The UFC is heading to Sacramento, California, and I really like this card from a betting perspective. If you were on my mailing list, you would’ve received my plays for this card last week. As it is, some of the value has disappeared from the lines I’ve hit.
Wellington Turman vs. Karl Roberson
At 22-years-of-age, Wellington Turman gets his call to the UFC and will be debuting against an established middleweight in Karl Roberson. This will be Turman’s first fight outside his native Brazil.
I’ve got to be honest, I’m not blown away by what I’ve seen on tape from Turman. His jiu-jitsu seems to be his best strength, but I’m not convinced he has the offensive wrestling to capitalize on it (at the UFC level, at least). The Brazilian can get you to the mat with trips in the clinch and sheer tenaciousness, but I doubt that will work when he steps up in competition.
In open space, Turman’s striking is serviceable. He throws a decent 1-2 combination and attacks the lead leg well – but he’s nothing that a high level kickboxer like Karl Roberson will be unprepared for.
A fast, explosive and technical southpaw striker, Roberson has a bright future in the middleweight division. He fires a clean straight left, has excellent counters and throws devastating kicks with little wind up. If the fight takes place at range, Roberson is going to smash this guy.
While Roberson will be at a disadvantage on the mat, I believe he has the defensive wrestling to keep the fight vertical. With a strong wrestler like Corey Anderson as one of his main training partners, it looks like Roberson is diligently focusing on this area of his game.
You could look at Roberson’s submission loss to Glover Teixeira as a warning sign, but that was up a weight class and on short notice. Besides, Teixeira has an underrated wrestling game and takes down practically anyone he wants. Leading up to the finish, Roberson did well defending the initial body lock takedown from Teixeira, but was finally grounded when the Brazilian chained into a double leg.
I feel that Karl Roberson has every advantage in this match-up except for pure jiu-jitsu, so I had no problem betting him at -150. He’s currently sitting around -200, which I wouldn’t be as enthusiastic about.
Brianna Van Buren vs. Livia Renata Souza
I am seriously impressed by American Kickboxing Academy fighter, Brianna Van Buren. If you weren’t aware, Invicta FC recently hosted a one night strawweight tournament where Van Buren was the victor – and you can view all the footage on Fight Pass.
Not only is Van Buren a great athlete, she’s also extremely well-rounded. She’s light on her feet, throws fast combinations and utilizes plenty of upper body movement. Her double leg takedown is insanely powerful and she’s heavy from top position.
In terms of negatives, Van Buren is undersized in the strawweight division (which probably won’t matter against Souza, but may in the future).
One can infer Van Buren’s takedown defense is good by looking at offensive wrestling and compact body type – but we haven’t seen evidence of it. We also have no idea what she’s like fighting off her back.
Livia Renata Souza is a good fighter herself, with a couple of UFC wins under her belt. A black belt in both judo and jiu-jitsu, Souza executes crafty takedowns from the clinch and has a legitimate ground game.
On the feet, Souza isn’t as fundamentally sound as her opponent, but is still an effective striker. Her right overhand is her best weapon and she does have a bit of power for a female strawweight.
I’m not sure how this fight will transpire stylistically, but I feel Van Buren is the more technical striker and stronger wrestler. The American should be looking good so long as she’s not on her back.
While it’s possible Souza can create a sweep if she gets taken down, all evidence suggests Van Buren will be perfectly fine from top position – she doesn’t leave a lot of space for opponents to scramble or attack with guard submissions.
I have 2.5 units on Brianna Van Buren at +130, and I’m not surprised to see her moving to favorite as other handicappers have noticed the same details as me.
Liu Pingyuan vs. Jonathan Martinez
There are some high level fights on this card, and this isn’t one of them. However, a betting opportunity is still a betting opportunity.
Hailing from China, Liu Pingyuan is well-rounded but doesn’t excel anywhere. His pocket boxing is serviceable and he appears to be a physical specimen. Training at a gym like Team Alpha Male, I’m sure his supplement game is on lock.
I believe the Chinese fighter will be the superior wrestler in this match-up, but his positional awareness on the mat is not great. With all the fantastic scramblers at his gym, I’m sure this is something he’s working on.
Like his opponent, Jonathan Martinez is reasonably well-rounded but generally unspectacular. Training with beasts like Ian Heinisch and Devonte Smith over at Factor-X in Colorado, Martinez is likely making steady improvements from camp to camp. He certainly looked a lot better against Wuliji Buren than he did in any previous fights.
While he doesn’t have the best pure boxing, Martinez has a proficient kicking game. From southpaw, he fires kicks to the head, body and legs. He’s very left-side dominant and reminds me somewhat of Humberto Bandenay (in terms of his striking style).
Martinez is absolutely atrocious at stuffing takedowns, but he’s a pretty decent scrambler. I think the Factory-X fighter will wind up on his back at times during the fight, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be able to work his way to a dominant position.
It’s difficult to envision how this contest will unfold, but I’m confident that it will be competitive.
I feel that pick ‘em odds would be more accurate, so I have no problem taking a stab on the +170 underdog in Jonathan Martinez.
Urijah Faber vs. Ricky Simon
Hearing that the UFC were heading to Sacramento, Urijah Faber couldn’t resist ending his retirement to be on the card. At 40-years-of-age and not needing another payday, I’m not sure this is the right decision for him.
In his prime, Faber was a beast. His striking style was scrappy, yet effective. He had a sneaky left hook, strong right overhand and utilized plenty of feints to keep opponents guessing. He blended his striking with his wrestling beautifully and was renowned for his lethal guillotine.
Here is the thing though: Faber’s style was always predicated on elite athleticism and I think he was on a steady decline by the time he hit his mid thirties. How is he going to look at his current age after a few years on the bench?
Ricky Simon is a young hungry lion that can match Faber skill for skill. A strong wrestler himself, I think Simon will be able to stuff takedown attempts and keep this one standing (or perhaps even land takedowns of his own).
On the feet, Simon is somewhat defensively vulnerable, but throws good combinations with his hands – ripping the head and body. I think he’ll land the cleaner strikes in open space and won’t be in trouble when does gets tagged (Faber has never been a power puncher).
To conclude, I think we’re looking at a great 2019 wrestle-boxer versus a great 2009 wrestle-boxer. I have Ricky Simon to close a parlay at -200.
Germaine De Randamie vs. Aspenn Ladd
Some may regard this fight as a peculiar choice for a main event, but I quite like it. It’s certainly intriguing from a stylistic perspective.
As one of the best pure strikers in women’s MMA, I favor Germaine De Randamie over the vast majority of bantamweight division on the feet. “The Iron Lady” manages distance excellently and should be able to capitalize on her 5-inch reach advantage in this contest.
With clean straight punches, sharp counters and chopping kicks, De Randamie should have a clear edge if the fight stays standing. The question is: can she defend the takedowns?
Aspen Ladd isn’t as technical on the feet, and her lack of head movement will be a magnet for the Dutch striker’s straight shots. However, she is the better grappler by a wide margin.
In fact, the young American has one of the best top games in women’s MMA. If she’s able to get the fight to the mat, it’s likely a ground and pound stoppage will shortly follow (accompanied by terrifying shrieking).
I can easily envision a scenario where De Randamie is dominating the striking exchanges, makes one mistake, lands on her back and gets finished. Although her defensive wrestling has improved in recent years, De Randamie looked woefully bad on the mat against current champion, Amanda Nunes, in a 2013 fight.
The Dutch fighter defends takedowns well against the fence and keeps her stance lowered to sprawl in an instant. I think Ladd’s best chance of taking the fight to the mat would be some kind of reactive takedown (like she showed against Lina Lansberg).
While I see obvious paths to victory for both fighters, I’m taking my chances on Germaine De Randamie at +140 because I cap her as a slight favorite.
My Main Plays
- 2 units on Karl Roberson at -150
- 2.5 units on Brianna Van Buren at +130
- 0.66 units on Jonathan Martinez at +170
- 2 units on Lyoto Machida (cashed) and Ricky Simon at +114
- 2.5 units on Germaine De Randamie at +140
Hit the form below to sign up to my mailing list. There will be betting lines for the Contender Series, PFL and Bellator coming soon and you won’t want to miss my exclusive email-only tips.