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UFC 236

PICKS

4 units Zelim Imadaev to win (+120)

4 units parlay (Adesanya to win/ Pantoja to win) (+142)

4 units parlay (Adesanya to win /Saint Preux vs Krylov FDGTD/Frevola vs Turner FDGTD) (+323)

2 units Adesanya wins by decision (+325)

0.5 units Adesanya wins in round 5 (+2500)

2 units Pantoja wins ITD (+305)

3 units Millender wins ITD (+500) (Go for Millender KO if better odds)

3 units Frevola wins by submission (+360)

2 units Bothelo wins by KO/TKO (+325)

2 units Anders wins by submission (+1500) (line got steamed, anything over +700 holds value)

3 units Saint Preux wins by submission (+350)

1 unit Poirier wins by KO/TKO (+330)

2 units Poirier wins in rounds 4, 5 or decision (+500)

0.5 units Max Holloway wins in round 5 (+2500)

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Poliana Bothelo vs Lauren Mueller

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Both of these ladies got submitted in their last fight. However, Bothelo has clearly fought and beaten much better opposition, while Mueller has never beaten a decent fighter. Mueller is a grinder that likes to mix some takedowns in if she can while pushing the pace. Her striking is very basic. Bothelo is the much better striker here, specially dangerous with her kicks. Given Mueller´s lack of danger on the feet, I see Bothelo winning this fight on the feet handily unless Mueller can take her down to earn rounds and control. Bothelo has stopped 6 of her 7 wins, and her body kicks are brutal. The pick here is Bothelo to win by KO/TKO, catching the very active Mueller on the feet.

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Max Griffin vs Zelim Imadaev

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Griffin is a decent all around boxer that bases his game around his standup, primarily his boxing, and mixes in some takedowns if needed. He is nothing special though, but has a good chin and is durable. Imadaev is unbeaten with 8 knockouts in the same amount of fights, but has mostly fought against subpar opposition. However his fundamentals look good everywhere. He is a very flashy, agressive striker that shines in the pocket and has big power. He was an amateur boxing and kickboxing champion and has a sambo background that looking at his fights looks more than enough to keep Griffin´s takedowns at bay. I think Imadaev is going to get inside Griffin´s punches and punish him all night long. The pick here is Imadaev to win, probably by knockout after catching Griffin upstairs with a short hook inside.

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Wilson Reis vs Alexandre Pantoja

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All Reis can do in this fight is try to outwrestle Pantoja and control him on the matt for a decision win, maybe catching a submission. That are all the chances I give him and I think they are slim. Pantoja is much better on the feet and is going to punish him there all night, and I think he may be able to even outgrapple and threaten Reis on the matt if needed. I really fancy Pantoja to win this fight in dominant fashion. The pick here is Alexandre Pantoja to win inside the distance. It could come after hurting him on the feet or on the ground. Pantoja is a legit grappler himself and is very tricky with his sweeps and back takes.

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Ovince Saint Preux vs Nikita Krylov

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In a fight that could go either way, I think the value is on OSP by submission. He already submitted Krylov once, and Krylov has lost every time he has stepped up in competition in the UFC. 5 of his 6 losses have come by way of submission. OSP may be rocked early and have some adversity or even get taken out in the first round but I favour him to take the fight to the matt and end Krylov with his patented Von Flue choke. Not much technicalities for this one. Also fight not to go the distance is a lock. Krylov has never seen the final bell in 30 pro fights.

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Eryk Anders vs Khalil Rountree

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Anders enters this fight with a two los streak while Khalil was straight up destroyed by Walker last time. This is quite simple. Anders, a well rounded yet basic fighter everywhere, will outfight and outpace Khalil unless Khalil can take him out early in the first minutes with his huge power. I expect Anders to outgrapple Khalil soundly and have some success with his takedowns, specially his single legs, exhausting him en route to a late finish. The pick here is Anders to win by submission, probably a rear naked choke, over a fading Khalil Rountree late in the fight.

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Max Holloway vs Dustin Poirier

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On paper this is a solid candidate for fight of the year. Both men in their absolute peaks after decisive victories fighting for the lightweight interim strap that means a ticket to meet Khabib Nurmagomedov later in the year. Max Holloway is stepping up to lightweight for this fight, which may be a factor.

Dustin Poirier is a very solid fighter wherever the fight goes, but he is primarily a striker, and a dangerous one. He has good boxing and kicks, and very heavy hands although he is not one of the fastest strikers. However he is always in good position with good leverage and this allows him to shine in exchanges even against faster fighters. He has a good grappling game, with serviceable takedowns and high level Jiu Jitsu to go with it. In fact he submitted Max Holloway the first time they met, though it was so long ago it does not even matter at this point when discussing this fight. He has been one punched knocked out by two bombers in McGregor and Michael Johnson but otherwise his chin has always looked good even in wars.

Max Holloway is a striker. That is it. He holds his own well wherever the fight goes but what he wants to do is strike with you and suffocate you with his ridiculous pace and volume. He is a high level striker with a great jab and sense of distance and mixes it to the body well. His takedown defense has been good until now although he has not truly faced a real high level wrestler yet. On the ground he has legit Jiu Jitsu and is a good opportunistic submission finisher.

How will this fight play out? Nobody knows. I can see 4 or 5 different scenarios here. Only in one of them Dustin is truly fucked, which is Max is able to outclass and outpace him on the feet while staying safe for a late stoppage in the championship rounds. If anyone finishes the fight early it will probably be Poirier who is a huge puncher at 155, while Max was rocked in two of his last three fights. I also feel Dustin´s takedowns could be a big factor here as well as his ground and pound. I think the value is on Dustin Poirier as the almost 3 to 1 underdog. The pick here is Dustin Poirier to win in rounds 4,5 or decision. We are covering the possibility of Poirier taking him out early poking Dustin by KO and also a little be ton Max winning in round 5 which is crazy odds for value, just in case.

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Curtis Millender vs Belal Muhammad

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In which could end up being the sleeper matchup of the card, two welterweights in need of a victory meet in the classic striker vs grappler matchup. Millender was last seen getting submitted by Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos while Muhammad was beaten from pillar to post by Geoff Neal over the course of three rounds.

Belal Muhammad is a well rounded fighter who is good everywhere but does not particularly shine anywhere. He is not the most athletic fighter neither, but compensates it with solid fundamentals everywhere, specially in his grappling. On the ground he is capable of maintaining control decently and shows good positional awareness. He can mix it up on the feet too, but shows little finishing power. He is a grinder type of fighter. He will try to impose his pace and suck the fight out of his opponents. Against a much cleaner, faster striker who was able to stop all of his takedowns attemps in Geoff Neal, he got pieced up badly on the feet. He would have been stopped if not for his great chin and huge heart.

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 poor 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.  

This fight all comes down to one question. Can Belal put down Millender and keep him there consistently? If he can take him down I am sure he will be able to keep him there, but I doubt his ability to do the first thing, at least repeatedly. Even if he gets him down, Belal is not a finisher, has zero submissions on his record and Millender will again be up on his feet to begin the next round. All it would take here could be an intercepting knee by Curtis to end the night, and on the feet he will most certainly be able to counter Muhammad at will with his superior reach, speed and power. Muhammad´s linear and predictable way of striking will add up to this. After the horrendous beating Muhammad took not so long ago, I like Millender to end his night early here. The pick is Curtis Millender to knock out Belal Muhammad and regain some momentum in the crowded welterweight division.

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Israel Adesanya vs Kelvin Gastelum

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In one of the most anticipated matchups of the card, New Zealand´s own Adesanya meets mexican american Kelvin Gastelum for the interim middleweight strap, which means a title shot later in the year against champion Robert Whittaker. Adesanya enters this contest after outpointing a way past his prime Anderson Silva, while Gastelum was just seeing outpointing Jacare Souza in a somewhat controversial decision.

Adesanya is primarily a striker, and a fantastic one. With an extensive kickboxing background, the Nigerian born fighter is a delight to watch on the feet. One could argue he is the best striker in the hole UFC in terms of pure talent, technique and finesse. He may not be a huge puncher but his lightning speed and precision makes him a threat. He is also a high level counterpuncher, and boasts flashy techniques here and there when the opportunity presents itself. He will not be seen shooting for takedowns, but offers a very serviceable takedown defense which has vastly improved over the last year, and is an excellent fighter in the clinch from where he likes to punish with elbows and well timed knees, or utilise trips to take opponents to the matt.

Kelvin Gastelum is one of the better products to ever come out of the Ultimate Fighter show. He was the winner of his edition upsetting highly touted Uriah Hall in the final. He originally campaigned at welterweight, but after some weight struggles he was forced to move up to middleweight, where he has experienced some major success. However, it could be argued his stoppage wins at middleweight have come against badly faded fighters like Michael Bisping and Vitor Belfort, and the two times he faced two still top players in Chris Weidman and Jacare Souza he ended up getting submitted and winning a split decision. He is a well rounded fighter. His wrestling and grappling are quality even though not elite, and his striking is very serviceable. He is mostly a boxer whose entire game is based around his straight left and the old one two to set it up. He also shines in exchanges in the pocket. He does not have the best cardio though, and has still to go five rounds against bigger men at middleweight.

On paper, this is a very favorable matchup for Adesanya. He will enjoy a big reach and height advantadge, while being the better striker, faster and more athletic fighter, and with a big advantadge in footwork. Some people may argue Gastelum will try to get inside and rough up Adesanya in the clinch or take him down. I honestly doubt he is going to put Adesanya down, much less repeatedly. Even if he ends up being able to take Israel down a couple of times I do not see him having any major success with it. In my opinion, Gastelum´s best chance is a hail mary knockout punch, preferably early. He will have to get inside Adesanya´s punches and force him to exchange in order to find his chin with a big left after which he can end the fight. The chances of this happening are very slim though.

I think Adesanya is gonna win this fight and make it look easy. I expect him to put a masterclass on Kelvin and thoroughly outclass him on the feet, his jab controlling the action at all times. Might get scary a few times early but I feel it will get more dominant as the fight goes on. Kelvin is gonna get touched consistently here, he tends to fade late and he is heavy on his lead leg which Adesanya will punish with his inside leg kick. He may even change stances here to be able to punish it more effectively at times. Adesanya´s striking combined with his sense of distance and footwork will take him to a wide decision victory or a late stoppage victory. The pick here is Adesanya to win by decision, with the possibility of a late stoppage due to accumulation of punishment, to set up a huge tittle fight with Robert Whittaker in Australia later in the year.

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UFC 6 Philadephia

4 units Justin Gaethje to win (+160)

3 units Sheymon Moraes to win (+155)

4 units parlay (Gerald Meerschaert vs Kevin Holland FDGTD / Justin Gaethje vs Edson Barboza FDGTD / Alex Perez vs Mark De La Rosa FDGTD) (+302)

3 units Paul Craig wins by submission (+300)

2 units David Branch wins by submission (+625)

2 units Michelle Waterson wins by submission (+1050)

1 units Justin Gaethje to win in rounds 4,5 or decision (+400)

1 unit Justin Gaethje wins in round 4 (+1300)

1 units Justin Gaethje wins in round 5(+2000)

2 units Gerald Meerschaert vs Kevin Holland ends by submission (+200)

2 units Alex Perez vs Mark De La Rosa ends by submission (+225)

2 unit parlay (Michelle waterson to win / Josh Emmet wins by decision / Alex Perez to win) (+825)

2 units Desmond Green to win by KO/TKO (+525)

1 unit Maryna Moroz wins by submission (+900)

In a light heavyweight matchup, Paul Craig welcomes Kennedy Nzechukwu to the UFC. Craig has always looked vulnerable when matched against big hitters, but he is actually a decent grappler. Nzechukwu is completely unproven at this level. In his Contender series bout he almost got submitted and he looks more of an athlete than a fighter. He has power for sure, but that is all. He is still a work in progress. Given the improvements Craig showed in his last fight against Jim Crute including mixing in some good takedowns, I think he should be even money here or even a slight favourite. Craig has finished all his wins and all but one have been submissions. Kennedy looks completely lost and green on the ground. I can see Kennedy just going out and starching Craig early, but a bet on Craig by submission holds a lot of value. The pick here is Paul Craig to cause the upset submitting Kennedy Nzechukwu.