On Saturday, September 19th, the UFC will hold an exciting card from their Apex Center featuring a main event fight with Colby Covington taking on Tyron Woodley.
UFC on ESPN+ 36, also known as UFC Vegas 11 and UFC Fight Night 178, will also have an explosive co-main event as the fan favorite Donald Cerrone takes on Niko Price.
Also on the main card are exciting matchups like Khamzat Chimaev vs Gerald Meerschaert and a Top 12 light heavyweight bout between Johnny Walker and Ryan Spann. There are six fights scheduled for the main card which is set to begin at 8PM ET on ESPN+.
Darren Stewart has been with the UFC for four years and has turned his career around after starting out 0-3 with 1 NC in the octagon. He’s gone 5-2 in his last seven fights including a win over Maki Pitolo last month.
Eight of his 12 pro wins have come via stoppage with seven by way of TKO/KO. He’s 4-3 when going the distance. As for this weekend’s fight, Stewart had the following comments:
“Expect a fight, which I always bring. I’m not scared of no one. There will be no running about business. You knock me out or I knock you out.”
Kevin Holland enters this weekend’s bout on a two fight win streak and has gone 5-1 in his last six bouts. He’s 5-2 overall inside the octagon. Holland last competed a month ago and defeated Joaquin Buckley via 3rd round TKO.
15 of his 18 pro wins have come via stoppage with nine victories by way of TKO/KO. He’s 3-3 when going the distance.
Stewart’s best chance at winning will be through the standup battle. He’s a dangerous striker, but will be in trouble on the mat against Holland. Furthermore, Holland has a three inch height and seven inch reach advantage.
I like Holland in this matchup. I believe he has the striking to hang with Stewart, the reach to outpoint with a jab, and the ground game to end it inside the distance if he can get the fight to the mat.
As much as I want to go with Holland to win via submission, I am going to play it safe and pick Holland to win via decision (-155) and to go Over 2.5 rounds (-180).
Stewart has gone the distance in four of his last five bouts and Holland has gone to a decision in four of his last eight contests.
Over 2.5 rounds (-180)
Fight goes the distance (-155)
Holland wins via decision (+120)
Markos is a veteran of the UFC having been with the promotion since 2014. Since then, she’s gone 6-7-1 inside the octagon. She last fought in March and lost via unanimous decision to Amanda Ribas. Four of her 10 pro wins have come via submission. She’s 6-7-1 when going the distance.
The 15th ranked strawweight Mackenzie Dern lost her first fight 11 months ago, which derailed the rocket up the division. She lost to Amanda Ribas via unanimous decision and hopes to get a rematch against Ribas soon.
Dern last fought in May and won via 1st round submission over Hannah Cifers. Five of her eight pro wins have come via submission. She’s 3-1 when going the distance.
Dern commented on the matchup against Markos this weekend and does give the veteran credit for her counter attacks and grappling:
“I know she’s a grappler, but I think there’s different levels grappling. For sure she’s smart on the ground. But I definitely think, because she’s been in so many fights, she has (sic) good to go all three rounds, she’s got in big fights where she’s getting punched a lot and keeps going forward.”
I believe Markos’ game plan will be to keep this fight upright and avoid a grappling battle. Dern is elite on the mat and even with Marko’s strong grappling skills, she will still be outmatched.
There is a chance that Dern can find the submission inside the distance, but Markos has gone the distance in eight of her last nine fights. She’s fought against some top ranked opponents and had strong showings even in defeat.
I’m going to give Markos some credit and say she’s able to survive the full three rounds. I’m taking Dern to win via decision as this fight goes over 2.5 rounds (-120).
If you want to take a flier on this fight then go with Dern winning via submission at +140.
Over 2.5 rounds (-120)
Fight goes to decision (+100)
Dern wins via decision (+360)
Here we have a Top 12 ranked light heavyweight bout between the 11th ranked Johnny Walker and the 12th ranked Ryan Spann. The winner will certainly crack the Top 10 and look towards climbing further up the division in 2021.
Ryan Spann enters this weekend’s contest on an eight fight win streak which includes going 4-0 inside the octagon. He last fought in May and defeated Sam Alvey via split decision. 15 of his 18 pro wins have come via stoppage with 11 by way of submission. He’s 3-2 when going the distance.
Johnny Walkers comes into this contest having lost two straight fights. He had his UFC career derailed 10 months ago when he lost via 1st round TKO to Corey Anderson. Walker returned in March and lost via decision via Nikita Krylov.
Walker moved his camp over to SBG Ireland and feels like it was the best camp he’s had in a long time. As for this weekend’s bout, Walker is making the following predictions:
“I’ll start hurting him. When I see an opening for a takedown, I’ll take him down. We’re fighting MMA. I’ll try to knock him out, I’ll try to submit him. I won’t leave it to the judges because I don’t like that. I’ll train hard. I’ll get some rest, too. I’ll be 100 percent for this fight and put on the best performance of my career.”
16 of his 17 pro wins have come via stoppage with 14 by way of TKO/KO. He’s 1-1 when going the distance in a fight.
For Spann, I believe this will be his toughest fight in the UFC to date. Walker’s standup game is scary when he’s focused. Spann can stand and strike, but he would prefer to get it to the mat, which Walker isn’t a fish out of water.
This will be an exciting contest and it should end inside the distance (-300). I’m going with the Over 1.5 rounds as both men will take some time to implement their plans.
As for the winner, I’m taking Walker to break his two fight losing streak and win via TKO (+150) in the late-second or early third round. The best betting value is with Walker’s moneyline as it provides a nice return and covers a victory inside the distance as well as via decision.
Over 1.5 rounds (-115)
Fight ends inside the distance (-300)
Walker wins inside the distance (+110)
Walker wins via TKO/KO (+150)
He’s back! Khamzat Chimaev returns to the octagon for the first time since turning the UFC upside down at Fight Island with two dominating wins within 10 days of each other. Not only was his turnaround a remarkable feat, but his performances quickly earned Chimaev praise from peers and his bosses.
The UFC is clearly strapping a rocket to the back of Khamzat as he has the potential to become a superstar in the sport. As for the fight against Meerschaert, there’s an added layer of drama that should unfold this Saturday.
Meerschaert has repeatedly stated that he felt disrespected with this fight and Chimaev. Eventually, the two had an altercation at the fighters’ hotel where words were exchanged. It led to an even more motivated Chimaev who stated that he was going to kill GM3 inside the octagon:
“I’m better everywhere. I’m better wrestling, I’m better grappling. I’m better in striking. No one going to stop me. … I don’t know what’s going to happen on Saturday night, but I’m going to go 100 percent to kill this guy. That’s what I know. With everything to finish him.’”
All eight of Chimaev’s pro wins have come via stoppage with five by way of TKO/KO. He won in the 1st round of both of his UFC fights and has never gone past the halfway point of a fight.
Gerald Meerschaert, aka “GM3,” last fought in June and lost via 1st round TKO to Ian Heinisch. He’s 2-2 in his last four fights and 6-5 overall inside the octagon. 23 of his 31 pro wins have come via submission. He’s 2-3 when going the distance.
In the past, I have praised GM3 for his ground work and often picked him to win. Unfortunately, he’s going up against a savage inside the cage and I just don’t see this ending well for Meerschaert.
Chimaev has showed that he can maul people inside the cage with takedowns that lead to a brutal ground and pound along with a dangerous striking arsenal. I believe he’s going to come out and smother GM3 right away.
From there, I expect Chimaev to end this fight in Under 1.5 rounds (-120). If Heinisch can beat GM3 in under 90 seconds then I certainly believe Chimaev can finish this fight in the 1st round.
With a win this weekend, watch for Chimaev to jump into the Top 15 rankings of the middleweight division. We could possibly see him return to the octagon before the year is over and get another win in 2020.
Under 1.5 rounds (-120)
Fight ends inside the distance (-350)
Chimaev wins inside the distance (-175)
Chimaev wins via TKO/KO (+155)
Fight doesn’t start 3rd round (-205)
The co-main event of the night promises to be an explosive contest in the welterweight division as Niko Price takes on the 14th ranked Donald Cerrone.
Cerrone enters this fight as the underdog and with plenty of chatter over whether he should retire or not. This retirement talk is similar to 2017 when he lost three fights in a row.
Yet, like then, Cerrone says he won’t retire and that he will walk away when he feels like it, not when others say he should.
“Cowboy” will make his 36th trip into the octagon this weekend in what will be his 53rd career fight. He’s lost four straight bouts including two this year so far. Those losses came against Tony Ferguson, Justin Gaethje, Conor McGregor and Anthony Pettis. Some of the sport’s biggest names.
When talking about this weekend’s bout, Cerrone declared that he is doing this fight for himself and expects to “finish” Niko Price in their welterweight clash:
“This one is for me, I don’t care about all the people online. Cerrone said on a vlog on his YouTube channel. “This is all about me going out there and having fun for myself. With Niko, I’m going for the finish, it is what I plan on doing.”
Price has alternated between wins and losses over the last two years with a 6-4 and 1NC record inside the octagon. He last fought in May and lost via TKO to Vicente Luque for the second time since 2017.
Despite his up and down last few years, Price is a dangerous striker with 10 TKO/KO wins and he will have a three inch reach advantage over Cerrone in this matchup.
The Over/Under for this fight is set at 1.5 rounds. I like the Under (-120) for this fight as these two men aren’t afraid to strike and actively seek finishes. I don’t see this fight going the distance (-305). If it does then it could be a fight of the year candidate.
For Price, six of his last seven fights have finished in Under 1.5 rounds. Two of Cerrone’s last three bouts have done so as well.
Where Price might have a slight edge in the standup department, Cerrone has the edge on the mat and I can see him forcing Price to tap out if they end up on the ground. With this advantage, I would expect Cerrone to go for takedowns during the striking exchanges.
I am a bit biased in this one as I’m a huge fan of Cerrone, but I also think he has a good chance at winning. He’s still talented enough to defeat fighters like Price and I believe he will pick up a stoppage victory in this contest. I’m leaning towards a submission win over a TKO/KO victory.
Under 1.5 rounds (-120)
Fight doesn’t go the distance (-305)
Cerrone wins via submission (+600)
The main event of the night is a Top 5 welterweight clash as the #2 Colby Covington takes on the #5 Tyron Woodley. It’s a contest that’s years in the making as the two were former teammates once upon a time. Since then, there have been heated words over the last few years.
Woodley, the former champ, has lost two straight fights including dropping the belt to Kamaru Usman in March 2019. He last fought in May and lost to Gilbert Burns via unanimous decision. Burns dominated that contest.
Prior to this two fight losing skid, Woodley had a seven fight unbeaten streak. 12 of his 19 pro wins have come via stoppage with seven by way of TKO/KO. He’s only been stopped once in his career and that was eight years ago. Four of his five losses have come via decision.
Covington enters this weekend’s main event as a massive betting favorite on MMA betting sites. Yet, the controversial, outspoken fighter isn’t focused on the odds as he is taking Woodley very seriously:
“If I look at the odds, it just looks like it’s going to be a cakewalk and I’m just going to walk through him. Realistically, that’s not what it’s going to be. This is a heated rivalry, this is a genuine beef, this isn’t a manufactured beef. We want to rip each other heads off.”
Covington would go on to discuss how Woodley isn’t past his prime and compared Tyron to Daniel Cormier who’s 41 and just fought for the UFC heavyweight title.
This is a change from the norm as Covington typically is more outlandish with his commentary. Yet, a focused Covington does make for a more successful fighter. He hasn’t fought since last December when he lost to Usman in their world title fight.
Seven of Covington’s 15 pro wins have come via stoppage with four by way of submission. He’s 8-0 when going the distance.
This main event bout is scheduled for five rounds and I believe it will go the full distance (-210). I’m also taking the Over 4.5 rounds (-220).
Five of Covington’s last six fights have gone the distance. In fact, his last three fights have all gone Over 4.5 rounds. Five of Woodley’s last six bouts have gone the distance including two in a row.
As for the winner, I see Covington scoring the unanimous decision win in this one. I believe Woodley is on the downside of his prime while Covington is still on the rise. We will see what he’s learned from the loss to Usman and I expect a strong showing from “Chaos.”
Over 4.5 rounds (-220)
Fight goes the distance (-210)
Fight starts round 5 (-250)
Covington wins via decision (-150)
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