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Expert picks and analysis for this weekend's UFC on ESPN +16: Cowboy vs. Gaethje

Saturday September 14th 2019 at Rogers Arena, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Main Card: 8pm ET+ on ESPN+

Preliminary Card: 5pm ET on ESPN+

This weekend’s card sees the UFC head up to the great white north to host UFC: Vancouver!

With the card only having four Canadian fighters on it, it doesn’t quite fit the bill for what would be your “typical Canada card”, but it does look to be more entertaining than many of their recent ones. The preliminary fights are a little lacking, but the main card could be something special, with fights including Uriah Hall, Michel Pereira, Nikita Krylov and of course, the two in the main event. Let’s get into this week’s picks for UFC on ESPN +16: Cowboy vs. Gaethje!

2-Leg Prelim Parlay:

Louis Smolka vs. Ryan MacDonald

Preliminary: Bantamweight Bout – 135lbs

Louis “Da Last Samurai” Smolka – Record: 15-6-0

Ryan “Main Event” MacDonald – Record: 10-1-0

Don’t let MacDonald’s record fool you, this man is a total can crusher.

He entered his first UFC bout undefeated at 10-0 and was very quickly exposed by Chris Gutierrez on the feet. It’s not a terrible defeat on paper, but boy did MacDonald look awful. Looking down his record it’s hard to find anyone who could be defined as “a good win”. The fact that he’s in the UFC is pretty baffling.

With that being said, the first leg of this week’s parlay is Louis Smolka.

His price admittedly doesn’t jump off the page screaming “value!” now that it’s down to -225, but for me it’s still a playable line. He’s got solid stand-up skills and a tricky submission game too. He’s never going to set the world on fire, or even live up to his early hype, but he’ll most certainly get his hand raised in the fight, most likely by submission or decision.

1st Leg of Parlay: Louis Smolka @ -225

Jordan Griffin vs. Chas Skelly

Preliminary: Featherweight Bout – 145lbs

Jordan “Native Psycho” Griffin – Record: 17-6-0

Chas “The Scrapper” Skelly – Record: 17-4-0

Max Griffin is one of those guys that you want to have money on in fights.

He has good cardio, is tough, light on his toes, and has a very nice grappling game. In his UFC debut he was unsuccessful against Dan Ige, but man did he push Ige throughout that fight. Since then, I’ve been waiting for a spot to get my money on Griffin, and it’s finally come!

Chas Skelly is a well-rounded fighter in his own right, but it appears as though he’s hit his ceiling. He experienced early success in the UFC having started 6-2, with his only losses coming against skilled wrestlers. But since then, he’s now added two more losses with back-to-back defeats to both Jason Knight (former UFC fighter) and Bobby Moffett.

It’s not that I don’t rate Skelly’s skills, I just favor Griffin’s. He’s younger and on the up, and Skelly’s had some concerning loses and could well be on the down. I think Griffin’s a good deal better than Jason Knight, and around the same level as Moffett. I expect him to beat Skelly, most probably by way of decision. He’ll complete the parlay.

2nd Leg of Parlay: Jordan Griffin @ -136

1.5u Parlay: Smolka + Griffin @ +145 (Best Current Available Parlay Price)

Misha Cirkunov vs. Jimmy Crute

Main Card: Light Heavyweight Bout – 205lbs

Misha Cirkunov – Record: 14-5-0 / Ranked: 15th

Jimmy “The Brute” Crute – Record: 10-0-0

How good is Jim Crute?... We still don’t know!

We’ve seen him get into a few scraps, but we haven’t seen anything too conclusive to suggest if he’ll be able to compete against the light heavyweight division’s top guys.

What we do know is that Misha Cirkunov has one of the worst chins in the division. Yes he’s skilled and has an outstanding submission game, but that doesn’t mean a lot when you can’t take one solid shot to the dome.

Cirkunov will likely have the skill advantage in the grappling and wrestling, but when he’s been caught and KO/TKO’ed in three of his last five fights, his chances don’t look great against the young heavy-hitter.

I’m taking a 0.75 unit stab on Crute to win in the first round at +333. The most likely outcome in this fight is him to KO Cirkunov, and if it’s going to happen, it’ll most likely be in the opening minutes.

0.75u – Jimmy Crute to Win in Round 1 @ +333

Donald Cerrone vs. Justin Gaethje

Main Event: Lightweight Bout – 155lbs

Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone – Record: 36-12-0

Justin “The Highlight” Gaethje – Record: 20-2-0

It’s not often the UFC gives the fans a fight that everyone wants to see, but they’ve only gone and done it! Two absolute warriors in Cowboy and Gaethje, this is going to be mayhem to the highest degree!

Cowboy’s skilled as we all know, and now he looks as motivated as we’ve ever seen him. He turned 36 this year, and I’ve given up on guessing when father time will catch him. Every moment “the end” looks to be on the horizon for Cerrone, he pulls out another impressive win to add to his record, but that’s not what I see happening for him this weekend.

He undoubtedly has the experience edge, as well as the advantages in both height (2 inches) and reach (3 inches). He likely has the better BJJ, but as we’ve seen in Gaethje’s fights, that’s basically a non-factor, due to his excellent takedown defense, and lack of interest in grappling. All things considered, it’s a real struggle to see where Cowboy’s going to win this fight against someone as young, hungry and skilled as Gaethje.

I expect Gaethje to go at Cerrone like the wild man we know him to be. He can apply pressure that could make diamonds, and Cowboy crumbles against pressure fighters. I see this playing out similarly to Cerrone’s fight with Darren Till, thus resulting in an early stoppage for The Highlight.

We’ll be taking a huge play on Gaethje’s moneyline and a one unit play on him in round one.

5u – Justin Gaethje @ -175

1u – Justin Gaethje @ +350

By Christian Broughton

Article Author


A former sportsbook trader with a passion for mixed martial arts. If there is value to be found then Christian is the man to find it.


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