Saitama Super Arena, the site of some of the biggest events in MMA history, is set to host another card this weekend. The UFC returns with an event that is unlikely to join the hallowed list of Shockwaves and Final Conflicts, but should provide some solid entertainment nonetheless. MMAOddsBreaker’s Brad Taschuk takes a look at the card from top-to-bottom, looks at where the lines have moved from the 5Dimes Sportsbook openers, and tries to pluck some value out of the odds where they stand now.
Ovince Saint Preux (-555) vs. Yushin Okami (+365): This line has tightened up a bit, but really hasn’t moved much in either direction. That makes sense to me, as it’s a strange fight to get a handle on. The fact that this is the best the UFC could come up with (even in Japan, even on short notice) speaks volumes about the state of the 205lb division across the sport right now. And the fact that I’m not immediately confident enough in OSP to lay -440 on him against a career middleweight who has recently been plying his trade at welterweight also speaks volumes about him. The smart bet is probably OSP by TKO near even money, as four of Okami’s last five losses have come by TKO. I just can’t bring myself to play it.
Claudia Gadelha (-265) vs. Jessica Andrade (+185): Gadelha’s submission game had been underrated for a long time, as she has been fighting a string of the best fighters in the world for a significant stretch now. That culminated in her submission prop being in excess of +1000 in her last fight. While that number won’t be around again for a while, I believe that Gadelha by submission could be in play again here. While Andrade has been able to overpower most of her opponents since dropping to 115, she won’t be able to against Gadelha, and that will allow Gadelha’s technical superiority to shine through. At the opening price of +465, I likely would have used the sub prop as a round robin leg, but since it has dropped to +320, I prefer the Gadelha moneyline at -275 as a parlay piece.
Dong Hyun Kim (-270) vs. Takanori Gomi (+190): Look. I get it. I do. Takanori Gomi is shot. Beyond shot. He’s lost each of his last four by TKO in the first round, and has shown nothing in any of those fights. His last win was more than three years ago against an Isaac Vallie-Flagg with no back. Still, I’m going to bet him in excess of +300 against Dong Hyun Kim. Kim has fought some of the worst fighters in the UFC and he has a losing record doing so. If there was ever a time to take one last shot on Gomi, this is it. He’s facing the lowest level fighter he’s gone up against in years and years, and that fighter doesn’t have much of a grappling game, which is always Gomi’s biggest downfall.
Gokhan Saki (-160) vs. Henrique da Silva (+120): It seems like the assumption is that a fighter who has never grappled, never focused on grappling, and probably has no interest in learning how to grapple, is somehow going to avoid being outgrappled in an MMA fight. Saki’s best hope is that Frank Waisten doesn’t even try to grapple, because if he does, he’s probably going to have success. Saki by TKO or Silva on the ground (a ground-and-pound TKO from dominant position might even be more likely than a sub) are the two outcomes here, because the gaps in skill are just way too big in those areas. I’m not particularly eager to bet anything, but just judging by the numbers, Silva by TKO at +510 is the most intriguing play.
Teruto Ishihara (-175) vs. Rolando Dy (+135): This seems like “Ishihara has been struggling, but he’s got a personality and an entertaining style, so let’s get him back on track” type of matchup. Dy is tough, but not overly skilled, and where he does have skills, Ishihara would seem to outmatch him. That said, given Ishihara’s inconsistency and cardio woes, I can certainly understand why this line is now -150/+140, and until Ishihara shows some improvement I can’t back him even at this price.
Alex Morono (-150) vs. Keita Nakamura (+110): Another line that has tightened, but a much tougher fight to call for me. I don’t consider Morono much of a round winner based on his skills, but he’s great at wearing opponents down and taking over with pure aggression later in fights. Against a proven durable fighter like Nakamura who has shown that he has solid cardio as well, I just don’t see him being able to do enough early to have the fight within reach of him stealing it late. Of course, this could just be me underestimating Morono again, but I’m considering Nakamura as a bet at +115.
Jussier Formiga (-475) vs. Yuta Sasaki (+325): Sasaki is a good grappler. Formiga is a great grappler, with perhaps the best back-taking ability in all of MMA. Sasaki is tall, but hasn’t figured out how to use that in the striking game. Formiga has quietly become a very competent striker in the flyweight division. Neither fighter is a particularly phenomenal wrestler. While the line is a bit long, I think Formiga’s edges are significant enough that he’s probably the safest pick on this card. We’ve also seen Sasaki fade later in fights, and that should allow Formiga — who doesn’t have spectacular cardio — to coast to the finish once he gets up early.
Syuri Kondo (-130) vs. Chan-Mi Jeon (-110): I remember that Jeon fought in the UFC before, but I have zero recollection of that fight. Kondo I’ve never seen fight. So… I’m probably not the best person to talk about this one.
Luke Jumeau (-180) vs. Shinsho Anzai (+140): Jumeau surprised me in his UFC debut. I thought he was just some local guy they found to fill in on short notice for a New Zealand card, but he was more impressive than I anticipated. His striking was sharp, and that should serve him well against a sloppy power puncher with poor defense who hasn’t competed in two years. Anzai is the better wrestler here, but I don’t think he can maintain his wrestling at the level he would need to win this fight for an entire 15 minutes, and I have to give Jumeau the edge. However, he’s up to nearly -250 now, and I can’t justify playing that.
Hyun Gyu Lim (-170) vs. Daichi Abe (+130): Abe has fought a whole lot of not good fighters to be a pick ’em against an established UFC vet. Lim has lost two in a row by TKO, and has been out over a year — both obvious red flags — but he’s also fought top 10 and top 15 level competition in the UFC and been competitive, while dominating fighters at a lower level that he’s faced. Maybe I’m just not seeing it on tape with Abe, but I think he’s closer to Guimaraes, Krauss, and Sato (Lim’s three UFC wins) than Saffedeine, Magny, and Perry (Lim’s UFC losses). At the even money price, I’m siding with the Korean.
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