Monday MMA Mashup – March 1

Fighters Amanda Lemos, Islam Makhachev and Israel Adesanya - MMA Logo

What a great ending to UFC Fight Night Las Vegas over the weekend! Jairzinho Rozenstruik looked like a world beater! There was just too much striking volume and output from the Surinamese fighter!

He must have landed 40+ significant strikes over the course of 5 rounds. I kid, guys. Forgive me. I am trying to ease into the seriousness of the week this Monday morning. Rozenstruik looked bad but not the bookmakers.

They were spot on. I remember seeing the line and with the memory of Derrick Lewis knocking out Curtis Blaydes still fresh in my mind, I thought hey, there’s some value here on Rozenstruik!
An absolute silly is what it was!

Elsewhere on the fight card, it felt great to stay away from the “public underdog” Kevin Croom. Alex Caceres was gifted yet another unathletic, slow, brawler with not much power in his hands and Bruce Leroy delivered.

We had him by decision and Kevin Croom obviously took the under 2.5 rounds because he was certainly doing his Saturday best to run head on into a fist. Fortunately for us, Alex has never had knockout power but I’m still surprised our bet hit but (+100) to the house.

There were some underdogs that came through but unfortunately, we weren’t on them. I liked the spots with some moderate favorites and that was our strategy for the night. We really missed out on a great opportunity betting on Thiago Moises whose odds to win nearly reached (+200) by fight time.

Alexander Hernandez vs Thiago Moises - UFC Vegas 20

He was clearly the better overall fighter in there and Alexander Hernandez is looking more and more like a bust. The kid does not like the fire. He will only come forward when his opponents back up and he will almost always back up when his opponents come forward.

This can work for you if you have an 85 inch reach like Jon Jones but this strategy almost caught up the Bones in his last two contests. It was driving me crazy how they kept saying how Jones was being aggressive and walking forward.

It is rare to see Bones hold his ground, though. It will be quite interesting to see him at heavyweight with a stronger base but I still think he will be backing up trying to maintain his reach advantage and not get hit in the mouth.

Dustin Jacoby and Ronnie Lawrence both took care of business early in the night. It was a little hairy for the former because he had a massive opponent who didn’t even bother to cut his last 5 pounds to make weight.

More often than not, the fighter who misses weight is the one who has their hand raised by the end of the fight. That didn’t quite happen here as Maxim Grishin began to tire in the 2nd round and the Colorado lungs of Dustin Jacoby kept the pace high enough to hold an advantage over the final two frames.

This week, we are treated to another pay per view event and this one is BIG! We have not one, not two, but three world title fights including Israel Adesanya’s bid to be double champ as he goes up to the UFC’s Light Heavyweight Division and challenges the Polish powerhouse, Jan Blachowicz.

One fighter who has already achieved double champ status, Brazil’s Amanda Nunes, defends her Featherweight World Title against Australia’s Megan “It’s Meeegan” Anderson. The betting line for this fight is just absurd but so is the dominance we have seen from The Lioness.

In the co-co-main event, the Bantamweight belt is on the line as Russia’s Petr Yan makes his first defense of the title against Strong Island’s own, Aljamain Sterling. The Funkmaster has been incredibly dominant in his run towards a world title shot including wins over Jimmie Rivera, Pedro Munhoz, and most recently, Cory Sandhagen.

Contender Series standout in 2020, Alaska’s Uros Medic, will make his official debut inside of the Octagon against another technical and dangerous Lightweight, Aalon Cruz.

This card is so incredibly stacked from top to bottom

Get this, Dominick Cruz-one of the greatest Bantamweights of all time is on the UNDERCARD! To me, it is a cardinal sin but taking into account the arrogance and cockiness of the fighter/commentator, I say keep him off the main card.

I’m going to watch every fight as it is so these things never really matter that much.

Headed up by The Last Style Bender himself, there are 5 fighters on the card with undefeated records. That is pretty sick but we also get to see 6 athletes compete with just one loss on their pro MMA records!

Not high level enough for you? 12 more fighters with 2 to 4 losses in their respective mixed martial arts careers! Statistically speaking, as far as records go, this has to be the highest level UFC of all time.

BetOnline has some solid lines out for all of the fights already. Let’s finish up our betting recap from this past Saturday night’s show at the Apex in Las Vegas and then put together a quick betting preview for UFC 259 coming up this weekend from the desert.

UFC Vegas 20 Betting Recap

Dustin Jacoby vs Maxim Grishin

  • Dustin Jacoby kicked off the night for us with a victory and since he took the fight by decision, we got him on a method of victory prop at 2 to 1.
  • (-185) was his moneyline and looking back, it was a bit of a risky bet considering how some folks, primarily the ones who were betting on Grishin, thought the Russian did enough to get the win.
  • Maxim slowed down tremendously after the first round and his lack of volume and aggression kept the scoring on the side of the American.
  • (-185) and (+200) to start the night!

Ronnie Lawrence vs Vince Cachero

  • Next up was a great spot with Ronnie Lawrence. There was an unknown with him since it was his first official fight for the promotion but he made it look easy.
  • We did our interview homework with this kid. I wanted to gauge his maturity level and it checked out. The Kung Fu fighter with zero wrestling experience in high school or college scored 12 takedowns on the Contender Series and was an outstanding 8/9 on Saturday night.
  • (-160) was his money line. That was gravy. We also took a stab on him to get the submission win for a whopping 7 to 1! He had probably 10 different opportunities to get the tap but he played it safe favoring position over submission.
  • One fun bet we were able to cash on with Ronnie Lawrence was his point spread of (-3.5) for a betting payout of (+140). All we needed was 29-28, 29-28, and 30-27 for the win.
  • Ronnie would have certainly won the fight 30-27 on all three judges’ scorecards but he got the ground and pound finish halfway through the third round
We took Alex Hernandez by decision and that certainly didn’t go our way. It took a better than ever performance from the Brazilian to derail the bet, though.
  • Also, we had Alex Caceres by decision. Easily on the a-side, it was a sweat getting to the judges’ scorecards but we did it for the even money payout(+100).
  • Jimmie Rivera was the fashionable pick from both the sharps and the squares heading into Saturday and I had a feeling the calf kick would be a nice counter to the heavy footed boxing stance and strong center of gravity of Rivera.
  • We missed the boat here as Pedro Munhoz proved to fans and bettors that this fight should have at least been a pick’em.
  • The main event was a bore! Dana White didn’t even attend the post fight press conference. He was surely disappointed in the performance of both Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Cyril Gane.

Overall, it was a good night for us. Let’s remain on the winning track this week with a betting preview of UFC 259.

UFC 259 Betting Preview

Amanda Lemos (-209) vs Livinha Souza (+179)

If you remember, I told you guys the old betting odds for this fight were busting the door and look where we are now. We tipped Amanda Lemos at (-150) and here she is considerably more expensive.

If you haven’t jumped on Amanda in this spot against fellow Brazilian, Livinha Souza, is it still worth it north of 2 to 1? I think so. Amanda is a very strong competitor and other than Souza clipping Lemos, I don’t see a very wide path to victory for The Brazilian Gangsta, Livinha.

I believe that Amanda is the better fighter anywhere this matchup goes. She can, of course, still lose but I think she wins 7 out of 10 times these two ladies fight and that is enough for me to invest in the current betting odds of (-209).

Check back as the week progresses to see more betting options for UFC 259. We did well sniping a point spread with Ronnie Lawrence. Maybe we can do it again with Amanda Lemos.

Islam Makhachev (-330) vs Drew Dober (+270)

This is an interesting matchup despite the long odds. Islam, according to head coach at AKA Javier Mendes, is the only person ever to win a round against Khabib in sparring. How someone wins 99% of their sparring matches is beyond me.

I understand winning 99% of your fights if you’re that good but you fight once per camp and you spar probably 100 rounds or more over your couple of months of preparation. That goes to show us two things: How good Khabib is and also the level of Islam Makhachev.

Islam’s opponent at UFC 259, Drew Dober, has been on a tear and easily fighting better than he ever has. The issue here is the takedown defense of Dober. He certainly has the athleticism but sometimes that works against him as fighters time his forward bursts and get in deep on his hips.

Even though he won the fight by TKO, he was taken down 3 times in his last fight against Alexander Hernandez. There have been a couple of other guys too that have taken Drew down multiple times.

None of those fighters are anywhere near the level of Islam Mahachev, though. I have to edge the Dagestani star in this spot. His takedown accuracy inside of the Octagon is higher than the defense % from Dober. That is never a good sign for the defender.

There will be more odds to come out as far as round totals, points spreads, and method of victory props so wait on this one. That is unless you have a parlay to put him in and in that case, go right ahead.

I feel very confident Islam gets it done this weekend on the big stage at UFC 259.

Askar Askarov (-130) vs Joe Benavidez (+110)

These betting odds were even a few weeks ago when we tipped the still undefeated Askar Askarov. He doesn’t look like much and his facial expression never changes but this little guy is a great wrestler with solid boxing defense to go along with sneaky offense.

His opponent, the legendary Joe Benavidez, is certainly capable of matching him skill for skill but after the former champ’s previous two outings, it appears that he isn’t the same guy anymore.

I know he could come out here with an advantage in the explosiveness department and either catch Askar on the chin or squeak out a decision win. If we were getting more than (+110) on a guy who has lost two straight against an undefeated fighter, then yea, maybe we take a stab on Joe B.

Where we are now, though, I think the betting value still lies with the Russian.

Sean Brady (-200) vs Jake Matthews (+170)

While I don’t want to sleep on Jake Matthews, I think he is going to be up against a better version of himself and those fights normally don’t go very well for the lesser of the two skill sets.

This is because Jake’s best weapon, his takedowns, are likely going to be thwarted by Brady and I think Sean will be able to spend some time controlling the fight from top position. Sean Brady is just 3 fights into his UFC career but at 13-0 overall, looks to be a promising prospect.

Jake Matthews was a promising prospect at one time and still remains one of the most underrated fighters on the roster. A big part of this is that he is from ‘Straya and doesn’t get a lot of hype or buzz from the company.

He made his debut with the UFC at the age of 20 and has since racked up a quite respectable 10-4 record inside of the Octagon including winning his previous 3 fights in a row. Who is he beating, though?

He has one notable win and that was against the now surging Li Jingliang. Jake was able to take the Chinese star down several times and that was the difference in the fight. Matthews is a bit lost on his feet if he can’t get the fight to the floor and I think that is what is going to happen to him against Philadelphia’s Sean Brady.

Please Note:

Matthews hasn’t beaten anyone worth noting except for Li and that is for his entire UFC career. He has had quite the easy road. I think a roadblock in the form of Sean Brady will end this 3 fight win streak with the quickness.

I like the (-200) and these two will likely fight to a decision so be on the lookout for the Brady by points method of victory line. Hopefully, it will be upwards of (+200).

Casey Kenney (-145) vs Dominick Cruz (+115)

It is rather strange seeing Dominick Cruz as an underdog here and as much as I really like Casey Kenney, it’s hard to look away from The Dominator at plus money against anyone not named Henry Cejudo.

Remember, Dominick Cruz beat TJ Dillashaw, Joe Benavidez, and even Mighty Mouse Demetrius Johnson. Casey Kenney does not have that level of a resume but he does have youth on his side.

Cruz is about to turn 36 this month while Casey Kenney, another March baby, enters his 30’s in a few weeks. That is a decent gap and should account for some of the difference in the betting line.

Dominick has also been through a lot of injuries in his career, particularly his ACL which I think he has torn at least 3 times. So, there are some extra miles on this already aged vehicle. How much has Dom been training?

That we don’t know but I do know one thing and that is that you can never count this man out. As long as “Mr cigs and beer” referee Keith Peterson isn’t assigned the fight, Cruz has a chance.

Henry Cejudo vs Dominick Cruz

If you’re unfamiliar with the reference, Keith Peterson stopped the fight with one second to go in the round as Henry Cejudo was attempting to put Cruz away after a beautiful knee. Later, Cruz, who is as competitive as they come, came out and said the negative things about Peterson.

Smells are powerful in there. I know that but Cruz didn’t have to throw the guy under the bus like that. I think Peterson does a good job. It would have been nice, though, to let Cruz get the break in rounds to recover.

I like the over in this fight. It opened at (-120) and is now doubled to (-240). I don’t know if I like it that much but picking a winner here is not something I’m overly excited about either. Let’s wait on some more betting options to become available for this fight.

Aljamain Sterling (-110) vs Petr Yan (-110)

The online sportsbooks have known about this fight for quite some time now and they are still completely split on the betting odds. You have a great opportunity to make a good buck if you have a strong idea on the winner.

This is tough. Yan has received so much hype and Aljamain, up until he forced the words from people’s mouths with a first round submission of Cory Sandhagen, never got the backing he deserved.

I don’t know why, either. It isn’t like he is this lay and pray/wall and stall artist who uses his size and wrestling ability to squeak out decisions.

He hit Jimmie Rivera with over 100 significant strikes. He landed 174 on Pedro Munhoz! Aljo also choked Sandhagen as we said and subbed the ultra durable Cody Stamman with a funky knee bar as he slid off his back.

Yan is going to be at a 3-inch reach disadvantage and as long as Sterling can match the Russian’s cardio, I believe The Funkmaster has what it takes to win this fight and have the UFC’s Bantamweight World Title strapped around his waist by the boss.

Amanda Nunes (-1200) vs Megan Anderson (+800)

We got behind Amanda months ago before Jake Matthews smoked Diego Sanchez. We picked her and Cyril Gane for a parlay and then made two more with her as the anchor to include Tagir Ulanbekov and then one with all 4 including Matthews.

That’s 3 parlays (-270), (-120), and (+113) that should pay when Amanda does her thing at UFC 259. Megan Anderson is one of the only natural 145ers in the UFC and the division is virtually dead.

A big reason for that is nobody wants to get smashed by Amanda Nunes. Well, except for Megan. She is a gamer and while still improving each time we see her, simply not on the level of the women’s GOAT.

Israel Adesanya (-240) vs Jan Blachowicz (+205)

I want to say that speed kills and while this is surely true more often than it’s not, Jan is used to being the slower man. He just went out there and made Dominick Reyes look terrible and that is all we heard about in that fight build up was the athleticism, quickness, and speed of Reyes.

Then, the fight happened and Blachowicz just looked that much better. Still not faster but better, no doubt. I think he will be at an even greater speed disadvantage when he flights Israel Adesanya in the main event of UFC 259 this Saturday night from Vegas.

Izzy isn’t putting on weight to go up to 205. He is just staying right where he is and cutting 5 pounds if anything.

I really like that approach! With the exception of a few fighters like Dustin Poirier, athletes who purposely put on size in order to compete at a higher weight class usually fail.

Their frames and hearts aren’t designed to hold so much muscle. They slow down and then they slow down. What I mean by this is that they are slower than normal when they step into the Octagon. Then, they slow down even more when their heart is struggling to pump enough blood to satisfy the bigger muscles/greater need for oxygen.

I’m not saying to never lift a weight ever like you’re Nate Diaz but Conor surely felt this when he was up at 170 bragging about eating steaks all of fight week. I did a steak on fight day one time! Never again!

I love the resurgence of Jan Blachowicz but Izzy is undefeated for a reason and he will hold a 2-inch reach advantage along with 2 inches of height. Blachowicz has exceptional timing but he just isn’t on the striking level of Style Bender. In his defense, though, who is?

If Jan had the wrestling background and ability to mix things up against Israel, I would give him more of a chance but he is primarily a striker himself and he will likely fall victim to the laser-like pinpoint accuracy of Adesanya.

You can get Izzy by TKO right now for (+140). I don’t think it’s a great line but we are talking about 25 minutes of opportunity. This will be the fashionable pick this UFC 259 fight week so expect it to be juiced by fight time.

PLACE YOUR BETS NOW!

In Conclusion

We are coming off one of our best fight nights from a betting perspective in 2021. We finished off the year on an absolute tear and kicked off the new year with a tear as well. No pun intended.

That tear refers to the beating Calvin Kattar took at the hands of Max Holloway. We were on Kattar and boy did my confidence take a hit after that one. We have been more or less treading water in UFC betting in 2021.

Other sports like golf have kept us well above the red water for the year but I will never be satisfied. Don’t go too hard on the picks I gave you today. We will learn a lot as the week progresses.

Several other betting options will come available as well including method of victory for most of the contests and even some point spread betting odds to take advantage of.

Stay tuned to thesportsgeek.com all week long for all of your MMA betting wants and needs!

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Mike Pruitt / Author

Mike has been covering sports professionally since 2017 but on the amateur scene for 25 years since when he was 12. Before the internet changed the world, he would keep detailed statistical box scores of NFL and NBA contests, write recaps, and voluntarily commentate games and fights alone in his room. Mike's military experience, Bachelors Degree, and employment thereafter were always rooted in engineering, science, and teaching. Now he enjoys being able to express himself through writing about football, golf, and car racing among other sports but most of all fighting as his life has been rooted in mixed martial arts including competing and teaching for the past 15 years.