This is rapid fire quick picks number 29 and we are taking a look at the upcoming UFC 281 which appears to be another top notch PPV offering from the world's premier MMA promotion.
I went 8-3 on my predictions for UFC Vegas 64 but sadly I lost $265 on all of my betting/DFS action. Most of that was lost on DraftKings tournaments which proved to be a very tricky slate as all but one (MARINA RODRIGUEZ) of the favorites cashed. However this is a new week which means new opportunities so we push forward and try again. These are my plays for UFC 281.
CARLOS ULBERG-120(7-1) VS NICOLAE NEGUMERANU +100(13-1):
I'm going to pick ULBERG here. He's a great striker and he trains with an elite camp. He also looked really sharp in his last outing versus TAFON NCHUKWI which ended up costing me money that night. I was unsure about ULBERG'S skills in that one but I've seen enough at this point to know that he is pretty sharp on the feet. That said I feel like NEGUMERANU has been consistently undervalued as he continues to quietly accumulate victories. I bet against him in his last outing versus IHOR POTIERIA which also cost me but I feel like ULBERG represents a very significant step up in competition compared to POTIERIA. IF I bet this fight my money will be on ULBERG but I will probably play him to win KO and use him in a two fighter parlay.
JULIO ARCE+175 (18-5) VS MONTEL JACKSON-205(11-2):
I'm going with JACKSON here but given the respective skill sets and histories I feel like this is a dog or pass scenario so I'm just going to pass. ARCE is a well rounded fighter who has great striking and he's very experienced so I don't think he will be outgunned but I do feel like JACKSON will end up being the right side. He's the slightly younger, fresher fighter and he will almost certainly have an overall athletic advantage in this matchup. That's not enough for me to bet him at chalk against the likes of ARCE but I am picking him to win what should be a very competitive bout.
MIKE TRIZANO+135 (10-3) VS SEUNG WOO CHOI-155 (10-5):
I'm picking CHOI to win this one but I'm not sure that I'm confident enough to actually bet him in this spot. I am not a big fan of TRIZANO which gives me pause because I'm worried that I am overlooking him based on personal biases. I'm not sure why I don't particularly like TRIZANO's fighting style, I just know that I don't like it. On the other hand I've had some good success backing CHOI and I feel like he's the superior striker in this matchup but I've also lost money betting CHOI in fights I felt like he should have been able to win so I don't know that I want any interest in this one. However I'm picking CHOI and if I decide to bet this fight I will probably use him in a two fighter parlay.
KAROLINA KOWALKIEWICZ-120(13-7) VS SILVANA GOMEZ+100 (11-4):
I like GOMEZ here. She packs a lot of power and her striking is a little sharper than KAROLINA's. Both of these ladies have had some setbacks but both of them have had bounce back performances in their last outings albeit to lower levels of competition but impressive nonetheless. In terms of experience and strength of schedule the advantage is squarely on the KAROLINA side but none of that will matter much if GOMEZ tags her clean. Her last outing notwithstanding, KAROLINA has not looked very good in recent years so there is no telling how she will look against GOMEZ who has shown herself to be a handful when her fights take place on the feet. I'm going to gamble that GOMEZ'S power will be too much for the aging veteran. I'm tempted to play GOMEZ by KO but for now I'm just going to play her Money Line and throw her into a parlay. Hopefully she wins her 2nd in a row.
OTTMAN AZAITAR-110(13-0) VS MATT FREVOLA-110(9-3-1):
I gotta go with AZAITAR here. This will be a home game for the very capable FREVOLA who is a serious problem when he's at his best but AZAITAR is an undefeated knockout artist who's only been to a decision one time. I'm not sure that is necessarily a good thing against someone like FREVOLA who can go a hard 15 without issue but it shows that AZAITAR is a finisher and FREVOLA has been finished before so perhaps AZAITAR can exploit that. From a technical standpoint I think FREVOLA will have the advantage on the ground but if this fight stays on the feet it should be AZAITAR who comes out victorious. I'm going to play AZAITAR by KO and I will probably play him in a two fighter parlay. I just hope FREVOLA isn't the one who will snatch his 0 and bounce him from the ranks of the undefeated.
ANDRE PETROSKI-200(8-2) VS WELLINGTON TURMAN +170(18-5):
I'm going to be on PETROSKI here. I think this guy is constantly undervalued. I got stung last time I bet against him versus Nick MAXIMOV where he showed marked improvements in his overall game. He trains out of RENZO GRACIE PHILLY which has produced some very promising prospects over the last couple of years but it's worth mentioning that two of their biggest studs(PAT SABATINI & Sean BRADY) recently lost in high profile fights so the Renzo Gracie Philly Boyz have been taking a beating of late. Of course, each fight is different and it doesn't matter who trains where once the cage door closes but there is a lot to be said for a winning culture and momentum. WELLINGTON TURMAN has had mixed results over the years but he too looked much improved in his last outing against Misha Cirkunov. On paper TURMAN has the jiujitsu advantage but PETROSKI is the superior wrestler and he probably has the advantage when it comes to pure strength. TURMAN might be a slightly better striker but I think the power advantage probably goes to PETROSKI. I'm not sure how I'm going to approach it but my money will be on PETROSKI here. Hopefully he can snap the two fight skid for the Renzo Gracie Philly team.
ERIN BLANCHFIELD-390 (9-1) VS MOLLY MCCANN +320(13-4):
I have gone back and forth with this one but ultimately I'm going with BLANCHFIELD. She has been very dominant thus far, I expect her to have a significant grappling advantage here but I feel like these odds are way too wide given MCCANN's striking and tenacity. This is a significant step up in competition for both ladies so it comes down to who will deal the adversity better. I'm picking BLANCHFIELD because of her physicality and her chain grappling but I cannot bet her at these odds against the always dangerous MCCANN who will most definitely be looking for the finish from the opening bell. This is a hard pass for me. Both of these ladies are live in this matchup so a finish from either one of them would not surprise me in the least but I'm picking BLANCHFIELD for the win. Good luck to anyone who is confident enough to actually bet a side here.
DOMINICK REYES(12-3) VS RYAN SPANN (20-7):
I'm going to be on REYES here. He was a highly touted prospect turned contender when he first came into the UFC but he didn't look the same following his loss to Jon Jones (a LHW title fight I thought he won). However, REYES has been away for quite some time now and I'm hoping the time off has served to get him back to his winning form. He's a great striker and a well rounded fighter overall so he has all the skills required to make another title run. I'm a little concerned that the knock out he suffered at the hands of Jan Blachowicz might have ruined him but barring that I feel like REYES is a very real threat to the rest of the division who could conceivably challenge for the belt again. SPANN is a big powerful striker who has submission skills so this should be a really good fight for as long as it lasts but I feel like REYES is more skilled in all aspects of MMA. I will probably play him to win ITD and use him in a two fighter parlay.
BRAD RIDDELL+105(10-3)VS RENATO MOICANO-125(16-5-1):
To my mind this fight is almost impossible to predict with any degree of certainty. RIDDELL is probably the better striker while MOICANO is most likely the better jiujitsu player but both guys are very well rounded so neither one of them will be at a significant disadvantage anywhere. These are two aggressive all action fighters that come for war every time out so the only guarantee here is that this will be an awesome fight. For the purposes of this article I'm going to pick my MOICANO to win but that is more of a guess than an actual read. If my book had a prop for FOTN this is the fight I would bet on.
DAN HOOKER-165(21-12) VS CLAUDIO PUELLES+140(13-2):
I'm picking HOOKER to win this one but I don't have enough confidence to actually bet him. He's an excellent striker and he has good submission skills but he is on a two fight skid. However those losses were against Islam Makhachev and Arnold Allen so I don't think we can read too much into those. I bet against PUELLES in his last 2 outings and both times he finished his opponents with some of the prettiest, most vicious leg locks I've ever seen so I won't be betting against him any time soon but I do think HOOKER will be able to overwhelm him his power and potentially find the knockout.
FRANKIE EDGAR+180(23-10-1) VS CHRIS GUTTIEREZ-210(18-3-2):
This is EDGAR'S retirement fight and in my experience we rarely see fighters ride off into the sunset with a farewell victory. Of course EDGAR is a bonafide legend with all the skills to match a storied resume so he could be the exception to that the unwritten rule but the “R” word is usually a free square when it comes to betting fights so I'm not going to overthink it. GUTTIEREZ is the younger fighter on the rise and EDGAR is the retiring legend. I'm going to bet GUTTIEREZ to win by KO and I will be using him in a two fighter parlay. Hopefully Frankie goes down without much of a fight.
DUSTIN POIRIER (28-7) VS MICHEAL CHANDLER (23-7):
I'm picking POIRIER in this one. To my mind he's the superior fighter and he has faced the higher level of competition. CHANDLER has the wrestling advantage though so he can't be counted out here. This fight is likely going to be a car crash so there's no telling who will prevail, but I feel like POIRIER is way more durable than CHANDLER and I think that will ultimately be the deciding factor here. I'm not sure if I'm going to have any action on this one but if I do it'll be on POIRIER.
CARLA ESPARZA (20-6) VS WEILI ZHANG (22-3):
I'm going to be on ZHANG in this co-main event. Unlike “thug rose” NAMAJUNAS I think ZHANG will bring the fight to ESPARZA and force her to engage. ZHANG is hands down the superior striker in this match up but I do worry about ESPARZA's wrestling. If she manages to ground ZHANG and hold her there this will be a one sided affair and ESPARZA will retain her title. However I think ZHANG will probably be able to stay upright and find the Knock out before the final bell so I will be betting on her to win by KO.
ISRAEL ADESANYA-180(23-1) VS ALEX PEREIRA +155(6-1):
I have to bet PEREIRA here. I think this will be a kickboxing match with 4oz gloves for as long as it lasts and PEREIRA has already beat Izzy twice. Sometimes it's a simple matter of one guy having the other guy's number and I think that might be the case here. Of course both fighters are vastly improved versions of themselves since they last fought so we can't read too much into those first two fights but PEREIRA is a nasty striker who throws murderous power with bad intentions and I can't pass up a chance to bet him at plus money against someone he's already beat twice. I'm fully prepared for the possibility that Izzy might avenge those previous losses and it wouldn't surprise me at all if he did it with style points. ADESANYA is an outstanding striker and they call him “style bender” for a reason, he's also the sitting champion so betting PEREIRA in this spot is not a safe bet by any means but I have to take a shot on him at plus money.
I think this main event will be an amazing fight to cap off what should be an outstanding evening of mixed martial arts. Beyond that we can only hope that it turns out to be a profitable evening from a betting standpoint.
As always fade me or follow me at your own peril and above all enjoy the gift that is mixed martial arts at the very highest level.