The Mac is back, yes, but before the DJ hits the Sinead O’Connor Foggy Dew and mixes into No, No, Notorious, we have an outstanding prelim card that is understandably being overlooked.
I get it. This is the return of the most popular, hate him or love him, MMA fighter of all-time. What a tremendous matchup too!
Donald Cerrone is not getting much love from the betting community but you can’t sleep on the guy. He’s the bigger man, the more powerful kicker, and has far more experience, even, than “The Notorious” Conor McGregor.
The betting odds opened far closer than they are now, and the men and women that make the lines for the sportsbooks are not casuals.
Clearly, the fight between Conor and Cowboy is carrying this UFC pay per view event. There’s probably less than 1% of the population that are buying this one for another fight.
I would include the other combatants’ friends and family but that’s about it.
To me, most of the betting value is not on the main card. There’s no shortage of excitement either. Listen to a few of these matchups.
Andre “Touchy” Fili vs Sodiq Yussuf! If you’re unfamiliar with either guy, don’t sweat it. Don’t blink either, though.
There’s also the contrasting styles of Roxanne Modafferi and Maycee Barber. One girl is incredibly athletic and Roxy may be the most unathletic fighter in the entire organization.
I mean that with the utmost respect. I had the pleasure of befriending and training with Rox for years and nobody at Syndicate MMA spends more time on their craft than the “Happy Warrior.”
She is also quite a bit older than Barber. Rox said recently in an interview with ESPN that she has been training martial arts longer than “The Future” has been alive.
The odds are long for Modafferi but I think I still have an angle for us to make some money on this fight. I want to cover those fights as well as a couple of others, so let’s not waste any more time.
The online sportsbook MyBookie.AG has the odds for us.
Let’s dive in and make some picks!
Tim Elliott vs Askar Askarov
This is going to be a fun one, guys! If you have never watched Tim Elliott get down, you will have to catch up.
He won the Flyweight Ultimate Fighter show and was rewarded with a title shot against one of the greats and now former champion, Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson.
Tim actually won the first round against the champ but soon was overwhelmed by the Flyweight GOAT.
Askar Askarov’s parents were really creative, weren’t they? Just kidding. No disrespect to them or him. They did a great job, obviously, because Askarov is now in the UFC and about to cash in on some major pay per view dollars after this weekend in Vegas.
Stylistically, he isn’t great anywhere. He has good takedowns but against Tim, he’s going to have a difficult time.
Elliott may be the best scrambler in the UFC today. He is much more athletic than his Russian opponent and I see Tim either winning a striking battle, getting the takedown himself or defending Askarov’s shot and taking the back or ending up on top.
Lots of and’s & or’s there but I feel pretty solid about Tim in this spot. I especially like him by decision for even better odds of (+185).
Nasrat Haqparast vs Drew Dober
We have two southpaws here who like to strike. That is always interesting because left-handed fighters are used to fighting righties.
Who will be able to make that adjustment? Clearly, the sportsbooks believe that will be Nasrat.
He is only 24-years-old and is one of the best prospects in the UFC’s Lightweight division. I love his striking as his overall game and fight IQ has improved each time he has stepped foot into the Octagon.
I credit the former to Kings MMA head coach Rafael Cordeiro and the latter to Tristar Gym’s mad scientist, Firas Zahabi.
That’s a pretty gnarly duo right there. I know a few guys out a Kings in Orange County and nearly the entire gym is filled with killers.
Firas Zahabi is, of course, the head coach and puppeteer of Georges St Pierre. I don’t think I need to elaborate any more about that.
Dober, conversely, is a journeyman whose MMA game has appeared to have peaked. His only hope here is clipping the German fighter on the chin because the likelihood of him getting Nasrat to the ground is highly unlikely.
Nasrat cruises here. He’s just too fast. Dober has always struggled whenever the level of his competition has been raised and this one shouldn’t be any different.
I don’t like where this line is, though. I see Nasrat striking with him and Dober has only lost by submission, albeit several times already in his UFC career.
We can get Nas by decision for plus money at (+110).
Let’s do it.
Roxanne Modafferi vs Maycee Barber
Minus 900! That’s a bit ludicrous but this is a terrible matchup for Roxy. Modafferi is very awkward and lengthy on her feet so this one might take a minute.
I thought I was being slick taking the over 1.5 rounds bet in Barber’s last fight versus another grappling specialist in Gillian Robertson.
Welp, I was wrong because “The Future” essentially made the American Top Team product quit on her feet.
We saw the same from another fighter on this card, actually, when JJ Aldrich was able to give Maycee a tough first round but turned and wilted after several of Barber’s hellbows up against the fence.
The (-900) is out of the question for me so let’s try to find another route to some value. The over 1.5 rounds bet is set at (-133).
Maycee made me pay for it last time but man, Rox is hard to finish. Also, Maycee likes to fight inside the phone booth and I think it will take her several minutes to solve the awkward puzzle that is the Happy Warrior’s striking.
I can tell you one thing. Modafferi isn’t going to quit in there. She may very well get TKO’ed, though. In fact, it is very likely as the odds are at (-225) just for that particular outcome.
Let’s double up here.
Sodiq Yussuf vs Andre Fili
This is a tough one to call.
I am very high on Andre Fili. I love his heart, striking skills, and the power he is able to generate as a long and almost lanky fighter.
Sometimes you see a guy like Andre in the UFC and you think their ceiling is lower than it truly is. I have been blown away at the improvements he has made over the past couple of years.
His opponent on Saturday, Sodiq Yussuf, throws HEAT. I’m talking Big Unit Randy Johnson level heat.
He is still a little bit green having recently come off of Dana White’s Contender Series but has improved each time out. I believe his ceiling can be very high. This will easily be the biggest test of his career.
Fili has good takedowns, though. A lot of folks overlook the fact that his takedown percentage is 46% and averages almost two and a half takedowns per 15 minutes.
I don’t think he has the strength to keep Sodiq on the mat and Yussuf trains under one of the best Brazilian Jiu Jitsu coaches, tactically, in the world in Lloyd Irvin Jr.
I am looking at the under 2.5 rounds at (-111). If you combine strikes landed and absorbed each minute for each fighter, we are over 20. That’s a big number and both men are game to throw down and fight to finish.
I think Sodiq catches Fili with a big shot in the second round.
Not a bad lineup for the prelims, guys.
As far as the Maycee Barber fight with Roxanne goes, I love the fact that we can sort of cover ourselves while trying to also double up our bets.
Taking “The Future” to win by TKO is a solid bet. I’m not too crazy about the (-225) juice but there is maybe one woman in that division who can handle her humerus and that lady is not Roxy.
Hopefully, she “takes her time” and the clock strikes 2:30 of the second round before the assigned referee jumps in to stop it.
Hey, if Roxy is able to weather the early storm and eek out a decision or late submission, we can still nearly break even.
Super Sodiq and Touchy Fili is going to be an all-out cracker! There’s no doubt about that and as durable as both men have shown to be, somebody is getting put out.
I like Nas by decision. Drew Dober has tapped a few times but hasn’t been TKO’ed or KO’ed in his time inside the Octagon.
And Tim Elliott will just be too much of an athlete in there for Askar, I think. I am admittedly more confident about my other picks than that one but if he does win, it will be by decision.
We have to remember that these guys are Flyweights and finishes in that division are few and far between.
There you have it, team.
As always, get those bets in immediately directly from this article and let’s kick off the betting year for the UFC with a bankroll boost.