UFC 232 was a great event to close out 2018 with Jon Jones and Amanda Nunes both dominating their respective title fights. I had a great event with my picks going 4-1 with my main card picks for +3.80 units. The only pick I missed on was Corey Anderson, whose chin held up nicely against Latifi.
This Cejudo vs Dillashaw card is the only card of January for the UFC, with the promotion pulling back a little bit to start the year after having an event seemingly every week for the past two months. This is a Fight Night Card, but it’s the first event on ESPN+ so it’s a much better Fight Night card than normal with the UFC attempting to establish itself on the streaming service. Cejudo vs Dillashaw is a superfight that may have been able to headline a PPV, so this is a great card from the top down.
Henry Cejudo vs TJ Dillashaw
I would have Dillashaw pegged atop the best pound for pound fighters in the UFC. He’s been forced to go through the gauntlet at Bantamweight, fighting (and dominating) the top fighters in the division as the top contender after losing his belt in a controversial way to Dominick Cruz. He’s beaten Assuncao, Lineker and Gabrandt twice over his past four UFC fights. He either dominates bell to bell or knocks out a guy like Garbrandt early.
Cejudo is an entirely different puzzle for Dillashaw than Garbrandt. Cejudo has gold medal winning wrestling, but I think Dillashaw will be able to hold his own in that category, while being the far more dangerous stand-up fighter.
As long as Dillashaw can make the weight without completely depleting his body, I expect him to go down and become yet another champ-champ.
Play: Dillashaw -205
Greg Hardy vs Allen Crowder
Everything we’ve seen from Greg Hardy so far has been impressive. He has three knockouts in a row, all within a minute. His striking is actually very technically sound, with him looking to land big power punches, while also knowing how to exit the pocket after throwing his shots to avoid getting caught.
Crowder is a step up over the other fighters Hardy has beaten, but I think it’s a small enough step that we should see Hardy get a big win and solidify himself in the UFC heavyweight division.
Play: Hardy -475
Gregor Gillespie vs Yancy Medeiros
I would take Gillespie over anyone outside of the top 5 in the lightweight division. I think this will be the year we see Gillespie move his way into the title picture. This guy has impressed me tremendously every fight. He is non-stop action with elite wrestling, while also having decent hands.
He should either knockout Yancy or get him on the mat and grind out a submission.
Play: Gillespie -525
Joseph Benavidez vs Dustin Ortiz
Benavidez proved he’s still at the top of the game with his win over Alex Perez, after coming into that fight as the betting underdog.
That said, I think this is a more difficult fight for him, but now he’s a huge favorite. I see some value in Ortiz as a more than 2-1 underdog. Ortiz is on a 3 fight winning streak including extremely impressive wins over Sandoval, Pantoja and Nicolau. These are high level fighters and Ortiz is knocking them out or dominating with 7 takedowns on Pantoja en route to a decision win. Ortiz was the underdog against both Pantoja and Nicolau.
Ortiz is just 30 years old, he has plenty left in the tank. He’s always had the ability, but he’s not showed up in big fights. This is his chance to break into a title picture if the flyweight division sticks around. I like Ortiz to get a big win here.
Play: Ortiz +235
Paige VanZant vs Rachael Ostovich
VanZant is not a good fighter, but she is a good athlete. She wins fights against fighters who cannot keep up with her athletically. I believe Ostovich falls into the category.
Ostovich is 4-4 in her career and she’s only beaten no-names. If VanZant loses this fight that will be devastating to her career.
That said, even if VanZant hasn’t improved, and I have no reason to believe she has, I still believe her grinding, athletic style will be too much for Ostovich.
Play: VanZant -170
Glover Teixeira vs Ion Cutelaba
This is a spot where the legend is the underdog because bettors believe he’s over the hill. I don’t buy that from Teixeira yet. He’s 2-3 in his last 5 fights, but those losses came to Anthony Johnson, Alexander Gustafsson and Corey Anderson, who is on the verge of a title shot. I still think Teixeira is a top light heavyweight and a great gatekeeper at this point in his career.
I don’t think Cutelaba has what it takes to get this win. He’s lost both times he’s stepped up in competition and Teixeira is an even bigger step up than either Cirkunov or Cannonier. Teixeira has too good an all-around game, while still having knockout power.
Play: Teixeira +175
There’s also some great fights on the ESPN prelim card including Cerrone vs Hernandez and Lineker vs Sandhagen.
I like Cerrone +170 and Sandhagen +175 to get underdog wins in those fights.
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