Bet of the Card: (2.5u) Fight Doesn’t Go The Distance @ -110 (to Return 4.773 Units)
(1u) Paul Craig via KO/TKO @ +950 (to Return 10.5 Units)
(0.5u) Paul Craig via Round 1 KO/TKO @ +2000 (to Return 10.5 Units)
Maurício Rua vs. Paul Craig
Main Card Light Heavyweight (205lbs) Bout – Approx. Start Time: 10:15 p.m. EST.
- All 13 of Paul Craig’s wins have come inside the distance, and he’s only been to a decision one time in his 18-fight career.
- Mauricio “Shogun” Rua has been to just 8 decisions in his lengthy 39-fight career (per Tapology.com).
My bet of the card for UFC 255 is on Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Paul “Bear Jew” Craig to end inside the distance.
We’ve seen this fight play out once before, almost exactly one year ago. At that time, I was on Paul Craig (pictured below) as the +265 underdog, and despite him now being a -170 favorite (best price), I’m still looking his way in the rematch.
Shogun is less than a week away from turning 39 years of age. At this point in his career, he lacks durability, speed, and athleticism. Paul Craig may not be an athletic specimen himself, but with his youth and improving skill set, that alone should be enough to beat Shogun to the punch, just like he demonstrated in the first fight. There will be trepidation for some bettors taking the fight doesn’t go the distance prop (FDGTD), due to their first fight going to a split-decision draw, but it’s important to know that there’s a few factors I see stopping that from happening this time round.
Firstly, they’ll be in the smaller 25ft octagon at the UFC Apex facility, rather than the larger standard 30ft octagon they were fighting in before. The impact of this means that the fighters will have less room to work, and this should force the action more and increase the likelihood of a finish. Secondly, in the first fight Paul Craig unloaded a barrage of strikes on Shogun in the middle of the first round, nearly putting the Brazilian legend away, but instead leading to both fighters fatiguing, thus reducing the chances of either man finishing the fight. This time, I think Craig will be wiser and more willing to pick his shots, enabling him to conserve energy to keep up a higher work rate with more damaging strikes throughout. Thirdly, Shogun won’t be fighting in his back yard of Sao Paulo, Brazil for this fight, unlike the first. There’s no real way of determining the effect of this, but you’d have to imagine that without thousands of his countrymen and women willing him on, that this would only prove detrimental to his mental desire to power through similar levels of adversity.
I like Paul Craig to come out hot and put away the age-old veteran on the feet. Shogun has a tendency to get hit and hurt a lot in the past few years, and against someone with Craig’s edge in speed, I find it hard to see how he holds up. There is some concern with playing Craig’s KO prop, as he is largely a grappler, but Shogun boasts pretty solid submission defense, and the KO line offers up considerably more value than just his inside the distance line. My biggest play on this fight is it not to go the distance at -110, this will cover us and then some if Craig subs Shogun, or even if Shogun manages to roll back the years and KO Paul Craig. Take FDGTF, Paul Craig KO/TKO, and Paul Craig KO/TKO round 1, they all present excellent value given what we know about both fighters, and what we saw from their first fight.
(2u) Over 2.5 Rounds @ -110 (to Return 3.818 Units)
Valentina Shevchenko vs. Jennifer Maia
Co-Main Event UFC Women’s Flyweight (125lbs) Championship Bout – Approx. Start Time: 11:45 p.m. EST.
- Valentina Shevchenko (pictured below) has gone to a decision in 6 of her 10 UFC fights.
- Jennifer Maia has gone to a decision in 8 of her last 9 fights (per Tapology.com)
Since Shevchenko moved down to flyweight, she's garnered a reputation of being a "killer" (meaning that she's a regular finisher of fights). This was in large part due to her emphatic head kick KO of Jessica Eye, and although it was a masterfully devastating finish, it hasn't changed the fact that she's gone to decisions more often than not in the UFC. Almost every fight she’s willing to work off her back foot and counter-strike, and even if it’s incredibly effective for her, it tends to result in her winning boring point fighting-style decisions. I'm not trying to diminish her as a fighter in any way, because she is truly skilled, but barring her KO over Eye, she's failed to display much killer instinct, unless she's able to exploit an opponent's weakness on the mat.
Jennifer Maia may not be the most talented fighter on the UFC roster, but given the current landscape of the women's flyweight division, she’s good enough to get a title shot. I don't have much to talk her up about, but she's capable on the feet, she's tough, and she's a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) black belt. With these combining features, I see plenty to suggest that she can get by against Shevchenko without being finished, or at least during the early portion of the fight. I'd expect her to take a fairly cautious approach to marching Shevchenko down. The result of this, will likely lead to reduced opportunities for Shevchenko to catch Maia with something as she comes in, and by doing so, decreasing Shevchenko's chances of finishing the fight. Should Valentina look to take Maia down to the mat, I'd expect Maia to defend well against any advancements or offense. Perhaps her best path to victory will be from a hail mary submission attempt off her back, but with Shevchenko's well-roundedness, I see most grappling exchanges playing out as a stalemate, with Shevchenko winning minutes in top position.
Ultimately, I see Maia as having suitable toughness to survive on the feet for at least the first half of the fight. On the mat, I'd expect a lot of stalling from Shevchenko on top, and with that we'll see minutes slowly ticking away. If Shevchenko goes out there and puts away another person with a highlight reel KO, or even manages to finish the fight on the mat early, I won't be too surprised, but at -110, I have to look towards the over 2.5 as value. I think this goes over a good percentage more often than not, so for that reason, I'm going to have to take a shot on it.
(2u) Alex Perez @ +250 (to Return 7 Units)
Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Alex Perez
Main Event UFC Men’s Flyweight (125lbs) Championship Bout – Approx. Start Time: 00:30 a.m. EST.
- Alex Perez lands more significant strikes per minute than Deiveson Figueiredo (4.68 vs. 2.8) and he yields a better striking defense percentage (61% vs. 51%). On top of this, Perez lands nearly twice as many takedowns per 15 minutes (3.03 vs. 1.71), whilst also maintaining a better takedown defense percentage (87% vs. 61%) (per UFCStats.com).
My final bet of the card is on the underdog in the main event, Alex Perez (pictured below).
Deiveson Figueiredo is undoubtably talented and dangerous, but he is by no means an unbeatable champion. We’ve seen him get fatigued in fights, taken down and out-wrestled more than once, and getting out-struck at distance. When reflecting upon this, it seems incredibly odd that he’s such a big favorite (-300 best price) in this spot, and that looks to be heavily down to his performance in his last fight against a perennial flyweight title challenger, Joseph Benavidez. In that fight, Fig’ won in dominant fashion, nearly KO’ing “JoeB” multiple times, before submitting him, all in the opening round. Would I be shocked if he did the same thing to Perez here? Definitely not. Figueiredo has murderous power and is typically a good starter, but at +250, Perez looks too hold all the value in this fight, especially when considering that it’s favored to go over 1.5 rounds (-155 best odds).
I expect Perez (pictured below) to utilize his speed and range striking to avoid much of Deiveson’s forward pressure and power shots, and outland him in return. A little-known fact about Deiveson Figueiredo, is that he actually absorbs more significant strikes per minute than he lands on his opponents, which is a rarity for high-level fighters, and possibly unheard of for a UFC champion. With this in mind, I expect Perez to out-volume and out-cardio Figueiredo as the fight wears on, providing he can get through the opening couple rounds. Perez’ leg kicks can pulverise the calves of his opponents (as seen in his last fight, a TKO victory due to leg kicks over Jussier Formiga), and I can see this proving to be a major factor in him hindering Fig’s forward motion and speed, potentially even resulting in another leg kick TKO win. Should Perez want to look towards his wrestling, I see him having success there too, but he’ll have to be careful as Figueiredo does have a dangerous submission game of his own.
All in all, I see Perez escaping the early aggression of Figueiredo, which should allow Perez to settle into the fight and begin to out-work the champion. Should Perez have great success with his leg kicks, or maintain a notably higher pace, I could see him getting a stoppage in this fight, but I would look to his most likely path to victory being the decision. I’m taking Alex Perez to win at +250, and I’d be willing to play him from +170 and upwards.
Scroll down to view event details, odds & Christian’s full card predictions.
Event: UFC 255: Figueiredo vs. Perez / #UFC255
Location & Venue: UFC Apex, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Date: Saturday, November 21st, 2020
Start time: Main Card: 10 p.m. EST, Prelims 8 p.m. EST. Early Prelims: 6:30 p.m. EST.
Where to watch: Main Card on PPV, Prelims on ESPN 2/ESPN+, Early Prelims on ESPN 2/ESPN+
UFC 255: Figueiredo vs. Perez Full Fight Card Predictions
UFC 255: Figueiredo vs. Perez Main Event Prediction
Flyweight (125lbs): Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Alex Perez – Perez via Decision
UFC 255: Figueiredo vs. Perez Main Card Predictions
(W) Flyweight (125lbs): Valentina Shevchenko vs. Jennifer Maia – Shevchenko via Decision
Welterweight (170lbs): Mike Perry vs. Tim Means – Means via Decision
(W) Flyweight (125lbs): Katlyn Chookagian vs. Cynthia Calvillo – Chookagian via Decision
Light Heavyweight (205lbs): Mauricio Rua vs. Paul Craig – Craig via KO/TKO
UFC 255: Figueiredo vs. Perez Prelim Card Predictions
Flyweight (125lbs): Brandon Moreno vs. Brandon Royval – Moreno via Decision
Middleweight (185lbs): Joaquin Buckley vs. Jordan Wright – Buckley via KO/TKO
(W) Flyweight (125lbs): Antonina Shevchenko vs. Ariane Lipski – Shevchenko via Decision
Welterweight (170lbs): Daniel Rodriguez vs. Nicolas Dalby – Rodriguez via Decision
Welterweight (170lbs): Alan Jouban vs. Jared Gooden – Gooden via KO/TKO
Middleweight (185lbs): Kyle Daukaus vs. Dustin Stoltzfus – Stoltzfus via Decision
Welterweight (170lbs): Louis Cosce vs. Sasha Palatnikov – Cosce via KO/TKO
*Fight card, bout order and number of fights subject to change.