The UFC was always going to have some trouble drawing their primarily male audience for a card taking place on Valentine’s Day, but the event took a big hit when main eventer Stephen Thompson dropped out of his bout with Brandon Thatch. That was the only line released for the bout, and now Thatch will be one of only two fighters on the card without a line, as the UFC has not yet announced a replacement opponent for him. Despite the lack of a main event, MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas did release the remaining lines at 5Dimes Sportsbook today. Those bouts include a solid featherweight tilt between rising prospect Max Holloway and Cole Miller, as well as a fight between a pair of welterweights who surprisingly went undefeated in 2014, Neil Magny and Kiichi Kunimoto. The event also features flyweight prospect Ray Borg, who many have high hopes for. ——————– MAIN CARD (Fox Sports 1, 10pm ET) Brandon Thatch TBA Max Holloway -380 Cole Miller +260 Neil Magny -305 Kiichi Kunimoto +225 Daniel Kelly -125 Patrick Walsh -115 Kevin Lee -230 Michel Prazeres +170 Ray Borg -380 Chris Kelades +260 ——————– PRELIMINARY CARD (Fox Sports 1, 8pm ET) Nik Lentz TBA Efrain Escudero -130 Rodrigo Lima -110 Chas Skelly -165 Jim Alers +125 Zach Makovsky -140 Tim Elliott +100 ——————– PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 7:30pm ET) James Moontasri -245 Cody Pfister +175 ——————– Brad’s Analysis: Aside from capitalizing on a slow start with the best round of his life, I see Cole Miller really struggling against Max Holloway. Holloway has a far better striking game, and his grappling has developed at a really rapid rate. Miller may have a slight edge on the ground, but he’s got no way to get this fight there. It should be competitive for the first round, but Holloway will get stronger as the fight goes and may even find a stoppage before the final bell. If not, he’ll pile up strikes and win a clear decision. It’s understandable to think that everyone will be confident in Neil Magny to continue his winning streak, but I’m not so sure. He’s still struggled with his takedown and ground defense in recent fights, and Kunimoto has a dangerous ground game that could see him get an early sub. Magny avoiding the ground and using his size to overwhelm Kunimoto on the feet is obviously the more likely outcome, but this line shouldn’t get any higher than it already is. I was on Dan Kelly in his last bout, but I think against a better wrestler in Patrick Walsh he’s not going to be able to get his Judo working. If that happens and Kelly gets stranded on the feet, he could be in trouble. Walsh isn’t a great striker by any means, but he’s busier than Kelly and I think is able to push through his fatigue a bit better. It won’t be a pretty fight, but I think Walsh takes a decision. I see Lee and Prazeres being a closer fight than the line indicates. Lee will have an edge on the feet with his significant reach advantage, but he’s still pretty raw in the striking and Prazeres is able to close the distance with some of his wild hooks. Once inside, I give a slight edge to Prazeres, even though he may not be able to get many takedowns on Lee. I think the Brazilian will be a bit stronger, and this is the type of fight which could be decided by who pushes their opponent to the fence more. I give the slightest of edges to Lee for a pick, but can’t bet him at the current price. If anything Prazeres is tempting for a small play. Just like in his debut, Chris Kelades is supposed to lose this fight. The only difference is, unline Paddy Holohan, Ray Borg can actually wrestle. I’ve seen Kelades struggle against better wrestlers in the past (I was live for his only career loss against Malcolm Gordan), and Borg is even better than that. I see the prospect continuing to impress with his aggressive grappling game and excellent transitional ability. It’s tempting to play Rodrigo Lima on the opener, but at the same time I want to see what he looks like at weigh-ins dropping down to 155. As long as he’s in better shape than his UFC debut, I think he is able to consistently get takedowns on Efrain Escudero — who is always content to hunt for subs from his back — and win a decision. The public seems to be on Escudero however, so hopefully waiting until weigh-ins on this one will result in a better line. I’m hoping that people are down on Chas Skelly because of how bad he (and his cardio) looked against Sean Soriano, forgetting of course that he took that bout on two weeks’ notice. Against Jim Alers, Skelly is facing a fellow grappler, but one that he is simply better than. Skelly is the better wrestler than Alers, and probably a bit more dangerous in the submission realm as well. On the feet, neither offers too much, but I think Skelly’s awkward length can be enough to give him the slight edge there as well. Tim Elliott makes fighters work, and gives them all kinds of problems. Against Zach Makovsky, I think Elliott’s aggression could be the recipe for a slight upset since Makovsky doesn’t deal overly well with pressure. Elliott can be susceptible to takedowns when he gets overaggressive, but I struggle to see Makovsky being able to hold down the significantly bigger fighter here. I give Elliott the slight advantage because of his overall workrate, and I’m hoping the public takes this line the other way.
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