UFC on ESPN+ 20: Maia vs. Askren Picks & Event Preview
Saturday October 26th 2019 at Singapore Indoor Stadium, Singapore
Main Card: 8 a.m. ET on ESPN+
Preliminary Card: 5 a.m. ET on ESPN+
We’re fresh off the back of a very entertaining UFC: Boston. There was some outstanding performances, most notably hometown guy Joe Lauzon and Maycee Barber. There was a few crazy finishes, particularly that of Charles Rosa’s shock armbar on submission expert Manny Bermudez. As well as a back-and-forth war between Yair Rodriguez and Jeremy Stephens. Not to forget about the controversy of “Inhaler-gate”, from Greg Hardy too. It was very good event all round and one that offered a little something to see in every fight.
This week we look onto the UFC’s latest Asia card, that’ll be aired to us all the way from Singapore. Like most events on that side of the Pacific, it’s at an ungodly hour for those in the US. With a bright and early 5am start time for the east coast, meaning only the “hardcore” fans will be up for the early prelims. Thankfully the main card is a little more reasonable, with an 8am start for what should be a thrilling striking matchup between Muslim Salikhov and Laureano Staropoli. With that being said, let’s jump into our picks for UFC Singapore: Maia vs. Askren!
Main Card: Lightweight Bout – 155lbs
Beneil “Benny” Dariush – Record: 16-4-1
Frank “The Crank” Camacho: 22-7-0
Our first of two picks for this card comes in the UFC’s lightweight division and a matchup between two contrasting styles.
Frank Camacho is an out-and-out brawler, with vicious power and a good chin. Dariush is more of a grappler, with well-timed takedowns and a high-level BJJ game. He’s got some good versatile striking when working at range, but his suspect chin is a serious issue when he spends too long on the feet against heavy-hitters.
Dariush has all the skills to win this fight, and Camacho has the grappling deficiencies to allow Dariush to execute his game plan. The one thing that’s to fear when betting Dariush is that he could get put away by one of Camacho’s haymakers. It’s Camacho’s only real path to victory and given Beneil’s durability issues in the past, it is a potential outcome for this fight. However, it’s impossible to look past the sheer value on the more skilled fighter in Dariush.
I see him starting off patiently, slowly peppering Camacho from the outside, before getting in on a takedown. From there, he’ll likely advance on the grounded Camacho, and either wear him down throughout the 3 rounds, or lock-up his 8th career submission victory.
Pick: Beneil Dariush – 1.5 Units @ -139 (to Return 2.58 Units)
Main Event: Welterweight Bout – 170lbs
Demian Maia – Record: 27-9-0 / #10 Ranked Welterweight
“Funky” Ben Askren – Record: 19-1-0 / #11 Ranked Welterweight
We’re now onto the card’s main event, for a fight that could arguably be considered as the UFC’s highest calibre grappling showdown of all-time.
Ben Askren is a former NCAA Division I and Olympic level wrestler, and he’ll be facing-off against the 4th degree BJJ black belt and 2007 ADCC World Champion Demian Maia. It’s one of those contests for which MMA was originally created, to see which style was the best. In this case, it’s wrestling or Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Both fighters are very one dimensional. Maia likes to either close in on his opponents and engage with a clinch against the fence, shoot for a takedown, or even pull guard. Anything to get a hold of his opponent before working for a stronger position or a submission. Askren is very much the same, although he seeks more conservative positions, that’ll ultimately lead to him getting “on-top” once the fight hits the ground.
What I like about this fight for Maia, is that he’s been desperate to fight someone who wants to engage with him as much as Askren will look to do. He obviously had difficult fights against elite wrestlers in Usman and Covington, who would engage with him, but they did so very reluctant and only when there was little to no time for Maia to work for a submission. Also, what they offered that Askren does not, is a semi-decent stand-up game. Meaning that they were able to keep the fight at length, and surprise Maia when they went to engage in the grappling. Due to Askren’s poor striking, he won’t pose nearly as big of a threat on the feet. This will then enable Maia to out-strike him, and will also prepare him more, knowing that Askren will be looking for the takedown throughout.
Maia’s price holds significant value in this fight, and his skills match up well against Askren’s. I expect him to get the better of Askren when standing, and to fare well in long grappling exchanges. “Funky” doesn’t hold nearly the same cardio and athleticism that the people Demian’s struggled with in the past, and because of that, it looks like people could be underestimating how well he should do against someone who’s more one dimensional. I like taking Demian Maia on the moneyline here, as he could win this via either decision or submission.
Pick: Demian Maia – 2 Units @ +150 (to Return 5 Units)
Thank you for reading, and best of luck to those betting the fights this Saturday. If like me, you’re staying up/waking up to watch them, then very fair play to you. See you back here next time for the big one… UFC 244: Masvidal vs. Diaz!
If you enjoyed reading Christian’s picks for this weekend’s UFC, make sure to check out our picks page for all our daily betting picks. To view, simply click this link!