I’m coming off a monstrously profitable weekend and I’m frothing at the mouth at the thought of raking in more cold hard cash on Saturday.
UFC Vegas 54 is an underwhelming card, although I think there are a couple of good betting spots. Here are my main card UFC Fight Night predictions.
Frank Camacho vs. Manuel Torres
I’m not sure what to make of Manuel Torres. His earlier regional footage looked sloppy, but his technique was far cleaner in his Contender Series bout against Kolton Englund.
He showed an ability to fight long with a crisp jab and nice low kicks, but against a low tier opponent.
Furthermore, the fight didn’t really get going as Englund was caught by an accidental eye poke that the referee missed and Torres took the opportunity to finish.
Most of Torres’ finishes have come in the first round. What will he look like when he gets extended against a tough veteran like Frank Camacho who can slip his punches and crack him right back?
Camacho has struggled during his UFC tenure, but he has a solid skill set and has proven he belongs in the big show.
The Guam native looks in tremendous shape and is still only 32-years-of-age.
I think slow pressure, counters and potentially some grappling will serve Camacho well in this fight.
There are question marks surrounding both fighters, but based on the information available I can’t see why Frank Camacho should be the underdog.
Louis Smolka vs. Davey Grant
I’ve been impressed by the developments Davey Grant has made late in his career.
His striking has improved by leaps and bounds. He has good footwork, a potent array of long range weapons and he mixes up his shots well to the legs, body and head of his opponent.
The Englishman is tough as old boots and he also has a purple belt in BJJ to fall back on.
Grant is long in the tooth for a bantamweight at 36-years-of-age and despite performing well against Adrian Yanez and Marlon Vera, he faded in both fights.
Louis Smolka is the lesser athlete and will probably get lit up in the early stages of this contest, but I think he can find success with a pressure-heavy game plan.
The Hawaiian must stay on the front foot, cut off the octagon and look for counters (Grant often loads up and overextends on punches).
I don’t think Smolka has the strength to hit takedowns early on, but he might be able to once Grant is worn down.
Smolka isn’t the most positionally sound grappler, but is smooth in transition and should be a handful for the Englishman if he can get on top.
Louis Smolka is an interesting underdog at +250, although live betting might be a better option since he will struggle early.
Katlyn Chookagian vs. Amanda Ribas
This is weird matchmaking, since Amanda Ribas is a natural strawweight and is going to look undersized against a big flyweight in Katlyn Chookagian.
Stylistically, I think this is a good fight for Chookagian. She fires her punches straight down the barrel and will use teep kicks to maintain distance.
Ribas has good hands herself and a nice pull counter, but I think she is going to struggle with the size and length of “Blonde Fighter”. If Ribas does get into the clinch, I suspect her upper body takedowns will be difficult to hit on such a lanky opponent.
Both women are good grapplers, although Ribas is a bit of a turtle off her back. If Chookagian can secure top position, then she likely takes the round.
I think there was some value on Katlyn Chookagian at -150, although -185 is less appealing.
Ryan Spann vs. Ion Cutelaba
I haven’t been impressed by Ryan Spann’s recent fights. “Superman” has power in his hands and a tight guillotine – but his negative attributes outweigh the positive ones.
Spann’s gas tank is bad and his decision making is even worse.
His defense is porous, which isn’t complimented by a weak chin. It doesn’t take much to put him on wobbly legs and he is facing a certified killer in Ion Cutelaba.
Formerly, the Moldovan fighter was a crude power puncher who would blow his gas tank trying to find the early finish. However, he has added new wrinkles to his game since moving to Xtreme Couture and seems to be on a positive trajectory.
Cutelaba still hits like a truck, but he picks his shots more intelligently, has improved defensively and his wrestling has never looked better.
His use of wrestling rides will be paramount against Spann, whose cardio will surely abandon him in a grueling fight. If Cutelaba can get him flat on his back in open space, I think the fight is a wrap.
I like Ion Cutelaba here and I can’t argue with the -220 price tag.
Jan Blachowicz vs. Aleksandar Rakic
Coming off a disappointing fight where he lost his belt to Glover Teixeira, Jan Blachowicz looks to get back in the title picture as fast as possible.
At 39-years-of-age, you’d think his best years are behind him – but you can never count him out of a fight and he relishes the role of underdog.
Blachowicz is an awkward kickboxer with good counters, power in both hands and heavy kicks (particularly his body kick when he switches to southpaw).
The Polish fighter has good takedown defense and is excellent at checking low kicks, which should come in handy against Aleksandar Rakic.
Also predominantly a striker, Rakic is most dangerous at kicking range. He is intelligent when setting up his power shots and should have a speed advantage as the much younger man.
I think Rakic is more likely to mix in his wrestling, although I’m not sure he will be able to hit takedowns. He could potentially rack up some control time against the fence, as we saw Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza do this to Blachowicz.
I feel that Aleksandar Rakic has the tools to edge out rounds, but I don’t think there is value on his -190 moneyline.
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