After a rare week off, the UFC closes out the year with a three-week stretch of shows, beginning this Saturday with UFC on ESPN: Font vs Aldo, aka UFC Vegas 44. Considering I’m still technically on a three-month or so hot streak, I plan on closing the year out red hot. It starts with my UFC Vegas 44 predictions.
UFC Vegas 44 Predictions
All odds courtesy of PointsBet
Rob Font (-143) vs Jose Aldo
Yes, featherweight G.O.A.T. Jose Aldo is still around and fighting at a high level. Despite this, I’m going with the blazing hot Rob Font, winner of four straight and five of six. He’s got the ever-important striking stats in his favor and way less wear and tear on him than Aldo does. But this is by no means a layup.
Rafael Fiziev (-125) vs Brad Riddell
The co-main event is also a tough one to pick, matching up two former pro kickboxers who have made the transition to mixed martial arts. Rafael Fiziev is the more active striker of the two and has never been taken down in a UFC Fight (Riddell relies a bit on grappling, landing two takedowns a fight on average). Another close one, on paper.
Leonardo Santos (-190) vs Clay Guida
Two graybeard grapplers lock up in this one, with Leonardo Santos making his pro MMA debut in 2002 and Clay Guida in 2003. Once again, a toss-up pick, but I’m going with Santos’s superior size and elite grappling skills to get the job done.
Jimmy Crute (-193) vs Jamahal Hill
This is a much easier pick than the first three fights. Jimmy Crute will use his superior grappling to take Jamahal Hill down, and very likely end the fight there. My MMA Gambling Podcast co-host likes Crute to win via submission as a prop bet.
Brendan Allen (-375) vs Chris Curtis
Chris Curtis shocked the world by winning his short-notice UFC debut a few weeks ago via knockout – now he steps back into the octagon on short notice once more. I’m not counting on lightning striking twice for him. Brendan Allen is far too skilled a fighter and grappler to let that happen. I hope.
Bryan Barberena (-135) vs Darian Weeks
Darian Weeks will be taking this fight – his UFC debut – on less than a week’s notice. That is never a good path to success. While he’s an athlete many are excited about, I see crafty veteran Bryan ‘Bam Bam’ Barberena making his UFC debut a losing effort.
Maki Pitolo (+135) vs Dusko Todorovic
There aren’t too many underdogs that I like on this card, but I’m going with Maki Pitolo. I actually don’t really like him or Dusko Todorovic that much, but I’m leaning on Pitolo’s strong grappling and better striking defense here.
Manel Kape (-260) vs Zhalgas Zhumagulov
When he brings his A-game, Manel Kape can beat pretty much anyone in the flyweight division. Even if he isn’t on top form on Saturday, he should have the skills to best Zhalgas Zhumagulov, who will have a tough time with the bigger, younger fighter.
Jake Matthews (-190) vs Jeremiah Wells
Jake Matthews is my lock pick of the week. He’s a much better striker and grappler than Jeremiah Wells, plus he’s eight years younger despite being far more experienced. He should ride his grappling to a W.
Cheyanne Vlismas (-190) vs Mallory Martin
The fighter formerly known as Cheyanne Buys steps in here on short notice, but I’m going against the stats and picking her regardless. Striking over grappling all day every day.
Alonzo Menifield (-155) vs William Knight
Hopefully third time’s a charm, as these guys have been matched up twice in the past before their fights fell through. Alonzo Menifield is too big and explosive for William Knight to slip up against, which he probably will.
Claudio Puelles (-115) vs Chris Gruetzemacher
A pick ’em fight currently on the board. I’ll always give the nod to a fighter 10 years younger than his opponent, as Claudio Puelles is. He’s also bigger and a much better grappler.
Azamat Murzakanov (-225) vs Jared Vanderaa
Azamat Murzakanov will be making his UFC debut up a weight class at heavyweight, as the UFC couldn’t find a 205-pounder for him to fight after his original opponent pulled out. Despite Jared Vanderaa being the much larger man in this fight, he is taking it on short notice, and he struggles with wrestlers like Murzakanov.
Louis Smolka (-150) vs Vince Morales
Louis Smolka is a maddeningly inconsistent fighter, but so is his opponent this week, Vince Morales. Smolka should be the better striker and grappler here, so he’s the pick.
Overall Record: 585-439
Return on Investment: -(3.9)%
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