Fight Island in Abu Dhabi is the host of another UFC card which is headlined by the intriguing matchup of Marlon Moraes and Cory Sandhagen. The card features an array of up and coming talent as well as some familiar faces with Edson Barboza facing Makwan Amirkhani and Ben Rothwell squaring up against Marcin Tybura. We look at some of the key matchups below.
I love watching both these men fight as they are extremely talented strikers with sneaky submission games and are in the peaks of their careers. Sandhagen comes into this fight on the back of a submission loss to Aljamain Sterling while Marlon Moraes returns for the first time in 2020 on the back of a win by decision over Jose Also. Marlon Moraes is about as talented of a fighter as there is in the UFC. If you were to watch only the first rounds of his fights you would struggle to see who can beat him but sadly when his opponents survive the first round and a half onslaught he inevitably fades badly. This can be seen perfectly in his title fight with Henry Cejudo where he made an absolute mockery of him in the first round before running out of gas, eventually being finished in the third.
Cory Sandhagen is still improving at just 28 years of age and shouldn’t feel bad for being finished by Aljamain Sterling. If Sandhagen can last the initial exchanges he should be able to outwork a tiring Moraes. However, it is a lot to bank on as Moraes only needs to land one of his signature head kicks or counter right hooks to finish the fight in a flash. Sandhagen also has a tendancy to get rocked early in fights and that must be a worry against the best striker he’s ever faced. I don’t like these types of fights from a betting standpoint as you are banking on someone’s durability one way or another. While I was originally staying out there is value to be had in Moraes to win in the first round. 13 of his 16 professional finishes have come in the first round so $6 looks unbelievably juicy.
Chris Daukaus is a smaller man for the Heavyweight division but has great footwork and boxing technique. Rodrigo Nascimento is 8-0 in his professional career and is a submission threat which will inevitably allow him to rack up plenty of UFC wins. However, why this fight stood out is the odds. While I would have leant towards Nascimento to get the win, Daukaus is currently around the $3.25-$3.50 price and at $5 to win by KO. For a striker of the Heavyweight division who has a 9-3 record, of which seven are by KO, $5 is absurd. Granted Nascimento may take him down and grind him out and possibly submit him but Daukaus does have strong enough wrestling and decent enough cardio to keep this standing. If he can keep it on the feet, he is a great chance to knock out Nascimento.
Tony Kelley ($1.40) + Impa Kasanganay ($1.35) + Tagir Ulanbekov ($1.22): (2.30 Sportsbet)
Ali Al Qaisi vs Tony Kelley
This is more of being against Al Qaisi than for Tony Kelley. I was not impressed at all by Al Qaisi in his UFC debut. He lost a split decision to Irwin Rivera, but Tony Kelley would have demolished that version of Rivera. As long as Kelley’s gas tank stands the test, he wins this comfortably as he should have the advantage in all facets of the fight.
Joaquin Buckley vs Impa Kasanganay
Just how good could Impa Kasanganay be? We won’t find out here but we will get to see him put in another impressive display this weekend. Kasanganay won on the Contender Series against Anthony Adams before earning a contract that saw him outwork Maki Pitolo in his UFC debut just eighteen days later. Kasanganay’s striking has come on in leaps and bounds over the last 12 months and he has the wrestling to lean on when he chooses. Striking at range before landing takedown after takedown steers Kasanganay to another clear victory.
Bruno Silva vs Tagir Ulanbekov
Ulanbekov makes his UFC debut and while unknown by most he is the latest prodigy to come out of Russia. He has an 11-1 professional record and is far too good of a wrestler for Silva’s jiu jitsu pedigree to be a factor. Ulanbekov is going to grind him out Khabib style in what will be a tough watch for Bruno Silva fans and a warning for all Flyweights.
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