This UFC on ESPN 10 card might look weak on paper, but I’ve learned to never judge an event based on name power. Just because a card is stacked from top to bottom with top stars doesn’t mean we are going to get great fights and vice versa. And generally, its cards like this that fans complain about that end up providing amazing fights. This was a tough card to pick as almost every fight had close to even odds. Only 3 fighters are more than -200 favorite and I have the feeling we will be getting a bunch of close decisions.
I will be making five picks a week but with a twist. Four of the picks will be my most confident without picking heavy favorites, and one of them will be a major underdog that I think has a chance to hit. Then I will pick one parlay and one prop bet to round it out. A true smorgasbord of bets!
Marvin Vettori – 190
Vettori and Karl Roberson were supposed to fight at UFC 249, and now they get the co-main event spot at Fight Night 177. By now we’ve all seen the incident they had at the hotel before 249 and now the real-life beef they have with each other makes this the most interesting fight of the night. And what’s even more interesting are these odds. Roberson shocked everyone at the Apex center with his 15 second KO in the first season of the contender series, but he has been pretty underwhelming since then. His striking is average and his defense on the feet is a mess. His grappling has been his biggest undoing but his most recent win over Roman Kopylov shows he is improving on the ground, but I doubt this fight hits the mat. Roberson might have the advantage on the ground, but he is severely outmatched on the feet. He and doesn’t offer creative ways to close the distance and get the fight to the ground so I think Vettori picks him apart on the feet and gets a late finish.
Kevin Aguilar -160
After only having six fights with the UFC in six years, Charles Rosa steps inside the octagon for the 2nd time in a month to take on Kevin Aguilar in this lightweight bout. Rosa is fresh off a loss to Bryce Mitchell, who put on one of the most dominant grappling performances I have ever seen. Aguilar is coming off two losses after going undefeated for nearly five years and desperately needs this win to keep his spot in the UFC. Aguilar is a very measured striker with good defense in the pocket and solid countering skills. He generally comes forward with the same combos, a straight right into a high kick, and a pestering double jab into the straight right. But his timing and tight defense allow him to land these repeatedly on the lead and as counters. Rosa has the advantage if it hits the ground, but Aguilar’s takedown defense has been very impressive, only having been taken down one time in four fights.
Anthony Ivy -185
Next up is a battle between two debuting fighters when Anthony Ivy takes on Christian Aguilera in the opening bout of the night. Ivy was supposed to make his debut on short notice against Gerald Meerschaert last week at UFC 250, but it fell through when Meerschaert’s original opponent was cleared. Now he has a much easier fight with Christian Aguilera who only had a week to prepare for this fight. Ivy’s grappling has looked fantastic on the regional scene and his boxing is better than expected for someone who spends so much time on the ground. He’s also quite big for 170, standing at 6’2 with a 74-inch reach. Aguilera on the other hand is the opposite. He’s a good kickboxer with quick hands but he gets held down for long stretches in almost every fight. Ivy has been ready to fight for a few weeks now and I think he dominates on the ground and takes home an easy decision victory.
Generally, I don’t bet anything over -200 but this fight is a huge mismatch and odds are all over the place. She opened as a -300, dropped to a -170 just a few hours later, and now is around -265. Agapova is the #1 regionally ranked pound for pound women in the world and is one of the most interesting female prospects on the roster. She’s an awkward and rangy striker who can force opponents out of their game with her wild style and vigorous pace. And if the fight hits the mat, she has vicious ground and pound that few in the division have. Her only loss is to Tracy Cortez who is the only other young prospect in the division I would rank ahead of her.
Not only is Agapova the better fighter but she’s also almost two weight classes bigger than Hannah Cifers. Cifers is very small and should be fighting at Atomweight but bumps up to 115 so she can fight in the UFC and now she is taking this fight at 125. Agapova’s superior striking and massive size advantage should get her a quick finish in her UFC debut.
Underdog of the Week
Charles Jourdain +190
Charles Jourdain vs. Andre Fili is my pick for fight of the night, and I think we end up seeing an upset. Jourdain’s upset win in a comeback effort over Doo ho Choi last December was marvelous and showed his future potential as a top 15 fighter. But now he takes a step up in competition with Andre Fili. Both men are strikers, so I don’t expect this to hit the ground but if it does Fili probably has the advantage as we haven’t seen much grappling from Jourdain. I think this fight should be dead even so I’m playing the odds here and taking Jourdain at the plus money.
Parlay of the Week
Mariya Agapova, Anthony Ivy +114
I like this relatively safe parlay of Agapova and Ivy to get just over plus odds. Agapova’s odds are all over the place so you might want to jump on this now!
Prop of the Week
Calvillo via submission +350
In my eyes this fight is dead even, but if Cynthia Calvillo is going to win it’s probably by submission.