On Saturday, August 3rd, the UFC will make a return trip to the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, for UFC on ESPN: Covington vs Lawler also called UFC on ESPN 5. The main event for this ESPN MMA card features the former interim UFC welterweight champ Colby Covington battling the former undisputed welterweight champ Robbie Lawler.
The co-main event features two longtime UFC veterans in New Jersey’s Jim Miller taking on Clay Guida. In total, there are 12 fights scheduled for this weekend’s event. UFC betting sites have released their odds for the full slate of fights. Let’s step inside the betting octagon and examine these current betting lines, identify possible betting value or upsets, and KO our picks.
The UFC on ESPN preliminary card features six fights and is set to begin at 12 PM ET live on ESPN:
Miranda Granger (6-0) vs Hannah Goldy (5-0)
Miranda Granger (+160)
Hannah Goldy (-210)
These two women are relatively unknown to the MMA world other than with the diehards. In fact, many of the MMA sites have different records for each woman. With that said, this bout will most likely open up the show.
Granger is the underdog, but does have more pro fights than her counterpart. She is the taller of the two fighters by roughly three inches. Granger can be summed up by calling her a grappler, as she has proven to be proficient on the ground. Most of her wins have come via submission.
Goldy might be shorter, but she packs more power in her punch. In fact, she has a huge advantage in the striking department compared to Granger. Goldy’s resume is highlighted by a win over Gillian Robertson who just won at UFC 240 this past weekend and is quickly rising up the ranks in the flyweight division. Hannah earned her UFC shot by winning on the DWCS last month.
This fight is all about who can impose their strengths on the other. Granger wants to take it to the mat and Goldy wants to keep it standing. If Hannah Goldy can defeat Robertson, who’s a better grappler and fighter than Granger, then I believe Goldy will defeat Granger at UFC on ESPN 5. I expect Goldy to stuff the takedown attempts and blast her way to a TKO.
UFC Bet: Hannah Goldy (-210)
Claudio Silva (13-1) vs Cole Williams (11-1)
Claudio Silva (-450)
Cole Williams (+317)
This fight has the largest UFC betting odds of the night. Silva comes in as the biggest favorite and Williams is the biggest underdog on the card.
A big reason why Williams is such an underdog is because he’s replacing Ramazan Emeev at UFC on ESPN within less than two weeks’ notice. And he lacks the grappling skills to compete with his opponent on Saturday. What Williams does have is a decent, but unspectacular all-around skillset. He’s won nine straight fights to earn this UFC debut. Eight of his 11 pro wins have come via stoppage.
Silva is a highly proficient Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner. He’s won 13 straight fights including all four of his bouts inside the octagon. Silva has eight submission victories in his career and is a threat to win any fight if he can get his opponent to the mat.
I expect Silva, nicknamed “Hannibal,” to successfully score a takedown and end this contest. I don’t see Williams having the striking skills or power to scare off Hannibal from being aggressive with the takedown. The only question is when Silva will get the submission win. I predict it will be either the end of round 1 or the early portion of round 2.
There’s no betting value with Silva, and Williams isn’t worthy of a flier.
UFC Bet: Claudio Silva (-450)
Lauren Murphy (10-4) vs Mara Romero Borella (12-5)
Lauren Murphy (+145)
Mara Romero Borella (-165)
In the second of three women fights on the night, both female fighters are looking to get a win in order to reestablish their footing within the 125-pound division.
Murphy is the underdog and rightfully so. She was once an Invicta FC bantamweight champ, but has not had a good career in the UFC. Not including her run on TUF 26, Murphy has gone 2-4 in her last six fights, which happen to all be inside the octagon. Additionally, she hasn’t fought in 14 months due to an injury. If the 36-year-old can turn her career around, it will have to be through her striking skills, as she’s been poor in the wrestling department. Seven of her 10 pro wins have come via TKO/KO.
Borella suffered her first pro loss in January 2018 to Chookagian, but she bounced back with an impressive win over Taila Santos in February. Borella gave Santos the first loss of her career. For this fight, the 33-year-old Italian will look to make it an ugly encounter by clinching and trying to take it to the mat. As long as Borella doesn’t eat too many punches, she should get this fight down to the mat and control it from there.
This fight will most likely go the distance and probably lack excitement for just about every minute of the contest. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the New Jersey fans boo this bout due to a lack of action. With that said, Borella has gone to the scorecards in four of her last five fights with a record of 3-1 in those contests. Murphy has gone to the judges in six of her last eight fights with a record of 2-4 in those bouts. I’m taking Borella to win an ugly matchup via decision.
UFC Bet: Mara Romero Borella (-165)
Jordan Espinosa (14-5) vs Matt Schnell (13-4)
Jordan Espinosa (-110)
Matt Schnell (-110)
This appears to be the first real competitive fight on paper for UFC on ESPN 5. And it looks like a good matchup between two very capable fighters looking to establish themselves as a title contender in the flyweight division. In fact, this bout should’ve been the main fight of the prelims instead of Gall vs Touahri.
Matt Schnell has won three straight fights after dropping his first two UFC bouts in 2016 and 2017. The former LFC champ has found some footing inside the octagon and appears to be trending upward. He fought in March and won via submission over Louis Smolka. Schnell has nine stoppages in his 13 career wins with seven of those coming by way of submission. He’s currently ranked 14th in the division.
Espinosa is on a five-fight win streak, which saw him win his UFC debut in March via UD over Eric Shelton. He’s also confident on the ground with seven submission victories and nine overall stoppages in 14 career wins. Espinosa had two fights on DWTNCS and missed a UFC debut last November due to an injury. Currently, Espinosa is the #9 flyweight in the UFC.
This fight could end up going the distance as both competitors are tough fighters. I’m actually looking forward to this contest. Both men also believe a win on Saturday put them in the title hunt. Right now, it’s unclear what Cejudo is going to do with the flyweight belt. The UFC would be best served by establishing an interim champ as Cejudo recovers from injuries. If they do this, then Benavidez should be the frontrunner for the interim belt and a title shot against Cejudo once he returns. The winner of Espinoza vs Schnell is at least another fight away from being in the title shot conversation.
This is a tough fight to predict, as both men are very capable of winning this contest. I can’t shake off Schnell’s two UFC losses, and I think some of his flaws from those fights will show up this weekend. I’m taking Espinosa to win via UD at UFC on ESPN 5.
In the third and final women’s fight of the night, Pudilova and Shevchenko hope to end their losing streaks and move back up the ranks. Pudilova is outside the Top 15 within the flyweight division and Antonina is 15th. In fact, her sister is the champ.
Pudilova is currently riding a two-fight losing streak and an overall UFC record of 2-3. She last fought in February and lost to the #3 ranked fighter in the division Liz Carmouche via UD. Eight of her 12 professional fights have gone the distance and she’s 4-4 in those contests.
Antonina Shevchenko suffered the first loss of her MMA career in April via Split Decision to Roxanne Modafferi. It was a hard fought battle, which saw Shevchenko come out on the wrong side of the decision. Nevertheless, she is still the better fighter between these two and has the capability to really go on a run in this division. Six of her eight pro fights have gone the distance, and she’s 5-1 during those contests.
Combined, these women have 14 total fights on the scorecards. This weekend at UFC on ESPN 5, I’m taking Antonina Shevchenko to win this fight via UD, as I still believe in her skillset. Additionally, I think she’s a better fighter than Pudilova.
UFC Bet: Antonina Shevchenko (-160)
Mickey Gall (5-2) vs Salim Touahri (10-3)
Mickey Gall (+105)
Salim Touahri (-125)
When I look at this matchup, I can’t believe that it’s scheduled for the final fight of the prelims. This spot should’ve gone to Schnell and Espinoza who are actually ranked fighters. Gall vs Touahri aren’t even close to being ranked.
Gall is the slight underdog and has lost two of his last three fights, including his most recent bout in March against Diego Sanchez via TKO. Gall’s claim to fame inside the octagon is beating CM Punk via first-round submission. All five of Gall’s wins have come via submission.
Salim Touahri has dropped two straight fights via decision. Both of those bouts were in the UFC as he remains winless inside the octagon. Eight of his 10 pro wins have come via stoppage. Six of those eight wins have been via TKO/KO.
I have little confidence in either fighter, but I believe Salim is a better striker and that should be the difference in this fight. Gall offers very little on his feet and Touahri has shown some ability on the mat. I can’t even pick how this fight will end. Can we see CM Punk come out with a chair and TKO both men?
UFC Bet: Salim Touahri (-125)
UFC on ESPN 5 Main Card
The main card of the event features six fights and is set to begin at 3 PM ET on ESPN.
Darko Stosic (13-2) vs Kennedy Nzechukwu (6-1)
Darko Stosic (-140)
Kennedy Nzechukwu (+120)
The light heavyweight division is desperately in need of some new blood, as the division is pretty bare thanks to Jon Jones. The current champ has defeated just about everyone. Furthermore, the veterans in the Top 15 have already been beaten by Jones or someone that has lost to Jones. With that said, both of these men could really use a win and some momentum within the division.
Nzechukwu earned his UFC fight by winning on DWTNCS last August. His octagon debut came in March against the rugged Paul Craig. That was a tough matchup that saw the vet force Nzechukwu to tap out. Kennedy is more of a striker than a grappler, which bodes well for him in this matchup. Four of his six wins have come via TKO/KO.
Darko has more experience as a pro, but is also coming off a loss like his counterpart. Stosic lost to Devin Clark two months ago via UD. That loss snapped a nine-fight win streak and dropped his UFC record to 1-1. Darko made his UFC debut 12 months ago and won via TKO. For his career, Stosic has scored 8 TKO/KO wins.
I expect this fight to stay upright as long as each man can continue to eat punches. Both men are 27 years old, but I’m leaning towards Kennedy Nzechukwu here, as I think he has more potential overall.
“That Kennedy was a scared Kennedy.” – Hear what UFC light heavyweight Kennedy Nzechukwu had to say about his loss to Paul Craig and what he thinks about his #UFCNewark opponent Darko Stosic
Ma is the biggest underdog of the main card at UFC on EPSN 5. Nicknamed “Maestro,” Dong Hyun Ma has gone 3-3 inside the octagon and lost his last fight in February to Devonte Smith via TKO in the first round. Ma does have a decent blend of skills upright and on the mat, but he’s not a scary fighter in either area. 12 of his 16 wins have come via stoppage. He’s also gone to the scorecards in eight of his 28 pro fights.
Scott “Hot Sauce” Holtzman has been with the UFC for the last four years and has compiled a record of 5-3 inside the octagon. He’s a colorful character that has endeared himself to many of the fans. Holtzman dropped his last fight in February to Lentz via UD after winning three straight contests. Half of his pro wins have come via decision. In fact, nine of his 15 pro fights have gone the distance.
Combined, these two men have gone to the judges 17 times. I believe that’s going to happen again, unless Holtzman gets the stoppage. This matchup favors the more talented fighter Holtzman, and he should at least win via UD. I don’t see Ma being worth a flier.
UFC Bet: Scott Holtzman (-325)
Trevin Giles (11-1) vs Gerald Meerschaert (28-11)
Trevin Giles (-165)
Gerald Meerschaert (+145)
This is an intriguing matchup of two fighters hoping to crack the Top 15 rankings in the middleweight division. Giles is the prospect here with plenty of talent. At age 26, Giles has potential to move up in the rankings and be a future middleweight contender. However, for that to happen, he needs a big win this weekend.
Giles suffered the first loss of his career in May when he tapped out to Cummings. It was a fight that many believe Giles was ahead of with the judges, but got caught in a chokehold with one minute left in the contest. This weekend, Giles will be going up against another submission specialist, but one that doesn’t pose as much of a threat in the striking department other than kicks. 10 of his 11 pro wins have come via stoppage.
Speaking of stoppages, Meerschaert has only gone to the scorecards four times in 39 pro fights. That’s an incredible accomplishment considering some fighters see the judges in most of their bouts. This also reflects Gerald’s willingness to push the pace and go for the win. 20 of his 28 pro victories have come via submission. In the four fights that have gone the distance, Meerschaert is 2-2.
Meerschaert has dropped three of his last five fights and is 4-3 inside the octagon. Even with a loss at UFC on ESPN 5, I don’t see the UFC cutting him just yet. Most likely, he will tumble down to the prelims if he loses to Giles. And I think that will happen.
Giles is a strong wrestler who will stuff takedown attempts. Additionally, Giles could also find himself with top control in this fight, which bodes well for the prospect. Trevin is also a much better striker and that should be the difference in this fight. I’m taking Giles to win via stoppage.
Nasrat Haqparast is the large betting favorite at UFC on ESPN. He comes into this bout having won two straight fights after dropping his UFC debut in October 2017. One caveat to that loss was that Nasrat took the fight on short notice. For his career, the German fighter has won eight of his 10 victories via TKO/KO.
Joaquim Silva is a former TUF Brazil fighter who lost in the semifinals of the fourth season. Nine of his 11 pro wins have come via stoppage with six of those being KO/TKO victories. His lone loss came 19 months ago against Vinc Pichel.
Silva’s best chance at winning this fight is to take it to the mat, because Nasrat is a better striker in my opinion. However, we have seen Silva willingly stay upright and exchange strikes with his opponents. Nasrat does have one submission loss on his resume, which enforces my sentiments about Silva taking it to the mat. I think these UFC betting odds are a bit skewed, as Nasrat is overvalued. With that said, I do believe he will win the fight. His striking is better and Silva is just too willing to stand and throw punches.
UFC Bet: Nasrat Haqparast (-250)
Jim Miller (30-13) vs Clay Guida (35-18)
Jim Miller (-175)
Clay Guida (+155)
If this fight was eight years ago, then Miller vs Guida would probably have been the main event of the night. Guida has been with the UFC since 2006 and Miller has been with the promotion since 2008. Both fighters have earned their rightful place in this company. With that said, this fight as the co-main event seems a bit absurd in 2019.
Miller is from New Jersey, so the UFC will try to capitalize on his “local” appeal. However, that’s not saying much considering Miller has lost five of his last seven fights. Although he won in April via submission, Miller hasn’t won two fights in a row since 2016. 16 of his 30 professional wins have come via submission. Another 10 victories have come via decision.
Guida will step inside the octagon for the 28th time and has long been a UFC fan favorite because of his wild, aggressive style. Guida doesn’t shy away from a fight and has had many memorable wars. Unlike Miller, Guida has still been performing well. He’s gone 3-1 in his last four fights dating back two years. With that said, his last win came against B.J. Penn in May, which I don’t even count as a real fight. 20 of his 35 pro wins have ended via stoppage.
This fight is going to go one of two ways, either Miller gets it to the ground for a tap out or Guida scores a TKO. I don’t see this fight going the distance.
Guida has nine losses via submission and Miller has eight losses via decision, but only two via KO/TKO. I’m taking Guida is this fight for a few reasons. First, I’ve been a fan of his since 2010. Second, he’s still winning more fights than losing. Third, he offers more UFC betting value. Lastly, I’m betting against Miller going on his first winning streak in three years.
UFC Bet: Clay Guida (+155)
Colby Covington (14-1) vs Robbie Lawler (28-13)
Colby Covington (-225)
Robbie Lawler (+185)
In the main event of the night, Covington and Lawler will battle it out for welterweight supremacy. If Covington wins, then he will end up getting a title shot against Kamaru Usman. If Lawler wins, then I think it puts him one fight away from a title shot. In fact, I would like to see a rematch against Woodley for a title opportunity.
Lawler has dropped three of his last four fights. But, let’s be honest, he defeated Askren in March but the ref blew that fight. Lawler is a significant underdog with MMA betting sites, but is the definition of “a puncher’s chance.” 20 of Lawler’s 28 pro wins have come via KO/TKO. He’s got some of the heaviest hands in the sport. Although he’s ranked 11th in the division, a KO win this weekend would catapult him right back up to the top.
Covington is one of the most outspoken fighters in the sport. He has also become a very patriotic voice during a time of protests and racial occurrences. Covington’s voice has made him a favorite of the Trump family, so Donald Trump Jr. might attend this fight. Colby has won six straight fights and Dana White already declared that if Covington wins, then he gets a title shot.
For this fight, Covington has had a lot to say. However, none of it has been nice. In fact, Covington’s comments indicate that he thinks Lawler could be doing PEDs:
“I mean, I trained with the guy in his prime, in his early 30’s, and you’re gonna tell me in his late 30’s he looks better than he’s ever looked his whole entire career? And this is after he’s taken the most significant strikes in UFC history. I don’t want to say what you guys know you want me to say. I’m not gonna say it, I’m gonna let the people speak for it. I’m gonna let the people be the judge of that. But I mean, let’s be honest guys, you don’t just in your late 30’s all of a sudden just have a fountain of youth and you’re just stronger and better than you’ve ever been in your whole entire career.”
Covington has turned this fight into a war with his personal attacks against Lawler, which one would think is ill-advised. Yet, if Covington can back it up, then his words have sold tickets and increased ratings. They would also further his stock with the company and fans. Colby will need to be cautious after Askren almost lost to Lawler a few months ago. Robbie’s punching power is near peak form and his “ruthlessness” is still in full effect.
I believe Lawler is worthy of a flier, but the safe bet is Covington. The 31-year-old fighter from American Top Team seems destined for a title shot against Usman. He has the ability to navigate Lawler’s punches and get this fight to the mat. He’s more balanced than Askren, and I believe Covington should be able to pull off a victory. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a stoppage, but I’m leaning toward a UD. Combined, these two men have gone to the scorecards on 19 occasions, which includes four straight fights for Covington.
UFC Bet: Colby Covington (-225)
Betting Value for UFC on ESPN 5
The following UFC fighters offer betting value based on their current UFC on ESPN odds, matchups, and career success:
Jordan Espinosa (-110) and Matt Schnell (-110) both offer great betting value in what will be a close fight for however long it lasts. Each man is capable of winning the bout, but I’m leaning towards Espinosa pulling it out via UD.
Salim Touahri (-125) and Mickey Gall (+105) are close in the UFC betting odds, which means each man offers value. Whichever way you go with this wager, you should have a decent return. I believe Touahri is a better striker and decent enough on the mat. Gall offers very little in the standup department.
Kennedy Nzechukwu (+120) is the underdog to Stosic (-140), but I think he has potential to pull off the upset. I see this fight being a slugfest, which bodes well for Kennedy. Stosic is certainly capable of winning this fight, so there is some risk with this pick.
Clay Guida (+155) is the underdog for this fight against Miller (-175), but I like him to pull off the upset. I believe “The Carpenter” has more avenues to victory than Miller does. Additionally, Miller hasn’t won two fights in a row in three years. Guida’s controlled frenzy should be enough to win this bout.
Robbie Lawler (+185) is a large underdog to Covington, but I give him a puncher’s chance. He should’ve defeated Askren with that puncher’s chance, and I think an undisciplined Covington could get TKO’d. I’m taking Covington to win the fight as it’s the safe bet, but don’t automatically write off Lawler.
UFC on ESPN Final Thoughts
This has to be the weakest UFC card of 2019 to date. The main event will be entertaining, but the rest of the main card lacks much excitement. There’s very little depth to this event, and it’s hard to get excited for these fights. For me, I have interest in about three of the fights and that’s only because I’m including the co-main event for nostalgia. As for making money, there are several opportunities with this fight card, which is the biggest reason to even watch such a weak event.
UFC on ESPN 5 Betting Recap
Hannah Goldy (-210)
Claudio Silva (-450)
Mara Romero Borella (-165)
Jordan Espinosa (-110)
Salim Touahri (-125)
Kennedy Nzechukwu (+120)
Scott Holtzman (-325)
Trevin Giles (-165)
Nasrat Haqparast (-250)
Clay Guida (+155)
Colby Covington (-225)
As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site. ...
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