UFC Fight Night 153: Gustafsson vs Smith Betting Preview, Odds and Picks

By Rick Rockwell in Sports & Betting on May 30, 2019

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Minute Read

On Saturday, June 1st, the UFC will be live from the Ericsson Globe in Stockholm, Sweden, for UFC Fight Night 153: Gustafsson vs Smith. This MMA event features a light heavyweight contest between two former title contenders in Anthony Smith and Alexander Gustafsson who is from Stockholm.

In addition to Gustafsson, UFC Fight Night 153 also features other top Swedish fighters, two women’s fights, and a total of 13 competitive bouts. The preliminary card is set to begin at 10 AM ET and will air live on ESPN2. The main card will begin at 1 PM ET and stream live on ESPN+.

UFC betting sites have released their odds for the full slate of UFC Fight Night 153 fights. Let’s step inside the betting octagon and examine these current betting lines, identify possible betting value or upsets, and KO our picks.

UFC Fight Night 153 Prelims

The preliminary card features seven total fights and is set to begin at 10 AM ET on ESPN2. The following UFC betting odds are courtesy of BetOnline:

Joel Alvarez (15-2) vs Danilo Belluardo (12-3)

  • Joel Alvarez (-110)
  • Danilo Belluardo (-110)

MMA betting sites had a difficult time picking a favorite, so we have a contest with the same betting lines. That means both men offer betting value for whichever fighter you choose to wager on.

Belluardo, nicknamed “Caterpillar,” has won six straight fights coming into this weekend’s bout. It also happens to be his UFC debut. The Italian fighter stopped five of his last six opponents and six of his 12 career wins have come via KO/TKO.

Alvarez, nicknamed “El Fenomeno,” was on a 10-fight win streak before making his UFC debut in February. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out as he had hoped. Joel lost via UD to Ismagulov at UFC Fight Night 145. Nevertheless, Alvarez is a successful submission artist with 14 of his 15 career wins coming via submission. Prior to his UFC loss, Joel had six straight submission victories.

Neither fighter impresses me with their standup game. But both can have success on the ground. Joel Alvarez has the advantage with the submission holds, but Belluardo can hold his own with offensive striking from the ground. For me, if this fight makes it to the ground, then it’s Alvarez’s to lose.

I’m taking Joel Alvarez to get the submission win on Saturday.

UFC Bet: Joel Alvarez (-110)

Darko Stosic (13-1) vs Devin Clark (9-3)

  • Darko Stosic (-104)
  • Devin Clark (-116)

Here, we have a second prelim fight with very close odds. However, the online betting sites feel that Clark is the slight betting favorite.

Devin “Brown Bear” Clark comes into this fight having lost two of his last three bouts. He last stepped inside the octagon back in December 2018 and lost via TKO to Rakic who’s also fighting on this card. The loss dropped his record to 3-3 in the UFC.

Darko Stosic comes into his second UFC contest on a nine-fight win streak and having won three straight fights via TKO in the first round. In his UFC debut last July, Stosic won via TKO over Kimball and showcased dangerous striking skills. For his career, eight of his 13 wins have come via KO/TKO.

It seems like Clark is destined to be a measuring stick for UFC prospects as he once again takes on a relative newcomer to the octagon. With that said, I don’t like Clark’s chances if this fight remains upright. He has a chance to win if he can take down Stosic and ride out the clock, but more than likely, this fight will end with Stosic winning via TKO. His striking is far better than Clark’s.

UFC Bet: Darko Stosic (-104)

Bea Malecki (2-0) vs Duda Santana (3-0)

  • Bea Malecki (-116)
  • Duda Santana (-104)

In the first of two women’s fights, we have the Brazilian Duda Santana taking on Sweden’s Bea “Bad News Barbie” Malecki.

Obviously, Malecki is going to have the hometown support as she’s from Stockholm. This will be her first fight inside the octagon. In her two pro fights, she’s won both by stoppage in the first round. Despite her lack of pro fights, she does have TUF 28 experience, which should help her in this contest.

Duda is also undefeated and making her UFC debut at Fight Night 153 this weekend. Two of her three fights have gone the distance, and there’s a good chance that this bout will also go to the scorecards.

It’s a bit of a surprise that the UFC is pitting two women together with little pro experience and little octagon experience. With that said, neither of them will “wow” you. Santana appears to be a better all-around fighter, but Bea Malecki has the advantage in striking. The longer this fight goes, the better off it will be for Santana who has gone the distance twice while Bea has not.

Neither lady has a tremendous advantage in this contest either. So, whichever combatant you place your wager on will have value. With that said, I’m going with Malecki because she’s fighting at home and it’s a long way from Brazil to Sweden for Santana.

UFC Bet: Bea Malecki (-116)

Nick Hein (14-4) vs Frank Camacho (21-7)

  • Nick Hein (-115)
  • Frank Camacho (-105)

Like with the previous prelim bouts above, we have another contest with very close betting odds. Hein might be the slight betting favorite, but both men have betting value.

Hein has been with the UFC for five years now, but is on a two-fight losing streak. He also hasn’t fought in roughly 11 months. Overall, Hein has a 4-3 record inside the octagon. Six of his seven UFC fights have gone the distance and Hein is 4-2 in those fights. For his career, nine of his 14 wins have come via decision.

Frank “The Crank” Camacho has lost three of his last four fights, with all four of those fights coming inside the octagon. Camacho is an entertaining fighter to watch because he likes to brawl and throw some wild haymakers. The Crank has scored 16 KO/TKO wins in his career and could get his 17th this weekend.

Crank comes in with a 7.5-inch reach advantage and is also four inches taller. Between the two, despite Hein’s best efforts, Crank is the better striker. If Hein can take this to the mat, then he would have a better shot at winning. For this bet, I’m taking Crank to win via UD.

UFC Bet: Frank Camacho (-105)

Stevie Ray (22-8) vs Leonardo Santos (16-3-1)

  • Stevie Ray (+165)
  • Leonardo Santos (-190)

This fight is more challenging to pick a winner than on the surface. Although Santos is a sizable betting favorite, he hasn’t fought in over two and a half years, while Ray fought eight months ago.

Stevie Ray snapped a two-fight losing streak by defeating Ayari via UD. The win improved his UFC record to 6-3 and he does have some nice victories over Pearson and Lauzon. 14 of Ray’s 22 wins have come via stoppage with eight of those coming by way of submission. However, it’s been nearly four years since he last won via stoppage.

Nicknamed “Braveheart,” Ray knows he has a tough challenge this weekend and The Body Lock reports that he is feeling the pressure to get the victory:

“I’ll fight anybody, [but my coaches and I] all knew this was going to be a tough fight. I think he’s a seven-time world champion in jiu-jitsu and a fifth-degree black belt. Watching his fights his striking [looks] pretty good as well – he knocked out Kevin Lee. Work’s on the line here.”

Santos is a very successful jiu-jitsu practitioner and even taught classes while away from the UFC due to injuries. However, he is returning from a 32-month layoff and multiple injuries. He also recently turned 39 years old. According to MMA Fighting, Santos is feeling some nerves heading into this fight:

“I’m a bit nervous and anxious, actually, after such a long time on the outside. And now I’ve finally finished a training camp and am going to a fight. The worst part is coming now, the weight cut, but I’ll fight.”

Santos says he’s prepared for this fight and feels good with where his conditioning is at. The former TUF Brazil winner has gone 5-0-1 in his six UFC fights. Nine of his 16 wins have come via submission.

This fight is going to come down to whether or not Santos can successfully take Ray down to the mat. If he can, then it’s over, because Ray does not have the type of ground game to defend against Santos’ elite skills. If Ray can keep the fight upright long enough to rock Santos, then he has a shot at victory.

With that said, I’m going with Santos to win despite being out of the octagon for 32 months. His ground game is scary and Ray is like fish in a barrel on the mat. I believe Santos will do enough to close the distance early and take Braveheart to the mat. From there, it will be like riding a bike as he locks on to a limb or a neck and wins via submission.

For the risk takers out there, this could be an upset pick since Ray does have the power to win this fight with one shot.

UFC Bet: Leonardo Santos (-190)

Rostem Akman (5-0) vs Sergey Khandozhko (25-5-1)

  • Rostem Akman (+155)
  • Sergey Khandozhko (-180)

It’s unclear where this fight will be slotted in on the prelim card, so I will stick it right here. These are two welterweight fighters making their UFC debuts at Fight Night 153.

Akman is the underdog despite being undefeated and fighting in his home country. Oddsmakers might have seen a huge advantage in professional experience for his opponent, but let’s not look past Rostem’s 14-2 amateur record. That experience evens the playing field in my opinion. Akman has stopped all five professional opponents and has yet to go the full distance. Four of those five wins have come via TKO.

Sergey has won his last two fights but went 5-4 from February 2015 through August 2017. In his career, Sergey has 17 victories via stoppage. 10 of those stoppages have come via KO/TKO.

I have a big concern with Akman’s quick turnaround. He last fought on May 11th, and the bout went into the third round before he won via TKO. That’s not enough time to recover and prepare for this fight. If he had a full training camp without stepping in as a replacement, then I believe Rostem would’ve had a better shot at winning. But I can’t get past the short timeframe between fights, and I believe it will end up costing him one way or another.

UFC Bet: Sergey Khandozhko (-180)

Tonya Evinger (19-7) vs Lina Lansberg (8-4)

  • Tonya Evinger (-280)
  • Lina Lansberg (+240)

In the second of two women’s fights, Tonya Evinger comes in as the second biggest betting favorite on the card. The former Invicta FC champ has lost two straight fights since joining the UFC and is in desperate need of a win inside the octagon. Evinger was on an 11-fight undefeated streak before losing her two UFC contests.

Lina “Elbow Queen” Lansberg also comes into this fight off a loss when she was defeated via UD last October against Yana Kunitskaya. She’s dropped two of her last three fights and has a record of 2-3 in the UFC. Four of her eight career wins have come via KO/TKO.

Both of these women have fought and lost to Cristiane Justino, Aspen Ladd, and Yana Kunitskaya. Lansberg lost to Justino via TKO in the second round, and Evinger lost via TKO in the third round. Against Ladd, Evinger lost via first round TKO and Lina lost via second-round TKO. As mentioned, Lina lost to Yana, while Evinger defeated her in Invicta FC.

For this matchup, Lansberg will get to fight in front of her fellow countrymen. But will that be enough to win?

I’m not confident in either fighter based on their recent fights. Both have seemed to struggle against the tougher competition in the UFC. With that said, the safe bet is on Evinger to win. Tonya has scored 15 stoppages in 19 wins, and I think she will get the TKO victory in this fight as she appears to have the advantage with fighting styles. Lansberg has three KO/TKO losses on her resume. Lina is a very risky flier if you decide to go against the smart money.

UFC Bet: Tonya Evinger (-280)

UFC Fight Night 153 Main Card

The main card of this Fight Night event features six fights and is set to begin at 1 PM ET on ESPN+. The following MMA betting odds are courtesy of BetOnline:

Daniel Teymur (6-3) vs Sung Bin Jo (9-0)

  • Daniel Teymur (+115)
  • Sung Bin Jo (-135)

Daniel “Kid Dynamite” Teymur has dropped three straight fights, with all three of them coming inside the octagon. He returns to his native land of Sweden in desperate need of a victory. Prior to joining the UFC, Teymur was 6-0 with all six fights coming via stoppages.

Sung Bin Jo is making his UFC debut this weekend in enemy territory. The South Korean fighter comes into this fight undefeated with all nine wins coming via stoppages. However, he hasn’t fought in over 14 months and has a tough test as the “away team” of this contest.

All of the pressure is on Teymur in this fight. Not only does he have the pressure of performing in front of his fellow countrymen, but Daniel is also fighting for his UFC employment. A fourth straight UFC loss could force the company to release him.

On paper, the matchup between these two favors the debuting Sung Bin Jo who is six inches taller and has a 3.5-inch reach advantage. Teymur might be the more accomplished striker, but Jo’s striking is dangerous. He also has the reach advantage.

But, if Jo gets into any trouble standing up, then he will find more success on the ground. Teymur’s weakness is his ground game, which is evident by two straight losses via submissions. By all accounts, Jo has solid takedown, grappling and submission skills. I believe that Jo’s ground game will be the difference in the fight and I’m taking the debuting South Korean to defeat a local hero.

UFC Bet: Sung Bin Jo (-135)

Damir Hadzovic (13-4) vs Christos Giagos (16-7)

  • Damir Hadzovic (-170)
  • Christos Giagos (+145)

Christos Giagos comes into this contest the sizable underdog and having won his last fight back in December 2018. He’s 1-1 inside the octagon and has seven KO/TKO wins out of 16 pro victories. Giagos has not yet made it to the upper echelon of the lightweight division, and he’s going to be in for a tough fight against Hadzovic.

Damir “The Bosnian Bomber” Hadzovic has won his last two fights and is now 3-2 inside the octagon. He defeated Reyes in February and Nick Hein last July. 10 of his 13 wins have come via stoppages, with seven of those being KO/TKO wins.

Despite what oddsmakers believe, this fight is closer than the listed odds. Giagos and Hadzovic both have well-rounded games, but it’s Damir who is a step up in talent than Giagos. With that said, I believe this will be a highly competitive, exciting fight and I’m taking The Bosnia Bomber to drop a few bombs on his way to dropping Giagos for a TKO win.

UFC Bet: Damir Hadzovic (-170)

Makwan Amirkhani (14-3) vs Chris Fishgold (18-2-1)

  • Makwan Amirkhani (-108)
  • Chris Fishgold (-112)

This is another tough fight to predict. Both fighters are pretty evenly matched up and the UFC betting sites pretty much have these odds even with each other.

Makwan “Mr. Finland” Amirkhani hasn’t fought in nearly 13 months as he took time off from MMA to focus on boxing. He wanted to become a better all-around fighter and have a stand-up game that went along with his elite level wrestling skills. Makwan is 4-1 inside the UFC. Sherdog states he is looking to show off his new boxing skills as he becomes a “nasty opponent” to others:

“I’m happy, like, that the first time I actually believe that I can be a really, really nasty opponent to everybody and everyone in my division. And I will prove that Saturday.”

Chris Fishgold is 1-1 inside the octagon after winning in February over the previously mentioned Daniel Teymur. Fishgold has elite level jiu-jitsu skills and is also a powerful striker. 13 of his 18 professional wins have come via submission. As for this matchup against Amirkhani, Fishgold doesn’t like his opponent and made the following predictions:

“I see him coming out there thinking he’s a boxer, being dead cocky, maybe trying to throw a flying knee. I see us in exchange, me catching him and you always go back to what you know and trying to wrestle and just stay boring like the five decisions he’s got in the UFC. That’s it. I’m a black belt on the ground, none of his other opponents were. And I can bang obviously, so, you know, whatever he wants to do, he’s getting it.”

I have to agree with Fishgold here. His ground game is far and away better than anything Mr. Finland has seen in the UFC. That means Makwan’s wrestling skills will be neutralized. So, it comes down to each other’s standup skills. I’m not sold on Amirkhani’s newfound boxing skills. I’m taking Fishgold in this fight to win via UD.

UFC Bet: Chris Fishgold (-112)

Jimi Manuwa (17-5) vs Aleksandar Rakic (11-1)

  • Jimi Manuwa (+170)
  • Aleksandar Rakic (-200)

This fight has “Knockout of the Night” written all over it. Both fighters love to go for the knockout, and I find it hard to believe that this contest will go beyond the second round.

Jimi Manuwa is the veteran at 39 years old and has been fighting with the UFC for the last seven years. With that said, Manuwa is 6-5 inside the octagon and on a three-fight losing streak. Two of those three losses came via KO. Nearly two years ago, he was KO’d by Oezdemir who’s in the co-main event of this card. 15 of Manuwa’s 17 wins have come via TKO/KO. For this fight, Manuwa is looking to finish off his opponent via knockout and create another highlight reel moment.

Rakic has won 11 straight fights including going 3-0 in the UFC. He last fought in December and won via first round TKO over Devin Clark who is also on this card. Rakic has looked impressive, but some critics question the caliber of opponents that he’s faced. Nevertheless, UFC states Rakic is looking for a statement win this weekend over a fighter that he respects:

“Jimi Manuwa is a great fighter. I respect him a lot and I know him a little personally — we trained together for a couple days in Sweden four or five years ago — and we fought on the same card last year in Toronto, so I saw him there and we talked. I respect him, but when it comes to business, I don’t care who I’m fighting and I know that beating Jimi Manuwa will bring me one step closer to the gold.”

Manuwa is the perfect example of “live and die by the sword.” He’s either going to knock out an opponent or get knocked out trying. The last three fights have seen him “die by the sword.” I feel that he’s going to come out on the wrong side of this fight as well.

Rakic has the striking skills to hang with Manuwa. He also has a better ground game, which might be the best path to victory. With that said, I like Rakic to get the TKO in the second round. But I do believe that Manuwa is worthy of a flyer because of his knockout power.

UFC Bet: Aleksandar Rakic (-200)

Volkan Oezdemir (15-4) vs Ilir Latifi (14-6)

  • Volkan Oezdemir (-123)
  • Ilir Latifi (+103)

The co-main event of UFC Fight Night 153 features another light heavyweight battle between two Top 10 ranked fighters within the division.

Oezdemir is on a three-fight losing streak since his win over Manuwa 23 months ago. However, he has taken on some top-shelf opponents like Daniel Cormier, Dominick Reyes, and Anthony Smith. Yes, the same Smith who’s in the main event of the night. Volkan has scary knockout power just like Manuwa and will have a nearly two-inch reach advantage. 11 of his 15 pro victories have come via KO/TKO.

Latifi had a two-fight win streak snapped after losing to Corey Anderson last December via UD. It was a disappointing performance considering Ilir was pegged to win. He’s been with the UFC for six years and has a record of 7-4 inside the octagon. 10 of his 14 wins have come via stoppages with six of those being by way of KO/TKO.

Like with several other fights on this card, Latifi and Oezdemir have appealing betting odds and both offer betting value. Both have the knockout power to end a fight with one punch. What also makes this fight appealing is that these combatants used to train with each other. So, they will know each other well, and there isn’t any bad blood. The two are actually friends, MMA Fighting reports that it looks like this fight will be a contest where the best man wins:

“With Ilir, it’s going to be a bit different; it’s going to be a different mindset going into the fight. I have no hatred towards him; just respect. It will be a good war, I know it will be like a good game. We’re going to fight to the best of our abilities and bring the best out of each other.”

For Latifi, he’s excited to be fighting at home in front of his friends and family. Additionally, he isn’t underestimating his former training partner. According to the UFC, Ilir respects Volkan and knows that Oezdemir is coming for a win:

“Volkan, he’s a very tough opponent. Maybe people see his three losses now but you’ve got to look at who he lost to. He lost to the champ [Daniel Cormier]. His last fight, I didn’t think he lost that fight. I think he won that fight. He’s a tough opponent. He’s a contender. He had a rough time and I think he’s coming into this fight hungry, too.”

With both men familiar with each other, and looking for a win, this fight could end up stealing the spotlight before we get to the main event. For me, I’m leaning towards Latifi who is the slight underdog. I believe he is a better wrestler and can win this fight on the mat. He does have four submission wins to his credit. And Volkan has suffered two losses via submission.

UFC Bet: Ilir Latifi (+103)

Alexander Gustafsson (18-5) vs Anthony Smith (31-14)

  • Alexander Gustafsson (-285)
  • Anthony Smith (+245)

In the main event of the night, we have the two latest victims of Jon Jones squaring off against each other to turn their losing around and march back up the divisional ladder.

For Smith, he has the more difficult path. He’s traveling to Gustafsson’s hometown to take on one of the best light heavyweights in the division. Prior to the loss against Jones in March, Smith was on a three-fight win streak. However, other than Oezdemir, beating up on the aged Rua and Evans didn’t impress many critics. With that said, Smith has 17 KO/TKO wins out of 31 career victories. He has another 11 wins via submission, which gives him a total of 28 stoppages.

For Gustafsson, three of his last four losses have come against Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier. That’s not bad considering they’re both world champs. Gustafsson had an impressive performance against Glover Teixeira 25 months ago and, according to MMA Fighting, he plans on repeating that performance this weekend against Smith. More than anything, Alexander wants to get the win against Smith:

“It poses a different challenge, it’s Anthony Smith. He’s a good guy, he comes with a lot of fire and a lot of power and he rushes people. He’s a fighter, so it’s a challenge for me, but he’s a perfect matchup. It’s going to be a very entertaining fight, he’s a standup guy and I’m a standup guy… he’s dangerous at any weight, in any situation, so a true challenge and I’m ready for it.”

For this bet, I believe that Gustafsson will get the win. I’m not sure if it will go the distance or not, but he’s the better fighter right now in their respective careers. I believe Gustafsson is a better technical striker as well, which will help him avoid the power shots from Smith and pick him apart. I’m taking Gustafsson to win via TKO in front of his fellow countrymen, friends, and family.

UFC Bet: Alexander Gustafsson (-285)

UFC Fight Night 153 Betting Value

The following fighters offer solid betting value based on their current UFC odds, UFC Fight Night 153 matchups, and career success:

  • Both Joel Alvarez and Danilo Belluardo are listed at -110 betting odds, which means both men offer betting value. For me, I like Alvarez’s submission game to be the difference maker in this fight.
  • Darko Stosic (-104) offers solid betting value, as does his opponent, due to the appealing betting odds. But, with his striking advantage, I believe Darko will win this fight via TKO.
  • Bea Malecki (-116) is a slight favorite in a matchup that looks even on paper. Neither fighter has a huge advantage over the other. However, Malecki does have the good fortune of fighting in front of her hometown fans.
  • Frank Camacho (-105) is the slight underdog against Hein, but he has the clear advantage in striking. This could end early or it could be three rounds of striking, which would make it a candidate for fight of the night.
  • Chris Fishgold (-112) and Makwan Amirkhani have almost even betting odds and are just as close in the tale of the tape. With that said, I believe Fishgold will be too tough for Makwan to out-grapple on the ground, and I believe Chris will do more standing up than Amirkhani. Both men have solid returns on your UFC wagers.
  • Ilir Latifi (+103) is the slight underdog, but I like his ground game more than Oezdemir’s and I believe that will be the difference. These former training partners will put on a good fight and it’s a shame only one man can win. Volkan is certainly capable of ending this fight with one punch. But I’m going with Latifi in front of his home country fans, friends, and family.

Final Thoughts on UFC Fight Night 153

There is a lot of betting value for this card with several fights having close betting odds. Those competitive matchups will also add overall entertainment value to this card. It might not be the most exciting of UFC cards, but there are some fights definitely worth watching. Additionally, the light heavyweight division will be on full display for this event. We should see some movement within the division and potential future matchups made between the winners. Perhaps, a fight between Gustafsson and Rakic if they both win?

In addition to the LH division, and Sweden’s top fighters, I’m interested in seeing how Sung Bin Jo fares in his UFC debut. Remember, this card will air earlier on Saturday due to the time difference between the United States and Sweden.

UFC Fight Night 153 Betting Recap

  • Joel Alvarez (-110)
  • Darko Stosic (-104)
  • Bea Malecki (-116)
  • Frank Camacho (-105)
  • Leonardo Santos (-190)
  • Tonya Evinger (-280)
  • Sergey Khandozhko (-180)
  • Sung Bin Jo (-135)
  • Damir Hadzovic (-170)
  • Chris Fishgold (-112)
  • Aleksandar Rakic (-200)
  • Ilir Latifi (+103)
  • Alexander Gustafsson (-285)
Rick Rockwell

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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