1/23/21 UFC 257 McGregor vs Poirier
On the right side of the number on almost every fight. Hope these result in W's.
3*Makhmud Muradov +103
2*Amir Albazi +120
1*Amir Albazi +105
2*Ottman Azaitar -147
2*Julianna Pena +110
1*Amanda Ribas -253
1*Arman Tsarukyan -172
1*Under 2.5 Michael Chandler/Dan Hooker -110
1*Under 2.5 McGregor/Poirier -116
Makhmud Muradov +103 (75" Reach) vs Andrew Sanchez (74" reach)
Current line: Muradov -140
This is a buy low situation for me. Somehow Muradov has gone 2-0 in the UFC in extremely impressive fashion and no one has taken notice. Even after TKO'ing two former UFC fighters leading up to his debut in the UFC. A great athlete with outstanding fluidity, speed, and creativity in his striking. Fights at distance and makes it look pretty as evidenced by his 2:1 strikes given to absorbed ratio. Thus far has defended takedowns very well and landed a few of his own. If there's any chink in the armor he gassed out in the last 2.5 minutes of his debut but seemed to shore that issue up in his most recent bout by looking extremely nimble in the 3rd. His opponent Andrew Sanchez is solid. I like Sanchez as a fighter. Very good durability, solid striking, solid grappling, and solid cardio. He just isn't great anywhere and his defense definitely wanes as the fight goes on (-0.35 strikes landed-absorbed). Sanchez prefers to fight at distance and seldomly uses his collegiate wrestling skills. I think this bodes well for Muradov who should outclass Sanchez at his own game. Keeping distance and sniping in for strikes and fighting off the occasional takedown attempt. If he performs well, I doubt we see him as a dog again until he starts fighting the elite. Favorite fight on the card. Muradov by unanimous decision.
Amir Albazi +120 (68" reach) vs Zhalgas Zhumagulov (66" reach)
Current line: Albazi -110
The fighting styles of these two fighters are very similar. Zhumagulov is a pest. The former FNG champ, lacks athleticism but is fundamentally sound and durable (no finishes in the last 6 years). Never seems to be out of a fight and just tends to hang around. He was able to defeat former UFC fighter Ali Bagautinov and current UFC fighter Tyson Nam by narrowly outpointing the two. He should be 1-0 in the UFC. I had bet on his opponent Raulian Paiva in Zhalgas' debut and should not have won my wager. Zhalgas easily outpointed him in rounds 2 and 3 despite probably taking more damage overall. His striking is average, but his constant movement allows him to avoid taking serious damage in the octagon and maintain distance. When feeling pressured on the feet, he lacks the power to keep opponents at bay and often relies on his sound wrestling to take things to the mat. Albazi similarly likes to fight at distance, mixing in crisp punches as he closes distance as well as takedowns. Albazi is 13-1 overall (1-0 UFC), submitting his only foe in the UFC in the first round. His only loss coming to a good former UFC fighter Jose Torres by narrow decision. The difference between the two I feel is Albazi is just a little better everywhere. Cardio should be a wash between these two. Albazi has more power, more reach, more size, and a far more decorated grappler. Taking home several BJJ championships in Europe, USA, and the middle east. For Zhalgas, I don't think the luxury of grappling when in danger on the feet will be there without putting himself in serious danger on the mat. My expectation is Zhalgas gets outclassed but his durability allows the fight to go the distance. Albazi by unanimous decision.
Ottman Azaitar -147 (71" Reach) vs Matt Frevola (71" reach)
Current line: Azaitar -160
Another striker vs grappler bout. The former Brave champ, Ottman Azaitar, has burst onto the scene with two quick KO's in his first two UFC fights. Possessing true 1 punch KO power, he is 13-0 overall, with 10 1st round finishes. Azaitar has a great chin and average takedown defense/defense in general. He does tend to find a way back to the feet or reverse position when taken down. Frevola on the other hand relies purely on his wrestling. He is a very strong gritty fighter and can often muscle his opponents to the mat. However, his striking is amateur and bjj is average. Very much a control fighter and doesn't threaten with fight finishing ability. His ground control is far from elite, often getting caught in sub attempts or allowing the opponent to escape/reverse position. He is a frustrating fighter to watch because most bouts he wins you are left feeling "did he really win that fight?". Often inflicting very little damage but winning on points. With that being said, you got to respect that he has a firm understanding of his strengths and weaknesses and does what he can to tip the scorecards in his favor. I just don't think this skill set will take you far in the UFC. When you lack the ability to finish and you fight fight a guy like Azaitar you have to be perfect for 15 minutes because one shot can mean naptime. Under might be a decent play if you side with Azaitar.
Both fighters cardio is questionable. Both slow considerably after about 1.5 rounds. Frevola seems to look more physically compromised as the fight goes on but still has the capability to muscle takedowns when necessary. Normally this would be a 1 unit play for me as I could see Frevola laying and praying for 3 rounds on his way to another decision victory given Azaitars questionable cardio and average takedown defense. But I'm going 2u and that has to do with my bias thinking Frevola's 8-1 record is fraudulent. I think Azaitar catches him coming in and makes him pay mightily. Azaitar KO 1st round.
Julianna Pena +110 (69" reach) vs Sara McMann (66" reach)
Current line: Pena +110
Sara McMann still doing the damn thing at 41 years old. A former Olympic silver medalist in wrestling, she likes her fights on the ground. Preferably with her on top. Historically entering majority of her fights with a significant power advantage and slamming her opponents to the mat. The power is still there but the speed and agility to my eyes have started to fade. Striking is robotic and ground control is average. While being able to land some vicious ground and pound she allows her foes to escape and reverse position regularly. Often looking totally lost when reversed and having to defend off her back. McMann is 4-4 in her last 8, losing 3/4 via submission. Further emphasizing her deficiencies on the ground. So when pitted against jiu jitsu ace Julianna Pena (a physically imposing woman herself), on paper backing Julianna makes sense. I don't think McMann will carry her normal power advantage against Pena's strong frame either. Pena is 5-2 in the UFC losing only to Germaine DeRandamie and Valentina Shevchenko, the two best fighters not named Amanda Nunes. And in both fights she was starting to take control before surprisingly getting caught in submissions by these two decorated strikers. I think Pena has significant advantages on the ground and the feet and wins this fight via submission
Amanda Ribas -253 (66" reach) vs Marina Rodriguez (65" reach)
Current line: Ribas -330
Marina Rodriguez is an outstanding striker. But she can't defend a takedown to save her life. Marina is 3-1-2 in the UFC. In her 1 loss and 2 draws, she got taken down 10 times. Ribas will do whatever she wants. Most likely repeatedly getting Rodriguez to the mat to showcase her high level jiu jitsu and on her way to a 5-0 record. Her striking, pace, grappling, and cardio are high level. I am not sure how her power will stack up with the divisions elite but with lesser fighters like Marina, she should dominate. Ribas by 2nd round submission.
Arman Tsarukyan -172 (72" Reach) vs Nasrat Haqparast (72" reach)
Current line: Tsarukyan -285
Tsarukyan is a 24 year old man child. Took Islam Mackhachev into deep water on short notice and lost a close decision at age 22. Has since defeated Aubin Mercier and Davi Ramos. Two quality opponents in impressive fashion. Grappling is elite but he couples that with a variety of heavy well timed strikes. Cardio and chin are also top notch. Aside from experience there aren't a whole lot of negative things to say about his game. He has the ability to dictate where he wants the fight to take place and can excel on the feet or on the mat. And at his age, he is only getting better. Nasrat is a scary striker and young himself at 25. Lightning quick strikes, good power and good durability. I just think stylistically this is just a poor matchup for him. Nasrat probably has a slight edge on the feet but I don't think he will get to choose where he wants the fight to be. If Tsarukyan does not feel comfortable standing he can take it to the ground and unleash his high level grappling or if he is getting the better of Haqparast striking he can keep it on the feet. Tsarukyan should be able to dictate the fight and I am predicting a submission in the 3rd.