UFC Fight Island is here. And it’s spectacular. Well, actually, not really. First off, as critics are mentioning, it isn’t technically an island – it’s a peninsula. And it’s not on some deserted, tropical island – they are set up on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. But the fight card is actually spectacular, with three title fights on it.
Here’s my betting picks for every fight set to go down on Saturday night.
All odds courtesy of MyBookie
Kamaru Usman (-275) vs Jorge Masvidal
Everything is coming up Milhouse for the UFC. After original title challenger Gilbert Burns came down with COVID-19 a few days ago, they replaced him with Jorge Masvidal. ‘Street Jesus’ has proven himself as a real needle mover for the promotion, so there is much more mainstream interest in this fight than the original matchup. However, it should be a much easier matchup for the welterweight champ, Kamaru Usman. He’ll be too big, too strong, and too smothering of a wrestler for Masvidal. Look for Usman to grind out a win on the mat.
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Alexander Volkanovski (-235) vs Max Holloway
Alexander the Great totally outclassed champion Max Holloway last December at UFC 245, taking his featherweight title in the process. Considering champions very rarely are able to climb back up the mountain and regain their titles after being usurped, and considering in rematches the original winner normally wins once again, Volkanovski is the easy pick.
Petr Yan (-235) vs Jose Aldo
The greatest featherweight fighter of all-time, Jose Aldo, has never won a fight at bantamweight, after losing his 135-pound debut to Marlon Moraes at the aforementioned UFC 245. He’s also not won a fight in a year and a half – he’s on a two-fight losing skid. So it makes perfect sense that the UFC put him in this fight for the vacant bantamweight championship. The 14-1 Yan, seven years Aldo’s junior, should be too much to handle in this one.
Rose Namajunas (-200) vs Jessica Andrade
Remember what I said about rematches and the original winner normally prevailing in the second fight? Throw it out the window in this one. ‘Thug Rose’ was dominating Jessica Andrade in their first meeting before allowing herself to be slammed into la-la land after holding onto a submission for too long. A fluke mistake like that won’t happen again. Right?!
Amanda Ribas (-790) vs Paige VanZant
Look at that number! Probably too high to bother putting money on, but it shows how highly-thought of Ribas is. While the Dancing With the Stars alum PVZ is game, Ribas is just too good, no matter where the fight takes her, to bet against in this matchup.
Jiri Prochazka (+135) vs Volkan Oezdemir
It shows the faith the UFC has in Czech light heavyweight Jiri Prochazka that for his debut in the octagon they throw him in there with former title challenger Volkan Oezdemir. But Prochazka proved in his extensive career as a champion in the Japanese promotion Rizin that he’s a knockout machine and worthy of the hype. This is a real close matchup to call, so we’ll go for the live dog.
Muslim Salikhov (-125) vs Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos
Another real tough matchup to call between these two knockout artists (12 of 16 wins for Salikhov are KO’s, 14 of 22 for dos Santos). I’m leaning towards Salikhov due to his wrestling being a bit better, allowing him to dictate the terms of the fight.
Makwan Amirkhani (-200) vs Danny Henry
‘Mr Finland’ Amirkhani is the pick (not just a nickname – he was runner-up for Mr. Finland in 2012) due to his impressive submission skills (10 of his 15 wins via submission) and the fact that Henry got tapped out his last fight.
Leonardo Santos (-190) vs Roman Bogatov
I’m looking for the large gap in high-end experience to carry the day for Santos here, although the 10-0 Russian appears to be a very nice looking prospect.
Maxim Grishin (-115) vs Marcin Tybura
The former PFL champion will be making his UFC debut against veteran Marcin Tybura on Saturday, and I think he has the striking power to knock out Tybura, who has been (T)KO’d in two of this last three fights (and three of his last five).
Zhalgas Zhamagulov (+150) vs Raulian Paiva
I’ve read good things about octagon newcomer ZZ, so I think he’s a live dog in this flyweight tilt against Paiva, who’s lost two of his last three.
Karol Rosa (-230) vs Vanessa Melo
Melo has lost in both of her UFC appearances, and gets hit almost twice as often as she hits her opponent, while Rosa lands a TON of strikes.
Davey Grant (+150) vs Martin Day
Another live dog in the curtain jerker, as Grant is a superior wrestler and Day hasn’t been in the cage since November 2018.