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Alex Morono vs Zak Ottow

Alex Morono VS Zak Ottow

“The Great White” Morono meets “The Barbarian” at welterweight both coming from a win in their respective last fights.
Ottow has alternated wins and losses throughout his UFC career. He is a gatekeeper at best at 170. His striking is pretty basic and he has a very suspect chin. The way he avoids and reacts to punches is almost comical. He has a decent ground game and his gameplan in a lot of his fights is to try to get the fight down to at least earn a decision. Other than that he is nothing special. Feels like he is almost lucky to still be part of the roster to be honest. His wins in the UFC are three split decisions and a knockout over Mike Pyle. Let that sink in.
Morono is a solid fighter. What he lacks in athleticism he substitutes with heart and passion. Alex is the type of guy to be solid all around where nothing stands out. Decent striking, decent ground game, iron will and a good chin. He is notorious for always bringing the fight to his rivals and when he wins he tends to do it by finish. He only has four decision wins among his fourteen victories, and those came against very durable guys like Kenan Song and Moontasri. He is not the type of fighter to get finished either. If you defeat Alex Morono you will know you have been in a fight after unless you can drag him down to the matt and control him.
How does this fight play out? Morono will bring the fight to Ottow from the get going and look for a knockout. Ottow´s best chance is to find reactive takedowns and try to steal two rounds for a decision win. Morono has expressed his intentions of finishing Ottow here and he will certainly putt he pressure on him. I just do not see Ottow being able to keep Morono off him and I do not think he will get the takedowns he needs to slow the pace. The pick here is Morono to stop Ottow after forcing him to retreat into the fence. Morono will not stop coming and Ottow simply cannot cope with punishment well, and he would need to do it to win this fight. Morono is listed as a 2 to 1 favourite and rightfully so. Morono to win inside the distance is the pick here. Anything over (+225) holds very good value.

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Alex White vs Dan Moret

Alex White VS Dan Moret

In the opening bout of the night, Alex White and Dan Moret meet at lightweight, both in need of a win. White lost decisively last time inside one round against veteran Jim Miller, while Moret got a though cookie for his UFC debut in the form of Gilbert Burns, who knocked him out cold in two rounds.
Alex White is a low level gatekeeper in the UFC. His best attribute is a respectable striking game. Even though not very technical, he is crisp and poweful and can counter well. His grappling has been a big concern during his UFC run and he is 2-5 in his last seven, only earning a decision against much smaller Artem Lobov and a knockout against aging veteran Mitch Clarke. He has been soundly outgrappled numerous times and his takedown defense, specially from the clinch, leaves much to be desired.
Enter Dan Moret. A very agressive fighter, he moves forward striking with the intention of implementing his submission oriented grappling game. He is 6-2 in his last 8, having been knocked out in those two losses but they came against two monsters in Gilbert Burns and Raoni Barcelos. He has submitted 4 of his 6 opponents during that run, the only two going to decision being the never finished Josh Wick, a decent grappler himself, and prospect Alex Gilpin, who is 12-1 nowadays.
How is this fight gonna play out? If White defuses Moret´s takedown attemps he probably pieces him up on the feet and even stops him. I do not think he will. Moret will come out to grapple agressively right from the opening bell, dragging White down and working his way to a submission. Moret by submission is the pick here, well worth taking the risk as everything over (+400) offers great value. Oddsmakers lined White the clear favourite but line has now tightened up and Moret stands the slight dog. Line may get to even closer to fight time.

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Louis Smolka vs Matt Schnell

Luis Smolka VS Matt Schnell

“Da Last Samurai” from Hawai and Matt Schnell meet in which may end up being a highly technical fight.
Smolka once looked like he was destined towards tittle contention at flyweight with a four win streak, but his alcohol problems resulted in a four fight skid and being cut from the UFC. After winning three straight he resigned and dominated dangerous chinese striker Su Mudaerji in his last fight. Smolka is a mediocre striker. Tall and lanky, he is the owner of a very respectable grappling game and he always looks for takedowns to start implementing it. He has finished thirteen out of his fifteen wins, most by submission or ground and pound from dominant position.
Matt Schnell is a borderline UFC caliber fighter in my opinion. He is also a mediocre striker. In his last fight he barely outpointed Young prospect and fellow grappler Naoki Inoue on the feet. He owns a respectable grappling game himself, but has lost every decisively every time he has faced a superior fighter. Rob Font straight destroyed him inside one round, whereas Smolka is yet to be knocked out. How does Schnell win this fight? Probably by repeating his last performance he has a chance of getting a decision again, and if he can get some takedowns and top control time, which has been always a problem for Smolka with his questionable takedown defense, it would help his interests.
I see Smolka winning this fight. I consider him the better grappler. He is a wonderful scrambler and flows effortleslly between positions, and he could himself get takedowns without much difficulty given the fact that Matt´s takedown defense is also questionable and he does not pose much of a finishing threat on the feet. With Matt being finished in three of his four losses and Smolka´s finishing ability once he has established dominant position, the pick here is Smolka to win inside the distance, via submission or possibly pounding a helpless Schnell on the ground. Smolka should outgrapple him in this fight for the win.

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Grant Dawson vs Julian Erosa

Grant Dowson VS Julian Erosa

After getting a dominant win at Dana White´s Contender series and then enduring a USADA suspension, Grant Dawson finally makes his UFC debut against fighting veteran Julian “Juicy” Erosa, who has fought all over the place.
Grant Dawson is a grappler. Simple as that. He uses his striking just to close the distance as safely as possible, then implements a takedown heavy approach to take a dominant position and work from there. He has finished all his wins, with 9 submissions out of 12 victories. However, he was knocked out by elbows when attempting a takedown quite easily and he has been hurt by lesser opponents in the regional circuit. His chin is certainly suspect. He will look to take Erosa down here and grind him down until an opportunity to finish presents itself.
Talking about suspect chins, enter Julian Erosa. He earned a contract right after participating in The Ultimate Fighter, where he was notoriously knocked out by Artem Lobov. He is very tal and lanky for the featherweight division. In his last fight he was taken out easily inside one round, but it was a short notice fight at lightweight against a huge puncher in Devonte Smith. If the UFC calls you answer. Took the gamble and got sparked. Even though his chin is suspect, Erosa is a competent and quite dangerous striker at featherweight where he does his best work. He also boasts a good ground game, with 9 submissions to his game and never submitted himself. He stopped all submission attemps from Paddy Pimblett in a 5 round affair he should have won on the scorecards for the Cage Warriors championship. His plan in this fight will surely be to strike with Dawson, and if he gets taken down he woill try to pop back up inmediately.
Given those two record, FDGTD seems a very good bet here. Oddsmakers line Dawson as the favourite but I think the value is on Erosa. Would not surprise me if Dawson run over him but I think Juicy J is gonna be able to keep this fight on the feet and find a knockout over the chinny Dawson to cause the upset. Erosa by KO/TKO anywhere between (+400) and (+500) is a very valuable prop in this fight.

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Omari Akhmedov vs Tim Boetsch

Tim Boetsch VS Omari Akhmedov

In the middleweight division, UFC action fighter veteran Tim “The Barbarian” Boetsch faces Dagestani Omari Akhmedov. Ahkmedov moved up from welterweight after enduring knockout losses to Zaleski Dos Santos and Sergio Moraes. If Sergio Moraes knocks you out something is going wrong and his gas tank was very limited there, and even though he won his following two he decided to make the jump.
Akhmedov is the generic Daguestani fighter. Strong and a good grappler, he does everything well but nothing exceptional. He tends to fade late in fights and his wins are almost an equal mix of knockouts, submissions and decisions. He is agressive with his fighting style and that may be related to his gas tank usually depleting late. In his last fight he earned a draw against Marvin Vettori, in which he took a lot of punishment. Most felt the decision should have gone to the Italian.
Tim Boetsch has been in there with almost everybody over the years. Even though he is clearly not an athlete, he is strong as an ox and packs a huge punch. He has had problems with superior grapplers historically and if Akhmedov can get a dominant position early he might be in trouble. Boetsch is primarily a puncher who looks to find the knockout shot or works toward depleting the opponent until the opportunity to put him away presents itself. He might be damaged goods, as he has endured many wars during his career and is approaching 40 years of age. At 38 he is already talking about retiring.
I think Boetsch is gonna win this fight by knockout, maybe late finishing a tired Omari, but the line at around (+180) certainly does not do it for me. He has shown to be vulnerable too, and with all Akhmedov losses coming inside the distance and Tim´s last ten fights not seeing a decision FDGTD is the bet here at a decent price.

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Ben Rothwell vs Blagoy Ivanov

Ben Rothwell VS Blagoy Ivanov

After a two year USADA suspension, Ben Rothwell faces Blagoy Ivanov in a heavyweight matchup. Rothwell is not an athletic fighter, but he has power and is tall with very good reach. He has faced the who´s who of the division before his suspension with mixed results, but he was able to finish greats like Alistair Overeem an Josh Barnett. His power makes him an always present threat as well as his trademark gogo choke, a front guillotine he employs masterfully. If Rothwell somehow manages to get top position Ivanov could be in trouble here.
The Russian Ivanov is a decent fighter, just not great anywhere. Very durable, he took big shots over five rounds from Junior Dos Santos in his last outing. He likes to pressure opponents to the fence and then try to counter their attemps at punching their way out of it. Even though he is a former sambo world champion his takedowns are nothing special, usually looking for the clinch trying to work from there. He has only beaten bad or shot fighters to be honest.
Oddsmakers have Ivanov a very slight favourite, probably due to Rothwell´s suspensión because he would have been a 2 to 1 favourite two years ago. The pick is Rothwell to win this fight, and a submission bet on him offers good value too given the fact that the way Ivanov enters the clinch when grappling is an invitation to Ben to use his trademark guillotine which he sets up in seconds. Rothwell claims the win here and moves on to a higher ranked opponent in the division. Expect one of his usual strange post fight interviews too.

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Marion Reneau vs Yana Kunitskaya

Marion Reneau VS Yana Kunitskaya

In the only WMMA fight of the card, The Belizean bruiser and the Russian fighter battle to climb up the bantamweight rankings.
Kunitskaya is in her prime at 29 years of age. The Russian is an agressive fighter wherever the fight goes. She is very strong and dominant on the clinch. On the feet, she likes to kick a lot and even though she appears to have some pop on her hands, she does not have fast hands and leaves a lot openings. She likes to grind opponents against the cage and in the clinch and is no stranger to working for takedowns. On top she is not anything special but she could definitely steal rounds here. She is agressive on the matt when the chances present themselves and she does not doubt to go for submissions, sometimes compromising her position.
Reneau is 41, but it is astonishing that she has been steadily improving over the past few years everywhere. She is a better striker than Kunitskaya, and more powerful. Her straight right hand will probably find a home here and look like a laser compared to Yana´s slow hands. Her Achilles heel has always been her takedown defense, which is quite awful even if improving. All her past 7 opponents took her down, and it cost her fights she should have easily won like against Bethe Correia when she put an aboslute mauling on her and had to settle for a draw. She is a Jiu Jitsu black belt and world champion purple belt. Her MMA grappling has also improved in her last fights. She is much more confident, even pulling guard at times, and actively searches for submissions from her back, no doubt she is the superior ground fighter here.
Kunitskaya has a clear path to victory here. Outpoint Reneau via takedowns and control to take a decision. However, I am picking Reneau to cause the upset. I see her getting the best of the striking exchanges and even hurting Kunitskaya on the feet. There is no doubt Yana will shoot for takedowns here even if she is not forced too, but I see Reneau winning there too by catching Yana with a submission from her back or outgrappling her and gaining dominant position for a finish. With all but one of Marion´s profesional wins coming inside the distance, Reneau ITD is the pick here. She probably catches Yana with a triangle or armbar after forcing her to shoot. Oddsmakers have Reneau the slight dog here at around (+150), with Reneau ITD around (+300).

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Anthony Rocco Martin vs Sergio Moraes

Anthony Rocco Martin VS vs Sergio Moraes

After finding his best form since coming up from 155, Martin meets veteran Sergio Moraes in the equally crowded welterweight division.
Even though 36 years old Moraes has only lost to Kamaru Usman since 2012, his run is quite unimpressive and he has got some questionable decision wins. A jiu Jitsu world champion and high level black belt, he is a delight to watch on the ground, even though he prefers to strike most of the time. His striking is quite bad and he just swings for the fences usually.
After alternating wins and losses at lightweight, Martin decided to move up and he is a new fighter since then. Even though he appears not to cut much to make the weight being a relatively small welterweight, his height and reach allows him to compete on even terms with most of the roster. He is a nice and improving striker. He has a good jab and one of the cleanest straight right hands you will see in the UFC. He mixes up his kicks well too. Also a grappling standout, he boasts eight submission wins. More then threatening Moraes, what his gound game offers him here is to protect himself in case of finding himself on the matt with the Jiu Jitsu ace, but I do not think Moraes is gonna be able to take him down. I see a stand up battle in which Martin, who at 170 pounds pushes a hard pace and constantly pressures opposition, pieces up moraes with his much sharper striking eventually finding a stoppage down the road via punches. The pick is Martin to win via KO/TKO, and Martin to win straight at (-200) is my most confident play of the card. He should dominate this fight from beginning to end without much issue. I just do not see Moraes winning this affair. Expect Martin to put on an impressive performance and then call for a ranked opponent.

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Niko Price vs Tim Means

Tim Means VS Niko Price

Veteran Tim Means meets action fighter Niko “The Hybrid” Price at 170 pounds. Means has competed in the UFC for a long time, but has never reached the heights he potentially could have. A very good boxer with sneaky power and a very solid chin, he is a tall fighter for the division who goes forward with the intent of outstriking his opponents and if the finish presents itself take it. There are no overcomplications to his game, it is basic yet effective and he finds himself in what looks like a favorable matchup. He has decent takedown defense to go with his striking. He has been on the wrong end of some questionable decisions during his UFC run, and he appeared to fight with more urgency in his last outing after getting “robbed” in Brazil against Sergio Moraes.
Enter Niko Price. Dangerous everywhere, he has big power although he is not the most technical of strikers. His ground game is more than decent and he can threat with an array of submissions. He is very creative on the matt, yet vulnerable himself, same as on the feet. His chin is kind of questionable and I think Tim´s is better than his. This fight could have a lot of outcomes. If i stays on the feet, Tim Means should win the battle and eventually hurt Price and take him out, but a huge punch landing for Price is not out of the equation. If Price chooses to grapple here his chances drastically improve and he could easily catch a submission on the ground over a scrambling Means. With all but one of Price´s fights ending inside the distance and himself coming from a brutal knockout loss in his last outing, fight not to go the distance is the pick here. I lean to Means taking the win but I will not be surprised by any outcome.

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Curtis Millender vs Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos

Curtis Millender VS Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos

In probably the most anticipated fight of the card, two hard hitting welterweights battle for a spot in the top 15 rankings. After finally getting his chance in the UFC, Curtis Millender has earned three wins in a row, knocking out Thiago alves in his debut and then outpointing Max Griffin and Siyar Bahadurzada. Zaleski find himself in a five win streak, after dropping a split decision in his debut to Nicolas Dalby. These should be a firefight.
Millender is a striker, and a talented one. Very tall and lanky for the division, he outlands and counters his opposition surgically from the outside. He has good power in his hands as well as his kicks, and even though he is a por grappler and easy to take down and manipulate on the matt, he mostly prevents it with the threat of his counter intercepting knees which are deadly. His timing is excellent, and if you let him settle into a rythm you are gonna endure a hard night in the office.
Zaleski is an unorthodox striker. His Capoeira background provides him with a flashy arsenal of kicks, and you can see he has ridiculous power in his hands by the way people react when punched. He has a decent ground game, which hailing from Brazil is no surprise. He is better at taking people down from the clinch than in the open. His takedowns are subpar, but he even suplexed Dalby in their fight, and given Millender´s poor takedown defense I think he can take down Millender down without much difficulty.
How does this fight play out? There are two possible scenarios here. Zaleski decides to simply strike have a striking battle with Millender, which would be anybody´s fight, or he tries to mix in some grappling with would give him much better chances.
In a striking battle I would still favour Zaleski. Millender´s last three opponents were tailor made for him in the sense that they were primarily linear strikers, and the only one not overly stationary, Max Griffin, is a boxer at his core. Against Bahadurzada Millender started to eventually get caught with looping hooks because his deffense mostly consist of leaning back, which is a bad proposition against Zaleski who feints and covers a lot of distance when he decides to enter the pocket with his right hand. What happens when both this gentleman land? I think Zaleski is the bigger puncher here and he has never been knocked out. Millender has neither, But I think Zaleski can take it better than Curtis in this fight. Eventually Elizeu would hurt Curtis and never let go in my opinion, even though Curtis winning a striking battle here would be no surprise.
The second scenario is Zaleski tries to use some grappling. If succesful, Millender loses this fight handily. He would find himself controlled on the ground and probably submitted, or at least Zaleski would win the two rounds he needs. If he cannot drag Curtis down, we would find ourselves in the first scenario again. Another point of interest in this fight is Millender tends to fade a little late in fights, whereas Zaleski is brilliant in third rounds and has won more than one fight in that last round.
Oddsmakers have this fight as a pick´em up. The pick here is Zaleski to win, probably inside the distance. A decision would not be a big surprise, but given that he has finished 16 out of 20 wins, Zaleski ITD at around (+300) offers too much value to pass.