The UFC Apex Center welcomes a Light Heavyweight barnburner between one of its scariest strikers and one of its most promising fighters in this week’s headliner when Thiago Santos meets Magomed Ankalaev.
In the co-main, Marlon Moraes faces off against Song Yadong and ‘Super’ Sodiq Yusuff returns to the Octagon against UFC veteran Alex Caceres. We take a look at this week's UFC best bets below and I also recommend a multi of all three selections for some value.
Magomed Ankalaev has looked the real deal since joining the UFC. He has won seven on the bounce, since losing his UFC debut to Paul Craig, looking improved each and every time he steps foot in the Octagon.
Thiago Santos hasn’t been the same since suffering a knee injury in his loss to Jon Jones. Both men are largely strikers and therefore expect it to be largely be contested on the feet. Ankalaev will have the speed advantage over Santos and I expect the Russian to dominate the exchanges. Even if the striking isn’t going his way, Ankalaev then can use his ground game, where he also holds an advantage.
In all honesty if this fight was a few years ago I would have picked Santos, but he is now a 38-years old on struggling legs and Ankalaev is a genuine title challenger. Back the Russian to dominate.
Super Sodiq is back and I expect him to make a statement here as his striking and movement on paper looks to be more than Caceres can handle
Alex Caceres started his UFC career on the Ultimate Fighter and now is a veteran of the organisation, with his first fight back some 11 years ago.
Recently Caceres has shown real improvement but he meets a fellow striker in Yusuff who is faster and hits harder.
Where ‘Super’ especially excels is with his high fight IQ and Octagon awareness. Usually when you see strikers enter the Octagon like Yussuf they have great striking but don’t know how to effectively use it in technical fights. Sodiq however picks his shots incredibly well and I honestly see him dominating Caceres.
While I was originally going to back Yusuff to win by knockout, I will play it safe backing him straight out as Caceres has shown he has a chin in the past.
Miranda Maverick has registered impressive UFC victories over Liana Jojua and Gillian Robertson and should have been awarded the Maycee Barber fight. However, last time out she dropped a wide decision to up and comer Erin Blanchfield. Maverick steps in on short notice here, with Mandy Bohm dropping out and will be looking to bounce back into the winners list.
Her opponent, Sabina Mazo, hasn’t set the world alight since joining the UFC. Arguably her best wins to date were a late finish over Justine Kish and a split decision over J.J. Aldrich. Neither of those wins filled me with confidence and despite being still very young in the game, I don’t believe Mazo is UFC calibre.
On the other hand, don’t let getting dominated by Blanchfield talk you out of how good Miranda Maverick is. She has massive potential and has the striking and wrestling advantage in this matchup.
There is only one winner here and that is Miranda Maverick.
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