UFC on ESPN 52 – Beneil Dariush vs. Arman Tsarukyan – Main Card Betting Predictions

Check out my MMA picks for the main card of UFC on ESPN 52.

Punahele Soriano vs. Dustin Stoltzfus

On paper, this looks like a favorable matchup for Punahele Soriano. The Hawaiian lacks finesse with his striking and is a renowned front-runner, but I don’t think Dustin Stoltzfus is the guy to take advantage of these shortcomings.

We’ve seen Soriano defend takedowns while tired against Nick Maximov and he avoided being put in any terrible positions.

Stoltzfus may be the more technical striker, but he is so flat-footed and hittable that it probably won’t make a difference. Even if Stoltzfus wins the aggregate of exchanges standing, he is always in danger of being hurt and won’t be able to wrestle his way to victory unless Soriano makes an egregious mistake.

If Stoltzfus is to emerge victorious, I believe he needs Soriano to blow his gas tank in the first round and hope the fight descends into a mess. This could happen since Soriano is so uneconomical with his energy expenditure, but I wouldn’t put money on it personally.

Punahele Soriano is the rightful favorite, but I have no interest in playing him at -340.

Clay Guida vs. Joaquim Silva

I’d love to know who is betting Joaquim Silva at -325, because he is not the kind of guy I would ever trust at juiced odds.

The Brazilian is a skilled striker and has the grappling acumen to stay safe on the mat, but he often sits back looking to land the perfect punch and doesn’t put an exclamation point on rounds. He sometimes gets outhustled and his chin is dust at this point in his career.

Silva has natural power and I could see him knocking out Clay Guida with a lead hook or well-timed knee, but I wouldn’t count on it at these odds.

How many times have we seen Guida stall fights out against the fence and win ugly decisions?

“The Carpenter” is getting up there in age and is more hittable than ever these days, but he has the cardio to wrestle for fifteen minutes and that might be enough to get him in the win column this weekend.

I think Clay Guida is the value side at +270, but this is not a fight I’m desperate to get involved with.

Sean Brady vs. Kelvin Gastelum

This is one of the most interesting stylistic clashes on the card, since both men have advantages where the other is weak. Kelvin Gastelum should dominate the striking exchanges, whereas Sean Brady will have a huge edge if he can secure top position.

Brady has good timing on his lower body shots and is an effective wrestler from the clinch, but Gastelum isn’t an easy guy to take down and hold down.

Tim Kennedy and Ian Heinisch were able to get Gastelum down, but neither could establish a dominant position. Kennedy blew his gas tank trying to wrestle and eventually got beaten up on the feet as a result, and I could see a similar outcome here.

That said, Brady is one of the best top players at welterweight and has a better chance of consolidating control after a takedown.

Interestingly, Gastelum is back down at his natural weight class and looked to be in the best shape of his career on the scales. Now that he won’t be fighting with a size disadvantage, I like his chances in this fight.

You can make a case for either fighter, but I lean toward Kelvin Gastelum getting his hand raised.

Rob Font vs. Deiveson Figueiredo

Deiveson Figueiredo possesses a good skill set, but it was his freakish athleticism and talent for capitalizing on small windows of opportunity that led him to the top of the flyweight division.

Now in his mid-thirties and giving up his physicality edge at bantamweight, I’m not convinced we will see another reign of terror from “Deus da Guerra”.

Henry Cejudo is a master strategist, so I’m sure he will have prepared to negate Rob Font’s boxing advantage. I expect Figueiredo to interrupt Font’s jab with low kicks, look for big counters and attempt to mix in wrestling in order to make this a frustrating night for the New England native.

I’m just not confident in his ability to execute.

If Font comes out like he did against Jose Aldo (switching stances and getting in Figueiredo’s face), I think he can cause major issues.

Figueiredo hits hard and could find a home for low kicks if he has the space to work, but I expect Font to win the aggregate of exchanges with his superior jab and intelligent selection of shots.

Font is also a better defensive grappler than he showed in his short-notice fight against Cory Sandhagen and I expect him to make Figueiredo work hard for takedowns.

I like Rob Font here and I think there is value at -130.

Bobby Green vs. Jalin Turner

In his media interview, Jalin Turner was anything but enthusiastic about his upcoming performance.

It sounds as if his arm was twisted in order to take this short-notice fight and it took him two attempts to make weight on the scale – which suggests he had a huge cut.

Turner is proficient at kicking range, has dangerous intercepting weapons and is good at keeping shorter fighters at bay. He leaves his chin high in exchanges, but can fight comfortably on the inside with knees and elbows.

The main issues for Turner are his chin, weak takedown defense and poor cardio. It’s astonishing that Turner can even make the lightweight limit, so I assume a welterweight debut is on the horizon shortly.

Bobby Green doesn’t have as many weapons in his striking arsenal, but his fast reflexes and smooth technical boxing make him a formidable adversary.

Green will have to weather an early storm, but his cardio has always been solid and he has the advantage of a full training camp. I believe Green can work his way into this fight and it’s not out of the question for him to mix in some wrestling here and there.

This looks like a competitive fight to me and I see value on Bobby Green at anything north of +150.

Beneil Dariush vs. Arman Tsarukyan

On paper, this is a winnable fight for Beneil Dariush.

The Kings MMA fighter has good takedown defense, is difficult to hold down and possesses a nasty southpaw striking repertoire with one of the best left kicks in the division.

He has good timing with knees in order to deter wrestlers and I think he can hold a good account of himself in the early stages of this bout.

Unfortunately for Dariush, he is not the most gifted athlete and tends to slow down in high-paced fights.

Arman Tsarukyan is somewhat basic on the feet, but he does a good job of moving in and out of range and has enough striking to help him to set up his level changes. Tsarukyan has good open space shots and excellent chain-wrestling from the clinch.

Even if Dariush is able to fend of takedowns initially, I think the pace will eventually wear him down.

Tsarukyan is a beast of an athlete and I expect him to take over in the later rounds.

There is no value on Arman Tsarukyan at -300, but this could be an excellent live betting opportunity.