Bet of the Card: (2.5u) Enrique Barzola @ -133 (to Return 4.375 Units)
Rani Yahya vs. Enrique Barzola
Preliminary Card Bantamweight (135lbs) Bout – Estimated Start Time 5:30 p.m. EST
- Barzola has spend some of the build-up to this fight training over at the American Kickboxing Academy with elite MMA wrestlers such as Khabib Nurmagomedov, Daniel Cormier and Islam Makhachev. This training should improve his already solid wrestling, to even more effectively shutdown Yahya’s main path to victory.
My bet of the card for this week is Peru’s, Enrique Barzola.
I like Barzola for a number of reasons, most notably for his advantages in; size, wrestling and striking. He will be the noticeably bigger fighter in this bout as he’s now fighting at bantamweight, following a 5-3 stretch in the UFC’s featherweight division. Prior to that, he even briefly fought up at 155lbs, where he went on to win TUF Latin America season 2. He may only yield a slight 1-inch height and 2-inch reach advantage, but he’ll undoubtedly be the physically stronger fighter.
Barzola’s base is wrestling, although he is well polished in all areas, something that can’t be said about his opponent. Yahya is a submission specialist, he’s never won a fight via knockout, and 20 of his 26 wins have come via submission. He has a depth of fight experience spanning many years in the UFC and WEC, yet he always struggles when coming up against “all-rounders” like Barzola.
I see this fight playing out very similarly to Yahya’s unanimous decision loss to Ricky Simon. In that fight, Yahya struggled immensely to close distance, allowing Simon to have his way with him on the feet (pictured below). Yahya went 0 for 9 on his takedown attempts, and his striking only got sloppier as the fight worn on.
This enabled Simon to get in and out of the pocket easily, with Yahya at a loss for ideas on how to get going on offense. Then, as each round was ending, Simon shot for takedowns in an attempt to definitively claim each round. I feel that by now Rani’s game plan is well and truly figured out, and I fully expect Barzola to be able to replicate Simon’s performance. Take Barzola to get the win against the hometown fighter, he should take this commandingly.
(1.5) Nikita Krylov @ +124 (to Return 3.36 Units)
Johnny Walker vs. Nikita Krylov
Main Card Light Heavyweight (205lbs) Bout – Estimated Start Time 7:30 p.m. EST
- Nikita Krylov ranks second amongst active UFC light heavyweights (with 5+ UFC fights) for significant strike accuracy (56.1%) and positive striking differential (2.46), whilst he also ranks third for strikes landed per minute (4.90) (per UFCStats.com).
I don’t typically like to bet against too many fighters fighting in their home countries, but this looks to be a decent spot to fade the unknown commodity, Johnny Walker.
Walker’s a certified madman and he brings nothing but entertainment. He starts each fight hard and fast, often resulting in him winning via first round knockout. Now, this is all well and good when he’s fighting some UFC light heavyweights, but as we saw in his knockout loss to Corey Anderson, that’s not always the case. In that fight, his over-exuberant striking style caused him to get caught by a big Anderson overhand (pictured below).
The shot seriously rocked him, and it was only a matter of time before Anderson was able to finish the fight. The bout didn’t tell us too much about Walker, but it did prove that he’s human, and very capable of getting hurt against non-elite strikers.
Nikita “Al Capone” Krylov can do it all; he can strike, he can grapple, and he only really struggles when he faces guys who are committed to taking him down and submitting him. This is a path I don’t see Walker pursuing as he’s only ever won two fights in his career via submission. This means that this should largely be a striking affair, which is much more favorable to how Krylov likes to fight.
He has a near 2-to-1 significant striking differential, which is a testament to his ability to neutralize his opponent’s offense. Walker does possess unique striking and extreme explosivity, but with Krylov’s durability and stand-up experience, I’d be shocked to see him end up on Johnny Walker’s list of knockout victims.
I see Krylov remaining calm in front of Walker, striking effectively against him at range. Then, once the early Walker onslaught has cooled off, I see Krylov’s volume and precision taking over the fight. Ultimately, Krylov should catch Walker with a fight ending shot, or take him down to the mat and lock in a submission. Take Krylov to get the win here as the plus-money dog.
(1u) Charles Oliveira @ +130 (to Return 2.3 Units)
Kevin Lee vs. Charles Oliveira
Main Event Lightweight (155lbs) Bout – Estimated Start Time 9:30 p.m. EST
- Charles Oliveira holds the record for both; Most Submission Victories in UFC History (13), and Most Performance of the Night Bonuses in UFC History (9).
My final bet of the card is on Brazil’s own, Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira.
Do Bronx has been a mainstay in the UFC for nearly a decade now, yet only recently have we seen him start to truly hit his stride. He’s currently riding a six-fight win streak, with all wins coming by way of finish. His submission skills have always been elite, but finally his striking is starting to level out as well. We saw this in each of his last three fights, as he showed great improvements and a newfound willingness battle it out on the feet. To top it all off, his head now looks to be in the right place too.
At one time he was a meme for being a fighter that would go out and try to sub his opponent quickly, or else he’d simply find the fastest way to lose so he could get back home again. We now see none of this, only a guy who’s fixated on racking up win bonuses and closing in on UFC gold.
Kevin Lee has been going through a bit of a resurgence himself as of late too. His move to TriStar looks to have rejuvenated him and he now appears to have turned the page following a rough 1-3 spell. In his last fight he shocked all of us with his savage overhand right to head kick KO on wrestling standout, Gregor Gillespie. It was a combo conjured out of nothing, and unlike anything we’d seen from Lee’s stand up game in the past.
Putting that aside however, it’s very difficult to gauge how much of a positive impact his transition to TriStar has had in such a short space of time. Afterall, it was only in summer of last year that we saw Rafael dos Anjos ragdoll Lee (pictured below), before pulling off an arm triangle choke in the fourth round.p>
I see both guys being well-matched in the striking early on, but it’s only a matter of time before we see this turn into a grappling match. Once engaged, I see Do Bronx having his way with him on the mat. His submission skills both on-top and off his back are far superior to that of Lee’s, and I think it’s likely we see Oliveira secures a choke to add yet another submission victory to his record tally. Take Oliveira to make it seven straight wins here at +130.
Scroll down to view event details, odds & Christian’s full card predictions.
Event: UFC on ESPN+ 28: Lee vs. Oliveira / UFC Fight Night 170
Location & Venue: Ginásio Nilson Nelson, Brasilia, Brazil
Date: Saturday, March 14th, 2020
Start time: Main Card: 7 p.m. EST, Prelims 4 p.m. EST
Where to watch: Watch both the Main Card & Prelims over on the ESPN streaming service: ESPN+
UFC Odds: Click here to view the full list of odds for UFC Fight Night: Lee vs. Oliveira
UFC Fight Night: Lee vs. Oliveira Full Fight Card Predictions
UFC Fight Night: Lee vs. Oliveira Main Event Prediction
Lightweight (155lbs): Kevin Lee vs. Charles Oliveira – Oliveira via Submission
UFC Fight Night: Lee vs. Oliveira Main Card Predictions
Welterweight (170lbs): Demian Maia vs. Gilbert Burns – Burns via Decision
(W) Strawweight (115lbs): Randa Markos vs. Amanda Ribas – Ribas via Decision
Lightweight (155lbs): Renato Moicano vs. Damir Hadzovic – Moicano via Decision
Light Heavyweight (205lbs): Johnny Walker vs. Nikita Krylov – Krylov via KO/TKO
Flyweight (125lbs): Bruno Silva vs. David Dvorak – Dvorak via Submission
UFC Fight Night: Lee vs. Oliveira Prelim Card Predictions
Lightweight (155lbs): Francisco Trinaldo vs. John Makdessi - Trinaldo via Decision
Welterweight (170lbs): Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos vs. Alexey Kunchenko – Kunchenko via Decision
Bantamweight (135lbs): Rami Yahya vs. Enrique Barzola – Barzola via Decision
Flyweight (125lbs): Jussier Formiga vs. Brandon Moreno – Formiga via Decision
(W) Flyweight (125lbs): Mayra Bueno Silva vs. Maryna Moroz – Moroz via Decision
(W) Bantamweight (135lbs): Veronica Macedo vs. Bea Malecki – Macedo via Decision
*Fight card, bout order and number of fights subject to change.