We’re gearing up for the September 18th at UFC Apex in Las Vegas airing on ESPN+. This massive fifteen-fight card is stacked, so I’ll be focusing on the Main Card with this preview.
UFC action is back next Saturday with a collision between two hard-hitting LHWs 💥
— UFC (@ufc) September 12, 2021
Fan-favorite Joaquin Buckley, owner of that highlight reel jumping spinning back kick, is on the card. Let’s get the stats and record breakdown before we go putting all our money on him.
We’re looking at UFC stats, a tale of the tape for each bout, UFC odds history for each fighter, and an expert style breakdown. I’m starting off with the Main Event.
Fight 15: Anthony Smith vs Ryan Spann – 5-Rd Light Heavyweight
|Fighter||Anthony Smith||Ryan Spann|
|Reach/Stance||76’’ Orthodox||79” Orthodox|
|Submissions/TKO||13 submissions, 19 TKO||11 submissions, 5 TKO|
|Odds Last FIght||+210 (Victory)||+125 (Victory)|
Ryan Spann has lost only a single fight of his last ten, spanning back to September 2017. His UFC run has been 5-1 after a loss to rising star Johnny Walker. Johnny was a -150 favorite for their September 2020 bout.
Since then, Ryan won an underdog bout to Cirkunov, a -120 favorite with a quick first-round TKO. Ryan’s finishing ratio is 64% across all bouts and 82% of his total victories. If you think Ryan’s going to win, there is a strong chance he will finish, though two of his six bouts against UFC caliber opponents have been decisions. Ryan’s losses include a loss to a high-profile submission fighter in Robert Drysdale. Drysdale caught a second-round choke. He was knocked out by Hendricks, Karl Roberson in DWCS, and heavy-hitting but inconsistent Brandon Farran in 2014. Anthony Smith has fought the who’s who of the UFC over the past five years. His wins include Hector Lombard, Rashad Evans, Mauricio Rua, Alexander Gustafsson, and most recently, Jimmy Crute. His losses include Teixeira, Jon Jones and Thiago Santos. When comparing the punch and takedown counts of Anthony and Ryan, we should consider the caliber of opponent Anthony has faced. Anthony is 3-2 of his last five, but it’s hardly comparable to Ryan’s win streak.
Anthony lost sixteen bouts but only six in the UFC. Seeing that Anthony has been fighting since 2008, has never taken a year off, and is only 33 years old tells the rest of the story. His first pro bout was an armbar win just after his eighteenth birthday.
- Ryan Spann’s recent money lines in chronological order have been +125,+135, -365, -175 and -125. He’s 1-1 as an underdog in his last five and has delivered two upsets and two underdog losses since 2017- one underdog loss being in LFA.
- Anthony Smith’s recent money lines have been +210, -135,+205, -227, and +275. He upset Crute and Gustafsson, winning against Crute in the first and Gus in the fourth round. Anthony’s odds have always been tough to listen to. He’s lost one bout as a favorite and won two as an underdog in the last five fights alone.
Current prop bets for the bout include ‘over/under 3 ½ rounds’ at +100/-130. This is Anthony’s fourth five-rounder. Two ended in the championship rounds, and the Jon Jones bout made it to a decision. Ryan Spann has two ‘over’ and three ‘under’ finishes in the UFC.
I’ll go into greater detail on style, and past performances in my fight pick later this week. Due to Anthony’s greater level of competition and performances against high-quality opponent’s Anthony Smith at -159 feels like a steal, the $0.63 per dollar wagered payout is solid. This is a volatile bout that I’d avoid with a parlay.
Fight 14: Ion Cutelaba vs Devin Clark – Light Heavyweight
|Fighter||Ion Cutelaba||Devin Clark|
|Record||15-6-1, 1 NC||12-5|
|Submissions/TKO||2 submissions, 12 TKO||1 submissions, 3 TKO|
|Odds Last FIght||-125||+125|
Ion Cutelaba is an exciting young prospect who’s had a rough shake in the UC, both in terms of performances and upsets. In his last five, he’s 1-3-1. This includes back-to-back TKO losses to Magomed Ankalaev, a loss to Glover Teixeira, and a draw to Dustin Jacoby.
Since his UFC debut, he is 4-5-1. He’s only ever won a single decision, and tends to put people to sleep early and often. Outside of the UFC, Ion’s only loss was a disqualification for punching the back of the head. The young man is a terror, one that perhaps rose a bit too quickly. In Ion’s last five, his money lines in chronological order have been -120, +330, +191, +100, and +105. He lost each underdog bout.
Devin Clark is coming off a loss to Anthony Smith and loss to Ryann Spann in 2019. He is 3-2 of his last five and is 6-5 in the UFC. His losses include Champion Jan blachowicz and Aleksandar Rakic. Devin Clark gets a bad wrap in the odds.
His last four wins, Clark was rated +225, -370, +105 and -105 (to the opponent’s -115) . These three underdog upsets make Devin a confusing fighter to bet against, given his history of gaming decision wins against fighters who are more qualified on paper.
Devin’s won eight of his twelve wins by decision, and almost all of these have been in the UFC. He’s got a history of making power punchers fight long bouts, and this style eliminates much of the usual Ion style. There is no shortage of props specific to early stoppages, but I wouldn’t bet on them, despite the fact that Devin’s never lost by decision. That’s right, all five of his losses have come by submission or TKO.
Ion is good but unrefined. He also looked small in the Dustin Jacoby bout. Devin cuts serious weight and will eat you alive if you don’t come with good defensive clinch fighting.
That’s a $1.75 per dollar wagered return—a solid bet for a fighter with the better record in the UFC.
Fight 13: Nikolas Motta vs Cameron VanCamp – Lightweight
|Fighter||Nikolas Motta||Cameron VanCamp|
|Submissions/TKO||0 submissions, 8 TKO||9 submissions, 4 TKO|
|Odds Last FIght||+190||NA|
Jim Miller was set to fight Nikolas Motta when he contracted covid-19 the weekend before the fight. His last-minute replacement is Indiana’s, Cameron VanCamp. At time of writing, there are no updated odds for these two fighters and no prop bets in place.
Nikolas Matta is a 2020 contender series winner. He is on a three-fight win streak, having lost two bouts by TKO and one by submission in his fifteen-fight career. His most recent loss was to Robert Hale at the end of 2018. Though 66% of Matta’s wins come by Tko, his last two bouts against higher-level opponents were both decision wins.
I should note that I have trained with Cameron VanCamp in the past, so I’ll be doing my best not to offer a biased decision.
Cameron is 4-1 of his last five. He’s a dangerous submission fighter and wrestler. Most of his TKO’s have come from top position, and there’s no doubt he’ll be looking to find his range and get the takedown early and often against Nikolas Motta, who is predominantly a stand-up fighter.
It doesn’t take long to discover that despite Matta’s status as the man on the roster, Cameron has fought alarmingly more difficult opponents and often won. Matta comes from Nova Uniao, probably the foremost Brazilian MMA affiliation. We should also consider that Cameron is taking the fight on a week’s notice.
After watching Matta’s performance at DWCS, I’m confident in saying that he can not outwrestle VanCamp. He’ll be punching up at the lightweight who is four inches taller than himself. His forward-moving aggression will be immediately challenged with high-quality takedowns.
Fight 12: Ariane Lipski vs Mandy Bohm – Flyweight
|Fighter||Ariane Lipski||Mandy Bohm|
|Submissions/TKO||3 submissions, 6 TKO||2 submissions, 2 TKO|
|Odds Last FIght||+255 (Loss)||N.A.|
Ariane Lipski comes from King’s MMA, the school that brings us RDA and Jake Ellenberger. It’s clear that the UFC has big plans for her, though she’s only 2-4 in the promotion. She entered the UFC at 11-3 in 2019, and has racked up six fights with two decision losses and two TKO losses. Being knocked out back to back has its toll on a fighter, and Ariane was finished with ground and pound just three months ago. Some analysts have considered this an early stoppage, despite some twelve unanswered and moderately defended strikes.
In her last six bouts, Ariane’s money lines have been +255, +110, -111, -260, -255, -189. Note that she has won two matches where she was favored and lost the other four.
Prop bets of interest include over/under 2 ½ rounds at -215/+175, and Bohm wins inside the distance at +425.
Bohm opened as a favorite for this bout. Something changed the minds of the oddsmakers. I think they had it right. Bohm is a mean fighter, and she isn’t the person I’d have Ariane fight to get her career back on track after back-to-back knockouts. Ariane needs time to recover and to develop if she’s going to have a long UFC career.
PLACE YOUR BETS NOW!
If I were feeling just a little riskier, I may bet the Bohm inside the distance at +425. It’s tempting, but I’ll bet conservatively for the $1.01 return per dollar wagered.
Fight 11: Arman Tsarukyan vs Christos Giagos – Lightweight
|Fighter||Arman Tsarukyan||Christos Giagos|
|Submissions/TKO||6 submissions, 5 TKO||4 submissions, 7 TKO|
|Odds Last FIght||-600||-215|
Arman Tsarukyan has only one UFC loss to Islam Makhachev and stands at 3-1 with the promotion. Prior to his UFC debut he was on a twelve fight winning streak. He’s been knocked out once early in his career, but his UFC stats show his strikes absorbed per minute at a very low 1.43. Note that Arman won all three UFC bouts by decision.
He scores an average of 3.5 takedowns per fight, which keeps him safe from significant strikes. During his last bout with Matt Frevola, he controlled 8.34 minutes of the fifteen minute fight, over half of the bout and scored 83% takedown accuracy. These stats make for his -800 favorite position, which pays out $0.13 per dollar wagered. He’s getting better, and his grappling has been too much for everyone but Makhachev.
Christos Giagos is 5-4 in the UFC,re-entering the promotion against Charles Oliveira in 2018. His second loss was to Drakkar Klose in 2019. The Drakkar loss was a close decision, where Christos was outstruck forty strikes in total. Oliveira submitted him in the second round.
During his first run in the UFC in 2014, he matched up against Gilbert Burns, who submitted him at the end of the first round. Christos seems to run up against would-be champions and contenders on their way to the top.
After rewatching the Matt Frevola fight, Arman’s ‘slip and shot’ approach to takedowns is bane for Giagos. Could he time a knee for a quick knockout? Sure, but that’s a lightning in a bottle approach to victory.
Prop bets for this fight include over/under 2 ½ rounds at -175/+145 and fight does/doesn’t go to decision at -150/+120 indicating the oddsmakers see a Tsarukyan decision win. Cementing this is the prop Tsarukyan wins by TKO/Submission at +300/+450.
This pays out at $0.67 per dollar wagered and brings the benefit of either fighter winning. A finish is possible, but unlikely. This is like betting on Arman but with 4x better odds.
Fight 10: Joaquin Buckley vs Antonio Arroyo – Middleweight
|Fighter||Joaquin Buckley||Antonio Arroyo|
|Submissions/TKO||0 submissions, 9 TKO||4 submissions, 4 TKO|
|Odds Last FIght||-262||-185|
It’s been two fights since Joaquin Buckley’s jumping spinning back kick TKO but it’s still all anyone thinks of when they see the fighter. Joaquin is coming off a loss to
Alessio Di Chirico, making Joaquin 2-2 in the UFC. Joaquin is fighting fast, locking in his fifth fight since August 2020, just thirteen months. His odds since entering into the UFC have been -262 (v.s. Chirico), -222, +225, and +380. The oddsmakers have called two of these performances correctly.
Antonio Arroyo is on a two fight losing streak, losing both of his UFC appearances. He won two DWCS fights, first by submission and then by decision. The UFC is throwing him to the wolves on this one. If he can’t be competitive with UFC tier fighters, he may as well get knocked out in incredible fashion.
His odds against UFC fighters have been -185 and +115. He was also a +111 underdog in his second DWCS appearance in 2019.
Buckley has a 100% takedown defense. His striking accuracy is only 36%. The number I found interesting was his significant strikes absorbed per minute. Buckley takes an average of 5.46 strikes per minute, twenty-two per round.
At first, I thought Buckley was being fed some padding, now I see Arroyo has the tools to make this competitive. Prop bets include over/under 1 ½ rounds at -105/-125 and Arroyo wins inside the distance at +250.
Both of these fighters have a lot to lose. Antonio’s contract is probably on the line, and Buckley is dying to live up to his highlight reel. I expect an early finish considering Buckley’s history of three bouts in a row falling into the ‘under’ prop category.
Lead up to Fight Night
Look for the opening odds to show VanCamp as a strong underdog, and watch for the closing odds on Arman to show a better payout. We may see Anthony Smith move to a stronger favorite status, so bet early at your favorite UFC betting sites!