighting fast, both in terms of his movement and hand speed. While his footwork is unremarkable, he can close distance quickly and crack you on the chin – as we saw against former champion and elusive master, Dominick Cruz.
Although he throws a lot of power shots, this doesn’t mean he isn’t technical. Sure, he’s looking to take your head off but his punches are extremely accurate.
Defensively, he can leave himself open at times which is a concern.
Last week, I got some good value playing Dustin Poirier by KO or decision (as opposed to his moneyline) and may look to do the same again with Garbrandt.
In terms of a moneyline bet, I favor Garbrandt by the slightest of margins at +100.
My Favorite Plays
- 0.5 units on Vera inside the distance at +145
- 1 unit on Aldrich at +200
- 1.5 units on Ramos at -210
- 2 units on Jackson at +100
- 1 unit on Garbrandt at +100