With MMA in full swing since this summer, you can expect to see weekly betting articles from us here at Line Movement, as I’ll be providing you with everything from fight analysis to the potential plays I like for the UFC’s offering this weekend.
UFC Vegas 16 is headlined by an impromptu middleweight matchup between Jack Hermansson (+120) and Marvin Vettori (-140).
After experiencing an annoying shuffle of dance partners that ranged from Darren Till to Kevin Holland, Hermansson will now meet Italian standout Vettori this Saturday.
Though I initially came into this contest leaning heavily toward Vettori (as I believe he offers a tougher stylistic matchup than the previous opponents mentioned), I ended up flipping my perspective and pick after looking a bit closer at the tape. Hermansson, who is officially 3-1 against UFC-level lefties, typically only loses to explosive and dynamic knockout artists – something Vettori has still yet to show.
Sure, the 27-year-old product out of Kings MMA has been showing solid signs of improvement that range from lever punches to more head movement, but Vettori still largely relies on pressure, volume and grappling to be the crux of his game. And despite Vettori appearing to be in peak shape on his social media accounts (as he was originally scheduled to face Jacare Souza at UFC 256), I also noticed that the Italian fighter tended to struggle with pacing during his slew of decisions – which makes me wonder how he’ll fare for his first five-round affair.
Add in the fact that Vettori will be facing a fighter who is sure to push a grappling pace, and I believe that Hermansson will have more opportunities to win as the fight goes on. Playing totals can be dangerous given that both fighters are capable of surprising each other early, but I suspect this goes over 2.5 rounds (-135).
Regardless if you agree with my underdog pick of Hermansson, this matchup should spark action on each side of the money line given the entry points at hand.
The co-main event in Las Vegas features an interesting light heavyweight battle between Jamahal Hill (-165) and Ovince St. Preux (+145).
Despite officially picking St. Preux to win (as he’s served us well in the past, I’d be lying if I said I was confident in him to roll in this spot opposite Hill.
A prospect whom many – including the Line Movement MMA Betting Show host Daniel Levi – are deservedly high on, Hill offers a southpaw striking savvy that’s not often seen in the higher weight classes. Hill is also a blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and appears to have a solid urgency to his get-up game; I just worry about the wrestling and size equation of this contest.
St. Preux, who is officially 2-1 opposite UFC-level southpaws, will not only be the biggest/most physical opponent Hill has faced to date, but the Tennessee native should be the better wrestler and grappler by a good stretch. And if St. Preux looks to continue his recent trend grappling youngsters at 205 pounds, then Hill will need to have his screws tightened in transition if he plans on avoiding his foe’s patent submissions.
I don’t hate Hill being favored in this spot – nor do I blame anyone for backing him at the betting window – as I honestly believe this kid has a bright future. That said, I still need to see more before I can take a 7-0 fighter opposite a 40-fight veteran who still carries both skill and athleticism.
My suggestion: stick to the money line here – regardless of which side you’re on.
As per usual with my content, I’ll offer my honest analysis as I try to explain my angles and attempt to add to your insight when it comes to both breaking down and betting on fights.
Live dog: Cody Durden +145
Despite not getting the job done in his last time out opposite -300 favorite Chris Gutierrez, Durden proved that the support he earned was not unwarranted in what was ultimately a short-notice debut.
Now, fighting at a division lower at flyweight, Durden should be an absolute force given his proper notice and prep with the help of the UFC Performance Institute. Durden is facing Jimmy Flick (-165), who is a longtime regional veteran that recently earned his shot on Dana White’s Contender Series.
Flick is a fun fighter who reels off submission attempts like he’s firing them from a machine gun, as the 30-year-old appears to be hell on wheels for about the first half of a fight. Given that stylistic conundrum, it’ll be interesting to see if Durden can stick to his self-professed game plan of keeping things standing.
Durden, who is a two-time state wrestling champion, should be the better wrestler over his Oklahoma-based counterpart. Durden is also a wrestler who embraces the submission arts, as he’s currently a Brazilian jiu-jitsu purple belt under UFC vet Roan Carneiro.
If Durden can stay standing and/or survive Flick’s early storm, then I suspect he can take over on the feet. Durden has experience in both kickboxing and boxing (where he is 4-0), employing solid jabs and leg kicks in his assaults.
I’m sure I’ll be sweating this one regardless, but I’ll take Durden to keep our current hot-streak in the underdog department going this Saturday.
Parlay: Ilia Topuria -250, Roman Doldize -195 = +111
Although my underdog plays have been red hot on these sheets, my chalk offerings have admittedly not been as lucky. That said, I feel fairly solid about this plus money play that involves pairing up two hard-nosed Georgians.
Hailing from a part of the world that produces ferocious fighters and grapplers alike, Topuria and Dolidze are the latest to be added to the UFC roster. This will be both men’s sophomore appearance with the organization, as I believe they each have favorable matchups here.
Topuria will be facing a respected veteran in Damon Jackson (+210), who is a longtime Fortis MMA product under Sayif Saud. A cardio machine and former college wrestler who developed a strong taste for submissions, Jackson will be live for as long as this fight lasts.
Still, I’m not so sure he will be able to replicate another guillotine upset here.
Jackson’s last victim, Mirsad Bektic, was known for gassing late and making suspect decisions, which was problematic given that he was more of a positional ground striker. Whereas Topuria – who is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt that has been both grappling and wrestling since age 4 – is an absolute submission machine.
Yes, trying to submit a fellow specialist with better cardio could certainly get Topuria into trouble on paper, but I’d also be careful about condemning the 23-year-old’s gas tank based on his last performance (as he took his UFC debut on 8 days notice and still earned his first decision win). Couple that with the fact that Jackson has traditionally been a do-or-die fighter, and I believe that Topuria should have the better chance of finishing both on the feet and the floor.
The second leg of this parlay is Doldize, who faces John Allan (+165).
Despite losing to Vinicius Moreira on Dana White’s Contender Series and failing a USADA test in his UFC debut opposite Mike Rodriguez, Allan finds himself paired up with an undefeated prospect in Dolidze. Allan, akin to his Chute Boxe roots, will be dangerous anytime he’s coming forward.
However, Dolidze – despite his strong grappling base – appears to have some solid tools standing. I can only imagine that Dolidze’s striking has sharpened since working with Eric Nicksick and company over at Xtreme Couture for his past two camps, as the Brazilian can’t afford to sleep on the 32-year-old’s skills or power.
Props to those who were able to grab Dolidze when he got as low as -165, as I suspect he rolls here by eventually submitting Allan before the final bell (as you can still find submission props for Dolidze in the neighborhood of +500).
Regardless of what you’re betting, bet responsibly, my friends!