UFC on ESPN+ 4: Lewis vs. dos Santos - Event Picks & Preview
Saturday March 9th 2019 at the INTRUST Bank Arena, Wichita, Kansas, United States
Main Card: from 8pm ET Live on ESPN+
Prelims: from 5pm ET on ESPN+
UFC 235 and our bets for the event both lived up to the hype last weekend! We now look to this Saturday’s card in Wichita, Kansas.
The city of Wichita could be considered as low-key and rather fittingly, the fights the UFC have put on this weekend are set to be low-key barnburners! The heavyweight headliner sees former UFC HW champ, Junior dos Santos (JDS) square off against Derrick “The Black Beast” Lewis, who’s coming off of his recent unsuccessful attempt at the HW title. In the co-main we have my pick for the event’s ‘Fight of the Night’ bout with the ferocious capoeira striker, Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos take on the surging heavy-hitter Curtis Millender.
Co-Main Event: #13 Elizeu “Capoeira” Zaleski dos Santos (20-5-0) vs. “Curtious” Curtis Millender (17-3-0)
Zaleski enters this bout coming off 6 straight wins and winning 10 of his last 11, with the only loss coming in a closely contested split-decision in his first fight under the UFC banner. Zaleski has shown the ability to turn up the heat on his opponent at any time and from any angle. His capoeira style gives him a dynamic flow to how he throws his striking. His last two wins have been spectacular finishes, the most notable one was a spinning wheel kick KO finish over Sean Strickland at UFC 224.
“Curtious” Curtis is a relative newcomer to the UFC, having his first fight for the company in February of last year. Millender comes into this one with a streak of his own, winning 9 straight. He has quickly seen himself become a fan favorite in the eyes of hardcore fans for his ruthless desire to throw down with his opponents, which was perfectly punctuated in his last win over Siya Bahadurzada at UFC 232.
We should expect to see these two meet in the middle of the Octagon, with Curtis holding the center and steadily marching forward, whilst Zaleski works on the outside and circling off Millender. Although this is conceivably how the fight might start off, it probably won’t be too long before these two find themselves in a starring contest, ready to throw everything and the kitchen sink at each other. It’s a close fight to call, if it finds its way to the mat, Millender has proven to be completely out of his depth at the UFC level (although this hasn’t stopped him so far). I’m not sure if we can count on Zaleski to not get caught up in the action on the feet and go for the takedown, but wherever this fight takes place, I think there could be a stoppage at any time within the bout’s 15-minute duration. Either fighter could catch the other and Zakeski could most definitely get the submission win if the situation presents itself. I think there’s good value to be found on the Fight Not to Go the Distance @+114.
0.5u - Zaleski vs. Millender - Fight Not to Go the Distance @+114
Main Event: #2 Derrick “The Black Beast” Lewis (21-6-0) vs. #7 Junior “Cigano” dos Santos (20-5-0)
“The Black Beast” makes his return to the cage following his failure to claim the UFC HW championship from Daniel “DC” Cormier in November of 2018. Prior to his defeat, Lewis saw his stock rise meteorically following a 9-1 run in UFC’s most volatile division. He is feared and renowned for his one-shot ending KO’s as well as his brutal ground’n’pound. Unlike other fighters, even once fatigued, he never loses his ability to finish the fight as he displayed in his last-second KO win over Russia’s Alexander Volkov at UFC 229.
Taking on Lewis is the back and rolling JDS. Santos recorded two wins in 2018 over Blagoy Ivanov and the young, formally undefeated Tai Tuivasa. JDS is a seasoned vet of the game and this has shown this heavily in his last two outing. In his fight with Ivanov he carefully out-stepped and out-struck him on the feet over 25 minutes, and against Tuivasa, he found himself in trouble, but he bided his time and caught the over-exuberant Aussie, before finishing him on the ground.
This should really be a striking affair. Santos’ keys to victory are to outbox Lewis, look to land shots on his opponents proven weak mid-section, and potentially seek takedowns when needed. Lewis’ path to victory remains the same in all his bouts, step in on his opponent, break their rhythm and land that devastating shot. Personally I think dos Santos gets it done late or on the scorecards, but the value isn’t there for me at -200. I’m going to pass on this main event, but I’ll make it up with an extra couple of Main card/Prelim Picks for you.
In the card’s opening contest we see Alex Morono vs. Zak Ottow. Ottow has shown deficiencies with his game and particularly his striking. Morono will more than likely look to keep this fight standing and land on the susceptible Ottow. Ottow will probably be aiming to take the fight to the mat, but with Morono’s sneaky good Jiu-Jitsu game, there could be a lot of danger there for Ottow as well. I think there is distinct value on this fight not to go the full duration @+140.
0.75u – Fight Doesn’t Go the Distance @+140
Moving slightly up the card, we have Louis Smolka, now in his second stint with the company following a bad run due to his out of cage struggles, he’s now back and looking as good as ever. He faces Matt Schnell who has a decent wrestling game, but I really see Smolka as the better competitor in all other aspects. Even if Schnell was to take this one to the floor, I think Smolka will be able to work his way on-top and get the win here and I’m taking him to do so @-110.
1u – Louis Smolka @-110
Main Card Parlay:
Beneil Dariush should hold all the skill advantages in his fight with Drew Dober, the reason which Dariush is only a moderate favourite is because he’s show extreme weaknesses in how he deals with hard shots from his opponents. There’s always that chance that he gets spark, but given that Dober isn’t really known for his power, I think Dariush gets this one to the canvas and gets the win here, most probably by decision.
1st Leg of Parlay: Beneil Dariush @-187
One of the card’s most intriguing bouts sees the return of “Big” Ben Rothwell take on the aforementioned Ivanov. Rothwell comes into this one following a two-year suspension. This does raise huge questions about what Big Ben we’re likely to see given the layoff, although I think we’re going to look back with regret if we don’t take him in this spot. Ivanov is slow and lumbering and from his submission defeat to Volkov, we know he’s vulnerable in grappling exchanges. I think Rothwell will keep distance nicely and use timely engagement to close the gap and get ahold of Ivanov. I’m not sure if he gets the finish, although I do think he gets the win, even with the questions about his long time away from competition.
2nd Leg of Parlay: Ben Rothwell @+110
Two Leg Parlay: 0.5u – Beneil Dariush + Ben Rothwell @+215
As always, best of luck with the fights this weekend and catch you next week for the picks & preview for UFC London!