UFC on FOX 28 is a solid card with plenty of interesting stylistic clashes. There are a couple of betting spots I like too.
Here are my main card MMA predictions from a betting perspective.
Eryk Anders vs. Kyle Daukaus
Eryk Anders looked like an exciting prospect when he first stormed into the UFC, but he has struggled to string wins together in recent years.
I believe this is a winnable fight for him.
While Anders is a bit stiff and lumbering, he has serviceable boxing and a powerful left hand. If he can keep the striking competitive in open space, it’s possible he racks up control time against the fence and maybe gets some takedowns in order to claim the victory.
Kyle Daukaus is the more fluid boxer and the infinitely more dangerous submission artist, but I’m not confident that he can dictate where the fight takes place in order to capitalize on his skills.
I consider Daukaus to be the more complete mixed martial artist, but we’ve seen him struggle against physical athletes who’ve put it on him in the past – and Anders fits that mold.
I think the value is on Eryk Anders at +170, but he isn’t a guy I want to trust with my money.
Jack Hermansson vs. Roman Dolidze
Despite going 5-1 in the UFC, I’m not sold on Roman Dolidze. The Georgian packs a serious punch, but I’m yet to see him consistently win minutes against a high level opponent.
Dolidze manages distance well and aims to walk opponents onto check hooks and head kicks, but his game lacks coherence.
He is hittable, slows down in later rounds and despite having some crafty submissions in his arsenal, he isn’t a great wrestler or positional grappler.
Perhaps he can rise to the occasion and prove me wrong, but I think he’s in for a tough night against the well-rounded and reliable Nordic contender.
Jack Hermansson showed off an improved striking game against a boxing-centric opponent in his last fight. With plenty of lateral footwork, kicks and intercepting punches, Hermansson was able to dance circles around Chris Curtis and win on the scorecards.
While he wasn’t able to take Curtis down, I think he’ll be able to get his wrestling going in this contest – particularly in the second half of the fight.
Hermansson has a base in Greco-Roman wrestling and he blends his ground strikes with his grappling excellently.
We may see Dolidze fish for leg locks and other low percentage submissions, but I don’t think he’ll have much luck against a high level grappler like “The Joker”.
I like Jack Hermansson to prevail against a dangerous, yet less refined opponent.
Tai Tuivasa vs. Sergei Pavlovich
Tai Tuivasa is one of the most entertaining fighters on the roster. The large and animalistic Australian delivers huge knockouts and then drinks beer out of a shoe, which endears him to the UFC’s fanbase.
While Tuivasa possesses heavy low kicks and a dangerous clinch game, his pure boxing ability is raw. When a guy his size connects with a punch, it’s going to hurt – but he’s struggled against more fundamental strikers in the past.
If Sergei Pavlovich doesn’t get caught by a haymaker or have his lead leg decimated, I think this is his fight to lose.
The Russian has a stiff jab, uses feints to draw out power shots from opponents and then punishes them with heavy counters.
This is a heavyweight bout and anything can happen, but Sergei Pavlovich should get the job done.
Matheus Nicolau vs. Matt Schnell
Matheus Nicolau has looked impressive since returning to the UFC, racking up three straight wins.
The Brazilian has precise counters off the back foot, rips the body well and has good low kicks. He is also a BJJ black belt with strong takedown defense.
I enjoy his patient and methodical style, but he doesn’t always put exclamation points on rounds and his output can wane at times.
Matt Schnell is also a well-rounded combatant, but his approach is far more reckless and he often rushes his action. He fights like a gambler who has been robbed by Sal D’Amato on the scorecards and is tilting to get his money back.
If Schnell takes the front foot, throws punches in bunches and mixes in low kicks (as he normally does), I think he can make this competitive. The major concern is that he leaves his chin sky high and tends to brawl when he doesn’t need to.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Schnell has a good start to this contest before getting bonked out of the blue by a hard counter.
Matheus Nicolau is the rightful favorite and I’m picking him to win, but there is no way I’d bet him at -370. This is an obvious underdog or pass spot as far as betting goes.
Rafael dos Anjos vs. Bryan Barberena
While Rafael dos Anjos is the older man with substantially more fights under his belt, Bryan Barberena is the athlete who looks more shopworn.
In addition to horrific injuries outside of the cage, Barberena is one of the least defensively sound fighters in the welterweight division and has sustained a lot of damage in his career.
Barberena was able to outlast an aging Robbie Lawler in a war of attrition, but this is a significantly stiffer test.
The Brazilian throws a clean 1-2, has effective low kicks against another southpaw and should be able to mix in takedowns whenever his opponent gets over-aggressive.
Respectfully, I just don’t see the man who gave Rafael Fiziev a competitive fight struggling with an opponent like Barberena.
Rafael dos Anjos should win comfortably, although I wouldn’t touch his -500 moneyline.
Stephen Thompson vs. Kevin Holland
Skill for skill, this is a very winnable fight for Stephen Thompson – yet all of the intangibles favor Kevin Holland.
Not only is Holland younger, more athletic and with less mileage on his body – he stands 6’3 with an 81-inch reach, which presents difficulties for an older veteran who likes to move in and out of range.
Holland loads up on his punches and lunges in when attacking. He’s also hittable and lacks fight IQ.
However, “Trailblazer” is dangerous on the outside as well as in the pocket and he consistently finds openings to hurt opponents. I also think Holland has grappling upside in this contest.
Thompson fights with his hands low and relies on his reflexes for defense. That isn’t a style that typically ages well.
While his striking looked fine in the standing portions against Gilbert Burns and Belal Muhammad, he is still 39-years-of-age and in a weird positon in his career.
“Wonderboy” is unlikely to get another title shot, so will he be motivated to leave no stone unturned while preparing for a young, hungry lion like Holland? I have no idea.
I’m not sure how much value there is at -145, but I have to pick Kevin Holland in this main event.