Saturday September 28th 2019 at Royal Arena, Copenhagen, Denmark
Main Card: 2 p.m. ET+ on ESPN+
Preliminary Card: 11 a.m. ET on ESPN+
Last week UFC: Mexico City proved to be as anticipated. I perhaps was slightly more entertained than I thought I’d be, but overall still an underwhelming event. The most notable moment came from Steven Peterson’s spectacular spinning backfist KO, but aside from that there wasn’t a lot to call home about. The major downer on the night was the main event being ruled a no contest following a 15 second eye poke from Yair Rodriquez on Jeremy Stephens, leaving him unable to open his eye. Not ideal, but at least that fight has now been rebooked to co-main event UFC: Boston next month. The positives for us were cashing Paul Craig and Kyle Nelson whom both won via first round stoppages, combining to bring us in a healthy profit for a second week running!
Now we look onto this weekend’s event, as the UFC heads back over to Europe for a low-key banger of a card! I can’t speak more positively about the fights Denmark are being blessed with this weekend, from the early prelims to the main event, it is packed with fun fights! Sure, excluding the main event they might not hold serious implications to divisional rankings, but in the modern age of the UFC, it’s just good to get this many exciting fights all on one card. Let’s jump into this week’s picks for UFC on ESPN +18: Hermansson vs. Cannonier!
Brandon Davis vs. Giga Chikadze
Preliminary Featherweight Bout – 145lbs
Brandon “KillerB” Davis – Record: 10-7-0
Giga Chikadze – Record: 7-2-0
This fight got thrown together only a couple of weeks ago, when Chikadze was supposed to step in on late notice for his UFC debut against Mike Davis. They then had to switch in Brandon Davis as Mike Davis (no relation) was encountering some health issues (via Bloodyelbow.com). It’s a strange set of circumstances, but this fight looks to set-up nicely for entertainment and for betting.
This’ll be Davis’ seventh UFC bout in less than two years, and although he doesn’t hold the most illustrious record within the company at 2-4, he does look to hold a lot of the advantages in this fight. I have admittedly not gone to the ends of the earth to find tape on Chikadze, but from what I’ve seen, he’s a pretty good kickboxer, and not much more than that. His 7-2 record doesn’t look great on the surface, but it only gets worse once you delve into it further. Out of his seven pro wins, he’s won 6 via KO/TKO and one via submission. That sub came in a 12 second armbar win over a 2-32 fighter, and it happened only 13 months ago. When you combine the records of the fighters he’s beaten (at the time at which they fought him), the total comes to a dismal 3-57. So after sighting that, it’s pretty clear to see that this guy has never beaten any “real” competition in MMA.
That being said, the pick here is Brandon Davis. I expect him to have the grappling advantage and I think he could use this to his benefit. He’s proven to have pretty good cardio, and in a late notice fight, that can go a long way to getting a fighter’s hand raised. I see Davis contending on the feet with Chikadze, before utilizing some takedowns that’ll steadily wear on the Georgian kickboxer. Ultimately I see Brandon closing this one out, either by a late submission, or via decision.
Pick: Brandon Davis - 2 Units @ -148 (to Return 3.36 Units)
Gunnar Nelson vs. Gilbert Burns
Main Card Welterweight Bout – 170lbs
Gunnar “Gunni” Nelson – 17-4-1
Gilbert “Durinho” Burns – 16-3-0
This main card matchup sees Gilbert Burns step-up on late notice to fill in for the injured Thiago Alves. Now I’d never wish for anyone to get injured in any sport, but the fight we now have is a significant upgrade due to the inclusion of Burns.
Both guys are highly skilled at Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, although Burns does possess the clear edge as a multiple-time BJJ world champion. Outside of the grappling the better striking technique and cardio lies with Gunnar, yet Burns does yield significantly more power. I expect each fighter to be reluctant to grapple due to it being both of their specialties, as is often the case in grappler versus grappler matchups.
I see Gunnar having early success keeping distance and using his kickboxing, but eventually the Brazilian Burns will be able to get on the inside of Nelson and that’s where I see him taking over. Once there, “Durinho” will either engage him in a clinch or a close quarters striking exchange. His striking might not be the most technically refined, but his power is a game changer, even up at his newly found 170lb weight class.
I expect Burns gets it done here. His durability, ground game and power sets-up as a real problem for Nelson, a man whose main path to victory in the past has been submissions. I honestly think Burns could win this any way realistically, but I like the value on him to KO/TKO Nelson. We’ve seen frailties with Gunnar in the past when he’s faced people who can throw hard, and I think he could get put away in this fight. We’ll be taking Burns on the moneyline as he’s got a few paths to victory, but we’ll also be taking a half unit on him to win it via knockout at a decent +450.
Pick: Gilbert Burns – 2.5 Units @ -137 (to Return 4.33 Units)
Prop Play: Burns via KO/TKO – 0.5 Units @ +450 (to Return 2.75 Units)
Jack Hermansson vs. Jared Cannonier
Main Event Middleweight Bout – 185lbs
Jack “The Joker” Hermansson – 20-4-0 / 5th Ranked MW
Jared “Killa Gorilla” Cannonier – 12-4-0 / 9th Ranked MW
This main event is an odd one considering Cannonier’s only had two fights at middleweight, whereas Hermansson’s won four straight, including a win over the perennially top ranked Jacare Souza. Nevertheless, Hermansson wanted this main event in Copenhagen, and Cannonier’s getting his shot at a highly ranked opponent, so I guess it makes sense.
I’m going to cut straight to the point for this fight, I like Hermansson to get the win. I can’t see Cannonier ever getting a sub on him, and I’m not sure he’s got the gas to take a decision, especially when he’s fighting in Hermansson’s Scandinavian backyard. Cannonier’s path to victory looks solely through a standing KO strike, or by dropping Hermansson and following up with ground and pound. So if you want to play the “Killa Gorilla”, just take his KO prop at +333 for the added value over his moneyline price of +193.
For me though, I’m taking “The Joker” on the moneyline at -200. He’s quicker and has more diversity with his strikes. His volume on the feet is pretty crazy when he gets into his flow, and when the fight hits the mat, Cannonier is going to be in a different world of trouble. It’s likely Hermansson subs him early, but at +150 the value just isn’t there for me to play it, especially not when Cannonier once went 15 minutes without getting subbed against Glover Teixeira. I can also see The Joker taking a wide decision, or even potentially overwhelming Jared with pure volume alone for a TKO finish. So for that reason, we’ll just be playing Hermansson straight for 2 units.
Pick: Jack Hermansson – 2 Units @ -200 (to Return 3 Units)
Best of luck to all of you betting the fights this weekend, I’ve got a very good feeling that we’re going to be in for a wild afternoon of fights! Comeback next week to check out my picks for UFC 243: Whittaker vs. Adesanya!
And if you want a sneak peek for the main event, check out my early breakdown of the fight HERE!