This Saturday night, live at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, an all-Brazilian clash takes center stage as former #1 contender Thiago Santos (21-7 MMA, 13-6 UFC) makes his long-awaited return versus potent finisher, Glover Teixeira (31-7 MMA, 14-5 UFC). The winner of this “All Violence” matchup will put themselves in a prime spot to challenge for the light heavyweight belt against whoever emerges victorious in the upcoming Jan Blachowicz vs Israel Adesanya title fight. Thiago Santos is tied for second on the UFC all-time KO leaders list with 11. Glover Teixeira holds two records, as he is number one for most finishes in UFC light heavyweight history with 11 stoppages, as well as tied for first place with most submissions at 205 pounds with 5. It’s safe to say that as long as this fight doesn’t see the scorecards, one man will most likely be making history with another finish under their belt. Before the main event showdown, there are numerous rising prospects and contenders featured on the card who are hungry to make a name for themselves.
In this article, I will discuss the four best parlay legs on the card. Please remember to always gamble legally and responsibly.
Tanner Boser (-290)
Not only is Alberta’s Tanner Boser one of the most exciting fighters in the heavyweight division, but he is also the top prospect in all of Canada currently competing in the UFC. Every heavyweight has knockout power. The thing that separates Boser from the pack is his ability to out-work and out-volume opponents over the 3-round duration. Those two attributes are going to be extremely crucial in his upcoming bout versus former heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski. The legendary “Pitbull” has a knack for making fights closer than they should be on paper, due to the fact that he combines speed with the veteran savvy to edge out decisions. Unfortunately for Arlovski, Boser is not a “knockout or bust” type fighter. In fact, out of Boser’s 19 professional wins, 7 of them have been decisions. The biggest question with Andrei Arlovski fights is “what happens if he doesn’t get knocked out?” That is a very valid question. However, Boser not only has the power to end this fight inside the distance but he also typically has the type of output that should bode well if this fight hits the scorecards.
Lastly, Boser has slimmed down tremendously since his UFC debut where he weighed in at 247 pounds versus Daniel Spitz. In Boser’s last fight against Raphael Pessoa, Boser weighed a lean and mean 235 pounds. It’s safe to say that the quarantine era has been beneficial to Boser, and he is primed and ready for the biggest opportunity of his career versus the former champion Arlovski. I see Boser out-working Arlovski and chipping away at the legend until he wins by knockout, or hears the final bell.
Raoni Barcelos (-365)
Although Raoni Barcelos isn’t officially ranked, I personally have him in the top 10 in my power rankings for the bantamweight division. Barcelos is one of the most well rounded fighters in the 135 pound division and can be dominant anywhere the fight goes. I’ve heard many people criticizing Barcelos for his age, as he is 33 years old in one of the lower weight classes.
To me, I view his maturity as an advantage. The reason why is because Barcelos has already paid his dues, and doesn’t need anymore seasoning or experience. Barcelos is ready to make his run to the top right now.
One of the best aspects of Barcelos’ game is his high level Jiu Jitsu, as he is actually a black belt under his father, Laerte Barcelos, who is a 7th degree black belt himself. When it comes to grappling based fighters, most only excel in one area; either Jiu Jitsu or Wrestling. Usually not both. With Raoni Barcelos, not only is he a high level black belt, but he also competed for Brazilian National Wrestling Team. It’s safe to say Barcelos is a shark on the mat.
But how is his stand up? 8 of Barcelos 15 professional wins have come by way of knockout. When he gets you, he gets you. Barcelos can bang with the best of them, and there is literally no weakness in his game. In this upcoming fight specifically, Raoni Barcelos has a huge advantage on the mat over Khalid Taha, and it might be a “one takedown and the fight is over shortly after” situation. All Taha brings to the table in this bout is a puncher’s chance. With that said, I actually think Raoni is the better striker here as well. I see Raoni Barcelos winning this fight versus Taha impressively, entering the rankings, and setting himself up for a big fight in 2021.
Alexander Romanov (-360)
Moldova’s Alexander Romanov made an impressive UFC debut earlier this year as he emphatically destroyed newcomer Roque Martinez via 2nd round arm triangle. Romanov is a perfect 12-0 in his mixed martial arts campaign with all 12 wins ending inside the distance. In fact, Romanov has only seen the 3rd round once in his pro career. Out of his 12 wins, 7 have ended by way of submission, and the other 5 by knockout. As a Maldovan wrestling champ, Romanov can literally dictate where the fight takes place, especially versus an opponent on the level of Rogerio de Lima. If Alexander Romanov wants to takedown Rogerio de Lima, he will take him down at will. I don’t only say this because de Lima has a measly 36% takedown defense inside the octagon, but also because Romanov has a wide arsenal of takedowns at his disposal. In addition, Romanov is very heavy on top, and rarely if ever gives up bad positions on the mat. In the future, it will be completely valid to raise questions about overcoming adversity or fights being extended, but now is not the time. Unless the Maldovan abandons the wrestling-heavy style that got him to the dance and decides to “stand and bang” for his ego, Alexander Romanov is going to take down Marcos Rogerio de Lima and finish the fight.
Giga Chikadze (-500)
Georgia’s Giga Chikadze is the biggest favorite on the UFC Vegas 13 fight card, and rightfully so. I definitely consider this to be a bit of a squash match. While one can make the argument that Jamey Simmons is a Wisconsin State Champion wrestler, and therefore holds an advantage if he can get on top of Chikadze, I consider that to be a huge “if.” Chikadze has been making huge leaps in his grappling game, as one would naturally do by training with proven black belts such as Beneil Dariush and Fabricio Werdum on a consistent basis. Not to mention, Chikadze has logged 60 straight minutes of octagon time and is progressing every single time we see him. Chikadze will always have massive striking superiority over most of his opponents due to his kickboxing background where he was a champion in Glory. But in this spot specifically, Giga has a big experience edge over his opponent too. The only path to victory for Simmons would be to grind out a decision with wrestling or possibly find a submission, but I don’t predict that outcome happening. Chikadze is someone I see cracking the UFC featherweight rankings in early 2021. I think Giga lights Simmons up on the feet and gets his first UFC finish Saturday night in Vegas.