UFC Fight Night Figueiredo vs Benavidez: Full betting preview

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UFC Fight Island 2 this Saturday features a rematch main event between Joseph Benavidez and Deiveson Figueredo for the vacant UFC flyweight title. 

If you are a fan of fight time, this is probably the card for you. Just one of the 24 scheduled fighters have a minus inside the distance (ITD) line and at least seven of 12 fights as a whole have ITD lines in plus figures. Additionally there are a handful of lines tilted too heavily towards the favorites by my view, so get ready for competitive fights with no shortage of cage time. 

Let’s get to the fights. 

Devieson Figueiredo (18-1) -210 vs Joseph Benavidez (28-6)

This is a rematch from February that was also for the vacant flyweight title, but we were unable to see a champion crowned. Figueiredo won that fight via second-round KO but was ineligible to be crowned champion as he missed weight for the fight. The finish was also not without controversy as a nasty clash of heads rocked Benavidez before the finish, and Benavidez had easily won the first round and the fight ended with Benavidez holding a 46-25 edge in the striking department. 

Figueiredo is a well rounded flyweight with very real power in this division. While the power and physical strength can’t be understated by any means, beyond those advantages, I’m not sure he holds any advantages on “Joe Jitsu” Benavidez. Joe is a technically better striker, he’s at least even if not better as a wrestler and is certainly the more dangerous Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) fighter. 

Despite having just about seven minutes of fight time in the first fight, there are numerous takeaways we have to work with. On the Benavidez side, it was fairly apparent he was going th hold the cardio advantage as the fight progressed, which was not at all surprising. Perhaps the biggest takeaway is that Figueiredo was doing nothing to address the leg kicks Benavidez was laying on him and that absolutely would have played a huge factor later in the fight. Figueiredo sustained 10 leg kicks in the 6:54 of fight time. On the Figueiredoside, it was evident he was the physically stronger fighter as he was using brute force to stuff takedown attempts. It was also evident he had significantly more pop in his strikes. 

The rematch will come down to Benavidez surviving the early portion of the fight, at least two rounds, if not three, without Figueiredo landing a home run power shot. If he can do that, he will almost certainly run away with the fight in the championship rounds. Quite obviously that’s a massive “if” but it is difficult to imagine any scenario where Figueiredo outpoints Benavidez in a decision call or has a gas tank to find a finish later in the fight. For Figueiredo, he will need to repeat landing a precision KO shot, and there truly is a question to whether the first one was created by the clash of heads prior. All in all I believe the line is too wide for Figueiredo and something closer to a pickem would be much more prudent. 

Kelvin Gastelum (16-5, 1 NC) -120 vs Jack Hermansson (20-5)

This is a helluva co main event. We get two fighters who are ranked top seven in the middleweight division and it is a rightfully close fight. 

Jack “Joker” Hermansson is a rounded fighter that has done most of his best work against middling to lacking competition. His striking is somewhat kicking based and he definitely won’t have the advantage in the boxing department here. He will need to wear down his opponent if he’s to find a win in this matchup and he might need to resort to wrestling to do that. With Hermansson being an orthodox fighter against a southpaw in this matchup, I don’t believe he should be eager to stay on the feet, despite being the longer fighter. The nature of an orthodox vs southpaw matchup tends to lend to less volume landing but much heavier shots landing when it comes to striking, and if there is a fighter to benefit from a heavy shot KO, I don’t believe it to be Hermansson. Joker will have to wear down Gastelum with multiple takedowns and whatever ground and pound he can muster before Gastelum returns to his feet as a true path to victory. 

Kelvin Gastelum is on a two fight losing streak, but one of those was a title shot against Israel Adesanya which was followed up by a split decision loss to Darren Till. I believe Hermansson to be a step down in competition from those two fighters and a matchup Gastelum can finish with a left hand KO. Joker is likely to pressure Gastelum early and there will be counter strikes available for Gastelum to end the fight with, and those will be available all fight long. If Gastelum ends up being the one walking Joker down, he will dominate the striking battle, regardless of volume. 

I think the line should be a bit wider for Gastelum as he is the much more likely of the two to win via finish for my money, and all in all a superior striker that knows how to overcome a length disadvantage. 

Sep 28, 2019; Copenhagen, DENMARK; Marc Diakiese (red gloves) and Lando Vannata (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Royal Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports

Marc Diakiese (14-3) -165 vs Rafael Fiziev (7-1)

Marc Diakiese has looked quite solid and complete in his last two fights. While he will never be a fighter that throws excessive volume, he does throw heavy with both hands and feet and has shown a true ability to change a fight with heavy leg kicks. He also mixes in takedowns well and has shown an ability to control and land some ground and pound. 

Rafael Fiviev is much younger in his UFC career, as this is just his third bout in the promotion. He is a Muay Thai striker that has some work to do to fully translate this skill set to MMA. To put things bluntly, this is a stylistic nightmare for Fiziev. He will be the smaller fighter in this fight, he will be at a power disadvantage and he will be the significantly worse grappler. It truly is difficult to see a path to victory for Fiziev in this particular matchup with current known skill set. 

I believe this line should be above -200 and I think we see money roll in on Diakiese before fight time. The biggest question about this bout is whether Diakiese can find a finish. 

Ariane Lipski (12-5) -130 vs Luana Carolina (6-1)

This is a close fight that might truly come down to which fighter has improved the most between fights. Both are still young in age and their UFC careers and this fight truly could go either way. 

Ariane Lipski has a more complete skill set of the two fighters. She is certainly the better grappler and her most glaring path to victory is through takedowns in this matchup. While the argument can be made that she is a better striker, there is not a glaring advantage in that department and working against her is that she is certainly the lower volume striker. If and when she is able to get the fight to the floor, her top game is better to the point that a finish comes into play. 

Luana Carolina is certainly the busier striker of the two fighters, but let’s take her UFC debut with a grain of salt due to the opponent. She beat on and out volumed Priscila Cachoeira, but Cachoeira has been a punching bag in her UFC tenure, absorbing 95 (in less than two rounds), 107 and 111 significant strikes in her three UFC losses. Carolina’s path to victory is via takedown defense and her typically high striking volume. I’m unsure she has any path to finishing the fight but remaining upright for 15 minutes would put her even money at worst to get it done on the judge’s scorecards. 

Alexandre Pantoja (22-4) -200 vs Askar Askarov (11-0-1)

It feels odd to still see Askar Askarov as undefeated fighter. This is for a couple reasons.  THe first is because I felt he lost his fight with Brandon Moreno that was scored a draw. The next is that his skill set is not that of an elite flyweight, despite being sound in essentially all areas. The term “solid” is best to describe his striking, wrestling and overall grappling. He is not dangerous overall with his hands, but has enough pop to secure a win and damage a very hittable version of Tim Elliott in his last fight. His wrestling is strong and he knows how to secure takedowns, but can also be taken down himself. He is also far too willing to accept laying in guard once put on his back, and this is the matchup where the relative shortfalls will catch up with him. 

Alexandre Pantoja is bordering on an elite flyweight and is something of a stylistic nightmare for Askarov. Pantoja will have the clear edge in both the standup striking and the BJJ realm once on the floor. He can also match the wrestling of Askarov and if Askarov thinks he will find a win from guard against an opponent the level of Pantoja, he will be in for a long night. Pantoja and Askarov share the common opponent of the aforementioned Moreno and Pantoja had a decisive decision win against him and it should be mentioned Pantoja was quite competitive against title challenger Deiveson Figuerdo just a year ago. I believe this to be something of a perfect matchup for Pantoja and a nightmare for Askarov and one Pantoja will run away with. 

Roman Dolidze (6-0) -185 vs Khadis Ibragimov (8-2)

Don’t blink for this one! This will be an absolute banger. 

Khadis Ibragimov could easily be labeled low IQ because he simply goes in the cage, swings with reckless abandon until he finishes his opponent or completely gasses and then becomes a sitting duck. I wish there was more analysis to pour into him but that is the gist of it. 

Roman Dolidze, the debuting fighter in the promotion, is more calculated in his approach, but make no mistake, he is a head hunter as well. He can match the power of Ibragimov but will pick his spots to throw the huge shots. The game plan for Dolidze is to survive the inevitable onslaught from Ibragimov and put him out once the tank empties. 

We will get a finish in this matchup. Given the underdog is going to take first crack at that finish, I think this line should be tighter than what it is, but there is no easy lean to make on this one. 

Grant Dawson (15-1) -235 vs Nad Narimani (12-3)

Grant Dawson is a full on grappler at this young stage of his career, and he is quite effective with it. He is 3-0 in the UFC and has ridden his relentless grappling game to to that unscathed mark, two of which have come via rear naked choke (RNC). This matchup bodes well for him to keep that streak rolling as Nad Narimani is a wrestler himself and not a scary striker by any means, and will be outclassed. Dawson will try to take the fight to the floor at every turn and even if Narimani is successful in stopping the attempts early, Dawson will eventually get his way. Narimani has never been submitted but this will certainly be the biggest test he’s ever faced in that department. 

Dawson will continue his winning streak until he runs into an opponent that can defend takedowns at a high clip and crack him in the stand up. Narimani is not that opponent and this is fight’s biggest question is whether the favorite gets it done ITD or via decision. 

Joe Duffy (16-4) -355 vs Joel Alvarez (16-2)

Joe Duffy is in a great spot here, as the betting line suggests. Duffy is miles better as a striker, particularly in the boxing area, and will have his way there. He is also the markedly better wrestler and will be the one determining where the fight takes place. From my view, he should want to keep it standing throughout as the only danger Alvarez can pose to Duffy in this fight is on the floor. A submission from his back wouldn’t be the most shocking thing by any means, but Alvarez winning the striking battle would be bordering on an impossibility. Duffy will ride his boxing to an easy win in this one. 

Apr 13, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Montel Jackson (red gloves) reacts after defeating Andre Soukhamthath (blue gloves) during UFC 236 at State Farm Arena. Jackson won by unanimous decision. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Montel Jackson (9-1) -210 vs Brett Johns (16-2)

Rising fighter Montel Jackson is cruising on a three fight winning streak in the promotion, and draws a wrestler as an opponent for the first time since his debut loss to Ricky Simon. Jackson is an insanely long bantamweight and will have a large reach advantage in this fight and will be able to use that to win the striking exchanges in this fight. He also has a wrestling background, but will not be the superior wrestler or grappler in this matchup. The key and path to victory for Jackson in this fight will be to keep it standing and use his range to keep Johns at distance. That is much easier said than done and I don’t believe Jackson’s striking is remotely polished enough to make that happen.

Brett Johns, otherwise known as the Pikey, is by my view, one of the more underrated fighters on the entirety of the UFC roster. He is 4-2 in the promotion with his two losses coming to very high end fighters in Aljamain Sterling and Pedro Munhoz. He is tough as nails, which is needed because he’s not the best striker the promotion has to offer, but he is a high end grappler. He will offer a new test for Jackson as Johns has the wrestling ability to take him down but also the BJJ skill set to finish him. Knowing that Simon took Jackson down seven times bodes well for Johns chances of doing the same, and Johns is a fighter that will finish the job on the floor. 

I believe this line is far too wide and I’m not even certain the correct fighter is favored. Jackson will have had to make strides in his defensive grappling to make it through this one unscathed. However if he does, he will certainly get a high profile fight in his next matchup. 

Amir Albazi (12-1) -180 vs Malcolm Gordon (12-3)

This is a pair of debuting fighters and new additions to the thin flyweight division. I’ll admit that with the two card week and a pair of debuting fighters, I didn’t watch as much of either of these fighters as I would prefer, but I came away confused with the line in any event. I think Albazi throws the heavier shots on the feet, and those could come into play, but he essentially always chooses to grapple and that could spell trouble here. He’s quite sound with his ground game and holds at least five submission wins in his career. The problem is, I think forcing grappling with Malcolm Gordon would be a fool’s errand and that Gordon is the more effective MMA grappler. The feel I got was that Albazi would be walking into a bear cave with a slab of meat around his neck if he comes into this fight looking to grapple, which made it all the more confusing that he is nearly a 2:1 favorite. As mentioned, I think he throws heavier on the feet, but I don’t believe it is a runaway that he is the better striker by any means. I’ll be eager to see if the read is correct, but I think there is a great deal of value on the underdog Gordon. 

Arman Tsarukyan (14-2) -200 vs Davi Ramos (10-3)

If you’re unfamiliar with Davi Ramos, he’s a fun MMA fighter, but exactly two dimensional in MMA. He’s an extremely high end BJJ fighter, and with that skill set in his back pocket, he throws massive bombs with no fear of being taken down. In this matchup, Arman Tsarukyan is also an extremely high end grappler, but different than Ramos. He is a superior wrestler to Ramos and a grappler at the level that he may not have reservations in taking Ramos down, and will likely be able to do so at will. The danger faced for Tsarukyan on the floor is unlikely to be a submission attack from Ramos off his back, but rather being swept and ending up in bottom position. Being underneath Ramos is one of the more scary places to be, but Ramos has not shown danger off his back in MMA. As mentioned, Ramos wings massive strikes on the feet and could put the lights out, but is not the technically more refined striker and I cannot envision any scenario where this fight goes to the judge’s scorecards and Ramos wins. It’s likely bomb or bust for Ramos and bust is the much more likely of the two, as the betting line suggests. 

Serghei Spivac (10-2) -150 vs Carlos Felipe (8-0)

Carlos Felipe makes his promotional debut against what might be the lowest end heavyweight the promotion has to offer as an opponent in Serghei Spivac. Felipe seems to have a real rounded game for a 25 year old fighter in his first UFC fight. Felipe throws heavy shots and has a surprisingly sound gas tank and will be the far more dangerous striker in this matchup. Where he needs to be aware of the opposing skill set is in the grappling department. Spivac’s path to victory is working takedowns and establishing position, which very well could lead to a submission on the younger fighter, as Spivac has a competent submission skill set. On the other hand, if Felipe can win a scramble on a takedown attempt from Spivac, his own top game and ground and pound could be plenty to finish the fight. I’m not sure Felipe should be favored, but I view this matchup as at least a pickem and there is very live value with the underdog Felipe. 

As always, play responsibly and on regulated and legal sports books! Enjoy the fights!

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