The UFC bid aloha to Fight Island last weekend, and it was a profitable island vacation for this column. My picks ended up going 35-16 with a 10% return on investment. Not too shabby. Let’s hope we can keep it going on the “mainland”.
The UFC returns to Las Vegas this Saturday, hosting UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs Shahbazyan at their UFC Apex headquarters. While the card took a big hit when co-headliner Irene Aldana contracted COVID-19 and had to pull out of her fight against Holly Holm, there are still plenty of fights for us to bet on. Which is all that really maters.
Here are all the winning picks for Saturday.
All odds courtesy of MyBookie
Edmen Shahbazyan (-350) vs Derek Brunson
I’m going with undefeated 22-year-old Edmen Shahbazyan in the main event against veteran Derek Brunson, who’s 13 years his senior. While wrestling is his forte, and Brunson has very good wrestling defense, ‘The Golden Boy’ is also a killer on his feet – look no further than his last fight which he won via a head kick knockout. However, at -350 you might want to steer clear of betting this fight.
Joanne Calderwood (-160) vs Jennifer Maia
‘JoJo’ Calderwood was expected to get the next title shot against UFC Women’s Flyweight Champion Valentina Shevchenko, so it’s surprising that instead she’s taking this last minute fight against Jennifer Maia. Regardless, she should win this one and solidify her #1 contender status. She’s more active on the feet and is the superior wrestler & grappler.
Randy Brown (+150) vs Vicente Luque
I’m going with ‘Rude Boy’ Randy Brown as my first underdog pick on the card. He’s got the size advantage on Luque (four inches of height, three inches of reach) which will come in handy considering Luque gets hit more often than he hits his opponent. He’s also his equal as a grappler. Worth a bet for plus money.
Bobby Green (+115) vs Lando Vannata
How can you bet against a man who describes his fight style as “hood” and whose head is tattooed? The answer is you can’t. I think this Bobby Green-Lando Vannata fight is pretty even on paper, so let’s go for some plus money and bet on the dog. This is actually a rematch, with their first fight at UFC 216 in October of 2017 going to a draw (however, Vannata was docked a point for an illegal knee).
Kevin Holland (-210) vs Trevin Giles
Going with the size again, as ‘Trailblazer’ is three inches taller and has a whopping seven inches of reach on Giles. Holland has won six fights via submission and Giles’s only two pro losses come via that method (including two of his last three fights), so it might be worth a prop bet here.
Jonathan Martinez (-255) vs Frankie Saenz
Both men are 2-2 in their last four fights, so we’ll go with my normal fallback strategy of going with the younger, bigger fighter. Martinez is 14 years younger than Saenz, two inches taller and has four inches of reach on his opponent.
Ed Herman (+150) vs Gerald Meerschaert
‘Short Fuse’ Ed Herman is the epitome of a grizzled veteran as he’ll be turning 40 soon and Saturday will mark his 24th fight in the UFC. He’ll be facing last minute replacement Gerald Meerschaert, who normally is a middleweight (this fight is at light heavyweight) and is a submission wizard, which is also Herman’s area of expertise. I like the old dog as a live one.
Nate Maness (+195) vs Ray Borg
I’m going with an octagon newcomer in Nate Maness as another (hopefully) live dog in his debut against Ray Borg. He’ll tower over Borg, as he’s a half a foot taller and has nine inches of reach. He also excels in wrestling, which is normally Borg’s path to victory.
Markus Perez (-200) vs Eric Spicely
Recently re-signed Eric Spicely has lost his last four UFC fights, so Markus Perez looks like a solid pick at -200. Both men tend to get pieced up on their feet, but Spicely much more so, and both are good at submissions so that should be a push.
Timur Valiev (-165) vs Jamall Emmers
‘Lucky’ Valiev will be making his UFC debut on Saturday, but he’s got plenty of high-level experience fighting with WSOF/PFL. He’s a relentless, aggressive wrestler and should be too much for Emmers to handle.
Chris Gutierrez (-340) vs Cody Durden
Durden will be making his octagon debut on short notice against Gutierrez. He’s never fought anywhere near this level of competition before, and ‘El Guapo’ should chalk up a W in the curtain jerker.
Return on Investment: 1%