We are geared up for this week’s Fight Night card, as this card is absolutely loaded up and is certainly one to schedule yourself for viewing. This card will unequivocally top last week’s card that lacked name value, and when all was said and done, lacked entertainment value as well. I was personally way off on both the main and co-main events last week. Looking back, I certainly did not account for coaching, and Holm’s preparation and corner essentially had the fight won before it started. They put together a perfect game plan, she executed it perfectly and Irene Aldana was helpless to close the striking distance as needed. Big props to Holm and her team on the dominant showing. Yorgan de Castro was also a deer in headlights when Carlos Felipe came out obviously showing he was ready to check calf kicks. De Castro never settled in with the new look from Felipe and it was another case of preparation and game plan winning the day. I will do better this week.
This week’s card is going to give us non stop action, intriguing ,matchups and fun finishes. The final eight fights on the card have a minus figure to end inside the distance. I won’t say don’t blink, but blinking will be frowned upon. Let’s start with the main event.
Cory Sandhagen -140 vs Marlon Moraes
Fight is five rounds at 135 lbs and is -190 to end inside the distance.
This is such a perfect fight to make for a main event, and almost certainly anoints the fighter that will be second in line behind Aljamain Sterling to get a crack at bantamweight champion Petr Yan. Of course, Sandhagen was the fighter that lost to Aljo and we do not yet have confirmation that Sterling will be the next title challenger, but it is a safe assumption. On the other side of the coin, Marlon Moraes won a controversial decision against Jose Aldo, but it was Aldo that received the title shot against Yan, for the then vacant belt. Now these two collide to decide who gets to throw their name back into the championship conversation.
Despite this being a fantastic matchup, I believe we will know the victor of the fight by the end of the first round. Marlon Moraes does his absolute best work in that first round, but has shown a propensity for slowing considerably as fights progress. This will absolutely be an issue for him if this fight were to reach the championship rounds, and perhaps even before that. Moraes is very dangerous in that first round, particularly with kicks and is quite capable of ending a fight against any level of competition. He will need to set these kicks up in this fight or he will be picked apart by a considerable volume disparity coming from Sandhagen. Moraes certainly brings a more technically sound striking skill set as well as more power, but that is where the advantages end. Sandhagen will bring advantages in length, volume and cardio, and those are the advantages that will win the day if Moraes is unable to find a finish in the early stanzas of this fight. Sandhagen does an immense job of keeping pressure and volume high, but still fighting at a range at which he is comfortable. This will likely begin taking its toll on Moraes as early as the second round.
I do not expect to see a great deal of grappling in this fight, but if the fight were to hit the floor, it would be an advantage for Moraes. He is the stronger grappler, but he is simply not an active wrestler and not a fighter that looks to ground the fight often at all. Additionally, if he were to attempt to ground the fight and fail, it would be an even bigger pressure upon the cardio and gas disadvantage he will be facing. It would be prudent to assume any takedown attempts will be of the desperation variety after being touched up on the feet without a gas tank to fire back.
While I certainly respect Moraes finishing ability, I do not believe this is a matchup in which he can secure that early win. With that being the case, we will see an ascendingly lopsided affair as the fight progresses, tilting towards the Sandhagen side. If you vehemently disagree with me, I think any Moraes bet should take the added value on the ITD prop. In any event, Sandhagen has paths to winning both ITD and via the scorecards, so a flat play on him is most prudent and the best play on this fight.
Edson Barboza -265 vs Makwan Amirkhani
Fight is at 145 lbs and is -170 to end inside the distance.
It was somewhat painful to learn of this matchup, knowing how terribly Edson Barboza was screwed by judging in his last fight against Dan Ige. While Ige was elevated to a main event slot where he was handled by Calvin Kattar, Barboza is matched up with a grappling heavy middling featherweight.
I certainly do not want to sound disrespectful to Makwan Amirkhani as he is a sound fighter, but the gap between him and Barboza in the standup portion of this fight is an ocean. The precision and particularly the power behind the kicks and overall striking of Barboza is something he simply will not have an answer for. Amirkhani may test the striking portion early, but I believe he will turn to attempting to grapple once he feels the brutal power in the kicks of Barboza. Amirkhani is a strong wrestler and does have a sound submission game, but it is very much a 50/50 proposition whether he is able to take Barboza down, as the takedown defense is stout for Barboza. If we assume for a moment Amirkhani is able to take Barboza down, we get another 50/50 proposition on whether he is able to have any level of control and begin to work towards submissions.
After much consideration and going back to look if I’m missing anything on Amirkhani to make me believe he can overcome the striking disadvantage, the simplest answer I have is no. This fight marks the second time in a year the promotion has attempted to raise his level of competition, and I believe the result will be much the same as it was in the Shane Burgos fight, an Amirkhani loss via KO.
I believe Barboza wins this fight and likely via finish, but the -265 flat line is simply too wide for comfort. The +115 ITD line on the other hand offers some value, and that is the best avenue of attack of the co-main.
Tom Aspinall -570 vs Alan Baudot
Fight is at heavyweight and is -490 to end inside the distance.
The largest line on the card is also the most lopsided matchup on the card, but it is absolutely a fight worth watching. Tom Aspinall is a developing heavyweight that has a very real ceiling, and someone we could, one day, be calling the baddest man on the planet. Aspinall, at 27 years old, has a completely well rounded skill set, is dangerous in all areas, and the promotion appears to know what they have in him, as they are bringing him along slowly. Aspinall had an impressive first round KO in his debut, but we did not get to see his complete skill set in that fight. He possesses power in his hand and sound boxing, but is also a dangerous grappler as well, and I hope we get to see that portion of his game in this fight.
In this particular matchup, he is getting a sacrificial lamb in Alan Baudot, who is normally a light heavyweight. Baudot has one previous fight against UFC level level competition, and we saw him lose via KO in 26 seconds to Dalcha Lungiambula. Aspinall is a much, much stiffer test than that particular matchup, and we are likely to see a similar result. Baudot may put up some level of resistance in the striking department, and Aspinall needs to simply be aware of any big shots and be sure the anomaly of a flash KO doesn’t come to fruition, but he will have a large advantage standing and would eventually serve up a KO of his own if this fight remains standing for as long as it lasts. Where he would receive no resistance is in the grappling realm, where Baudot appears to be absolutely helpless off of his back, and that does not yet account for fighting up a weight class. Aspinall would run through Baudot and cinch a finish in no time if the fight were to hit the mat. The true question to ask about this fight is what the ITD method of victory for Aspinall will be. With the flat line being an unplayable one, the ITD line of -240 is an extremely friendly one, covers all avenues of finish, and is absolutely one to play.
Tom Breese -260 vs KB Bhullar
Fight is at 185 lbs and is -120 to end inside the distance.
There are four fighters on this card that are heavier favorites than Tom Breese, but I don’t believe that is correct lining for this fight. I would say only Aspinall should be a heavier favorite in their respective matchups, and we have quite a value in Breese.
KB Bhullar, if he had to be signed, should have been matched up against a fellow debutant. From what I can tell, he simply will have no area of advantage in this fight, and goodness gracious is he hittable. He will not be able to match the boxing, power or overall striking of Breese, and I’m not sure it will be close. Bhullar seems easily hurt, does not put any real volume out there and will be touched up early and often. Breese does have a bit of a hole with his takedown defense, but he is a BJJ black belt that will have the overall grappling advantage in this fight, should it hit the mat. I don’t believe that will be a huge issue for him here as Bhullar should be retreating and on the back foot for as long as the fight lasts.
From what I can tell, this line is as low as it is due to the anxiety issues Breese has faced in the past, coupled with his bad showing against high level Brendan Allen in his last fight. Needless to say, the level of competition is night and day here compared to Allen, and is absolutely a get right spot for Breese.
The flat line of -265 has some value to it, but there is immense value in the Breese ITD line of +175. I don’t believe this is a level matchup and we should see Breese make short work of the debutant.