In a break from the norm, the UFC is opening its octagon doors for business on a Friday night as the TD Garden in Boston plays host to UFC on ESPN 6.
They’re putting on a solid-looking card, too, with some familiar names, a title eliminator, a bona-fide grudge match and a pair of women’s fights that could propel the winners to stardom.
We’ve looked down the bout sheet and highlighted four decent value bets from four of the highest-profile bouts on the card.
REYES TO BOOK TITLE SHOT WITH STRONG WIN
Former collegiate American football standout Dominick Reyes went undrafted after a strong college career on the gridiron and took the decision to switch sports. And the American is proving that decision to be a shrewd one. He’s undefeated at 11-0 and he’s now potentially one win away from a shot at the UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
To get that shot, he’ll have to prove his worth against former UFC middleweight champ Chris Weidman, who is moving up to the 205-pound division to make his light heavyweight debut as he looks to gatecrash his way to a title shot of his own.
Weidman is as tough as they come, and should be much stronger and happier at 205 than he was at 185, but Reyes’ striking is slick and accurate, and should hold the advantage on fight night.
Reyes has six knockouts to his name from 11 wins, but his last two outings, against Volkan Oezdemir and Ovince Saint Preux, both saw him go to the scorecards.
And the colossal 9/1 available for Reyes to get the job done on the cards on Friday night looks simply too good to ignore.
VALUE BET: DOMINICK REYES TO WIN BY POINTS – 9/1
RODRIGUEZ TO EDGE THREE-ROUND WAR
Mexican featherweight star Yair Rodriguez and American knockout artist Jeremy Stephens are set to face off in a rematch of their recent bout in Mexico that ended after just 15 seconds due to an accidental eye-poke by Rodriguez.
Stephens was showered with beer as he was led from the cage and the pair later had an angry exchange at the host hotel. It meant the fight simply had to be rebooked, and it takes place on Friday night with bad blood everywhere you look.
Stephens is fired up beyond belief, while Rodriguez wants to prove a point. It could turn into an all-out war. Stephens carries the greater power, but Rodriguez is the better technician, and the 7/5 available on the Mexican taking the win on the scorecards after five gruelling rounds looks a nice bet.
VALUE BET: YAIR RODRIGUEZ TO WIN BY POINTS – 7/5
GRAPPLING CHOPS GIVE “THE SAVAGE” THE EDGE
Also on the card is a matchup between two women’s flyweight fighters with a bright future and a possible title shot in their future. But which one will make a big step forward?
Maycee “The Future” Barber arrived in the UFC vowing not only to become world champion, but to do it quickly enough to beat Jon Jones’ record and become the youngest UFC champion in history. The 21-year-old is making all the right moves and, at 7-0, looks every inch a rising star of the division.
But she’s taking on a fellow hot prospect who isn’t getting the same star treatment, but might actually be the more ready of the two for a move up. Gillian Robertson is instantly noticeable with her dyed red hair, and the modest, giggly Canadian’s admittedly “socially awkward” persona contrasts markedly with Barber’s forthright, confident personality.
But while they may be very different people, the key point of difference inside the cage. Barber is a stand-up fighter who is happy to go to the mat and deliver ground and pound. But Robertson has an ace up her sleeve in the form of her grappling. “The Savage” has finished six of her seven career wins to date, with five of those coming by way of submission.
Whether she’s taking your back and locking up a rear-naked choke or grabbing your arm and finishing with an armbar, Robertson is not to be messed with on the mat, and the 10/3 on the Canadian to win on Friday night by that method looks like excellent value.
“MEATBALL” MOLLY TO DOMINATE ON THE CARDS
“Meatball” Molly McCann is one of the most infectious personalities in British MMA, and the proud Evertonian is making great strides in the UFC after earning her spot in the big show by winning the Cage Warriors flyweight title.
McCann’s only defeat in the last four years came at the hands of the aforementioned Robertson, but has otherwise looked excellent in the octagon, and has improved with every fight.
On Friday in Boston she’s taking on Romanian Diana Belbita, whose only defeats have come via submission and split decision. But McCann’s constant forward pressure and heavy hands should be able to see her claim either a late stoppage or a clear decision win. Women’s fights tend to go to the scorecards more often than not, so the 5/6 on a McCann decision victory seems like the smart pick here.
VALUE BET: MOLLY McCANN TO WIN BY POINTS – 5/6