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My name is PlayHardtoBet, an MMA fanatic that has amassed nearly 1.5k subscribers and over 100k views in my short 2 years on YouTube. I am a proud Australian that has been involved in combat sports for over 10 years, but I am more of a tipster than I am a fighter nowadays. I have accumulated an overall prediction percentage of 68% this year and achieved an incredible 9 card parlay streak on the UFC.

I am very excited to start writing here on We Want Picks, and further excited by this weeks’ UFC card headlined by Alexander Volkov vs Jairzinho Rozenstruik. The card is stacked with prolific finishers from top to bottom, so without further ado, these are my best bets for what should be a great night of fights!

Erin Blanchfield vs JJ Aldrich – LOCK OF THE WEEK

No outcome in gambling or mixed martial arts is ever guaranteed, but I have not been this confident in a prediction for a very long time. To open the fight card, the blue-chip prospect Erin Blanchfield will make her third walk to the octagon against veteran JJ Aldrich. Blanchfield is 23 years of age but has a wealth of grappling experience which she viciously imposes upon her opponents. In her previous contest against another highly touted prospect in Miranda Maverick, Blanchfield was able to land a division record 7 takedowns! In her debut against Sarah Alpar, she had similar success going 3/3 on her takedown attempts and winning a lopsided decision, which is an outcome we should come to expect from Blanchfield.

Her opponent Aldrich is the slightly rangier fighter and will aim to utilize her slim reach advantage to land basic boxing combinations. With an 18% finish rate, she does not have the power to put high caliber opponents away with her striking, and often relies on her boxing volume to win decisions. However, in this matchup she will be occupied defending Blanchfield’s wrestling attempts, which have been successful 90% of the time in the premier promotion. Although JJ has a decent clip of 72% Takedown Defense to date, I believe Blanchfield is on another level in the grappling department and will be able to disguise her wrestling attempts by mixing in her striking which is developing nicely with a remarkable 5.53 significant strikes per minute at a 59% clip.

In terms of method, Blanchfield has gone the distance on 6 occasions out of her 9 professional fights. Both of her UFC victories went the distance where she has won every minute convincingly. Her opponent is renowned for her durability and toughness and has gone the distance 11 of her 15 bouts. Although I do see a clear skill gap and expect for Blanchfield to have a wealth of control time, I am confident that JJ will be in this contest until the very end. So, I will be backing Blanchfield by decision, which is paying $1.55, but more so parlaying Blanchfield to win the fight from a head-to-head perspective at -525.

Felice Herrig vs Karolina Kowalkiewicz II

In 2018 we saw a very competitive split decision win for Karolina Kowalkiewicz over Felice Herrig. Now aged 36 and 37 respectively, we’ve seen a natural decline in a few key areas for both fighters. Karolina in particular was a former title challenger because of her striking output; however she has not been able to register a victory in her past 5 fights.

During Karolina’s 5 fight losing skid, we have seen her output decline:

Opponent Significant Strikes Result
Felice Herrig – April 2018 126 Win – SD
Jessica Andrade – Sep 2018 24 Loss – First Round KO
Michelle Waterson – Mar 2019 57 Loss – UD
Alexa Grasso – Jun 2019 90 Loss – UD
Yan Xiaonan – Feb 2020 38 Loss – UD
Jessica Penne – Aug 2021 8 Loss – First Round SUB

Karolina Kowalkiewicz Strike Numbers

Of course, we need to factor that “styles make fights”, and the Andrade and Penne fight ended in stoppages. However, there is a clear trend that suggests Karolina’s volume is decreasing. I’m also concerned that Xiaonan and Penne were able to take her down with ease, and it leads me to believe that Herrig will succeed in getting this fight to the ground and will have a substantial amount of control time.

Karolina is a warrior, and the fact that she has been fighting outside of the octagon against Hashimoto’s disease really shows what type of person she is. She deserves everyone’s respect without question. But based on her recent performances, I must lean towards Felice Herrig at -120.

Jeff Molina vs Zhalgas Zhumagulov

Two prolific finishers are pitted against each other on the preliminary card. At 24 years old with an impressive 80% finish rate, Jeff Molina returns to the octagon to face the experienced and well-rounded Zhalgas Zhumagulov, who finishes his fights at a 57% clip. Within the UFC however, both these flyweights have been to the scorecards in 50% of their matches. I am confident they are at a similar level in terms of skill set, and although Molina certainly has the higher ceiling, this is a good test to indicate where he is at in terms of the divisions’ landscape.

Jeff and Zhalgas are both very durable, and cardio has not appeared to be a concern for either fighter. This is a big step up for Jeff, considering Zhalgas has been a champion in another organization and has several recognizable names on his résumé. I am expecting a very competitive and entertaining bout, however, I believe both fighters will stay in this one and the judges will get involved, which is paying $1.55. 

 

Hopefully I get some beginner’s luck on this blog and we can start off on fire with the best bets! I have had a good run recently. As always, make sure you do your own research and feel free to disagree or fade. Gamble responsibly, and most importantly enjoy the fights!

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