On Saturday, July 18th, the UFC returns to action for the second time this week with UFC on ESPN+ 30 from Fight Island. The main event of the night is a world title fight for the vacant flyweight championship as Deiveson Figueiredo takes on Joseph Benavidez in a rematch.
The co-main event is a Top 7 middleweight battle as Jack Hermansson takes on Kelvin Gastelum. Also on the main card is a Top 7 flyweight fight between Alexandre Pantoja and Askar Askarov. In total, there are 12 fights scheduled for UFC on ESPN+ 30.
UFC betting sites have released their odds for the entire card. Let’s step inside the betting octagon to examine these current betting lines courtesy of BetOnline, identify possible betting value, and put these predictions in a rear naked choke. As of this writing, there were no Over/Unders for the card.
The preliminary card features seven fights and is set to begin at 5 PM ET on ESPN+.
Carlos Felipe is the underdog in this contest. He will also be making his UFC debut this Saturday. Felipe is undefeated in his career and six of his eight pro wins have come via TKO/KO. The Brazilian could surprise some this weekend, including his opponent.
Spivak already has three UFC fights under his belt. However, he’s just 1-2 in those contests. Yet, he’s taken on three tough opponents: Walt Harris, Tai Tuivasa, and Marcin Tybura. He last fought in February and lost via decision to Tybura.
All 10 of Spivak’s pro wins have come via stoppage with six by way of submission. He might have to rely on his grappling skills in order to avoid striking with Felipe.
Combined, these two men have gone the distance in just three of 20 total fights. So, I don’t see them going the distance in this one. More than likely, we’re going to see a stoppage either a TKO/KO via Felipe or a submission by Spivak. Right now, I’m leaning towards Spivak due to his experience.
Davi Ramos is a sizable underdog in this contest despite going 4-2 in the UFC. His loss to Makhachev last September snapped a four fight win streak. Seven of his 10 pro wins have come via submission. All three losses have come via decision. He’s yet to be stopped in his career.
Arman Tzarukyan makes his third trip inside the octagon where he’s 1-1 so far. It’s been 12 months since he last fought. Like Ramos, Arman Tzarukyan also lost to Makhachev in the UFC. 10 of his 14 pro wins have come via stoppage with five wins apiece for submission and TKO/KO.
The way this is shaping up, I expect these two to do more grappling than standing and striking. Additionally, this bout should go the distance (-210). Arman Tzarukyan has only been stopped once and Ramos has never been stopped. Take the Over in this fight as well, once the line is available.
As for the winner, it’s a tough pick as these two are strong grapplers. I believe this bout is closer than the odds suggest, which means Ramos is worthy of a small flier.
With that said, let’s go with the safe play in this matchup and take Arman Tzarukyan to win via decision (-125).
Fight goes the distance (-210)
Tzarukyan wins via decision (-125)
There are no props available for this fight as of this writing.
Coming out of Canada’s MMA scene, Malcolm Gordon makes his UFC debut this weekend riding a four fight win streak. He’s the former TKO flyweight champ with two title defenses as well. His last bout was 15 months ago where he won in 92 seconds.
10 of Gordon’s 12 pro wins have come via stoppage with six by way of submission. He’s only gone the distance in two of his 15 pro fights.
Amir Albazi also makes his UFC debut this weekend. He rebounded nicely last November with a 1st round submission win after losing the first fight of his career in April 2019. Albazi did spend some time in Bellator during 2017 and 2018 where he went 2-0.
11 of his 12 pro wins have come via stoppage with seven by way of submission. His lone loss came via decision.
Both fighters have some pop in their punches, bit it looks like these two could end up spending more time on the mat grappling. Gordon is the taller fighter and a former champion. He has experience under pressure and is worthy of a small flier.
With that said, I’m going with Albazi in this contest. I think his resume is slightly better and he’s never been stopped before. Yet, Gordon has been stopped three times in his career all via TKO/KO. I’m taking Alibazi to win inside the distance as he stops Gordon in this flyweight bout.
This is going to be a solid matchup and quite possibly the most underrated fight on the entire card. Maybe even the entire Fight Island events.
Johns is the underdog and will step inside the octagon for the 7th time. He’s currently 4-2 and last fought in January where he defeated Gravely via submission in the 3rd round. Six of his 16 pro wins have come via submission. That win snapped a two fight losing streak to Sterling and Munhoz.
Keep in mind, Johns took off more than a year after losing to Munhoz in August 2018. He was largely forgotten after being a Top 15 bantamweight.
Jackson is on a three fight win streak after earning his UFC contract two years ago. He lost his UFC debut to Ricky Simon, but bounced back quickly. Jackson last fought in January and defeated Colares via unanimous decision. Six of his nine pro wins have come via stoppage with five by way of TKO/KO.
The last two fights, I’ve said the underdogs are worthy of small fliers, but went with the safe pick. This time, I am going with the underdog. Johns’ odds of +175 are just too good to pass up. He has more experience and can hang with Jackson on the feet.
However, I think Johns has the edge on the mat and should be able to take the fight to the ground. I don’t see either man getting the stoppage, which means it should go the distance (-210). From there, I’m going with Johns to pick up the decision win (+385).
10 of Johns 18 pro fights have gone the distance. He’s 8-2 in those contests. Four of Jackson’s 10 pro fights have gone the distance. He’s 3-1 in those bouts.
Fight goes to decision (-210)
Johns wins via decision (+385)
Alvarez enters this contest as the biggest underdog for the entire show. He’s gone 1-1 inside the octagon with a win in his last fight via 2nd round TKO over Belluardo 13 months ago. 14 of his 16 pro wins have come via submission. He’s gone the distance just once in 18 pro fights.
Joseph Duffy is the biggest betting favorite for the event. Yet, he also hasn’t fought in over a year. Duffy is riding a two fight losing streak and is 4-3 inside the octagon. 10 of his 16 pro wins have come via submission. He’s 2-2 in his four fights that have gone the distance.
With a combined 30 stoppages between these two fighters, I don’t see this fight going the distance (+115). They’ve gone the distance just five times in 38 total fights.
I can see this fight going into the 3rd round, but somewhere along the lines Duffy’s experience will be the difference maker. I’m taking the Irishman to get the stoppage win inside the distance (+195).
Fight doesn’t go to a decision (+115)
Duffy wins inside the distance (+195)
Although these two fighters typically compete as featherweights, they both agreed to a catchweight fight at 150 pounds, which is just five pounds above the featherweight division.
Nad Narimani was a former Cage Warriors champion before joining the UFC two years ago. He started off his career 2-0, but dropped his last fight via 2nd round TKO to Mike Gundy 17 months ago. The long layoff could be a hindrance as he faces his toughest opponent to date.
Seven of Narimani’s 12 pro wins have come via stoppage with five by way of submission. He’s 5-2 in fights that have gone the distance.
Grant Dawson earned a UFC contract in August 2017, but didn’t make his UFC debut until March 2019. He’s gone 3-0 inside the octagon and last fought in February where he won via 2nd round submission over Minner. 11 of his 15 pro wins have come via submission.
I don’t see this fight going the distance (+120). I think Dawson’s grappling will prove to be too strong for Narimani. Combined, these two men have gone the distance in eight of 31 total fights. Dawson has gone the distance just once.
Dawson is one of the top featherweight prospects in the UFC and his skills will be on display this weekend. I’m taking the 26 year old American to win inside the distance (+165) and most likely via submission.
Fight doesn’t go the distance (+120)
Dawson wins inside the distance (+165)
Khadis Ibragimov was unbeaten in his career at 8-0 until he entered the UFC where he’s lost both of his fights. He’s looking to snap the losing skid and hand Dolidze his first career loss. Five of his eight pro wins have come via stoppage with three by way of submission.
Roman Dolidze will make his UFC debut this week. He’s the former WWFC light heavyweight champion and has some hype surrounding him. All six of his fights have ended via stoppage. He will have a slight height and reach advantage over Ibragimov.
This fight is favored to end inside the distance (-210) and I agree. Combined, they have just three of 16 total fights go the full three rounds. In fact, Dolidze has gone to the third round just once in his career.
Ibragimov might have the UFC experience, but Dolidze appears to have the higher ceiling. I’m taking the debuting Georgian to keep his momentum going by winning inside the distance (+110) in his octagon debut.
Fight ends inside the distance (-210)
Dolidze wins inside the distance (+110)
The main card of the event features five fights and is set to begin at 8 PM ET on ESPN+.
In the opening bout of the main card, the 4th ranked Alexandre Pantoja takes on #7 ranked Askar Askarov in a big flyweight contest.
Askar Askarov is unbeaten in his career, but an underdog in this contest. He made his UFC debut last September and fought to a Draw against Moreno. He last fought in January and defeated Tim Elliott via unanimous decision. He’s a strong wrestler with a serious ground and pound.
10 of his 11 pro wins have come via stoppage with seven by way of TKO/KO. He’s gone the distance in two fights and has a record of 1-0-1 in those contests.
Before we even get to this matchup, it should be noted that Pantoja is pegged as the replacement fighter if either Benavidez or Figueiredo have to pull out of the main event. It’s a convenient spot for the UFC as they have a top ranked fighter already in shape, trained, and competing on this event.
The reason Pantoja is pegged as the backup is because of how dangerous he is in the flyweight division. He’s an excellent grappler with a black belt in jiu-jitsu and eight submission wins. Additionally, he has eight TKO/KO wins which means he’s a dangerous striker as well.
The odds favor this fight going the distance, but I see it ending inside the full three rounds (+185). Combined, these two men have gone the distance in 12 of 37 fights. Due to their aggressive styles of fighting, this fight should be explosive.
Because Pantoja has the edge in striking, I believe this is where the fight will be won. Whether it’s a TKO/KO or knockdown that leads to a submission, Pantoja’s heavy hands will be the difference maker in this contest.
I’m taking “The Cannibal” to win this flyweight battle, hand Askarov his first loss and become the new #1 contender for the flyweight title.
Fight ends inside the distance (+185)
Pantoja wins inside the distance (+320)
This fight was originally scheduled to take place in May and it will be the first fight on Lipski’s new UFC contract. She’s the former KSW flyweight champ, but lost her first two contests in the UFC. She bounced back last November with a unanimous decision win over Padua.
Carolina has won six straight fights since losing her first professional bout 5 ½ years ago. She hasn’t competed in 14 months, which was her UFC debut. Carolina won that fight via unanimous decision over Cachoeira. She earned her contract with a DWCS win 23 months ago.
This fight has all the makings of going to a decision, which it’s heavily favored to do so (-320). Eight of Lipski’s 17 pro fights have gone the distance including four in a row. Four of Carolina’s seven pro fights have gone the distance including three straight.
Now that we’ve established these two women are going to survive the full three rounds, we can choose which one will win via decision.
Lipski has faced tougher competition in her career and has shown to be the better striker with six TKO/KO wins to Carolina’s three. I believe “The Violence Queen” will edge out Carolina and win this fight via decision and take one step closer to a Top 15 ranking.
Fight goes to a decision (-320)
Lipski wins via decision (+145)
This fight was originally scheduled for Diakiese to take on Alan Patrick. However, Patrick pulled out and Rafael Fiziev is in. Fiziev last fought in October 2019 and won via unanimous decision. That bumped his record up to 1-1 inside the octagon.
Six of Fiziev’s seven pro wins have come via stoppage with five by way of TKO/KO. He’s only gone the distance in just one fight and his lone loss came via TKO/KO in his UFC debut against Magomed Mustaev.
Marc Diakiese has been with the UFC for nearly four years and has compiled a record of 5-3 inside the octagon. He’s currently on a two fight win streak with two decision wins over Vannata and Duffy. The Brit is a streaky fighter with solid striking skills.
Seven of his 14 pro wins have come via stoppage with six by way of TKO/KO. Nine of his 17 pro fights have gone the distance where he’s 7-2 in those contests.
Both of these men are aggressive strikers who like to come forward. So, we should get plenty of action in this bout and I don’t see it going the distance (+135).
Diakiese has improved since his three fight losing streak including becoming much better with his takedowns. Fiziev is all about the striking, which means there should be openings for Diakiese. Additionally, Diakiese is a better technical striker with just as much power, if not more than Fiziev.
I’m taking Diakiese to win this fight inside the distance (+350) with a TKO/KO. He has more experience, better resume, and better overall skillset.
Fight doesn’t go to decision (+135)
Diakiese wins inside the distance (+350)
The co-main event of the night is a Top 7 middleweight clash that could easily headline a Fight Night event. The winner of this fight should end up back in contention for the middleweight title.
The #7 Kelvin Gastelum is riding a two fight losing streak as he came out on the wrong side of decisions to Till and Adesanya. Nevertheless, he looked good in both fights and has a 10-5 record in the UFC.
10 of his 15 pro wins have come via stoppage with six by way of TKO/KO. Nine of his 20 pro fights have gone the distance where he’s 5-4. Gastelum has only been stopped one time and that was a submission loss to Chris Weidman three years ago.
The #6 ranked Jack “Joker” Hermansson will have a four inch height and six inch reach advantage. He is also coming into this contest off a loss. Hermansson ate a power shot via Cannonier last September and suffered a 2nd round TKO defeat. It snapped a four fight win streak.
16 of his 20 pro wins have come via stoppage with 11 by way of TKO/KO. Only five of his 25 pro fights have gone the distance.
This fight is going to be tough for Gastelum. He will need to work his way inside the long reach advantage from Hermansson who is very solid with striking from a distance. Additionally, Hermansson is tough to take down and has solid grappling skills.
In the past, Gastelum outmuscled his opponents to get them to the mat or set them up for power shots. He’s not going to be able to do that here. Additionally, Gastelum enjoys getting into the clinch, but he might not like it this weekend. With that said, I have a hard time seeing how Gastelum will win this contest.
Instead, I believe Hermansson has more paths to victory and will have learned from his mistake against Cannonier. If he can keep the fight standing then Hermansson will out-strike Gastelum and win this fight via decision (+245). Gastelum has only been stopped once and that leads me to believe he will survive this contest.
Fight goes the distance (-125)
Hermansson wins via decision (+245)
This fight is a rematch from February 2020 and it will be for the vacant flyweight title. Figueiredo won their first fight via 2nd round TKO, but he was disqualified from winning the belt due to coming into that fight overweight by 2.5 pounds.
Additionally, Benavidez suffered a nasty cut from their heads clashing that significantly impacted the fight. With these circumstances in the first contest, the UFC felt they should run it back immediately.
Benavidez has been a longtime mainstay in the UFC with a 15-4 record inside the octagon. He’s well known for his striking skills along with a solid grappling game. 17 of his 28 pro wins have come via stoppage with nine by way of submission.
The loss in their first matchup snapped Benavidez’s three fight win streak, which included a solid TKO win over Jussier Formiga who is the only man to have defeated Figueiredo in his career.
In addition to Figueiredo’s problems in the first fight, he recently had a false positive test for Covid which threatened his spot in this title match. However, the test result was due to Figueiredo having Covid earlier and not now.
Figueiredo is 7-1 in the UFC and bounced back from his loss to Formiga 16 months ago by winning three straight contests. 15 of his 18 pro wins have come via stoppage with nine by way of TKO/KO.
Benavidez is going to have to show that he’s made some changes since their first fight because he was getting outhit and was outclassed on the mat. Furthermore, Figueiredo is the bigger fighter who has to do a big cut down in weight to make the 125 pound limit. He was 135 pounds with a week to go.
That means Figueiredo has the size, strength and power advantages. He also showed that he has a tough chin as he’s never been stopped. Additionally, he took Benavidez’s best shots in their first fight. Benavidez’s only hope is to wear down the bigger Figueiredo with a blistering pace, which is possible.
Keep in mind, this will be a 5 round fight. Either Benavidez gets put away by Figueiredo’s power or Deiveson fades late in the fight and Benavidez catches a TKO win.
I will be rooting for Benavidez to win, but I think it’s going to be real tough. The smart play here is on Figueiredo to win this fight inside the distance (-150). These two men have gone the distance in 19 of 53 total fights. Yet, Benavidez has done it just once in his last four bouts.
Fight doesn’t go the distance (-175)
Figueiredo wins inside the distance (-150)
Here’s a list of my five favorite MMA wagers for the UFC on ESPN+ 30 event:
These two fighters have gone the distance in just five of 38 total fights. They have a combined 30 stoppages with 24 of them coming via submission. I like this fight to end inside the distance as Duffy is the largest betting favorite of the night at -350 odds.
Combined, Dawson and Narimani have gone the distance in eight of 31 total fights. However, Dawson has only gone the distance in one fight. His grappling will be too strong for Narimani to handle. Dawson is a rising prospect who should pick up a submission win this contest.
Roman Dolidze has won all six of his pro fights via stoppage and has only gone to the 3rd round in just one fight. Oddsmakers heavily favor this fight to end inside the distance (-210) and Dolidze should be the reason why this happens. He has a lot of potential in his debut.
MMA betting sites heavily favor this fight to go the distance at -320 odds. Furthermore, Carolina has never been stopped in her career and has three straight fights go the distance.
Lipski has eight fights go the distance including four in a row, which spans her entire UFC tenure. Lipski (-130) is favored to win the fight and I like her to take this fight via decision due to her experience advantage and fighting tougher competition.
In their first fight, Figueiredo won in the 2nd round. His size, strength and power advantages should prove to be too much for Benavidez to handle. Furthermore, Benavidez’s path to victory is by pushing a blistering pace which forces Figueiredo to fade in the latter rounds.
Either way you look at it, this fight shouldn’t go the full five rounds. These two men have combined to go the distance in just 19 of 53 total fights. Five of Figueiredo’s eight UFC fights have ended inside the distance.
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