BET OF THE CARD: (2.5u) Magomed Ankalaev @ -210 (to Return 3.69 Units)
Ion Cutelaba vs. Magomed Ankalaev
Main Card Light Heavyweight (205lbs) Bout – Approx. Start Time 10 p.m. EST
- Ankalaev boasts some very impressive defensive stats for a light heavyweight; he absorbs just 1.15 significant strikes per minute, has a 68% significant strike defense, and has an 85% takedown defense (stats courtesy of UFCStats.com).
My bet of the card for this week is the 12-1 Russian fighter, Magomed Ankalaev.
His -210 price tag might seem a little steep for a volatile light heavyweight clash, but he really does have all the keys to win this fight. His long-rangy striking has proven to be an absolute nightmare for his past opposition, this can be seen in his near 3-1 positive significant striking differential (3.16 landed per minute vs. 1.15 absorbed per minute). His takedown defense is solid and his ability to grind on people against the cage can quickly drain the energy right out of his opponents.
Cutelaba can pack one hell of a punch and his explosivity makes him one of the most dangerous one round fighters in the UFC. He’s got a cast iron chin which enables him to step into range and look to land with powerful flurries, without fear of being caught in return. His takedown defense is very underrated, but once fatigued he becomes vulnerable against strong grapplers, as seen in his last loss against Glover Teixeira (pictured below).
Ankalaev will need to stay honest and patient in the early goings, remaining at range to avoid any of Cutelaba’s mad rushes. Once he gets settled and Cutelaba’s initial speed and power begins to drop, I expect Ankalaev to engage in a clinch and start to pull Cutelaba into deeper waters. Take Ankalaev to get the win here, likely by decision, but a 3rd round stoppage could definitely be in play.
(1.5u) Sean Brady @ +115 (to Return 3.225 Units)
Ismail Naurdiev vs. Sean Brady
Preliminary Card Opener Welterweight (170lbs) Bout – Approx. Start Time 5:10 p.m. EST
- Sean Brady’s UFC debut saw him get a unanimous decision victory over UFC veteran, Court McGee. In that fight he landed 56% of his significant strikes, whilst stopping all 6 of McGee’s takedown attempts, and landing 2 of 3 in return (stats courtesy of UFCStats.com).
Undefeated 11-0 prospect Sean Brady is my second pick of the card.
Brady has a strong regional record, winning and defending the Cage Fury FC welterweight title, as well as picking up a win in the main event of LFA 49. This will be only his second UFC bout, but his victory against Court McGee in his first UFC fight proved he’s got the skills to overcome even the most well-rounded of fighters. His wrestling and clinch work was on point and he diversified his striking nicely between landing calf kicks and working his boxing.
Naurdiev is much more of an out-and-out wrestler, who has the capabilities to contend on the feet when needed. He works at a high tempo, which can put people under pressure early, but it can also be taxing on himself as the fight goes on. He throws some nice snapping kicks to the head and mid-section, but ultimately, they don’t seem powerful enough to really compromise someone as tough as Brady. This will open the door for Brady to catch these kicks and go straight into grappling exchanges whilst Naurdiev is still trying to regain his base. Should this fight hit the mat with Naurdiev on the bottom, we’ll likely see him struggle to get back to his feet, much like he did in his loss to Chance Rencountre (pictured below).
Wherever this fight takes place, Brady will be calm and uncompromised. A fast-paced start from Naurdiev may look troublesome, but Brady should soon slow down the pace of the fight and he’ll begin going to work. I see his low leg kicks keeping Naurdiev light on his front leg and cautions to step in for takedowns. From there Brady can forecast any of Naurdiev’s attempts at grappling and seek to either reverse or separate all together. Take Sean Brady as the slight underdog in this fight.
(1u) Joseph Benavidez @ -125 (to Return 1.8 Units)
Joseph Benavidez vs. Deiveson Figueiredo
Main Event Men’s Flyweight (125lbs) UFC Championship Bout – Approx. Start Time 11 p.m. EST
- Benavidez is 9-1 in his last 10 UFC bouts, and he holds two stoppage victories over Jussier Formiga, the only person to have beaten Figueiredo in his career.
Norfolk’s main event sees perennial flyweight contender Joseph Benavidez take on the always dangerous, Deiveson Figueiredo. It’s a tough bout to call as both guys have been on such a roll over the past few years, but I do favor Benavidez to get the win.
Figueiredo has a huge amount of power in his hands, as well as some ever-improving grappling skills. His main path to victory is to keep the fight standing and to catch Benavidez with something hard as he looks to close the distance. It’s not insane to think that he could catch Benavidez in a submission, as he did to Tim Elliott in his last outing, but given Joe B’s outstanding submission defense, it’d certainly be a shocking outcome to the fight.
I see Benavidez winning this fight through his grappling, volume, and most importantly, cardio. Providing he can out manoeuvre Figueiredo’s power early, he’ll soon be able to start ramping up his striking volume before seeking to engage with his grinding wrestling. We’ve seen in a few of Deiveson’s fights, that once he begins to fatigue, his volume quickly drops off and he becomes much more susceptible to being grinded on against the cage and taken down.
I expect the first couple rounds to be competitive, but as the fight crosses over into the third and beyond, I see Benavidez taking rounds much more firmly in his favor. I’ve got Benavidez winning this by a decisive decision, or via a late stoppage in the championship rounds.
Scroll down to view event details, odds & Christian’s full card predictions.
Event: UFC on ESPN+ 27: Benavidez vs. Figueiredo / UFC Fight Night 169
Location & Venue: Chartway Arena, Norfolk, Virginia
Date: Saturday, February 29th, 2020
Start time: Main Card: 8 p.m. EST, Prelims 5 p.m. EST
Where to watch: Watch both the Main Card & Prelims over on the ESPN streaming service: ESPN+
UFC Fight Night: Benavidez vs. Figueiredo Full Fight Card Predictions
UFC Fight Night: Benavidez vs. Figueiredo Main Event Prediction
Flyweight (125lbs): Joseph Benavidez vs. Deiveson Figueiredo – Benavidez via Decision
UFC Fight Night: Benavidez vs. Figueiredo Main Card Predictions:
(W) Featherweight (145lbs): Felicia Spencer vs. Zarah Fairn – Spencer via Submission
Light Heavyweight (205lbs): Ion Cutelaba vs. Magomed Ankalaev – Ankalaev via Decision
(W) Featherweight (145lbs): Megan Anderson vs. Norma Dumont – Anderson via KO/TKO
Featherweight (145lbs): Grant Dawson vs. Darrick Minner – Dawson via Submission
UFC Fight Night: Benavidez vs. Figueiredo Prelim Card Predictions
Lightweight (155lbs): Luis Pena vs. Steve Garcia Jr. – Pena via Decision
Bantamweight (135lbs): Gabriel Silva vs. Kyler Philips – Silva via Decision
Middleweight (185lbs): Brendan Allen vs. Tom Breese – Allen via Decision
Heavyweight (265lbs): Marcin Tybura vs. Sergey Spivak – Spivak via KO/TKO
Featherweight (145lbs): TJ Brown vs. Jordan Griffin – Griffin via Submission
Featherweight (145lbs): Aalon Cruz vs. Spike Carlyle – Cruz via Decision
Welterweight (170lbs): Ismail Naurdiev vs. Sean Brady – Brady via Decision
*Fight card, bout order and number of fights subject to change.