The quest for cash continues as the UFC heads to London, England, for an interesting card. I don’t love this event from a betting perspective, but hopefully I can still make off into the hills on Saturday night with a big bag of loot, laughing hysterically like a dastardly villain. I’m betting on the following fights.
Mike Grundy vs. Nad Narimani
Hailing from Wigan, UK, Mike Grundy comes from a freestyle wrestling background. This description doesn’t inspire confidence given that most British fighters who’ve been successful at the elite level were strikers that can defend takedowns, not grapplers.
After watching footage, I immediately revised my biases. Apparently you don’t need to be from North America in order to wrestle. Grundy looks like a very legitimate MMA grappler, with a diverse range of takedowns, good positional control and submissions in his arsenal too. His entries are excellent and he chains attempts well.
On the feet, Grundy isn’t the most sophisticated striker. This isn’t to say he’s bad, but he primarily throws single shots and is low volume. Still, he’s training at a gym renowned for the striking arts so could be improving in this area.
While Grundy is a wrestling specialist, his opponent, Nad Narimani, is serviceable everywhere – but doesn’t excel in any one facet. At range, Narimani is certainly the more fluid striker and he mixes in his grappling well. With that being said, Narimani has never faced a high level wrestler and it doesn’t tell me much seeing him ground a pure jiu-jitsu fighter in Paddy Pimblett and a bantamweight striker in Khalid Taha.
Despite Narimani’s striking advantage at range, he’s not the type of guy to pump out a jab or stick and move. If Grundy wants to close the distance and tie up, I can’t see what’s going to stop him. I believe Grundy will be able to land takedowns, I’m just not sure whether he’ll be able to hold Narimani down for prolonged periods.
Ultimately, I think there is significant value on Mike Grundy as an underdog. At worst, this will be a highly competitive fight but at best, Grundy could put on a wrestling clinic. In terms of pure value, Mike Grundy at +194 might be the best play on the card.
Edit: Predictably the line on Mike Grundy has been slammed. I think there is still a bit of value on him at +150 but I probably wouldn’t go lower than that.
Molly McCann vs. Priscila Cachoeira
Why would I bet on a fight like this, you may ask? To be honest, I’ve been asking myself the same question.
Liverpool’s Molly McCann isn’t the best fighter in the world and the majority of her career wins have come against low level opposition. Her debut in the UFC didn’t go well, as she was submitted by Gillian Robertson (who is a damn good grappler, by the way). While her ground game showed major holes in that performance, she probably won’t have to worry about a grappling onslaught this weekend.
On the feet, McCann has serviceable boxing. This isn’t to say she’s an elite striker, but she moves well and throws effective combinations. That might be enough to earn her a win against Priscila Cachoeira.
From what I understand, Cachoeira has only been training a few years and was previously battling drug addiction. This is a great story of personal redemption, but it doesn’t inspire confidence in terms of her ceiling as a professional athlete.
The Brazilian fighter was ridiculously outmatched in her UFC debut against the best female fighter on the planet, Valentina Shevchenko. In that performance, we learned Cachoeira doesn’t have much of a ground game – but if we review her earlier footage, it’s clear she’s not much of a striker either.
In a preposterous brawl with Rosy Duarte, Cachoeira can be seen throwing windmill punches like someone with absolutely no striking training. While it’s possible she’s improved by sparring with Jessica Andrade over the past few years, she’s in big trouble if she hasn’t.
In terms of technical striking ability, the gulf between Priscila Cachoeira and Molly McCann is as significant as the gulf between Molly McCann and Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
If the UFC were trying to pick the perfect opponent to get McCann a win in the UK, they’d choose someone who is less technical on the feet and not a grappling threat. I think they’ve probably picked the right lady. I’m going with Molly McCann at -187 and I’m fully aware I’ll look like a moron if she loses.
Arnold Allen vs. Jordan Rinaldi
Jordan Rinaldi’s mission as an MMA fighter is to glorify Jesus Christ. I can relate to that since my mission is to glorify degenerate gambling. It’s important to be passionate about your personal path in life!
I cashed on Rinaldi as a significant underdog in his last contest with Mississippi brawler, Jason Knight. Rinaldi was able to take Knight down repeatedly and dominate him on the mat – although he didn’t get a finish despite lengthy periods in back mount. While Rinaldi’s striking looks serviceable, he lacks the fluidity of his opponent, Arnold Allen, who comes from a boxing background.
In his last contest, Allen was taken down and controlled for two rounds before scoring a miracle submission over Mads Burnell. While his takedown defense appears weak, the British fighter is good at powering his way back to his feet and he seems like a great athlete.
Allen could absolutely win this with his boxing, but Rinaldi also has a clear path to victory with takedowns and positional control. A submission victory for Rinaldi wouldn’t be out of the question either.
I anticipate this to be a closely contested fight and I think there is value on Jordan Rinaldi as a +162 underdog.
Claudio Silva vs. Danny Roberts
Like a lot of people, I bet on Tri-Star veteran, Nordine Taleb, to defeat Claudio Silva on the last card in the UK. Despite a great start by Taleb, he was taken down and eventually choked out by Claudio Silva – who is a high level black belt.
The Brazilian fighter has an excellent ground game, but I don’t think he’s anywhere near as good in other areas. His striking has always looked rudimentary and he’ll clearly be at a disadvantage if the fight stays at range. I also don’t think he’s much of a wrestler and his cardio looked suspect in the past.
Danny Roberts isn’t likely to be in the title picture anytime soon, but he’s a solid welterweight competitor. He’s a good, technical kickboxer with power in his punches. He has some competency as a grappler too, although he showed some vulnerabilities on the mat in his last fight that will be critically punished if they show up again.
Training with the likes of Kamaru Usman, I believe Roberts will do fine defending the traditional wrestling takedowns of Silva. What worries me is the Brazilian’s sneakiness when it comes to dragging fights to the mat: he could catch a kick as he did against Taleb or somehow weasel his way to back mount during a standing exchange.
I’m not sleeping on the grappling abilities of Claudio Silva, but at +150 I think Danny Roberts is good enough to keep it standing and win two out of three rounds.
Nathaniel Wood vs. Jose Quinonez
As a fan of Cage Warriors, I’ve been watching Nathaniel Wood’s progression over the past few years. While his boxing always looked good on the regional circuit, his striking defense was a major question mark. This lead me to bet against him in his UFC debut, and I don’t really regret it as Johnny Eduardo had a great first round before imploding.
In his most recent performance, Wood looked better than ever – managing distance effectively against a much longer southpaw striker as well as dominating on the mat. Wood blends in low kicks with his boxing and I think that approach will be useful against Mexican workhorse, Jose Quinonez.
Coming off a win over chronic under-performer, Teruto Ishihara, Jose Quinonez is a decent, scrappy fighter. He has solid hands, nice low kicks and a great body lock takedown – but he’s not excellent in any area. Perhaps his best asset is his endless cardio.
While Quinonez is on a four-fight win streak, he hasn’t been facing the best competition and there were some sketchy moments against Ishihara. This will be the best opponent Quinonez has faced since he lost to Davi Ramos in 2013.
I feel like the UFC is building Nathaniel Wood up slowly and this is a favorable match-up in front of his home fans. Wood’s boxing looks much more technical to me and he should be able to take the fight to the mat if things get dicey standing.
You can say that -275 is a filthy price and perhaps I overpaid, but Nathaniel Wood should get the job done.
Darren Till vs. Jorge Masvidal
Hailing from Liverpool, UK, Darren Till has emerged as the face of British MMA. A explosive southpaw kickboxer, Till fires his left hand like a homing missile. He has great footwork and distance control.
While Till is the inferior grappler in this contest, he’s a tough guy to take down and should be the physically stronger athlete. The Liverpudlian should really be at middleweight and Masvidal could probably still make the lightweight limit if he wanted to.
One criticism of TIll is that he hasn’t maintained the same output in round three of fights. This could be because he cuts so much weight. Knowing that Masvidal has an incredible gas tank and chin, it’s important for Till to pace himself intelligently, because a finish will be hard to achieve.
Always a tough opponent, Jorge Masvidal will be looking to ruin the atmosphere in the arena and cause an upset on British soil. While Masvidal has some solid kicks in his arsenal, he does his best work at boxing range.
I feel that Till’s distance control and more dynamic striking offense will be the difference maker here. Masvidal is likely to have his moments, but I think Till will score the more eye-catching strikes en route to a decision victory.
With that being said, -235 on Darren Till is more than I’m prepared to pay and I can’t blame anyone for betting Jorge Masvidal as a +200 underdog. Personally, I’ll pass on this fight.
Edit: A European bookmaker screwed up and gave me Darren Till by decision at +230. If you can get the same prop at +150 and up, I think this is the best play for the main event.
My Main Plays
- 2 units on Mike Grundy at +194
- 2 units on Molly McCann at -187
- 0.5 units on Jordan Rinaldi at +162
- 1 unit on Danny Roberts at +150
- 3 units on Nathaniel Wood at -275
- 1 unit on Darren Till by decision at +230