Written by Garrett Kerman
This Saturday, we get to see the two top ranked woman’s bantamweight contenders, Julianna Pena and Valentina Shevchenko, battle it out in what looks to be a classic grappler vs striker matchup. The co-main event will consist of crowd favorite Donald Cerrone taking on Jorge Masvidal in which should be an exciting bout between two well rounded fighters from top to bottom. This card has a ton of talent with the likes of Andrei Arlovski vs Francis Ngannou, Alex Caceres vs Jason Knight, Nate Marquardt vs Sam Alvey, and Raphael Assuncao vs Aljamain Sterling. There is a ton of value on this card which will we capitalize on to make another profitable night, so let’s get right down to it.
Aljamain Sterling +130
This looks to be my only underdog play on the entire card. Similar to the last UFC Fight Night, I believe this card is going to be full of favorites getting the job done; Sterling being the one exception. Aljamain Sterling has all of the tools to win here against Raphael Assuncao. Sterling has the size (5’7”), reach (71” arms/39” legs), and speed (0.9 strikes absorbed/minute) advantages to help him overcome the aggressiveness of Assuncao. If Sterling manages to stay light on his feet, Assuncao will have a difficult time trying to counter. Sterling is also the far superior grappler (2.99 take downs/fight with 44.83% take down accuracy) which will allow him to work in some fakes to get in close and take Assuncao down where he can grind him out to a victory by decision.
Sam Alvey -150
This fight has the potential to be intriguing depending on whether or not Nate Marquardt tries to keep it standing or grapple his way to a victory. If Nate is smart he will try to grapple with Alvey, since that isn’t his strongest area of expertise. Despite that, Alvey has defended take downs quite well in his UFC career (89% of total take downs avoided). Sam Alvey is one fighter not to be messed with right now, coming off of 3 straight victories, finishing off 2 of them. Alvey has knocked out his opponent in 4 of his 6 UFC victories, which doesn’t bode well for Nate Marquardt who has been knocked out in 2 of his last 4 bouts. If Alvey is able to be the aggressor, push the pace, and keep the fight standing, I see him finishing Marquardt before time expires.
Jason Knight -160
By Decision -105
This is probably the most underrated fight on the card. You have two interesting fighters in this one with Alex “Bruce Leeroy” Caceres taking on Jason “The Kid” Knight. Alex Caceres the usually a wild card coming into a fight, you never know what you are going to get out of him. One fight Caceres gives you hell and takes you to decision (vs Yair Rodriguez) and then you might see him get knocked out in the first round (vs Francisco Rivera). One thing I do know is Caceres is not good when a fighter pushes the pace and fights close, which is what Jason Knight has to and will do. Jason Knight has a good enough stand up (3.62 strikes landed/minute and 2.58 strikes absorbed/minute) to keep the fight standing but he knows he has the clear advantage on the ground (1.67 take downs/fight and 67% of wins by submission). Expect Knight to pressure Caceres up against the cage, fight in the clinch, take him down, and control the entire fight.
Inside Distance -270
Under 1.5 rounds -185
This is by far the easiest play on the board which is why there is hardly any value. Andrei Arlovski at this point in his career should not be fighting fighters of Ngannou’s caliber, and he sure as hell shouldn’t be ranked higher than Ngannou. Ngannou is just an all-around better fighter in every aspect of the game. Wherever the fight goes, Ngannou will prevail. Ngannou is going to pressure Arlovski right as the bell rings eventually breaking him and leaving him vulnerable to a flurry of punches (3.27 strikes/minute). Ultimately, Ngannou will finish Arlovski rather quickly by KO/TKO.
Donald Cerrone -165
By Decision +169
Always a crowd favorite and an exciting fighter to watch, Donald Cerrone takes on UFC veteran Jorge Masvidal in what is arguably the best fight on the card. These are two fighters that love to stand up and brawl which is why I believe there should be a ton of action in this one. No matter where the fight goes, regardless of striking, clinching or ground game, Cerrone is the better. This is the only top ranked opponent that Masvidal has fought in the last 6 years and none of the opponents were of Cerrone’s caliber. Look for this to be a 3 round war between 2 technical strikers. Cerrone will be more technically sound and will out strike Masvidal landing more significant strikes resulting in him winning by unanimous decision putting him in title contention.
Julianna Pena -105
Inside Distance +225
In the main event we have Julianna “The Venezuelan Vixen” Pena vs Valentina “Bullet” Shevchenko in what appears to be the winners chance to face current Woman’s UFC Bantamweight Champion Amanda Nunes. I have said for the longest time that Pena deserves a title shot after tearing through the bantamweight division ever since she came into the UFC on the Ultimate Fighter. This will not be an easy task in taking on Shevchenko, but I feel that her size and power will overcome the advantage that Shevchenko has on her feet. Pena will be the aggressor right out the gate as she typically is and will pressure Shevchenko to fight with her back against the cage. Pena is the much stronger fighter and grappler, which will present a big challenge for Shevchenko. For those reasons I am so confident in Pena that I am taking her to finish Shevchenko before it goes to a decision, preferably with a flurry of ground and pound elbows to a TKO victory.
We have a great night of fights coming up so go grab yourself a cold brew and get ready for some nonstop action. I will be back with more betting predictions for UFC Fight Night Bermudez vs Korean Zombie on Feb. 4.
Always remember to place wagers responsibly, don’t wager outside of your means, and have good bankroll management. If you haven’t done so already go follow me on twitter @GarrettKMMA for some MMA predictions and MMA talk. Good luck and let’s have another profitable fight night.