To celebrate Mexican Independence Day, some of the best Mexican prospects in the UFC will be competing on this card – headlined by an intriguing rematch between Alexa Grasso and Valentina Shevchenko.
I like UFC Fight Night 227 for wagering and I will have a bunch of bets this weekend.
Fernando Padilla vs. Kyle Nelson
Kyle Nelson has reeled in the reckless aggression in recent performances and has fought more tactically. This earned him a win against Blake Bilder, a draw against Doo Ho Choi and a competitive decision loss against Jai Herbert.
His goal will be to make the fight ugly against Fernando Padilla. I expect him to avoid boxing exchanges wherever possible, rely on a kick-centric attack in open space and try to grind his opponent against the fence.
We may also see takedowns from the Canadian, although it’s unclear what kind of success he can have from top position.
Padilla was taken down in his regional footage, but the young Mexican is extremely active off his back with submission attempts and I don’t think he’ll be easy for Nelson to control.
Furthermore, Padilla has shown an ability to check kicks and I think his hand speed and precise placement of punches should cause massive issues for Nelson whenever the two fighters are separated.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Nelson is competitive early, but I just don’t see him squeaking out an ugly sports decision in an unfavorable matchup like this.
I wouldn’t bet on Fernando Padilla at -240, although I like him to win. Live betting could be the best option.
Christos Giagos vs. Daniel Zellhuber
After faltering in his UFC debut against Trey Ogden, Daniel Zellhuber looked far more impressive in his subsequent victory over Lando Vannata.
The Mexican prospect is freakishly lanky for a lightweight and he understands how to manipulate distance to his advantage. Zellhuber has clean boxing, good counters and a devastating knee down the middle – which could be used to intercept Christos Giagos as he closes the distance.
Despite being put on the mat by a well-timed double leg by Ogden, Zellhuber’s grappling looks solid and I’m not sure Giagos has a grappling path outside of the first round.
Giagos has done well against lower tier opponents, but has typically failed when he gets a step up in competition. “The Spartan” is outclassed from a technical perspective, but has a thin path to victory if he can remain evasive before crashing the distance with big looping shots and intelligent takedown entries.
Outside of an early finish, I just can’t see Giagos having sustained success without gassing out or getting cracked heavily. His chin might be toast and he’s had cardio problems his entire career.
I think -275 is a justified price tag for Daniel Zellhuber, although his +250 KO line may represent the best value on this fight.
Raul Rojas Jr. vs. Terrence Mitchell
Everyone who competes in combat sports deserves respect, but Terrence Mitchell is an amateur-level fighter and should be nowhere near the UFC.
Mitchell has some comprehension of grappling and has racked up submission wins on the notoriously terrible Alaskan regional circuit, but he lacks positional awareness, has no wrestling, cannot strike and will be facing an infinitely superior grappler to him.
Raul Rojas is no world-beater, but he should have every advantage including physicality and athleticism. I expect Rojas to hit an easy takedown, advance to a dominant position and finish the fight early.
This is not the type of prop I usually like, but Raul Rojas to win by submission currently sits at -175 and represents the most obvious outcome for the fight.
Jack Della vs. Kevin Holland
I know handicappers with significant wagers on both sides here. Personally, I’m somewhat on the fence.
Jack Della has a limited skillset, but has been great at forcing opponents into his style of fight. The Australian chops away with low kicks at range, carefully cuts off the octagon and then unleashes big combinations to the head and body once his opponent is cornered against the fence with nowhere to run.
On paper, a tall and rangy out-fighter with a huge reach advantage like Kevin Holland could cause him problems. Holland is not the slickest boxer in exchanges, but he has a clean jab, counters well with the right and has an array of kicks to chip away at opponents as he moves laterally.
Holland played the matador role excellently against Santiago Ponzinibbio – who followed him rather than cut him off and was even moving backward at points during the contest! I think Della will do a better job at making the octagon small, but I anticipate him to get stung a number of times as he closes the distance.
It will be a cold day in Hell when Holland decides to use his grappling (aside from the occasional opportunistic front choke), but it wouldn’t be a bad idea in this scenario. Della showed questionable grappling in his last bout and Holland could use wrestling to mix things up and give the boxer more to think about.
Kevin Holland is the more tempting side for a bet at plus money, but I could see this go either way.
Alexa Grasso vs. Valentina Shevchenko
When the odds came out for this rematch, I felt we were getting a discount on Valentina Shevchenko – who showed the ability to hit takedowns and control Alexa Grasso for significant portions of the fight.
Upon rewatching, Shevchenko looked as if she lost a step and Grasso’s speed advantage was evident on the feet. I also believe Grasso’s southpaw stance took Shevchenko by surprise and negated her kicks to the body and head (which have been legendary throughout her career).
Furthermore, Shevchenko was primarily effective with the reactive double leg (which Grasso will have surely prepared for). Her head-and-arm throw was not as useful and it’s not out of the question for Grasso to shoot takedowns herself.
Shevchenko has been a great champion, but her appraisal of the first fight sounded delusional. She spoke as if it was a dominant performance ruined by a critical mistake, when in reality the scores could’ve been tied if round four ended with Grasso on her back.
It’s possible that Shevchenko puts on a top control clinic, but my intuition tells me that -160 is a trap line. Both women have gotten to know one each other well and there will be strategic adaptions from both camps.
Shevchenko has relied on speed and reflexes throughout her career, so her performances could drop off a cliff as she ages. Father Time is undefeated, as they say.
You can make a case for both fighters, but I’m picking Alexa Grasso to reclaim her belt this weekend.