I dislike UFC Fight Night 218 from a betting perspective, but I’m still going to stay up all night watching it like the rest of you degenerates!
There are a couple of interesting betting spots, but I’m not going to force any bad action. I’ll save the bulk of my wagers for live betting.
Here are my MMA predictions for the main card.
Yusaku Kinoshita vs. Adam Fugitt
It’s obvious what outcome the UFC management team are trying to engineer with this matchmaking.
Yusaku Kinoshita just scored a spectacular pull counter KO on the Contender Series and he hails from a continent where they could use more rising stars.
It’s hard to assess Kinoshita’s ceiling at 22-years-of-age, but he has plenty of positive attributes – particularly his speed, athleticism and shot selection on the feet.
A polished southpaw striker, I expect Kinoshita to entertain inside the octagon and remain in the UFC for years to come.
Adam Fugitt is a serviceable striker himself, albeit his style is awkward and unaesthetic. Also a southpaw, Fuggit has a good lead hand and diverse array of left kicks.
I’ve seen him perform admirably against southpaws in his regional footage, so I doubt he’ll be bothered by fighting a leftie. However, there is a noticeable difference in the speed of both combatants – which will be difficult for Fugitt to overcome.
Fugitt is competent on the mat and will proactively mix takedowns into his offense. He should also have a size advantage over his Japanese adversary.
I couldn’t get a good read of Kinoshita’s ground game, but we saw him concede a takedown and give up his back in a 2021 RIZIN fight – so this could be a path to victory for the American.
That said, I’ve got burned betting against young athletic prospects like this in the past. I think Kinoshita has the potential to be a very formidable welterweight as he matures and develops.
It’s hard to pick against Yusaku Kinoshita in this spot, but I want nothing to do with his -325 moneyline.
Doo Ho Choi vs. Kyle Nelson
This card was originally set for Korea, so I understand why the Korean fighters have been matched up favorably.
Kyle Nelson has struggled to get wins in the UFC, and I don’t see his luck improving this weekend – particularly at featherweight where he has a significant weight cut.
On the feet, the Canadian is effective, yet crude. He does a good job of mixing up his shots to the legs, body and head and he has some skills in the clinch – but I don’t think there is much depth to his game and he suffers from horrendous cardio issues.
He was breathing heavily after an unremarkable first round against Jai Herbert and completely checked out after conceding a takedown in round three.
Nelson carries power and could score an early knockout, but I think he’s severely outmatched from a technical perspective.
Doo Ho Choi is a much more efficient boxer. I can see him find openings through and around the guard of Nelson, which will probably lead to an early finish.
However, Choi is a renowned frontrunner himself and his defense (especially against combinations) goes out the window when he starts to tire.
If the fight devolves into a mess, it wouldn’t be out of the question for Nelson to swing big and connect with something.
I have to side with the superior technician in Doo Ho Choi and I believe there is a bit of value on his -180 moneyline.
Marcin Tybura vs. Blagoy Ivanov
This is bound to be an ugly, low volume fight, with plenty of heavy breathing as two bulky heavyweights rub bellies in the clinch.
Blagoy Ivanov has an incredible backstory, yet his performances inside the octagon are less inspiring.
He moves his head a lot and uses plenty of feints, but lacks a diverse striking arsenal and primarily tries to set up a single left hand to the body or head. He also lacks footwork and mobility.
Despite his sambo credentials, we rarely see him grapple offensively. I suspect this is due to cardio concerns.
Marcin Tybura is the more complete kickboxer and he should be able to connect on a short and compact opponent, but the Pole is not a volume machine and I think he’ll struggle to hurt Ivanov.
Tybura primarily strikes in order to set up his takedowns. He is a proficient top position grappler with a black belt in BJJ, but I doubt he’ll be able to take down the stout Bulgarian sambist.
This makes me think the fight will be won or lost on the feet.
Given his insane durability, I believe Ivanov is the fighter more likely to finish.
The Bulgarian isn’t known as a power puncher, but he knocked out several opponents before he got to the UFC and we’ve seen Tybura sparked unconscious on numerous occasions.
Ultimately, the fight probably hits the scorecards and I could see a close decision either way.
I think there was value on Blagoy Ivanov at +170, but he has now been bet down to +115 which feels accurate.
Da Un Jung vs. Devin Clark
Korean fighters are renowned for prioritizing offense over defense, and Da Un Jung certainly fits the mould. It was only a matter of time before he got knocked out and it happened in his last fight against a precise, technical kickboxer in Dustin Jacoby.
Perhaps Jung has made some adjustments since the loss, but I don’t think a lack of defense will cost him against Devin Clark – who is one of the stiffest strikers on the roster.
We’ve seen solid takedown defense from the Korean as well as an ability to get back to his feet. Unless he gets completely pinned against the fence by the American, he should find opportunities to separate and throw hands.
In open space, I expect Jung to land powerful boxing combinations as well as vicious elbow attacks. Outside of Clark connecting with a huge telegraphed overhand, I don’t expect the striking to be competitive.
We’ve seen Clark dig deep in the past and grit out victories, but he typically loses in emphatic fashion and I don’t like his chances of springing the upset this weekend.
Da Un Jung is one of the most exciting athletes at light heavyweight and I think this is a great fight for him stylistically.
Derrick Lewis vs. Sergey Spivak
Superhuman punching power is both a gift and a curse. If you can knock a dude senseless with one shot, you don’t need to develop real striking fundamentals.
Derrick Lewis’ entire game is focussed on orchestrating situations where he can land a clean right hand on his opponent’s chin. Sometimes he will fake injuries and lull opponents into a false sense of security – all with the big KO shot in mind.
Given the limitations of his game, it’s amazing that Lewis has hung around the top of the division for so long. Some may regard him as the biggest overachiever in UFC history!
After a couple of rough performances, I think this is a winnable fight for him.
Sergey Spivak throws a stiff jab and has a functional boxing game, but he is hittable on the feet and can look like a deer in the headlights against dangerous strikers.
His fight against Tom Aspinall was a terrible look (albeit he was on short notice) and I guarantee Lewis will try to intimidate him inside the octagon.
Spivak’s game plan will be to get to the clinch as soon as possible, where he is proficient with trips and throws.
The Moldovan doesn’t have the best top control, but his grappling cardio is proven and he will happily rinse and repeat with takedowns until he gets to a dominant position and finds the finish.
Interestingly, Lewis has fared better against grapplers than strikers throughout his career. Time and time again, we’ve seen “The Black Beast” nonchalantly climb to his feet while high level BJJ players are trying to control him.
Would it be shocking if Lewis got taken down a few times, got back to his feet and eventually found the kill shot? Not to me.
Lewis looks in better shape for this fight and understands his cardio must be on point against an opponent who will try to grind him out.
I think Derrick Lewis is the value side and I don’t blame anyone for taking a gamble at +200.