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MMA handicapper Christian Broughton lays out his picks and predictions for a UFC card that’s loaded with young and exciting prospects, UFC Fight Night: Sandhagen vs. Dillashaw

Bet of the Card: (2u) Punahele Soriano @ -110 (to Return 3.818 Units)

(0.5u) Punahele Soriano to Win in Round 1 @ +400 (to Return 2.5 Units)

Punahele Soriano vs. Brendan Allen

Preliminary Card Headliner - Middleweight (185lbs) Bout – Approx. Start Time: 6:40 p.m. EST.

  • Punahele Soriano scored 4 knockdowns in just his first 2 UFC fights, both of which resulted in first round KO/TKO wins.
  • Brendan Allen has a striking defense of just 39%, absorbing 4.19 strikes per min. (SApM), which is over 25% more than he has landed on his opponents (3.35 SLpM) (per UFCStats.com).

Soriano has all the makings of a truly overhyped fighter: he’s undefeated at 8-0 with 7 of his wins coming inside the distance, he’s a DWCS alumni, and he won his first 2 UFC fights with dominant round 1 knockouts. However, for reasons unbeknown to me, the market is sleeping on him a little bit. Sure, Brendan Allen is a highly skilled grappler with a wealth of top-level regional scene, and mid-level UFC experience, but generally speaking, we’d see people throwing money at the “shiny new toy” who’s never lost, againest a fighter who’s been bested in 4 of his 20 pro fights.

Even with my confusion for the lack of blind-hype we’re seeing on Soriano’s betting line, I’m even more confused considering some of the stylistic advantages he has. He’s got great striking composure, combined with crisp boxing and serious power. His grappling looks fairly solid, which defensively speaking, should play a massive role against a grappler like Allen. And Allen’s striking defense was god awful against Sean Strickland (just 8 months ago), who’s a more technical striker than Soriano, yet without the truly devastating power.

Allen does of course have the threat of the takedown and his slick BJJ game, but Soriano’s advantage on the feet, particularly with his power, is what I see as the key difference maker in this fight, especially if Soriano’s takedown defense can stand-up against Allen’s fairly unimpressive wrestling game.

It’s a rather unique spot for me, as generally I’m not one for betting on less established fighters, nor people who are more knockout-reliant, but I feel like we’ve got some decent value on Soriano here in a closely-lined fight.

(1u) Darren Elkins Moneyline @ +135 (to Return 2.35 Units)

Darren Elkins vs. Darrick Minner

Main Card - Featherweight (145lbs) Bout – Approx. Start Time: 8:15 p.m. EST.

  • 10 of Darrick Minner’s 11 pro defeats have come inside the distance (per Tapology.com).
  • In my opinion, beating Darren Elkins would be the best win of Darrick Minner’s career, whereas a win over Minner wouldn’t even crack Elkins’ top 5 best wins.

This is a spot where I’m plugging my nose and taking a shot on a fighter I don’t really want to bet on, but I feel it has to be done.

Saying Darren Elkins has absorbed some damage over the course of his 34 pro fight career would be an understatement, hell, there’s a reason he has his nickname “The Damage” scrawled across his chest. He’s now 37 years old, and if that wasn’t bad enough, the scar tissue on his face starts to open up, almost as soon as Bruce Buffer finishes saying “ELLLLLLLLLLKIIIIIIINSSSSS!” before the fight even starts. All of this equates to one thing, he’s starting to become a bit of a liability. His once legendary durability is starting to fade, which is a concern when he defends punches with his face, but also his tendency to put on a crimson mask with ease, which produces terrible optics for the judges.

Nevertheless, if it weren’t for these red flags, Darren Elkins would be a decent sized favorite in this matchup based on his skill and stylistic advantages, and that’s exactly why I see him as a solid underdog spot. 

Darrick Minner has been a one trick pony for much of his fighting career. He goes hard and fast for the early finish, typically by his trademarked guillotine choke, and if he can’t get it, he generally rolls over and gets submitted himself as the fight goes into the later rounds. Contrary to this, however, was his last performance, which was a dominant 3 round decision victory over Charles Rosa. I feel this, combined with his recent move to Glory MMA and Fitness to train under the magnificent mind of head coach James Krause, has given bettors a sense that we’re now seeing a new and improved Darrick Minner. Now, I’m not going to rule that out, but what I will say, is that he’s going to have to prove this against someone who’s not going to lay down for him in the same way Rosa did.

Darren Elkins is predominantly a wrestler, and although Minner will likely have the BJJ edge, he’s going to need to get Elkins down, and hold him down, which is no easy task. Elkins’ 58% takedown defense leaves a lot to be desired (per UFCStats.com), but the bulk of the times he’s been taken down in his lengthy UFC career, have come against top-top guys, and it’s his ability to scramble back to his feet that makes him a nightmare.

I can see Minner having some success in this fight, and I almost don’t care who you are, his desire to go all-or-nothing early, makes him extremely dangerous. But I think over the course of the fight, Elkins will be the one controlling the action and spending the more time in dominant positions when grappling. I have said that Elkins’ chin is now a concern, but it’s not a great worry against Minner, a fighter with 37 pro fights, yet only 1 win via KO/TKO.

All in all, I know Elkins is the better all-round fighter, and that Minner’s last fight could be giving us false pretenses about a possible new calculated fighting style under Krause. Sure, there’s a chance that Elkins is washed up and not long for the UFC, given his age and the wear and tear, but this line seems like the oddsmakers have already branded him as precisely that. For this reason, I see some intrinsic value on him, and I am happy taking a stab on him as a ‘dog in this fight.

I’m betting Darren Elkins on the moneyline, he generally wins via decision, but given that Minner has historically opted out of fights he’s losing in the past, I actually favor Elkins to get a stoppage in the latter half of the fight.

(0.4u) Cory Sandhagen to Win in Round 1 @ +650 (to Return 3 Units)

Cory Sandhagen vs. T.J. Dillashaw

Main Event - Bantamweight (135lbs) Bout – Approx. Start Time: 9:45 p.m. EST.

  • 6 of Cory Sandhagen’s 14 wins have come in round 1 (per Tapology.com).
  • Dillashaw has 4 losses on his record, 2 of which came via KO/TKO in under 2 minutes of round 1. 

This is a fantastic main event. On one side we’ve got Cory Sandhagen (pictured above), who’s an intelligent, exciting, and surging prospect (albeit now 29 years old), and on the other side, we’ve got the former UFC Bantamweight Champion, T.J. Dillashaw returning after a 2-year USADA ban.

For me, I’d love to take a stand on Dillashaw’s +165 (best odds) line, as he’s the more proven fighter who’s faced elite level opposition for the best part of a decade. But unfortunately, I can’t lay my money on a 35-year-old bantamweight coming off the back of a lengthy PED suspension, oh, and not to forget, a knockout loss to Henry Cejudo. There’s no way to forecast how he’s going to look now that he’s been out of the cage for 2.5 years, nor what we can expect now that he’s no longer on EPO.

So, although I don’t see either side of the moneyline as playable, I do feel myself drawn to a small play on Sandhagen in round 1 at +650. He’s a fast and explosive fighter, and as we saw from his incredible 28 second flying knee KO over Frankie Edgar, he can end fights in an instant. I understand there’s a little recency bias baked into this line, and potentially my thought process, but given Dillashaw’s potential ring rust and climbing age, as well as his round 1 KO losses to Cejudo (pictured below) and John Dodson, I feel a number like 6.5-to-1, is definitely worth a small shot.

Scroll down to view event details, odds & Christian’s full card predictions.

Event: UFC Fight Night: Sandhagen vs. Dillashaw / UFC on ESPN 27 / UFC Vegas 32 / #UFCVegas32

Location & Venue: UFC Apex, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States

Date: Saturday, July 24th, 2021

Start time: Main Card: 7 p.m. EST, Prelims 4 p.m. EST.

Where to watch: Main Card on ESPN/ESPN+, Prelims on ESPN/ESPN+

UFC Odds: Click here to view the full list of odds for UFC Fight Night: Cory Sandhagen vs. T.J. Dillashaw

UFC Fight Night: Sandhagen vs. Dillashaw Full Fight Card Predictions

UFC Fight Night: Sandhagen vs. Dillashaw Main Event Prediction

Bantamweight (135lbs): Cory Sandhagen vs. T.J. Dillashaw – Sandhagen via KO/TKO

UFC Fight Night: Sandhagen vs. Dillashaw Main Card Predictions

(W) Bantamweight (135lbs): Aspen Ladd vs. Macy Chiasson – Ladd via Decision

Bantamweight (135lbs): Kyler Phillips vs. Raulian Paiva – Phillips via Decision

Featherweight (145lbs): Darren Elkins vs. Darrick Minner – Elkins via Submission

(W) Flyweight (125lbs): Miranda Maverick vs. Maycee Barber – Maverick via Decision

Welterweight (170lbs): Mickey Gall vs. Jordan Williams – Williams via KO/TKO

UFC Fight Night: Sandhagen vs. Dillashaw Prelim Card Predictions

Middleweight (185lbs): Punahele Soriano vs. Brendan Allen – Soriano via KO/TKO

Middleweight (185lbs): Ian Heinisch vs. Nassourdine Imavov – Heinisch via Decision

Bantamweight (135lbs): Adrian Yanez vs. Randy Costa – Yanez via Decision

Bantamweight (135lbs): Julio Arce vs. Andre Ewell – Arce via Decision

(W) Flyweight (125lbs): Sijara Eubanks vs. Elise Reed – Eubanks via Decision

(W) Strawweight (115lbs): Diana Belbiţă vs. Hannah Goldy – Belbiţă via Decision

*Fight card, bout order and number of fights subject to change.

Click here to check out the all the Best Odds for the Fights!

Article Author


A former sportsbook trader with a passion for mixed martial arts. If there is value to be found then Christian is the man to find it.


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