EFC 44 Betting Pick and Full Card Preview

Eagle Fighting Championship 44 Red Background

EFC 44 is underway this Friday and we’ve analyzed all nine fights to develop our top betting picks for each bout.

Eagle Fighting Championship is Khabib Nurmegomedov’s fighting organization, and with plenty of money backing it, it’s scooping up quality favorites from Bellator and the UFC alike. On January 28th, 2022, you’ll see former UFC champions and contenders, Bellator top ten fighters, and EFC up and comers alike mixing it up for the first time on USA soil.

Don’t miss the opportunity to bet on each bout, including prop bets on three bouts at the top of the card.

Sergie Kharitonov vs Tyrone Spong

Spong is an exciting fighter with knockouts in five combat sports. He’s taking on the recent Bellator title contender Sergie Kharitonov, coming off a loss to Chiek Kongo. Spong may be the first fighter in Sergie’s last ten bouts to intend on standing toe to toe with him.

This main event should be a striking exchange between aging veterans, both capable of putting the other to sleep in a flash.

Tale of the Tape for Kharitonov vs Spong

Fighter Sergie Kharitonov Tyrone Spong
Age 41 36
Height 6’4’’ 6’2’’
Reach/Stance 75”, Orthodox 72’’ Orthodox
Record 33-9 2-0
Submissions/TKO 8/21 0/1
Fighter Training Camp Vityaz Fight Sanford MMA

Spong is 14-0 in boxing and has a decorated kickboxing and muay thai career. His MMA career is sparse, but he’s beat kickboxers like Melvin Manhoef and thirteen of his boxing matches have been finished via KO.

Kharitonov is older, taller and longer. He’s a true heavyweight, while Spong could make 205 easily. The biggest difference here is the training camp and grappling experience. Sergie is a

Can Spong Grapple with Kharitonov?

Master of Sport in Sambo, and his throw and submission game have been utilized against opponents that simply didn’t rise to that level of competition.

We were wrong about Kharitonov’s last bout, guessing he’d fall short in a long loss to Chiek Kongo.

Instead Kharitonov was submitted in the second round after a dominant striking display in round 1. His grappling is higher level, but at Sanford MMA, Spong has all the coaching he needs to quickly rise above the Kharitonov level in MMA grappling.

Comparing Fighter Camps

Vityaz Fight is a smaller gym in Russia with around a dozen active professionals. It’s unclear if Kharitonov is coaching at this facility or who exactly is managing his training and conditioning. Sanford MMA is one of the world’s leading MMA organizations, and with fighters like Kumaru Usman and other UFC champions in the mix, Spong is likely to be at peak MMA condition and mindset.

Betting Odds for Kharitonov vs Spong

For clarity, we’ve removed some of the longshot calls, including ‘Method and Round’ bets.

Bet Available at Betonline.ag Odds
Kharitonov Money Line +158, $1.58
Spong Money Line -188, $0.53
Over 1 ½ Rounds +115
Under 1 ½ Rounds -145
Goes the Distance Yes, +325, No -450
Spong by Points +400
Spong by TKO -105
Kharitonov by Points +600
Kharitonov by Submission +725
Spong -3.5 points -150
Kharitonov +3.5 points +120

Kharitonov by submission is one of the more interesting long shot bets on the card. Spong is new to MMA and Kharitonov is incredible in top position. If he can win the takedown, 24% of Kharitonov’s finishes are via submission. However, I’m leaning toward the Spong points spread, where if he can win without giving up 4 points across all judges’ scorecards, the bet pays out. This includes all finishes for Spong.

How Many Rounds will Spong vs Kharitonov last?

Sergie’s last fight was a first round knockout. In his last seven fights, he’s only seen round 3 once- and that includes boxing and kickboxing matches. Sergie hasn’t seen a decision since a 2014 kickboxing match with Anderson Silva. The man is a beast, but he’s getting old and has also suffered three losses before the 1 ½ Rounds mark in the last five years.

Spong is a wildcard because he hasn’t been focused on MMA in so long.

Since 2015, Spong has done nothing but box. In boxing, he knocks most people out early and often. He switched to boxing for the financial incentives, but I assume he’ll come out with the same intensity for MMA. Expect an early fight, and bet the Under over a Spong money line if you’re scared of Kharitonov’s submission game.

Fight Analysis and Betting Pick

If Spong can manage distance well enough to avoid the clench with Kharitonov, he’ll win. He’s a better striker, with stunning hooks and accuracy. Kharitonov is aging, and at 41 it doesn’t look like he has the stuff to beat anyone who’s still fight ready. Kharitonov still has knockout power, and Spong can’t get careless.

Spong’s kickboxing game throws many knees and utilizes trips often.
This is concerning for me. Sanford MMA is the right place to learn how to integrate these moves into MMA, but I can see Kharitonov capitalizing off Spong’s in fighting.

Either man could in a moment’s notice, though I think Spong will win via knockout. The only thing I don’t expect for this fight is a decision.

Play it safe, and bet the fight won’t go to decision at -450, a safe bet for two very dangerous fighters who rarely see decisions.


Cody Gibson vs Ray Borg

Fresh off the UFC, Borg took to UAE Warriors to pick up a decision win before joining EFC. He faces fellow former UFC fighter Gibson, who’s won his last three fights for XMMA and LFA. Gibson hasn’t been with the UFC since back to back losses in 2014-2015.

These fighters are facing off at bantamweight, though Borg fought at flyweight in the UFC.

Tale of the Tape for Gibson vs Borg

Fighter Cody Gibson Ray Borg
Age 34 28
Height 5’10’’ 5’4’’
Reach/Stance 71” Orthodox 63’’
Record 18-7 14-5
Submissions/TKO in UFC 0/1 2/0
Fighter Training Camp The Pit Jackson-Wink MMA

Gibson is older, but attains a massive reach and height advantage in this fight. He’s more experienced overall, but Borg has far more UFC bouts, nearly a dozen to Cody’s four UFC level fights.

Both fighters offer low finishing percentages.

Borg’s last five went to decision, and his last finish was eleven fights ago. Cody has finished two of his last five fights over moderate level opponents. I don’t think Borg has superior striking, especially considering the six inch reach advantage, but it would be unlikely to see Gibson get the KO finish.

Comparing Fighter Training Camps

The Pit is John Hackleman’s home to Kempo style MMA. They’ve produced UFC Champion Chuck Liddell, but recently have had very few fighters active. In fact, with wins in 2021, I can only find three active Pit athletes.

Jackson-Wink is a premier MMA facility that at one time has had multiple UFC champions. Among active fighters, they have a 70% winning ratio for 2021. Borg will likely be working with lanky strikers like Aaron Pico to replicate the Pit’s style and Cody’s length. I see Borg having the training partner advantage.

Betting Odds for Gibson vs Borg

Bet Available at Betonline.ag Odds and Payout per Dollar Wager
Gibson Money Line +135, $1.35
Borg Money Line -165,  $0.61
Over 2 ½ Rounds -270
Under 2 ½ Rounds +210
Goes the Distance Yes -240, No +190
Ray Borg Inside the Distance +450
Ray Borg by Points +115
Cody Gibson Inside the Distance +350
Cody Gibson by Points +200
Borg by Submission in Round 1 +1250
Gibson by TKO in Round 1 +1200

Gibson is the underdog, mainly for his performances in the UFC and time away from the promotion.

He’s also lost a recent submission loss to Adrian Diaz in the third round in 2017.

Borg is a solid wrestler, and his former place as title contender has solidified him as a favorite. However, he’s moving up to fight a very large bantamweight. Gibson has better odds inside the distance, showing more knockout prowess, but I’d be betting on a Borg submission win if I put my money on any underdog bets.

Final Betting Pick and Fight Analysis

Gibson’s last bout was against Ray Borg’s teammate John Dodson. Dodson is 36 and truly could fight at strawweight, so Cody had some serious advantages. Still, the fight ended in a decision. Dodson’s striking defense is similar to Borg’s. Cody isn’t overly aggressive, and he’s happy to chip away at opponent’s to win a fight.

I think Dodson lost the fight, but landed some of the more solid strikes overall.

Borg’s last win over Jesse Arnett showed us that he can hang at bantamweight and that a longer fighter can’t defend his wrestling. It was a good preview for his game plan against Gibson. While Gibson has more knockout power than Arnett, I think Borg will come out on top of a narrow decision.

Another fear is that Gibson is looking past Borg. This isn’t a performance opportunity for him, it’s a real fight and he can’t look past Borg for a second.

I’ll be betting the Over 2 ½ Rounds prop at -270.

Borg has some late round finishes, and Gibson’s been finished in the final round twice. Don’t bet the decision for a measly -30 difference in wagers.

John Howard vs Ramazan Kuramagomedov

Howard is an aging East Coast fighter that at one time was a devastating finisher. He’s been active since 2004 as a professional, and even had a 3-4 UFC run. Now he’s slowly losing steam, going 3-2 over his last five for XMMA and PFL.

Kuramagomedov is a classic Dagastani fighter. He’s undefeated, he won in DWCS via takedown control, and his submission and kickboxing has fight ending ability.

Tale of the Tape for Howard vs Kuramagomedov

Fighter John Howard Ramazan Kuramagomedov
Age 38 NA
Height 5’7’’ 6’0’’
Reach/Stance 72’’ Orthodox 73” Orthodox
Record 29-17-1 9-0
Submissions/TKO 7/10 5/1
Fighter Training Camp Wai Kru MMA Xtreme Couture

Howard is smaller and significantly older. Ramazan began an amatuer career in 2014, and does have amatuer losses. We’re guessing he’s between 25 and 30 years old.

Hoard has a 30% finishing ratio to Ramazan’s 60%. In Ramazan’s last three, he’s finished each bout in the first and second round.

Fighter Camp Comparison

Ramazan’s move to Xtreme Couture is new, but it’s clear his involvement with the gym is long term in an attempt to get to know UFC insiders in Las Vegas. Xtreme Couture is one of the top MMA organizations with a growing number of fighters at the top level of the UFC.

Please Note:
Wai Kru MMA is just one of Howard’s affiliations. He’s seen sparring at FAF gym, a pro kickboxing facility, and well as Burgess MMA. He’s a BJJ blackbelt as well, but I was unable to confirm affiliation.

Ramazan has the training advantage, but I think Howard’s cross training is very valuable.

Betting Odds for Howard vs Kuramagomedov

Bet Available at Betonline.ag Odds and Payout per Dollar Wager
Howard Money Line +315, $3.15
Kuramagomedov Money Line -415, $0.24

While I’m becoming less convinced by the undefeated fighter hype trains, I see Ramazan winning the fight. He’s ranged from -540 to -1587 in his last four major fights. Howard’s last fights as underdog include Tyler Ray at +120 and Magomed Magomedkerimov at +900. He lost both bouts. Howard did upset Ray Cooper in 2019, a +525 upset.

Fight Analysis and Final Betting Pick

Kuramagomedov has relentless wrestling, and will do everything he can to put Howard down early. Howard’s best fight performances include him utilizing his BJJ to get to the standing position. However, Kuramagomedov will come in bigger, and significantly longer. Both fighters are moving up to 185 for this bout, a weight class more suited for Ramazan’s frame.

While I give Howard an advantage for knockout power, I see Kuramagomedov showcasing a slow, takedown centered game similar to the Magomed performance. For this EFC betting pick, look to Kuramagomedov at -415 for a $0.24 per dollar wagered return.


Rashad Evans vs Gabriel Checco

Our co-main event for Friday night features former UFC Light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans facing off against a grappling centered Gabriel Checco. Checco has recently been focused on pro grappling competitions like The UFC invitational, but has lost five of his last seven major matches. Checco defeated the UFC’s Jake Ellenberger, but has lost to the majority of big name grapplers he’s faced. Craig Jones, Gordon Ryan and Mason Fowler have each handed Checco submission losses.


Tale of the Tape for Evans vs Checco

Fighter Rashad Evans Gabriel Checco
Age 42 35
Height 6’0’’ 6’1’’
Reach/Stance 75’’ Switch 71” Southpaw
Record 19-8-1 12-5
Submissions/TKO 0/6 5/7
Fighter Training Camp Blackzillians Gracie Humaita Henderson, Zangief BJJ

Evans is far older, and hasn’t fought in three and a half years. He’s coming off five back to back losses in the UFC, and his team the Blackzillians had disbanded altogether, but has recently reformed for this bout.

Please Note:
Checco has more career finishes, and has never gone to a decision win. Both men are outside of their prime, but Checco is far closer to a competitive age. Checco’s fight camp includes him traveling between his own BJJ gym and working directly with Dan Henderson.

Henderson is the right kind of MMA wrestling coach to prepare Checco for Evans, who finished out his career as a sprawl and brawl striker and is likely to continue that gameplan.

Betting Odds for Evans vs Checco

Bet Available at Betonline.ag Odds and Payout per Dollar Wager
Evans Money Line +180, $1.80
Checco Money Line -220, $0.45
Over 1 ½ Rounds -115
Under 1 ½ Rounds -115
Goes the Distance Yes +250, No -325
Gabriel Checco Win Inside the Distance or Goes Distance with No Scorecard Action -210
Rashad Evans Win Inside the Distance or Goes Distance with No Scorecard Action +170
Checco Inside the Distance -145
Evans Inside the Distance +325
Checco by Submission +155

Checco comes in the favorite over a former UFC champion. The betting community has grown weary of cash grabs by retired champions, looking to comeback in their twilight years, and I can’t blame them.

Checco’s chin is in question. He’s been knocked out twice via overhand right, a favorite for Rashad Evans.

Checco has failed the majority of his tests to fight at the upper echelon. Checco’s last few losses include his +260 KO loss to Ian Heinisch and a -165 loss to Jordan Wright, both in spectacular KO fashion. Checco has no head movement to speak of, and struggles with a stiff immobile stand up game.

Fight Analysis and EFC Betting Pick

Evans was finished in two of his last five losses, but even Ryan Bader couldn’t win via submission. In fact, no one has ever submitted Evans in his pro career.

Checco could knockout an aging Evans. Anything is possible for a fighter ten years past his competition age. However, it’s not likely. Either way, I don’t see this fight going to a decision. Checco will either eat another overhand right, or win as he has every other fight in his career, via finish.

My EFC betting pick is ‘fight doesn’t go the distance’ at -325. You may be thinking that I’m clinging too closely to the props, but remember that EFC is looking to put together exciting fights. They’re prioritizing fighters who are willing to lay it on the line to compete with the UFC.


Dylan Salvador vs Arman Ospanov

Salvador is new to MMA, and has defeated kickboxer’s like the UFC’s Giga Chikadze. He’s fought the best, including a beautiful 2016 bout with Buakaw.

Ospanov had a strong start to his MMA career, but has since gone 2-4 in his last six, ranging back to 2017.

Ospanov is a kickboxing centered fighter, so expect a stand up battle with Salvador sneaking in another submission victory.

Tale of the Tape for Salvador vs Ospanov

Fighter Dylan Salvador Arman Ospanov
Age 28 32
Height 5’9’’ 5’10’’
Record 3-1 11-4
Submissions/TKO 3/0 1/9
Fighter Training Camp American Top Team Florida Arlan MMA Pro

This bout is at 145 pounds, and both fighters have been in peak condition for the last several bouts. Ospanov has a solid finishing percentage, just one fight shy of Salvador’s 100%. Including his two exhibition matches for Premier MMA, Salvador has two decision wins to his name as well.

Please Note:
The fighters teams couldn’t be further apart, with ATT representing many of the world’s current MMA champions and Arlan MMA Pro team being a developing MMA gym with around 20 pro fighters with few 2021 wins among them, especially for larger organizations.

Ospanov does train with Kairat Akhmetov, a ONE FC phenom, but I worry for the overall coaching staff and level of sparring partners coming into this bout.

Betting Odds for Salvador vs Ospanov

Bet Available at Betonline.ag Odds and Payout per Dollar Wager
Dylan Salvador Money Line +110, $1.10
Arman Ospanov Money Line -140, $0.71

Dylan is the underdog given Arman’s time in the PFL and extensive MMA experience. However, his weakness is in BJJ, an area that Salvador thrives despite his stunning high level of kickboxing. As Glory Champion and now an ATT submission fighter, Salvador has worked to become more well rounded than Ospanov in just a few short years.

Fight Analysis and Final Betting Pick

Salvador’s 2019 performances show better MMA striking than Ospanov overall. His head movement is built for mma, focusing on pulls and tight slips while moving off angle to defend the takedown.

Chris Wade outwrestled Ospanov with ease, and landed a sudden head kick.

Ospanov was tired toward the final rounds, and if Salvador wears him down with good wrestling conditioning, we’ll see an underdog win. My EFC betting pick is Dylan Salvador at +110. Double your money on one of Glory’s top kickboxers switching to MMA.


Anthony Njokuani vs Raimond Magomedaliev

This welterweight bout pits a former UFC fighter Njokuani versus the undefeated Dagestani Magomedaliev.

Tale of the Tape for Njokuani vs Magomedaliev

Fighter Raimond Magomedaliev Anthony Njokuani
Age 31 41
Height 6’1’’ 6’0’’
Record 8-1 16-12, 1NC
Submissions/TKO 2/4 0/10
Fighter Training Camp Krepost Fight Club One Kicks Gym, Sergio Penha BJJ

Anthony is ten years the senior of his opponent. He’s been focused on muay thai and bare knuckle fighting the last few years, so his MMA record is in stasis since 2016.

Njokuani ended his MMA career on a five-fight losing streak that spanned being cut by the UFC, and losing in Legacy and Final Fight Championship.

Raimond has an 80% finishing ratio, and is now 3-1 for ONE FC. Recently, he’s been cross training at ATT Florida.

Betting Odds for Njokuani vs Magomedaliev

Bet Available at Betonline.ag Odds and Payout per Dollar Wager
Njokuani Money Line +400, $4.00
Magomedaliev Money Line -600, $0.17

Njokuani is a stronger underdog here than he was in the UFC during his last three losses, ranging from -175 to +110. A decade ago this would have been a great fight. Given Raimond’s rapid rise to power and newfound quality training environment, expert a decision win with a grappling focused gameplan from Magomedaliev. Our EFC betting pick is Magomedaliev at -600, a $0.15 payout that could be parlayed with a bet like the Gibson vs Borg fight going the distance.

Shaun Asher vs Yorgan De Castro

Castro is a former UFC heavyweight going up against Shaun Asher, a fighter who’s faced off in Bellator and other top organizations.

Castro is 2-3 over his last five against UFC level competition, while Asher is 3-2, losing only to quality heavyweights like Steve Mowry and Misha Cirkunov.

Tale of the Tape for Asher vs Castro

Fighter Shaun Asher Yorgan De Castro
Age 42 34
Height 6’0’’ 6’0’’
Reach 73’’ 74’’
Record 13-4-1 7-3
Submissions/TKO 1/8 0/5
Fighter Training Camp Alliance MMA Cincinnati Regiment Training Center

Castro is eight years younger than Asher, continuing the theme of fights with huge age gaps. De Castro has about half of the total experience of Asher as well, including half of the total fight finishes.

On paper, these fighters are close.
Both fighters have lost to quality opponents while dominating everyone who doesn’t live up to the level of top fifty heavyweights.

Both fighters gyms have few high level fighters, with Alliance Cincinnati being almost new in terms of pro fighter creation.

Betting Odds for Asher vs Castro

Bet Available at Betonline.ag Odds and Payout per Dollar Wager
Asher Money Line +300, $3.00
Castro Money Line -400, $0.25

I’ll be careful betting on this bout. Asher was a major underdog against Mowry, losing at +725. De Castro was the favorite in many of his losses, despite his only win in the UFC being the knockout over Tafa at +100.

I’ll be tentatively betting Yorgan De Castro at -400. He’s fought higher level fighters, and he’s eight years younger and more durable.

Zach Zane vs Loik Radzhabov

Zane is a Black House kickboxer with a mix of submission and knockout wins. He has fought for DWCS and Bellator with mixed success. Radzhabov is a German import to PFL with an upset win over Chris Wade. This is one of the more dynamic matches on the card.

Tale of the Tape for Zane vs Radzhabov

Fighter Zach Zane Loik Radzhabov
Age 32 31
Height 5’10’’ 5’8’’
Reach 69’’ 68’’
Record 15-9 15-4-1
Submissions/TKO 10/4 4/7
Fighter Training Camp Black House Sanford MMA

Zane’s 14 finishes out of fifteen wins prove he’s’ a dangerous fighter.

However, Loik has only ever lost via decision, while Zane has been choked a number of times. Both Sanford and Black House are high level gyms, but Sanford has a better stable of fighters currently.

Sanford also has some of the best MMA wrestling around, which is what Loik will need to finish Zane.

Betting Odds for Zane vs Radzhabov

Bet Available at Betonline.ag Odds and Payout per Dollar Wager
Zane Money Line +350, $3.50
Radzhabov Money Line -450, $0.22

Loik is the favorite for good reason. I expect a dominant performance from the athlete new to Sanford MMA. Our EFC betting pick is Radzhabov at -450.

Demarques Jackson vs Miles Hunsinger

Miles is an undefeated fighter, including a three fight amatuer streak. Jackson is a once high level fighter who has gone 1-4 since 2019. Jackson is more of a grappler and submission fighter, working with Hard Knocks and ATT in Florida.

Tale of the Tape for Jackson vs Hunsinger

Fighter Demarques Jackson Miles Hunsinger
Age 31 31
Height 5’9’’ 6’0’’
Reach 72’’ 75’’
Record 11-6 7-0
Fighter Training Camp Hard Knocks 365 Xtreme Couture

Hunsinger is the lankier fighter, and has more striking finishes overall. He’s taken his time with his career, which started in 2013, just three years after Jackson.

Betting Odds for Jackson vs Hunsinger

Bet Available at Betonline.ag Odds and Payout per Dollar Wager
Jackson Money Line +120, $1.20
Hunsinger Money Line -150, $0.67

This should be a one sided fight. Jackson is a minor underdog if only because of Hunsinger’s lack of high-level opponents. However, given each fighter’s momentum, and the training environment of Hunsinger at Xtreme Couture, the favorite is the right bet. Our EFC betting pick is Miles Hunsinger at -150.

Last Minute Fight Additions

Ayadi Majdeddine +240 vs Sitik Muduev -300

Sitik is fighter on a winning streak, but mostly inside WLF W.A.R.S.

While the wins are decent, the quality of the promotion is very low.

Ayadi is coming off a loss to a Jackson-Wink fighter but has quality submission skills that he’s developed since 2013. I see an upset, and our EFC betting pick is Ayadi Majdeddine at +240.


Firdavs Khasanov +145 vs Shawn Bunch -175

Bunch is an AKA fighter who’s 2-2 over his last four. He struggled against high level Bellator Bantamweight fighters.

Please Note:
Khasanov lost his last two bouts but has had success in Eastern European MMA, including several wins over undefeated fighters.

I see an upset here as well. Bunch belongs at flyweight, and Khasanov is a stunning fighter with powerful striking.


Jacob Clark / Author

Jacob Clark had a 15 year career as a professional MMA fighter, coach, and Greg Jackson’s alum. Now, TikTok’s 12th most important BJJ influencer is bringing his sports and betting knowledge to you here at TheSportsGeek. He spends his time cooking vietnamese food and playing D&D with his family. You can meet him at jiu-jitsu open mats all over Indiana.

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