On Saturday, July 20th, the UFC will be live from the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas, for UFC on ESPN 4: dos Anjos vs Edwards. This event features a welterweight war between former lightweight champ Rafael dos Anjos and rising contender Leon Edwards.
The co-main event is a heavyweight clash against divisional hopefuls in Aleksei Oleinik and Walt Harris.
In other main card action, the controversial Greg Hardy returns to fight Juan Adams, James Vick takes on Dan Hooker in what should be an explosive battle, and Andrei Arlovski steps back into the octagon to fight Ben Rothwell in a heavyweight bout.
Other notable fighters on the prelims include Raquel Pennington, Sam Alvey, Roxanne Modafferi, Alex Caceres, and Ray Borg.
In total, UFC on ESPN 4 will feature 13 fights beginning at 6 PM ET on ESPN.
UFC betting sites have released their odds for the full slate of UFC on ESPN 4 fights. Let’s step inside the betting octagon to examine these current betting lines, identify possible betting value or upsets, and KO our picks.
The preliminary card features seven fights and is set to begin at 6 PM ET. Betting odds are courtesy of BetOnline.
Pilarte is a huge betting favorite. In fact, he has the largest odds of the night. Pilarte is on a five-fight win streak, which includes winning on DWTNCS last July.
Six of his eight wins have come via stoppage, including four by way of submission. He will certainly have the height and reach advantages as Pilarte is the tallest bantamweight on the roster.
Colares started off his career 8-0 before debuting with the UFC in February. Unfortunately, he lost that fight via UD. Colares is a former champ in the JF promotion and does have some solid skills. He has stopped seven opponents in his eight career wins, with five of those victories coming via submission.
Pilarte is a big favorite largely because he’s a better striker and better on the mat.
Colares was dominated by Freitas Jr. in his UFC debut as he gave up numerous takedowns. I expect that formula to work for Pilarte in this fight.
I’m taking Domingo Pilarte to win via stoppage.
Bautista is a sizable underdog in this fight as he looks to rebound from his first career loss, which was in January when Mario made his UFC debut. Bautista was forced to submit in the first round to Sandhagen as he was outclassed for the entire 3 ½ minute fight.
Son comes into this bout having lost last September to the dominant Petr Yan via UD. He did display his own power and striking skills but was just overwhelmed by Yan. Prior to that, he had won four straight fights.
All three of his losses have come via decision.
Neither fighter really instills betting confidence. Both men do have some flaws in their fight game. With that said, I believe Son is the better fighter between the two. Son has shown that he can go the full distance and not wear down. But I think it will be his power that is the difference in this fight.
I’m taking Jin Soo Son to win via TKO.
The undefeated Gabriel Silva will make his UFC debut this weekend. He comes into the octagon after fighting for a handful of regional promotions, including JF and LFA.
Gabriel is the brother of UFC fighter Erick Silva and has fought just one time in the last 28 months. He will have the height advantage, but that’s probably where it all ends for Silva.
Borg has had a tough couple of years in the UFC. For starters, he’s lost three of his last five fights. Those losses have dropped him to 5-4 inside the octagon.
Additionally, Borg has also had some personal and family issues outside of the octagon that have forced him to cancel some fights and definitely have prevented him from being at his best. Let’s also not forget that Borg was caught up in the Conor McGregor bus attack.
Nevertheless, Borg is still a better fighter than Silva. Six of his 11 wins have come via submission, and I think he will get the seventh tapout victory this Saturday.
Silva might be stronger, but Borg is a better grappler and should be able to have a lot of success with takedowns.
Once on the mat, Borg will find a limb or a neck to latch onto.
In my opinion, this fight is more of a tossup than the odds indicate. I believe both women are tough, solid competitors and will most likely push this bout the full distance.
Additionally, this is a rematch from their Invicta FC fight in September 2016.
Modafferi has lost two of her last four fights but did earn a split decision win over Antonina Shevchenko in April. Over the last 12 months, Roxanne is 2-1 as she also scored a TKO victory over Honchak last summer. Her loss during that span was to Eubanks via UD last November.
Twenty-five of Roxanne’s 38 professional fights have gone the distance. She has a record of 14-11 in those contests.
Maia won the first fight between these two and has gone on to win two of her next three contests. Her lone loss came to Liz Carmouche 12 months ago.
Ironically, it was Carmouche who was originally supposed to face Modafferi, but she was pulled from the fight to take on the UFC flyweight champ Valentina Shevchenko. Eleven of Maia’s 18 pro fights have gone the distance, and she has a record of 8-3 in those bouts.
In total, these two women have combined to go to the judges 36 times. Although Maia has a better winning percentage when going the distance, I actually like Modafferi in this contest. I believe she gets revenge for her loss to Maia nearly three and a half years ago.
I believe she will win via split decision.
Longtime UFC veteran Sam Alvey has flashed signs of dominance and has also shown signs of disappointment. Case in point, he moves up to the light heavyweight division and wins his first two fights before suffering two straight TKO losses coming into this contest.
Alvey does have the striking skills to score a TKO this weekend, but he also has the lack of common sense inside the cage where he fails to use his strengths to win a fight. Can you tell that Alvey frustrates me as an MMA fan?
Nineteen of Alvey’s 33 wins have come via TKO/KO. However, he’s 11-8 when going to the judges.
Klidson Abreu has only gone to the scorecards on one occasion, and that was in February when he lost to Ankalaev. It was also his UFC debut. Ten of Abreu’s 14 wins have come via submission. However, two of his three losses have come via KO/TKO.
This fight is all about whether or not Abreu can get Alvey to the mat. If he can get him down, then he will win this fight via submission. However, if it stays upright for all three rounds, then I think Alvey will score the knockout.
With that said, I can’t put my money on Alvey. He drives me crazy at times. Abreu’s standup game is close enough to withstand the striking barrages, but Alvey’s ground game is subpar. I’m taking Abreu to win via submission.
In the second women’s fight of the night, Raquel Pennington looks to rebound after two tough losses in the last 14 months.
In May 2018, Pennington was beaten up by Nunes, which some think she has yet to fully recover from. In November, Raquel lost to Germaine de Randamie via UD. It’s a testament to Pennington’s toughness that she didn’t succumb to GDR’s powerful striking like she did against Nunes.
Ten of her 16 pro fights have gone the distance. Pennington is 5-5 in those bouts.
Aldana started off 0-2 inside the octagon when she debuted with the UFC in December 2016. Since then, she’s gone 3-0 with a big win over Bethe Correia two months ago. The submission win over Correia was the eighth stoppage victory in her career.
It’s hard to think that Pennington will come into this fight as the “old” Pennington where she would plow her way through the striking and smother Aldana. We haven’t seen that fighter since her upset win over Meisha Tate in November 2016.
Pennington hasn’t fought in eight months and is on a two-fight losing streak. Aldana is on a three-fight win streak and appears to have found her groove in the UFC.
Combined, these two women have gone to the scorecards on 14 occasions. Both women have .500 records in those fights.
For me, I feel more confident in Aldana to continue her ascension while Pennington flirts with getting her walking papers.
Caceres has one of my favorite nicknames in all of MMA — “Bruce Leroy.”
Unfortunately, he hasn’t had the success that Leroy had in the film The Last Dragon, which came out in 1985.
Instead, Caceres has lost four of his last six fights but continues to hang around with the company. I think that’s partly due to his willingness to fight anyone.
Also, he wins just enough to keep the UFC from firing him.
With that said, in the last five years, Caceres has gone 4-7 inside the octagon.
Steven Peterson last fought in March and lost via UD. He’s now 1-2 inside the octagon and appears destined to be a one-dimensional fighter who probably won’t hang around for too long if he loses a few more fights.
This weekend’s contest is certainly one that Peterson can lose if he doesn’t find a way to get past Caceres’ striking and reach advantages.
I do not have confidence in either fighter to win. So, I’m going with Caceres because he has a better nickname as Peterson is also known as “Ocho.” I’m taking Alex “Bruce Leroy” Caceres to win via split decision.
The main card of the event features six fights beginning at 9 PM ET on ESPN. All odds are courtesy of BetOnline.
How in the world is Arlovski still getting fights with the UFC?
Over his last 11 fights, Arlovski has gone 2-8 with 1 NC against Walt Harris last December. Arlovski fought in April against Sakai and lost via split decision. Without considering the NC, Arlovski has gone to the judges in six straight fights.
However, Arlovski has lost to just about every talented heavyweight to come through the promotion.
Rothwell comes into this bout having lost two fights in a row with his last bout coming in March against Ivanov. That was his first fight since the loss to Junior dos Santos in April 2016.
From injuries to failed drug tests, Rothwell missed nearly three years inside the octagon. He was able to shake off the rust in his fight against Ivanov, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s going to light the division on fire.
In fact, neither man is a contender anymore, nor does either fighter inspire confidence. I don’t understand why this fight is even on the main card portion of the event. I don’t think either man is worthy of a wager. If ever there was a fight that deserved to be a draw, it’s this one.
With that said, there’s no way you can put money on Arlovski without giving yourself a panic attack. I’m taking Rothwell to win this fight.
Trinaldo comes into this bout as the underdog, having gone 2-2 over his last four fights. He hasn’t fought since last September when he defeated Dunham via KO.
Prior to that, he fought and lost to James Vick 17 months ago. Vick is also on this card.
Trinaldo has gone to the scorecards in 13 of his 13 professional fights. He’s 10-3 in those contests.
Alexander Hernandez started off the year as one of the promotion’s top lightweight prospects. He won eight fights in a row, including his first two UFC bouts. Those wins came against credible opponents in Aubin-Mercier and Dariush.
The UFC then put Hernandez up against Donald Cerrone, and he was the favorite in their bout this past January.
Unfortunately, Alexander was TKO’d in the second round by Cerrone and derailed in the division.
Despite the loss to Cerrone, Hernandez still has lofty goals. Not only does he believe the loss will help him become a better fighter, but Hernandez is aiming to win the belt in 2021 after getting a victory this weekend and winning a few more fights:
“The goal is still to have the belt in 2021. I win this fight, I get two ranked opponents and I’m looking at a title shot. Especially with the way I fight and carry myself. I don’t see why we can’t stay on track.”
This is actually a closer fight than what the online betting sites have it listed at. Trinaldo is a tough competitor. He’s not going to have any more title shots or another big run in the division, but he is definitely a gatekeeper that will make it hard for Alexander to move up in the ranks.
With that said, I do believe Hernandez’s loss to Cerrone will make him a better fighter, and we will see that this weekend.
Hernandez is a beast inside the octagon, and eventually, his aggressive style will wear down Trinaldo. Hernandez will have to be cautious and not reckless because Trinaldo has strength and power, especially in his counter punches.
I do believe Trinaldo is worthy of a flier, but I’m taking Hernandez to win the fight.
This is the toughest fight on the card to predict. The odds are close enough to where each man offers betting value. Nevertheless, this will probably be the most exciting bout of the night.
James Vick comes into this contest on a two-fight losing streak, which ended a four-fight win streak that shot Vick up the divisional ladder.
Unfortunately, he ran into Justin Gaethje 11 months ago and lost via KO in the first round.
Five months ago, Vick stepped inside the octagon with Paul Felder but ended up losing via unanimous decision. Eight of Vick’s 13 wins have ended via stoppage, and there’s a good chance that this fight will also end inside the distance.
As for his opponent this weekend, Vick is expecting a war against Dan Hooker, who he respects as a fighter:
“Dan Hooker is a very good opponent. He’s very well-rounded and he’s pretty much good everywhere… We’re both warriors. He comes to fight, and like I said, he’s well rounded and he’s going to throw down. I’m expecting a war. That’s what it is. I hope I don’t have a war, I’m sure he doesn’t either because it’s always better to get the easier finish. But my mind is mentally ready for a war and I know he’s thinking the same thing.”
Dan Hooker was on a four-fight win streak before losing to Edson Barboza last December via KO in the third round.
Overall, it was a nice turnaround for Hooker, who alternated between wins and losses during the first two years of his UFC tenure. Sixteen of Hooker’s 17 pro wins have come via stoppage with nine of those coming by way of KO/TKO. His last five fights have all ended via stoppage.
As for this fight, Hooker believes it will be “Fight of the Night” as both men are ready to put on a show:
“I feel like everyone knows this going to be Fight of the Night and everyone knows what to expect,” Hooker said. “There’s two guys that are just poison man, just poison. We knock people out, we submit people. We both do it, man; it can end in a split second and it can end anywhere.”
The over/under for this fight is set at 2 ½ rounds with the under listed at -125 and the over listed at +105. If you aren’t comfortable picking one of these two hard-hitting lightweights to win, then the under would be a great option as someone is getting stopped before reaching the third round.
Since I have to pick a fighter, I’m going with Hooker to win. I believe he’s performing consistently better than Vick. But I would prefer to go with the under.
If I’m being fully transparent, I don’t like Greg Hardy at all. I will be rooting for him to lose this fight. I don’t see why the UFC continues to put this guy on main cards or inside the octagon at all.
With that said, he will still be a tough opponent for Adams this weekend.
Hardy is 4-1 with his lone loss coming via DQ. As much as we all want to harp on Hardy for the illegal knee to Crowder in January, I’m going to chalk it up to inexperience inside the cage.
All four of Hardy’s wins have come via TKO/KO. He has the power, explosiveness, and athleticism to end this fight early, especially if Adams gets reckless.
Juan Adams has earned a lot of attention heading into this fight largely because he’s been a very outspoken critic over Hardy and his past.
With that said, Adams is still putting together his own pro career but does have a better skillset than Hardy does. Adams last fought in May and lost via UD. Adams is a far better wrestler than Hardy is and has the advantage in striking skills as well.
I will never bet on Hardy to win, but Adams needs to be cautious here. Hardy has the advantage in stamina and power. Adams has been known to tire out in recent fights. If he gets too aggressive or tired, Hardy could end the fight.
For this bet, I’m taking Adams to win via second-round stoppage most likely due to taking Hardy to the mat.
The co-main event of the night features two heavyweights trying to work their way up the ladder and get into the top half of the division. Both of them are also up there in age as Harris is 36 and Oleinik is 42.
With that said, both of them still have strengths to their fight game that could put them one step closer to a #1 contender bout.
Harris’ run could’ve been a three-fight win streak, but his victory over Arlovski last December was overturned due to failing a drug test. Harris claims it was due to a tainted supplement. He returned in May to defeat Spivak via TKO in less than a minute.
Harris will have the striking, power, and athletic advantages in this battle. All 12 of Harris’ wins have come via TKO/KO.
Oleinik is 42 years old but still fighting at a high level and very active for a heavyweight. Nicknamed “The Boa Constrictor,” Aleksei has fought three times in the last 14 months. Over that span, he went 2-1 with two respectable victories against Albini and Hunt. His one loss came against Overeem three months ago. Forty-five of Oleinik’s 57 wins have come via submission.
Each fighter’s weakness happens to be the strength of their opponent. Harris’ weakness is being taken to the mat and submitted like in his fight against Fabricio Werdum.
Oleinik’s weakness is against superior strikers like when he fought Overeem and Blaydes.
Harris has the power to win this fight, but Oleinik has the all-around skillset to navigate through the striking in order to take this fight to the mat. Aleksei also packs some power, which could catch Harris if “The Big Ticket” is reckless when coming forward.
For this fight, I am going with the upset. I like Oleinik’s odds and his chances of getting the fight to the mat where he can notch his 46th submission victory.
In the main event of the night, we have an exciting welterweight battle between two of the toughest fighters in the division.
Additionally, MMA betting sites have kept these odds close enough to where there is betting value with both men.
Rafael dos Anjos took this fight on less than six weeks’ notice, which further proves that he’s a fearless warrior inside that octagon. He last fought on May 18th and defeated Kevin Lee via submission in the fourth round.
Lee was the rising talent just like Edwards, but RDA proved that his veteran experience and grappling game were too much for Lee. Last year, RDA lost both of his fights against two top-ranked opponents in Covington and Usman.
Prior to those two losses, he got the UD win over Robbie Lawler. Fifteen of his 29 wins have come via stoppage. Ten of those 15 stoppage victories came via submission.
As for this fight, RDA believes it’s a good matchup for him and that he has several advantages over Edwards:
“So when I got the call from Dana White to take this fight on a five-week notice, I took it. I told him: ‘He’s taller, tough, but I do well against tall guys’. I think that’s one of my advantages in the fight. He’ll try to take me down, he’s very well-rounded, it’s going to be good. He welcomes a grappling fight, too, so many aspects favor me in this fight.”
Edwards comes into this main event showdown having won seven straight fights, which includes impressive wins over Luque, Barberena, Cerrone, and Nelson.
From strikers to grapplers, Edwards has plowed his way through the opposition. He hasn’t lost since December 2015 when he suffered a UD defeat to Usman. A win this weekend would put Edwards one fight away from a title shot or even possibly put him next in line depending on how things shake out.
Just like with RDA, Edwards believes he has many advantages for this fight. In fact, he believes that dos Anjos will struggle and Edwards will come away with a big win:
“I think they forced him into it and now he’ll pay. Now we’ll see who’s one of the best fighters in the world. This wasn’t his first option. Now he faces a young, hungry up and coming killer. He’s done OK. Coming up and being the smaller man, he’s been OK. Once we get to the younger, hungrier guys, he always struggles. He struggles against bigger guys, against southpaws, that’s what I am. I feel like he’ll struggle against me again.”
Other than the Vick vs Hooker fight, this could be the best fight of the night and earn honors depending on how far it goes. I respect RDA’s fighting skills and definitely don’t want to count him out. He’s truly worthy of a flier in this contest, but I am taking Edwards to win. I feel that it’s Leon’s time to shine and make a run at the welterweight title.
At the very least, a win this weekend should put him in a #1 contender’s fight maybe against Jorge Masvidal.
RDA has gone the distance in 22 total fights and sports a record of 14-8 in those contests. Edwards has gone to the scorecards in 10 of his 20 career fights and has a record of 8-2 when seeing the judges.
I believe this fight will most likely go the distance and Edwards will notch a UD win.
The following fighters offer solid betting value based on their current UFC on ESPN 4 odds, matchups, and MMA career success:
On paper, this fight card from San Antonio lacks overall depth. The main card does have two really good fights with the main event and Vick vs Hooker.
However, the rest of the card lacks intrigue and name power to the casual fan.
There are a few storylines to watch like whether or not Alexander Hernandez can get back on track in the lightweight division, but they don’t make this fight card a “must see” event.
Thankfully, this UFC event is for free because it’s certainly not a PPV-caliber card or even worth the fees for a streaming platform.
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