With the Ultimate Fighting Championships coming through with a slew of shows in 2020 that afforded us plenty of betting opportunities, you expect another solid year of content from everyone here at the Line Movement family, as I’ll be providing you with everything from technical analysis to my favorite lines for upcoming UFC offerings.
UFC Fight Island 8 is headlined by an important welterweight fight between Michael Chiesa (+125) and Neil Magny (-145).
Though I understand why Magny is slightly favored to win, I find myself siding with the underdog in this spot.
When looking at Magny’s losses, the former All-Army Combatives champ seems to struggle when specialists are able to stay in their proverbial lanes (e.g. Demian Maia’s suffocating submissions or Lorenz Larkin’s leg kicks). So, despite Chiesa having a more limited game on paper, I suspect that this matchup may hold some stylistic edges for The Ultimate Fighter winner.
Magny has a propensity to play along the outskirts of the octagon, which is potentially problematic given that Chiesa does his best work against the fence. Magny has also improved his jiu-jitsu getups and wrestling scrambles, but ultimately operates in spaces and positions that Chiesa is very familiar with.
Nevertheless, if Chiesa is unable to find the finish with the first 12 minutes of this fight, then I suspect he tires himself out trying to stay afloat with the output machine that is Magny.
For that reason, I suggest keeping an eye out for under props that are offered at 4.5 rounds (which are currently listed in the neighborhood of +130) should you be looking for plus-money angles. But whatever you decide to play, you may want to go a bit lighter for what is a potentially volatile styles match.
The co-main event on ESPN features a potential welterweight war between Warlley Alves (+200) and Mounir Lazzez (-240).
Despite the oddsmakers opening this fight at practically even odds, public money has pushed Lazzez to north of a 2-1 favorite. And though I can understand the public sentiment behind the line movement, I warn anyone who is getting too high on Lazzez in regards to pushing this line.
Don’t get me wrong: I, too, am playing Lazzez in this spot, I just feel like I should remind you that this is a 34-year-old fighter who only stumbled upon martial arts at 21 years of age. In other words, do not mistake Lazzez for a young prospect with the world in front of him.
However, age and ceiling aside, I agree that Lazzez should roll over Alves from a stylistic standpoint.
Garnering a ton of hype from his stint on TUF Brazil, Alves found himself getting both favorable betting lines and judges decisions early on in his career. But the more I saw of Alves, the more suspect I became of his cardio and clock-checking sensibilities, as I’ve been successfully fading the Brazilian since his matchup with Bryan Barberena at UFC 198.
Although inflation has taken a lot of the value from the Lazzez money line, I do believe that the native of Dubai has the striking arsenal and appropriate pace to make a round 3 prop (currently listed in the neighborhood of +925) worth considering. But if you think the Alves can return as a new man after a 14-month layoff, then the numbers are in your favor.
Underdog play: Omari Akhmedov (+140)
In a matchup with a somewhat surprising number attached, Akhmedov finds himself an odds-on underdog to Tom Breese (-160).
Perhaps it’s the fact that England backs their fighters at the betting window, but I believe that the line movement is headed in the wrong direction.
Don’t get it twisted: I’ve been a longtime fan of Breese and his deceptively-rounded skill set for some time, I just think that this could be a classic case of recency bias. Akhmedov is coming off of a very disappointing defeat, while Breese was recently able to get back on track.
The potential problem, however, is that the level of competition and circumstances for each fighter were completely different (which is why I primarily break fights down from a stylistic perspective). And whether we’re talking about the wrestling and power edge of Akhmedov or the suspect in-competition fortitude of Breese, I can’t help but see the Dagestani fighter finding success in this spot.
For that reason, I’ll be putting my Breese appreciations aside in order to make this underdog play.
Playable chalk: Dalcha Lungiambula (-140), Tyson Nam (-130)
Despite opening at -350, money has come in on Markus Perez (+120), as you can now find Dalcha Lungiambula for a discounted price of -140.
Although there is some line movement on this card that I agree with, this is not one of those spots.
Perez may have a bit more UFC experience than the native of South Africa, but Lungiambula has spent this training camp in Las Vegas, splitting time between Xtreme Couture MMA and the UFC Performance Institute. Couple those intangibles with the judo champion’s raw skill and power, and I suspect that Lungiambula blows his Brazilian counterpart (who is a fighter who primarily relies on impressions over techniques) out of the water within two rounds.
Next up in this section is Tyson Nam, who takes on Matt Schnell (+110).
This is the third time that this fight is being booked, as Schnell was forced to withdraw from both occasions. For me, a fighter struggling to stay healthy while still pushing forward toward a booking can be a serious red flag (e.g. Cain Velasquez vs. Fabricio Werdum).
Couple those intangibles with the fact that Nam presents real stylistic problems, and I believe that anything in the neighborhood of Nam’s current price is playable. Unless Schnell is able to use the big cage to conduct and frustrating performance via out-fighting, then I suspect that Nam gets the knockout by the second round.
Regardless of what you’re betting, bet responsibly, my friends!