UFC Fight Night 230 looks like a good card for betting and there are plenty of interesting stylistic clashes. Here are my main card MMA predictions.
Cameron Saaiman vs. Christian Rodriguez
Hailing from South Africa, Cameron Saaiman primarily fights as a kickboxer and is doing his best to round out his grappling skills from camp to camp.
Saaiman moves lightly on his feet and does an excellent job of mixing up his punches and kicks. He grapples enthusiastically and has shown an ability to sweep lower-tier competition, but I have concerns about his overall positional awareness on the mat.
I believe Saaiman will develop into a fine bantamweight in the future, but he is still early in his MMA journey and needs a bit more seasoning (in my humble opinion).
Christian Rodriguez fights with the composure and maturity of a much older fighter. He never panics when in bad positions and consistently makes high percentage moves.
His boxing is smooth and efficient, with no wasted energy expenditure. While he doesn’t typically initiate grappling, he is slick in transition and I believe the ground game represents his biggest advantage in this fight.
Rodriguez isn’t a big bantamweight, yet he missed weight significantly on Friday. Word on the street is that he is not suffering from an injury and is planning to pursue a grappling approach, so a bit of extra bulk could help him in this regard.
I have to side with the more complete fighter in Christian Rodriguez and I see value at -145.
Andre Petroski vs. Michel Pereira
Andre Petroski has some balls to take this fight on short notice because he has a history of gassing out and this is not an easy matchup stylistically.
Petroski has good takedown entries, chains well off the single leg and is a savvy grappler from top position – but he has some major holes in his striking.
The Pennsylvanian primarily throws single strikes and is stiff as a board. His defense also gets worse as his cardio depletes and he will hate receiving front kicks to the gut in this open stance fight.
He needs an early finish or two rounds of top control without dying in the third. Both scenarios are possible, but not probable.
Michel Pereira moves well laterally and should be able to pick Petroski apart at a distance. The Brazilian has good takedown defense, although he hasn’t faced a wrestler of Petroski’s caliber in his career thus far.
Pereira got planted on his back by Tristan Connelly, but that was earlier in his career when he hadn’t figured out how to manage his energy.
Moving up to middleweight should help Pereira. He was one of the biggest welterweights on the roster and he looked fit and healthy at the weigh-ins.
The books have Michel Pereira lined at -210, which feels about right to me. I’ll personally be hoping for a live bet entry on the Brazilian.
Jonathan Martinez vs. Adrian Yanez
This fight will be won by whoever can dictate distance. Jonathan Martinez has the advantage at kicking range and in the clinch, whereas Adrian Yanez is the more proficient boxer.
Martinez is left-side dominant and throws heavy kicks to the body and inside leg. He fires the left hand like a piston and has a devastating knee to intercept opponents with.
However, I don’t think he is comfortable exchanging on the inside and we saw him get brutally banged out by Davey Grant after a promising start to the fight. His wins haven’t aged well and he was fortunate to get his hand raised against Said Nurmagomedov.
Adrian Yanez possesses some of the sharpest hands in the division and he understands how to force his game onto opponents. I enjoyed when he started punching with Randy Costa to take away his jab and when he kept countering the kicks of Tony Kelly (which is vitally important here).
While the KO loss to Rob Font wasn’t a good look, Martinez is a different style of striker and I think this is a more favorable matchup. I like Yanez to defend and counter the incoming kicks, edge his way inside and start ripping the body and head.
Martinez is good at swimming for inside position and landing knees and elbows in the clinch, but he will have to eat some punches in order to tie up and I believe Yanez is the grittier of the two combatants.
I like Adrian Yanez for a bet at -105.
Jennifer Maia vs. Vivianne Araujo
If it wasn’t for her gas tank, I’d happily pull the trigger on Vivianne Araujo at +135. She has thudding low kicks, clean boxing and is great at ripping the body.
She is also the more skilled grappler and has the ability to mix in takedowns – but she must measure risk and reward with her energy expenditure.
I just hate her optics in the later rounds. When her muscles fill up with lactic acid, she becomes extremely stiff and her volume drops off a cliff.
Jennifer Maia isn’t the most entertaining fighter, but she stays in perpetual motion and does a good job of taking her head off the center line and countering with punches in bunches. Maia also fades in the later rounds, but not to the same extent of her opponent.
Maia has a high likelihood of winning round three, which makes it difficult to take a shot on the underdog.
With a stocky build and low center of gravity, Maia is good at defending takedowns – but she is a bit of a turtle off her back. If Araujo can time takedowns and rack up top time without blowing her gas tank – this represents a clear path to victory.
Vivianne Araujo to win by decision is the line that stands out to me at +225. I don’t think there is a strong moneyline position on this fight.
Sodiq Yusuff vs. Edson Barboza
I understand the impetus to bet on the younger, fresher fighter with less mileage on his body – but this is a tough matchup for Sodiq Yusuff on paper.
Yusuff takes the front foot and will blast opponents with low kicks and heavy punches when he has them cornered, but he leaves plenty of defensive openings when applying pressure and his chin is questionable.
If he fights like he did against Arnold Allen and Alex Caceres, Edson Barboza should have room to get his kicks going as well as land intercepting shots as Yusuff walks forward.
In fact, Barboza’s boxing has come a long way in the later stages of his career and he is no longer a sitting duck once you crash the distance past his kicks.
Barboza has a high striking IQ and will be able capitalize on Yusuff’s defensive openings so long as he has room to operate.
However, Barboza is getting long in the tooth and his chin is looking worse for wear. He has been on the wrong side of some horrifying knockout losses and sustained a lot of damage fighting against the best lightweights and featherweights in the world.
Yusuff is in the prime of his career right now and could win by dragging the older man into the later rounds and bombarding him.
I’ll pick Edson Barboza to come through as the underdog, but the fight to be won by KO is the line I like the most at -155.