Updated: Aug 20
The UFC touts their twelth consecutive week with a fight card on Saturday with a massive Pay-Per-View headlined by the Men's Pound-for-Pound greatest fighter on the planet in Kamaru Usman coming up against Britain's finest in Leon Edwards. Las Vegas will be jumping for that phenomenally technical fight as well as to see other stars like Jose Aldo, undefeated Alexandr Romanov, and a plethora of prospects and veterans littered up and down the card.
The last few cards haven't been as kind to me, bringing my year-to-date balance at +16.01u. Looking to bounce back this week with another full slate, I might not have a breakdown written for each pick as I've had a lot going on in my personal life, but as always I encourage everyone to reach out to me on twitter if you'd like my analysis and for live updates on how weigh-ins and the fights go! I'm looking forward to interacting with you all, and cannot express just how appreciative I am for each of you being here!
Daniel Da Silva (+140) vs Victor Altamirano (-170)
Two fighters with zeros in the win column in the UFC square off to jumpstart their careers. Da Silva does everything in pursuit of offense, with little protection for his neck and oncoming shots. His first two fights were prime examples as he was submitted by Francisco Figueiredo and knocked out by Jeff Molina. He has explosive takedowns and a flashy arsenal of strikes but all is for not when other fighters can pick him apart on entries. His best avenue for success is to push for a 1st round stoppage as Altamirano likes to start slow but build into fights. If Altamirano can survive the onslaught early he should win the next two rounds and behind his volume and boxing to pick up a decision win.
Pick: Da Silva R1 or 2 +325 (.5u) & Altamirano R3 or Dec +250 (.5u)
Aoriqileng vs Jay Perrin (+115)
Two more fighters that have struggled to begin their UFC careers are desperate to solidify and prove themselves as UFC quality. Aoriqileng is 1-2 with close losses to Cory Durden and Jeff Molina where he proved his toughness as he rallied in both. He trains with the Korean Zombie over at Fight Ready Gym and I think between that and his experience in being in the octagon with a wrestler like Cory Durden he'll be prepared for a fighter like Jay Perrin who will look to implement his wrestle-heavy approach. On the feet Perrin is outclassed as he goes for looping power shots almost exclusively and doesn't check leg kicks at all, but what he does is mix in his takedowns organically which could give Aoriqileng some problems. I think Aoriqileng stuffs the first couple of takedowns and is able to put the pressure on Perrin on the feet.
Pick: Aoriqileng -145 (1u)
Amir Albazi vs Francisco Figueiredo (+310) - Fight not to go Distance +105 (1u)
AJ Fletcher vs Ange Loosa (+132)
AJ Fletcher is a Dana White Contenders Series alumnus who had the unenviable task of fighting Matthew Semelsberger in his first fight. While Fletcher lost in a close outing, he showed just how quick and adept he is at wrestling in addition to fantastic top control. He'll look to implement a similar strategy against Loosa who has quite the range advantage at seven inches. Loosa should have the advantage on the feet behind his jab and leg kicks but I fear that if he gets taken down, as I expect him to, he might not get up. I'll take the DWCS graduate to dominate behind his wrestling and progressions on the mat to beat Loosa soundly.
Pick: Fletcher -155 (1u) & FNTGD +105 (1u)
Miranda Maverick vs Shanna Young (+400) - Maverick by Sub +160 (.5u)
Canceled due to hospitalization of Shanna Young
Sean Woodson vs Luis Saldana (+275) - Woodson by Dec +125 (.75u)
Leonardo Santos vs Jared Gordon (-290) - Gordon/Costa MLP -142 (1u)
Marcin Tybura vs Alexandr Romanov (-400)
Some may disagree, but Romanov and his wrestling is some of the most entertaining stuff to watch in the UFC. At the heavyweight level it's astonishing to see him ragdoll opponents across the mat and it's not like he doesn't have Jiu Jitsu to finish them. Just in his short tenure in the UFC he as wins by Anaconda, Americana, and a brutal forearm choke where he just pushed with all of his might on de Lima's throat. His opposition in Tybura is no stranger to grapplers and is a fantastic one himself. At 9-6 in the UFC he's on the tail end of his career and has noticeably slowed down, but he's as much a threat as any on the mat. Romanov will need to be careful not to get himself in a bad spot but I trust his athleticism and scrambling to take this fight where he wants it. Give me King Kong to get it done inside the distance.
Pick: Romanov ITD -160 (1u)
Wu Yanan vs Lucie Pudilova (-120) - Pudilova -120 (1u)
Jose Aldo vs Merab Dvalishvili (-140)
I, like many others, was ready to bury Jose Aldo after a 3-6 stretch and say he's past it, his chin is glass, and more. The featherweight legend has proven myself and many others wrong, winning three straight at the age of 35. With consecutive wins over Marlon Vera, Pedro Munhoz, and Rob Font, it's not as though he's facing weak competition, though it is a noticeable step down from his losses against Max Holloway, Alexander Volkanovski, Petr Yan and Conor McGregor. This fight will come down to whether he can continue to have dominant takedown defense against a relentless grappler in Dvalishvili. If he can and the fight stays on the feet he will win undoubtedly, but if Merab makes him work and exhausts him with his wrestling Aldo will struggle heavily. Sadly for Aldo, I think that's the case. There are few better wrestlers than Dvalishvili and his cardio is one of his main assets. I think we see a dedicated 15 minute approach from him that frustrates the former champion and gives him a victory. The crowd might not enjoy it but wrestling is the most effective art when used well in MMA.
Pick: Dvalishvili -140 (1u)
Paulo Costa vs Luke Rockhold (+300) - Costa in R1 or 2 -145 (1u)
Kamaru Usman vs Leon Edwards (+300)
Kamaru Usman has a legitamite chance to go down as the Greatest of all Time by the end of his career if he's able to best Leon Edwards and a few other contenders including Khamzat Chimaev. Determined as ever at the age of 35, Usman's game has evolved massively on the feet since the last time these two fought. Back then, he was seen as a pure wrestler, and that's exactly how he was able to win that fight against Edwards. Since then, he's refined his striking and has shown unbelievable power in a knockout of Jorge Masvidal and dominating Colby Covington. Leon Edwards has always been a phenomenal, crisp boxer that slips punches well and is technically speaking the best in the division on the feet. He has good takedown defense and is decent off of his back but is still levels below Usman in those areas. I firmly believe Usman's game has progressed so much further than Edwards that while Edwards might have a slight advantage on the feet, Usman's power is an equalizer and when it gets tough can lean on his wrestling. I'll take Usman.
Pick: Usman/Romanov Parlay -151 (2u)
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