UFC Fight Night Betting Pick: Ilia Topuria vs Damon Jackson

No, the following song isn’t referring to an election or a recount. I’m talking about the Republic of Georgia and not just the quantity of Georgian fighters filling up the UFC roster but more so the quality.

Ilia Topuria may be training out of Spain but he is originally from Germany but still reps the Georgian flag when he fights. Eh, he’s still young. There’s nothing wrong, though, with being proud of everything, everyone, or everywhere that helped you get to where you are today.

It’s not just Ilia, though. Giga Chikadze isn’t getting the credit he deserves but the man is 5-0 in the UFC. Merab Dvalishvili has also won 5 straight fights inside the Octagon.

Another fighter on this week’s card, Roman Dolidze, is a savage and coming off of a KO win over Khadis Ibragimov. He has finished every opponent he has faced and the combined record of his last 3 victims was 36-9 at the time.

Now, I feel like I shouldn’t have to say this but I also feel I should. Liana Jojua is Georgian and she is not so good. I feel like a jerk because I am always fading her so hard but it is what it is. She has the potential to become a UFC regular. I think She Wolf was thrown to some larger wolves too early in her development.

Georgia could be the next Dagestan so be on the lookout, for sure.

Here’s a question for you. How many current UFC Champions are from the United States?

The answer is 1. Stipe Miocic. The UFC remains the fastest growing sport in the world and one day, in my opinion, will be as popular as soccer or football for the layman. Just like the Pres says: Fighting is in our DNA.

Now that the rah rah’s are out of the way. Let’s get to know Ilia Topuria as well as his opponent on Saturday night, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt Damon Jackson.

BetOnline has the betting odds for us this week. They are almost always the first online sportsbook to release the betting odds and more often than not, they will have the best value available during fight week.

Let’s make our pick for Damon Jackson vs Ilia Topuria.

Ilia Topuria (-230) vs Damon Jackson (+190)

We all kinda had the feeling that Ilia Topuria was going to wax Youseff Zalal but after the candid and crisp performances we saw from this smiling and talented kid in 2020 made it really hard to pick or bet against him.

Topuria was a dog in that fight and he dominated Zalal. This guy is the real deal. I know he is a little short for the weight class but he makes up for it with his offensive wrestling ability and the power he possesses in his hands.

Zalal was the first fight Topuria wasn’t able to finish in all of his 9 contests as a pro mixed martial artist. The former has an incredible gas tank and people thought that even if Ilia was winning the exchanges, Zalal would wear him down in the third.

Nope. The much more muscled Ilia hung with those long and lean Colorado lungs for pretty much the whole fight.

That is important to note because Damon Jackson is another long lean guy with a killer gas tank. He isn’t up in the mountains, though. Damon trains out of one of the top gyms in the country, Fortis MMA in Dallas, Texas.

Damon is now on the second UFC run of his career and appears to be the best version of himself at the age of 32. He stands tall for the Featherweight Division at nearly 6 feet and has a 73 inch reach.

The Leech will hold 4 inches of advantage in the reach as well as 4 inches in height. Topuria is very aggressive, though, so he will be able to get to Jackson. The question remains: Will he get hit by something big like a knee up the middle on his way in or get caught as he drops his weight to land a hard overhand right?

This is a difficult stylistic matchup for Ilia not just because of the length of Jackson but also because Damon has a black belt in BJJ. Skinny arms are easier to get under the chin. I should know. Mine are popping out of my sleeves right now at 14 inches.

Skinny has its disadvantages. Believe me. I am well aware but we also have many strengths that you wouldn’t always think about. If I have an overly muscled leg, then it isn’t going to take more strength and power in my hips and core to throw it with the same power as a smaller leg.

Then there is the fact that being lean protrudes your bones. This doesn’t really help you out in the ribs area but it presents sharper blades in your limbs. Take your tibia or shin bone, for example.

Flex those toes in a dorsiflex just as you’re about to land the kick and it will flex that bone out and properly cut deep into that slab of meat and maybe even hit a nerve.

Please Note:

I believe Damon will present some problems for Ilia but I also think the young man has the skills and experience to deal with them efficiently. Can the Georgian get the KO finish? I think there is a decent chance because you have a tall slim guy who will inevitably back up and that’s when he can get caught with something over the top.

You can get Topuria by decision for (+244) over at 5dimes.eu and also Topuria to win inside the distance back at Betonline for (+155). I think these are really tough. Jackson is a tough durable guy with plenty of length to tie up his opponent.

I’m thinking Jackson might not be strong enough to get up off the bottom so using his length to stall n’ stand might be a better option. He is such a gamer, though, and it isn’t like he possesses a major striking advantage on the feet. Ilia may be better there and keep it standing.

We don’t really have a good enough read on Topuria’s decision making so I don’t want to risk a method of victory play here.

I am, however, confident enough to lay the chalk at (-230).

I know that sounds crazy for an athlete in his second UFC fight against a long and lanky veteran who has a BJJ black belt but I believe Topuria is that good.

My Pick
Ilia Topuria

In Conclusion

Ilia Topuria is yet another Georgian fighter to join the ranks of the UFC. Will he fall, though, from the ranks of the unbeaten?

I don’t think so. Hey, I thought Damon Jackson looked great in his UFC return against a very difficult opponent, Mirsad Bektic, but Ilia isn’t that guy. Bektic is all takedowns and a questionable third round gas tank.

Topuria has shown us that he is the total package. He can get the takedown. He can knock you out and he can also submit you.

here is a size differential here that bugs me but in a small cage and taking into account the aggressive nature of Topuria, I believe he will spend a lot of time inside of the long range of Jackson.

That’s when your long arms and even legs can work against you. It takes a split second longer to get those longer legs and arms moving than it does short ones. Match that up with a very explosive and powerful Topuria on the inside and I think we have a recipe for a chin check.

As I said, though, we aren’t really familiar enough with the Georgian’s decision making. If he drops Jackson and the choke is there, will he just pound him out instead or go for the neck?

We don’t know but this is a confident pick so we pay the (-230) price tag on the undefeated Ilia Topuria.

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.