Saturday March 23rd 2019 at the Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tennessee
Main Card: from 8pm ET on ESPN+
Prelims: from 5pm ET on ESPN+
Last weekend’s UFC: London kicked up a few surprises and a lot of entertainment, but now we switch our focus to this Saturday’s UFC card from Nashville, Tennessee.
Don’t get me wrong, this may not be the most anticipated event of the year, but there’s definitely room for a couple of picks. Let’s jump into this week’s UFC picks.
Luis “Violent Bob Ross” Pena is an extraordinarily long and rangy newcomer to the UFC. He’s a featherweight that is a remarkable 6’3”, with a 78-inch reach. He ended up unsuccessful in his first UFC bout to Mike Trizano, who nullified many of Pena’s unique advantages in a grappling heavy showdown. Pena will now face warmonger Steven “Ocho” Peterson in what assuredly will produce a ‘fight of the night’ worthy bout. Peterson will be giving up 6-inches in height and 8-inches in reach to his longer opponent, but this shouldn’t stop him getting in and making it gritty as can be. He’s by no means a banker, but I see decent value on any durable fighter that will seek to push the pace and throw heat against a somewhat untested opponent. The pick is Peterson for this one @+229.
0.5u – Steven Peterson @+229
Main Card Play:
Following T.J. Dillashaw’s looming USADA suspension, all looks set for him to relinquish his bantamweight belt, thus removing the possibility of a rematch with Henry Cejudo for the 135lb strap. Providing Cejudo doesn’t still seek to move up in weight, he will be defending his flyweight title in the near future, and the winner of Formiga vs. Figueiredo would make a strong case for why they should be next to take on the former Olympic gold-medallist.
Formiga has shown exactly where his skills lie and that’s in his exceptional grappling. He’s no wrestler, but with his ridiculously high-level BJJ, we typically see him cling onto his opponents and wear on them with immediate effect. Figueiredo on the other hand, is an outstanding stand-up fighter, and he enters with a record of 15-0-0. He’s fierce and fast, always first to the punch and packs power like no other in the UFC’s flyweight division.
Formiga has a stand-up striking game of his own, but nothing compared to what Figueiredo brings. Formiga should struggle to get a decent grip of his opponent, despite Figueiredo’s love for standing in the pocket and delivering damage. Even if Formiga should get ahold of Figueiredo, he should have enough to deny any potential submission attempts and see the fight out with a victory. I’m picking Figueiredo to get the win @-137.
1u – Deiveson Figueiredo @-137
Prelim/Main Card/ Main Event – 3 Leg Parlay:
Bryce Mitchell enters his bout with Bobby Moffett on a 10-0-0 streak. Mitchell looked like an interesting prospect on TUF, although he did suffer an exhibition loss (that doesn’t count towards his professional record) at the hands of the competition’s eventual winner – Brad Katona. Bryce has shown decent jiu-jitsu skills and poses as an interesting young talent to keep an eye on, although for this fight we’re taking his opponent. Moffett has stood the test of time on the regional scene, and has now been given his shot in the UFC. He enters the bout coming off four-straight wins, three of which via d’arce choke. Mitchell has shown difficulties with his cardio in fights and we can expect Moffett to get the better of Mitchell in the grappling, and beat him down the stretch.
1st Leg of Parlay: Bobby Moffett @-153
Maycee Barber burst into the UFC following her appearance on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. Since her 3rd round stoppage victory on the show, she went on to finish Hannah Cifers in emphatic fashion last November. Barber has proven that she’s an unrelenting volume fighter and one that throws each strike with intent. She now squares off with the tough four-fight UFC vet - JJ Aldrich. JJ will be flying high on her three-fight win streak, but all that can quickly change when facing someone with Barber’s fast paced output. I think Aldrich’s key to victory would be trying to out-grapple and fatigue the young fighter, although Maycee has shown little quit and enough of her wrestling to suggest she’ll be able to carry out the fight where she wants it. Barber could really win by any way in this one, so we’re just going to take her straight @-250.
2nd Leg of Parlay: Maycee Barber @-250
Main Event - Welterweight (170lbs): #3 Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson (14-3-1) vs. LW #8 Anthony “Showtime” Pettis (21-8-0)
Nashville’s main event sees Anthony “Showtime” Pettis, innovator of ‘The Showtime Kick’ and former Wheaties box cover star, take on the calculated karate specialist Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson.
Pettis is making his UFC welterweight debut following stints at both featherweight and lightweight in the last two years. It seems like Pettis has made this decision from a lack of interest to carry out intense weight cutting. Showtime has been on an up-and-down run of late, seeing him go 3-6 in his last nine. The former UFC LW champ has shown flashes of his former self, but since dropping the belt to Rafael Dos Anjos he has had a lot of question marks around his desire to compete at the top level of the sport. In his last outing he was overheard saying to his corner-men that he had a broken hand, although this was allegedly found out to have not been the case. The result of which was his coaches stopping the fight before contesting the 3rd round, in what was a losing battle to Tony Ferguson at UFC 229.
Wonderboy has been on a tough run of his own as of late too. The former two-time WW title challenger has been on the wrong end of decisions, following a majority draw and majority loss to Tyron Woodley at UFC 205 and UFC 209 respectively. Before bouncing back in a decisive decision victory over Jorge Masvidal and then losing in a contentious close decision awarded to Darren Till, in Till’s hometown of Liverpool, England.
Ever consistent, I expect Wonderboy to play the counterstriker in this one. We should see Pettis be the aggressor trying to hinder Thompson’s elusive in-and-out style and seek to cut him off and engage in either a close striking exchange or ideally a clinch, with intentions of taking the fight to the mat. This is all more easily said than done however, if it were that easy, Thompson wouldn’t hold a 58-0-0 kickboxing record, with multiple KB world titles. Pettis will always have a chance being the dynamic and initiative martial artist that he is, but his keys to victory in this one is as slim as they’ve ever been. Thompson will be the final leg of the Parlay @-350.
3rd Leg of Parlay: Stephen Thompson @-350
Three Leg Parlay: 1u – Bobby Moffett + Maycee Barber + Stephen Thompson @+198