Bet of the Card: (2.5u) Vinicius Moreira Moneyline @ +120 (to Return 5.5 Units)
(1u) Vinicius Moreira by KO/TKO/DQ or Submission @ +215 (to Return 3.15 Units)
Ike Villanueva vs. Vinicius Castro Moreira
Main Card Light Heavyweight (205lbs) Bout – Approx. Start Time: 1:45 p.m. EST.
- Ike Villanueva has 11 career losses, 5 of which have come via submission.
- All of Vinicius Moreira’s 9 career wins have come inside the distance, 8 of which have come via submission (per Tapology.com).
I can’t quite believe I’m doing this, but Vinicius “Mamute” Moreira is my bet of the week.
I don’t think I could say this for just about anyone in UFC history, but for a guy who’s coming into a fight after getting rocked hard and finished in three straight fights (2 KO/TKO, 1 Submission), the man’s got a low-key decent chin. Honestly, in all of those three fights, he’s been hit with some brutal shots, and for the most part he eats them and is only put away after subsequent blows whilst he’s still working off his back, it’s pretty impressive. Obviously, there has to be some concern as to how he puts himself in places to get hit with these damaging strikes, but I just don’t see Villanueva having the skills, nor the power, to do this to him.
Villanueva is a former middleweight, who has recently competed up at heavyweight, and his record is an uninspiring 16-11, with the bulk of his wins coming against seriously low-level guys. His movement is slow and plodding, his strikes don’t look to pack much power, and he seems to enjoy getting into clinch situations, which could be very advantageous for Moreira.
Moreira may have poor striking defense and a tendency to throw some of the sloppiest kicks in the UFC, but I don’t expect the unathletic Villanueva to be able to make him pay for that, as explosive fighters like Eryk Anders and Alonzo Menifield have done.
Look for Moreira to be slightly quicker on the feet, he won’t be the technically better striker, but his 3-inch height and reach advantages should help nullify that gap. Should either guy go in for the clinch, Moreira will most definitely be the stronger and more superior grappler, and I’d expect him to get the fight to the mat, with himself in top position. From there, look for him to work with little resistance before locking up a submission. Depending upon the pace of the fight, this could go beyond the first round, but providing Moreira doesn’t get caught once again, he should get it done inside the distance. Take Vinicius Moreira to win on the moneyline and to win inside the distance.
(2u) Matt Schnell Moneyline @ +115 (to Return 4.3 Units)
Matt Schnell vs. Tyson Nam
Main Card Flyweight (125lbs) Bout – Approx. Start Time: 12:45 p.m. EST.
- Matt Schnell is still fighting in his prime at 31 years of age, whereas Tyson Nam is now 37 and his speed is only going to be declining from here.
This fight has been canceled and rebooked a couple times over the past few months, but the stage finally looks set for it to actually take place, and once again I find myself ready to put down a bet on Matt “Danger” Schnell.
There’s a lot of love for Nam right now, in large part due to his emphatic back-to-back KO wins over Jerome Rivera and Zarrukh Adashev (pictured below) in the latter half of 2020. But prior to that, Nam looked like he was only another loss or two away from leaving the UFC, so it’s important to recognize potential recency bias following a fighter turning his fortunes around with a pair of knockout victories.
Schnell has been on an impressive run over the past 3 years, going 4-1 over his last five fights, with his only loss coming against one of the flyweight division’s most elite fighters, Alexandre Pantoja. In that fight, Schnell had early success with his striking, even rocking the incredibly durable, Pantoja, in the opening few minutes. Unfortunately for Schnell, he ended up getting a little over-exuberant with his pressure after that, and ultimately it resulted in him getting caught by one of Pantoja’s devastating overhands. For me, the loss isn’t a black mark on his record. It was a good performance and it’s provided him some solid experience, the kind of experience that should serve him well against a hard-hitting striker like Tyson Nam.
Schnell holds a notable 4.5-inch reach and 1-inch height advantage over Nam (per Tapology.com), as well as an edge in speed. Combining this with his increased striking volume, I can see Schnell being the more effective distance striker of the two. He will of course have to stay patient and calculated at times, so not to get caught again, as he did against Pantoja, but providing that he does, he could win this fight going away. In addition to this, Schnell also yields the better wrestling and grappling, and should this fight hit the mat, he could keep Nam on his back for prolonged periods, or even potentially pursue a submission.
I’ve got Schnell taking this fight on the scorecards, but I think he also has the skills to get this won inside the distance, and for that reason, I’m taking him straight on the moneyline.
(1u) Neil Magny Moneyline @ -135 (to Return 1.741 Units)
Michael Chiesa vs. Neil Magny
Main Event Welterweight (170lbs) Bout – Approx. Start Time: 2:45 p.m. EST.
- Neil Magny ranks third amongst active UFC welterweights for striking differential (1.81), second for significant strikes landed (1107), and first for number of wins (17) (per StatsLeaders.UFC.com).
Neil Magny is one of the least exciting bets you can make in the UFC, but the man has been a gold mine for those willing to place their hard-earned money on him over the years.
He’s well-rounded, has excellent cardio, and always has height and reach advantages over his opponents. When he’s able to maintain distance, there’s not much his opponents can do to cause him problems, and when he’s not able to, his clinch work along the cage often proves effective enough to keep him edging out rounds. He doesn’t have a flawless ground game from the bottom, and he doesn’t have a legendary chin, but only the absolute best specialists can give him problems either on the mat or on the feet.
Chiesa of course does have a solid submission game, and his wrestling appears to be coming on leaps and bounds. Now that he’s fighting up at Welterweight, his cardio even looks much improved, but I’m not sure he’s got the skill set to punish Magny for his short-comings. In Chiesa’s last fight, he dominated a truly elite fighter in Rafael dos Anjos (RDA), but beyond that, he hasn’t had a seriously impressive showing over a top tier fighter since he beat Beneil Dariush in April 2016. That’s not to say that he hasn’t improved, nor that he’s not capable of recreating his performance against RDA, but I’ll wait until I see it again before I fully buy into Chiesa 2.0.
I see Magny’s volume and range being tricky for Chiesa to deal with. In the clinch, I expect Magny to hold his own, and only get stronger as the fight wears on. Should Chiesa have success with takedowns, there would of course be some fear that he could lock-up a submission, but Magny is no slouch on the mat, and he’s only been subbed in the UFC by fighters who are more esteemed submission grapplers than Chiesa. There is a world where Chiesa could have zero cardio issues now and could implement a grappling clinic for 25-minutes, but in all reality, it’s far more likely that Magny will win the cardio battle and come out on top down the stretch.
Take Neil Magny to win on the moneyline, -135 seems cheap considering his known advantages, especially in a five-round fight.
Scroll down to view event details, odds & Christian’s full card predictions.
Event: UFC Fight Night: Chiesa vs. Magny/ UFC on ESPN 20 / UFC Fight Island 8 / #UFCFightIsland8
Location & Venue: Etihad Arena (UFC Fight Island), Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Date: Wednesday, January 20th, 2021
Start time: Main Card: Noon EST, Prelims 9 a.m. EST.
Where to watch: Main Card on ESPN/ESPN+, Prelims on ESPN+
UFC Fight Night: Chiesa vs. Magny Full Fight Card Predictions:
UFC Fight Night: Chiesa vs. Magny Main Event Prediction:
Welterweight (170lbs): Michael Chiesa vs. Neil Magny – Magny via Decision
UFC Fight Night: Chiesa vs. Magny Main Card Predictions:
Welterweight (170lbs): Warlley Alves vs. Mounir Lazzez – Lazzez via KO/TKO
Light Heavyweight (205lbs): Vinicius Moreira vs. Ike Villanueva – Moreira via Submission
(W) Flyweight (125lbs): Roxanne Modafferi vs. Viviane Araujo – Araujo via Decision
Flyweight (125lbs): Matt Schnell vs. Tyson Nam – Schnell via Decision
Featherweight (145lbs): Lerone Murphy vs. Douglas Andrade – Murphy via Decision
UFC Fight Night: Chiesa vs. Magny Prelim Card Predictions:
Middleweight (185lbs): Omari Akhmedov vs. Tom Breese – Breese via Submission
Bantamweight (135lbs): Ricky Simón vs. Gaetano Pirrello – Simon via Decision
Flyweight (125lbs): Su Mudaerji vs. Zarrukh Adashev – Mudaerji via KO/TKO
Light Heavyweight (205lbs): Markus Perez vs. Dalcha Lungiambula – Perez via Submission
Bantamweight (135lbs): Jerome Rivera vs. Francisco Figueiredo – Rivera via Decision
Lightweight (155lbs): Mike Davis vs. Mason Jones – Davis via Decision
Bantamweight (135lbs): Umar Nurmagomedov vs. Sergey Morozov – Nurmagomedov via Decision
(W) Flyweight (125lbs): Victoria Leonardo vs. Manon Fiorot – Fiorot via Decision
*Fight card, bout order and number of fights subject to change.