Bet of the Card: (2u) Bryan Barberena to win in Rounds 1-3 @ +110 (to Return 4.2 Units)
(0.5u) Bryan Barberena to win in Round 1 @ +300 (to Return 2 Units)
Main Card Opener - Welterweight (170lbs) Bout – Approx. Start Time: 9:15 p.m. EST.
- 12 of Bryan Barberena’s 15 pro wins have come inside the distance (10 KO/TKO, 2 Submissions), of which 5 came in the first round (per Sherdog.com).
- Jason Witt has had 3 fights in the UFC, with 2 resulting in round 1 KO/TKO losses in under a minute (pictured below: Witt getting knocked out by Takashi Sato in his UFC debut).
Jason Witt has got a serviceable skillset, but unfortunately for him, he’s got an incredible suspect chin. In his last fight he was knocked out in 16 seconds by Matt Semelsberger, a fighter not particularly renowned for his power. And, although in the crazy sport of MMA, anyone can knockout anyone on any given night, this wasn’t Witt’s first KO loss, in fact, it was his 5th as a pro, and his 6th if you include his fights as an amateur. He’s a fighter who can get his lights turned off at any moment, and that makes him one hell of a liability.
Bryan “Bam Bam” Barberena is a fan favorite due to his scrappy and relentless brawler style. He’s a well-rounded fighter, who prefers to strike, but can also get it done on the ground, particularly when he’s able to out-cardio his opponents. His power isn’t outlandish, but when pitted against the chin of Jason Witt, it is more than enough.
I see Bryan Barberena either catching Witt early with a shot to put him away, or by steadily breaking him down in the latter rounds due to his superior volume and pressure. I think his moneyline is playable at the current -250 (best odds) but considering I favor him heavily to get the stoppage at plus-money, I’ll be betting that instead, as he’ll likely struggle to make his moneyline price look like value without securing the finish.
(2u) Two-Leg Parlay: Rafa Garcia Moneyline (-250) + Sean Strickland Moneyline (-215) for +106 (to Return 4.12 Units)
1st Leg of Parlay: Rafa Garcia Moneyline @ -250
(0.5u) Rafa Garcia to win in Rounds 1-3 @ +170 (to Return 1.35 Units)
Preliminary Card - Lightweight (155lbs) Bout – Approx. Start Time: 8 p.m. EST.
- Prior to his short-notice UFC debut defeat to Nasrat Haqparast, Rafa Garcia was the Combate America Lightweight Champion, holding an undefeated 12-0 record.
- Chris Gruetzemacher is 2-4 in the last 6 years, and he’s been stopped in all 4 of those losses (2 KO/TKO, 2 Submission) (including his exhibition Ultimate Fighter bout).
The UFC have booked this fight for a reason, and that’s seemingly to give their new, young, all-action Mexican fighter (Garcia) a layup against an aging guy who most people are surprised to still see on the roster.
Chris Gruetzemacher, at one point, was competitive against the lower-level guys within the UFC lightweight division. But as is often the case in MMA, he is now a victim of three things; father time, injuries, and an ever moving conveyor belt of young and improving fighters. His most recent fight against Alexander Hernandez lasted less than two minutes before he was put unconscious, and although that can be expected after a long layoff, he didn’t show us anything to suggest he was ready to compete at a UFC level again.
This will be Rafa Garcia’s second UFC fight. His debut came in March after he accepted an ultra-short notice fight against a seriously sought-after prospect, Nasrat Haqparast. He gave a great account of himself, as he claimed the first round on 2 of the 3 judges’ scorecards (per MMADecisions.com), before slowing down due to his lack of fight preparation, but still sticking around until the decision, against an extremely dangerous opponent. He showed me enough in that short notice loss that he’s at the UFC level, which should be easily enough to topple Gruetzemacher at this point.
Look for Garcia to come out of the gates hard and fast, looking for the early KO, similarly to how Hernandez did against Gruetz’. With only 1 KO/TKO win on Garcia’s record, I ordinarily wouldn’t bank on that happening, but his hands look deceivingly heavy, and it’s not like you have to be some killer knockout artist to put away a 35-year-old Chris Gruetzemacher. Outside of that, I can see Garcia winning this fight in a number of ways; he could club-sub him (wobble him before catching him in a fight ending submission), take him to the mat and control him, potentially scoring a submission, or by simply beating him over the course of 15 minutes due to his work rate and conditioning. Due to all these advantages and paths to victory, I’m taking Rafa Garcia as the opening leg of my two-fight parlay.
2nd Leg of Parlay: Sean Strickland Moneyline @ -215
Main Event - Middleweight (185lbs) Bout – Approx. Start Time: 11:45 p.m. EST.
- Sean Strickland yields a striking defense of 67.9%, which ranks him 5th amongst the entire active UFC roster (Minimum 5 UFC Fights and 350 Strike Attempts by Opponents) (per StatsLeaders.UFC.com).
- Uriah Hall has absorbed more significant strikes per min. (3.54) than he’s landed (3.34) across his 17 UFC fights (per UFCStats.com).
There is a lot to like about Sean Strickland right now. He’s looked incredible since returning from a lengthy 2-year layoff due to a motorcycle accident. He’s strung together 4 wins (one pre-dating the accident), with all 3 of his latest wins coming at middleweight. And it appears as though he’s only improved as fighter, as he looks more solid than ever, boasting strong offense and defensive grappling, as well as really dialled in pressure boxing.
Uriah Hall (pictured below) deserves his own credit, as he too is on his own little run, just when many thought his career had almost run its course. He is also sitting on a 4-fight win streak, but with 3 of those wins coming against fighters who are no longer even in the UFC, and the most recent being from a horrific and freak leg break TKO against Chris Weidman within the first 20 seconds of their bout, it’s not exactly an unbelievable run, at least in retrospect. That said, Hall has been getting results, and that’s all you can ask of the now 36-year-old veteran (37 on fight day). His striking technique is still ridiculously clean, but as ever, he still doesn’t respond well to pressure fighters, which is exactly what Strickland is.
Look for Strickland to march down Hall with his very unique, tightly legged boxing stance, piecing Hall up as he looks to back pedal and outmanoeuvre the younger and more aggressive fighter. As ever, Hall will be live to land one of his emphatic highlight reel spinning KO blows, but against someone as technically slick as Strickland, whom also has excellent durability, it just makes it seem all the more unlikely. Outside of the Hall KO, I’m not sure how Hall would win this fight. He doesn’t have the volume to out-point him, and he certainly has never appeared to have the cardio to beat him down the stretch, so it really does feel like a KO-or-bust spot for the Jamaican. On the other hand, I can see Strickland scoring a stoppage at any point, depending upon the level of pressure he administers, or just by claiming a decisive decision, should he show too much respect for Hall’s power. For this reason, I see a lot of value on Strickland’s moneyline, and it’s a great number to act as the closing leg of my two-fight parlay with Rafa Garcia.
Scroll down to view event details, odds & Christian’s full card predictions.
Event: UFC Fight Night: Hall vs. Strickland / UFC on ESPN 28 / UFC Vegas 33 / #UFCVegas33
Location & Venue: UFC Apex, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Date: Saturday, July 31st, 2021
Start time: Main Card: 9 p.m. EST, Prelims 6 p.m. EST.
Where to watch: Main Card on ESPN/ESPN+, Prelims on ESPN+
UFC Fight Night: Hall vs. Strickland Full Fight Card Predictions
UFC Fight Night: Hall vs. Strickland Main Event Prediction
Middleweight (185lbs): Uriah Hall vs. Sean Strickland – Strickland via KO/TKO
UFC Fight Night: Hall vs. Strickland Main Card Predictions
Bantamweight (135lbs): Kyung Ho Kang vs. Rani Yahya – Yahya via Submission
(W) Strawweight (115lbs): Cheyanne Buys vs. Gloria de Paula – Buys via Decision
Welterweight (170lbs): Niklas Stolze vs. Jared Gooden – Stolze via Decision
Flyweight (125lbs): Ryan Benoit vs. Zarrukh Adashev – Adashev via Decision
Welterweight (170lbs): Bryan Barberena vs. Jason Witt – Barberena via KO/TKO
UFC Fight Night: Hall vs. Strickland Prelim Card Predictions
(W) Bantamweight (135lbs): Nicco Montano vs. Yanan Wu – Montaño via Decision
Featherweight (145lbs): Collin Anglin vs. Melsik Baghdasaryan – Baghdasaryan via Decision
Lightweight (155lbs): Chris Gruetzemacher vs. Rafa García – Garcia via Submission
Featherweight (145lbs): Danny Chavez vs. Kai Kamaka III – Chavez via Decision
(W) Strawweight (115lbs): Jinh Yu Frey vs. Ashley Yoder – Yoder via Submission
Bantamweight (135lbs): Ronnie Lawrence vs. Trevin Jones – Lawrence via Decision
Welterweight (170lbs): Philip Rowe vs. Orion Cosce – Cosce via Decision
*Fight card, bout order and number of fights subject to change.