By: John Casale
Robert Whittaker (-120) v Darren Till (+100)
First off, let’s start with the main event of the card, a highly anticipated middleweight clash between a perennial contender, Robert Whittaker, and former champion Darren Till. This will be Till’s second appearance at 185, after a rather mixed debut in November against Kelvin Gastelum where he squeaked out a hotly debated split decision. Till looked healthier than ever in the octagon at middleweight and will look to continue his winning ways this weekend. Robert Whittaker most recently failed to defend his middleweight title against Israel Adesanya, after a stunning second round KO last fall. Many folks attributed the defeat to a fighter simply not being the same after spending nearly an hour fighting Yoel Romero, as did Whittaker prior to the October bout against Adesanya, causing concerns about Whittaker’s chin.
Look for Darren Till to get on the inside, deploy the clinch and mix in his wrestling to keep Whittaker’s kicking game at bay. Whittaker, on the other hand, would prefer to chip away at Till’s legs over five rounds, creating opportunities to attack the head and body. When this fight was officially announced back in May, Robert Whittaker opened up as a -175 favorite, but over the past 10 or so days, we’ve seen that line plummet all the way to a near pick’em, as most books are offering Whittaker as a meager -120 favorite. If Whittaker is able to find his kicking range and prevent Till from being able to land the big-time power shot, Whittaker should win this fight handily on the scorecards, despite the concerns about his durability. Given the drastic line movement in favor of Till, Robert Whittaker offers extremely good value on Saturday.
Robert Whittaker -120
Alexander Gustafsson (-360) v Fabricio Werdum (+275)
This is a set up fight if I’ve ever seen one. Turning 43 next month,
Fabricio Werdum is coming into this fight on a 2 loss slide, with the most
recent coming just over 2 months ago in a sluggish split decision affair with
fellow 40 year old man Aleksei Oleinik. On the flip side, after an emotional
loss on home soil to Anthony Smith at light heavyweight, Alexander
Gustafsson made a knee jerk decision to retire. 13 months later, he enters
the octagon making his heavyweight debut, feeling healthier than he has in
years. This fight clearly seems to be the UFC’s first step in building up
Alexander Gustafsson as a legitimate contender in the heavyweight division.
Gustafsson will look to put a statement on his heavyweight debut with a
Alexander Gustafsson via KO, TKO, or DQ +100
From a betting perspective, this card is a little tricky, as nearly half the fights feature favorites whose odds are greater than -250. This makes it difficult to find suitable value and bets worth placing money. However I have isolated 3 matchups this weekend that offer solid value against the expected result.
Alex Oliveira (-175) v Peter Sobotta (+145)
The first fight outside the main event that offers strong value is the welterweight bout between Alex Oliveira, who wrote off a 3 fight losing streak with a gritty decision victory over Max Griffin, and Peter Sobotta, who is returning to the octagon for the first time in over 2 years. Alex Oliveira has fought a myriad of contenders and ranked fighters in the UFC since making his debut in 2015, boasting flashy knockouts, submissions and performance bonuses. Beyond the long layoff, Sobotta’s record in the UFC is underwhelming, with his best victory being a 2017 stoppage of Ben Saunders, as well as never fighting a ranked fighter. Oliveira’s high level striking, experience in Brazilian jiu-jitsu (blue belt), and nearly 60% takedown defense should neutralize any threats Sobotta could pose throughout the fight.
Alex Oliveira -175
Movsar Evloev (-190) v Mike Grundy (+155)
This fight features another line that has moved quite drastically since
open. Movsar Evloev is one of the most complete and well-rounded
up-and-comers in a loaded featherweight division. Off to a strong 2-0 start
in the UFC, after a victory over the ever tough Enrique Barzola, which
displayed all aspects of Evloev’s diverse attack inside the octagon, the
Russian opened this fight as a -275 favorite. However, the Liverpool Ef ect
took hold again, as swarms of money came in on Grundy over the past
couple weeks, as it did similarly with Grundy’s countrymate and training
partner Darren Till. I suspect a majority of this movement is spearheaded
by hometown money. Evloev has all the tools to dominate the fight whether
Grundy wants to take it to the ground or keep it standing, as Movsar Evloev
has proven the ability to win fights at either level.
Movsar Evloev -190
Francisco Trinaldo (-145) v Jai Herbert (+120)
The featured preliminary bout on the card features UFC stalwart
Francisco “Massaranduba” Trinaldo, who debuted 21 fights ago in 2012, and
former Cage Warriors lightweight champion Jai Herbert, who is making his
UFC debut. Fighting three times in the past year, Trinaldo has looked
largely underwhelming, despite picking up two decision wins. A fighter who
thrived on movement and timely takedowns early in his career,
“Massaranduba” has seemed heavy on his feet in recent fights and has
abandoned the takedowns, as he’s only landed one takedown over his last 4
fights. Across the octagon will be Jai Herbert, who is riding a 6 fight win
streak, which resulted in his title reign in the Cage Warriors promotion and,
ultimately, his UFC debut. Herbert has displayed immense power and
finishing skills, as 9 of his 10 fights victories have come by way of stoppage,
including 8 knockouts. Herbert’s size at lightweight is also a big advantage,
as he stands 6’1, compared to his opponent’s height, 5’9. I fully anticipate
Herbert to swarm Trinaldo and for his superior athleticism and power to
overwhelm “Massaranduba” on his way to a memorable UFC debut.
Jai Herbert +120
Monitor the weigh-ins. Fighters who have missed weight have lost 9
of the last 10 fights and betting against the fighter who missed weight is a
strategy I typically like to deploy, especially when that means plus money.