Searching for some betting opportunities this Saturday before UFC Denver, we have a stacked ACB card taking place in Moscow, Russia. ACB is one of my favorite promotions for betting since there is so much footage available on the league’s YouTube channel. I’m especially intrigued by this lightweight showdown between Polish jiu-jitsu ace, Marcin Held, and rugged Chechen wrestler, Musa Khamanaev.
Despite the hype before his arrival, Marcin Held did not set the world alight during his UFC tenure. Amassing a 1-3 record, the Polish grappler left the UFC for greener pastures. Now fighting for a top Russian promotion, it’s interesting to see if Held can get his career back on track.
In his ACB debut, Held fought an overmatched Australian in Callan Potter. While he took his opponent down and submitted him with ease, he appears to have a much stiffer challenge against Musa Khamanaev. Held became the youngest ever Polish jiu-jitsu black belt at the age of 21, and while he’s made efforts to round out the rest of his game – he still does his best work on the mat. I would imagine Held will look to strike initially, but eventually try to ground his opponent.
The Polish fighter has serviceable striking, but he lacks power and I doubt he will get the better of the exchanges on the feet. While he’s often able to take his opponents to the mat by tenaciously chaining takedown attempts, I question whether that will work against a physically strong opponent that has been wrestling since childhood. It’s telling that Held’s worst performances were against good wrestlers in Will Brooks and Diego Sanchez.
Khamanaev may not be a household name, but he’s a solid fighter. A quintessential Chechen wrestle-boxer, Khamanaev loads up on his strikes doesn’t put many combinations together. His wrestling is his best asset and after shooting a successful double leg, he’s usually content to hang in his opponent’s guard where he unloads with punches.
I could be wrong, but it doesn’t feel likely the Chechen fighter will be caught in a submission from the bottom. His top game looks solid and I believe he’s the more physically dominant athlete. It remains to be seen whether Khamanaev will shoot takedowns or just wrestle defensively. I believe he has the advantage on the feet and has the power to score a knockout. So long as he’s not on his back with Held on top of him, he should be winning this contest.
Against the heavy hitting Luis Palomino, Khamanaev was able to take the fight to the mat and dominate positionally in the first round. While he was knocked out in round two, Held doesn’t possess nearly the same threat as Palomino standing.
Could Held chain wrestle against the fence, score a takedown and lock in a quick submission? Absolutely. Still, I’m not sure if that’s the most likely scenario. Khamanaev conceded takedowns in his last bout with UFC veteran, Efrain Escudero, a collegiate wrestler at Grand Canyon University. Still, Khamanaev was able to work his way back to his feet and it’s worth remembering Marcin Held is a jiu-jitsu player first, wrestler second. Looking at Held’s takedowns, I don’t think this is anything the Chechen is going to be unable to deal with.
I think the value is with the underdog here. I believe Khamanaev can win the fight on the feet or perhaps land his own takedowns and dominate from top position.
Pick: Musa Khamanaev +160