Bet of the Card: (2u) Two-Leg Parlay: Joseph Benavidez vs. Askar Askarov – Over 2.5 Rounds (-213) + Dominick Cruz vs. Casey Kenney – Over 2.5 Rounds (-250) For +106 (to Return 4.12 Units)
(1.5u) Joseph Benavidez via Decision @ +300 (to Return 6 Units)
1st Leg of Parlay: Over 2.5 Rounds @ -213
Joseph Benavidez vs. Askar Askarov
Preliminary Card Flyweight (125lbs) Bout – Approx. Start Time: 8:40 p.m. EST.
- Joseph Benavidez is 6-1 in his last 7 fights that have gone to a decision.
- Askar Askarov has gone to a decision in all 3 of his UFC bouts, and he’s yet to face anyone with the pedigree and top-tier experience of Benavidez.
Joseph Benavidez (JoeB) enters this fight coming off the back of two straight finish losses to the champion, Deiveson Figueiredo. The results weren’t pretty, and the second defeat was so brutal that it’s welded into every avid UFC fan’s brain. You may be wondering, “why would you focus on this if you’re betting on Joseph Benavidez?”. Well, because of those devastating and high-profile losses, it’s just gifted us with Benavidez as an underdog in what looks to be a favorable matchup.
Askar Askarov is known for his wrestling and grappling, but I think that’s an area where Benavidez matches, if not betters him (pictured above: Joseph Benavidez grappling with Dustin Ortiz). Striking wise, I also favor JoeB’s volume and defensive work. To give Askarov his credit, I do see some clear edges for him, and that’s with his youth (8 years Benavidez’s junior), durability, and momentum. But just because he has those advantages, that doesn’t mean he’s good value for money here as the favorite. For starters, JoeB is still about as quick as Askarov, even at his increased age, and his physique is as impressive as ever. As for Benavidez’s questionable durability, he’s only ever been dropped in the UFC by Figueiredo, Henry Cejudo, and Demetrious Johnson, and that’s just a shortlist of the most prestigious flyweights to ever compete in the organisation. On top of that, Askarov is not a super dangerous striker, and as we’ve seen from his 3-fight UFC run, all of his fights have gone to a decision, and that was after he finished all of his fights prior to making the step up.
All in all, I expect this fight to be close, but I see the technical advantages going in favor of JoeB, and the intangibles that I see for Askarov should be slim and potential non-factors. I don’t see either fighter finding a finish, so for that reason, I like taking the over 2.5 rounds prop as the opening leg of our parlay, and I love taking a shot on Benavidez to win via decision at a massive +300.
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(1u) Dominick Cruz via Decision @ +195 (to Return 2.95 Units)
2nd Leg of Parlay: Over 2.5 Rounds @ -250
Dominick Cruz vs. Casey Kenney
Preliminary Card Headliner Bantamweight (135lbs) Bout – Approx. Start Time: 9:40 p.m. EST.
- Casey Kenney has gone to a decision 11 times in his 18-fight pro career, including in 5 of his 6 UFC fights (per Tapology.com).
- Dominick Cruz has gone to a decision 12 times in his last 14 fights, with him only losing once by decision in his 25-fight career (per Tapology.com).
Much like with Joseph Benavidez, Dominick Cruz is an aged veteran of the sport, coming into his fight riding back-to-back losses. It’s a sad situation for these legends of the game, but that’s not to say their careers are all said and done, and that they’ve got nothing to offer these young up-and-comers.
Casey Kenney is a solid all-round talent, and although he boasts decent grappling skills and ever improving striking, that doesn’t mean that he’s able to overcome a specialist. For example, we saw him get out-wrestled handily by Merab Dvalishvili, and we’ve seen him challenged on the feet against less skilled strikers than Cruz.
Cruz yields an 83% takedown defense (which ranks 6th amongst active bantamweights), with him giving up 6 takedowns in his 7 UFC fights, but only being kept down for a total of 52 seconds (which ranks him 4th all-time amongst bantamweights for bottom position time) (per StatLeaders.UFC.com). Compounding his ability to deny takedowns and work back to his feet swiftly, he also has the 5th highest striking defense out of the entire active UFC roster (68.5%).
I expect to see Cruz out-land and out-manoeuvre Kenney on the feet. The smaller Octagon they use at the Apex does favor Kenney, but should he get into grappling range, I’d be surprised to see him implement his wrestling effectively, or at least for any drawn-out period of time. Cruz has a lot of advantages in this fight, both in fight metrics and in terms of experience and his truly elite fight IQ. I think if we didn’t see Cejudo finish Cruz last year, we’d be looking at Cruz as a -150 favorite, and I think that’s where this fight should be lined.
Take the over 2.5 rounds prop to see out our parlay, I think a finish from either guy would be pretty unlikely given they’re both tough as hell and don’t offer too much finishing ability on the feet. And take Dominick Cruz’s decision prop at +195, as Kenney’s as tough as a $2 steak, and this is by far Cruz’s most likely path to victory.
(1.5u) Jan Blachowicz Moneyline @ +210 (to Return 4.65 Units)
Jan Blachowicz vs. Israel Adesanya
Main Event Light Heavyweight (205lbs) Championship Bout – Approx. Start Time: 12:30 a.m. EST.
- Jan Blachowicz has won 8 of his last 9 fights, and he’s been a betting underdog in all but one of them (per Tapology.com).
I love betting on underdogs, and Jan Blachowicz is arguably the greatest we’ve ever seen in the UFC. He constantly upsets the odds and shows us that he’s still got a lot left in the tank at his advanced age of 38. He will be giving up 2-inches in height and reach to Adesanya (per UFCStats.com), but he’ll be benefiting from a significant edge in strength and power.
What I like about Jan, outside of his perennial underdog narrative, is that he’s an extremely well-versed and reliable fighter. His counter striking is on point, his clinch game is overwhelmingly physical and draining, and on the mat, he can drown people with his weight and slick BJJ skills. To reinforce all of this, he’s got a granite chin and a pretty solid gas tank, which is quite remarkable for a light heavyweight nearing his 40’s.
Adesanya is of course the more polished striker (pictured above: knocking out Robert Whittaker), and his speed advantage will be pronounced, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to him dominating Jan at range. Afterall, Yoel Romero fought to an extremely close decision against Izzy only a year ago. So, take that fight, now factor in that Izzy’s fighting up a weight class, against a fighter who has better cardio and arguably throws harder strikes, now tell me why he should be this big of a favorite. I’m not saying Adesanya can’t come out on Saturday night and put on an absolute striking clinic, or even put Jan away with a perfectly timed shot, but I am saying that I don’t like his chances of doing so against his odds.
Take Jan Blachowicz’s moneyline here, he could catch Adesanya with something on the feet, he could take him down and put him away on the mat, and hell, I wouldn’t be shocked if this just becomes an ultra-gritty fight which Jan edges on the scorecards.
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Event: UFC 259: Błachowicz vs. Adesanya / UFC 259 Nunes vs. Anderson / #UFC259
Location & Venue: UFC Apex, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Date: Saturday, March 6th, 2021
Start time: Main Card: 10 p.m. EST, Prelims 8 p.m. EST, Early Prelims 6 p.m. EST
Where to watch: Main Card on PPV, Prelims on ESPN/ESPN+, Early Prelims on ESPN+
UFC 259: Blachowicz vs. Adesanya Full Fight Card Predictions:
UFC 259: Blachowicz vs. Adesanya Main Event Prediction:
Light Heavyweight (205lbs): Jan Błachowicz vs. Israel Adesanya – Jan via Decision
UFC 259: Blachowicz vs. Adesanya Main Card Predictions:
(W) Featherweight (145lbs): Amanda Nunes vs. Megan Anderson – Nunes via Submission
Bantamweight (135lbs): Petr Yan vs. Aljamain Sterling – Sterling via Decision
Lightweight (155lbs): Islam Makhachev vs. Drew Dober – Makhachev via Decision
Light Heavyweight (205lbs): Thiago Santos vs. Aleksandar Rakić – Rakic via KO/TKO
UFC 259: Blachowicz vs. Adesanya Prelim Card Predictions:
Bantamweight (135lbs): Dominick Cruz vs. Casey Kenney – Cruz via Decision
Bantamweight (135lbs): Yadong Song vs. Kyler Phillips – Phillips via Decision
Flyweight (125lbs): Joseph Benavidez vs. Askar Askarov – Benavidez via Decision
Flyweight (125lbs): Kai Kara-France vs. Rogério Bontorin – Bontorin via Submission
UFC 259: Blachowicz vs. Adesanya Early Prelim Card Predictions:
Flyweight (125lbs): Tim Elliott vs. Jordan Espinosa – Elliott via Submission
Light Heavyweight (205lbs): Kennedy Nzechukwu vs. Carlos Ulberg – Ulberg via Decision
Welterweight (170lbs): Jake Matthews vs. Sean Brady – Brady via Decision
(W) Strawweight (115lbs): Livinha Souza vs. Amanda Lemos – Lemos via Decision
Lightweight (155lbs): Aalon Cruz vs. Uros Medic – Cruz via Decision
Bantamweight (135lbs): Mario Bautista vs. Trevin Jones – Bautista via Decision
*Fight card, bout order and number of fights subject to change.