The UFC’s final fight night on “UFC Fight Island” might just prove to be the best of the lot, with a card packed with exciting matchups, including a main event with possible world title implications.
But where does the value lie on such a competitive card?
Fear not, as we’ve delved into the markets and extracted three bets that offer superb value and will keep you on the edge of your seat as you follow the action on Saturday night.
Former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker is one of the toughest men in the UFC. Anyone who can go 10 rounds with the terrifying Cuban Yoel Romero and still live to tell the tale certainly deserves our respect.
But, after losing his UFC strap to the brilliant Israel Adesanya last year, Aussie Whittaker stepped away from the sport after complaining of burnout. Now he’s ready to return, and he’s going to get severely tested by Brit Darren Till, who has his sights set on a title shot at 185 pounds.
Till is the betting underdog for this fight. The fighters’ respective resumes at middleweight warrant that billing. But styles make fights, and if Till sharp and on his game, his fighting style is tailor-made for victory over Whittaker this weekend.
Whittaker does his best work on the inside, where he breaks down his opponents with his big punch power and a prodigious work rate. But, Till has shown that he is a master of range, and against contender Kelvin Gastelum he proved he’s more than capable of keeping an elite 185er on the end of his long, straight punches. He’s also decent in the clinch, too.
Till believes he has the striking advantage, but I reckon Whittaker carries the greater knockout threat. I suspect Till knows this too, and I expect him to fight tactically from range, using his kicks and straight punches to keep the former champion on the outside.
If Whittaker can get inside, things could get messy, but if Till is on his game, he has the perfect style and game-plan to run out a decision winner.
Francisco Trinaldo is the UFC lightweight division’s immovable object. The 41-year-old Brazilian has never been knocked out in MMA competition and is a nightmare match-up for anyone trying to look good in the 155-pound division.
It’s a tough test for British debutant and former Cage Warriors lightweight champion Jai Herbert, who arrives in the UFC on a string of impressive stoppage wins having finished each of his last four opponents by knockout. Indeed, he’s only gone to the scorecards once before in his MMA career.
? Jai Herbert is COLD.
— Cage Warriors (@CageWarriors) July 22, 2020
However, he’s stepping up to another level in the UFC, and in Trinaldo he’s facing one of the toughest men on the planet at 155 pounds. So that run of finishes is highly likely to come to an end this weekend.
However, the Brazilian’s plodding style should make him a pretty straightforward target for Herbert to hit, and the man known as “The Black Country Banger” has all the striking tools in his locker to rack up the points over the three rounds to score a debut victory on the scorecards.
He’ll have to be wary of the Brazilian’s takedowns, but if he keeps things standing, a debut decision win looks like decent value.
The light heavyweight bout between Russia’s Gadzhimurad Antigulov and Scotland’s Paul Craig offers a fascinating dynamic as two submission specialists go head-to-head in Abu Dhabi.
Both men are more than capable of submitting the other, and it’s more than likely that their respective grappling skills will cancel each other out over the course of their three-round matchup on Saturday night. It’s also pretty unlikely that we’ll see one of them knock out the other.
So, once again, we’re leaning towards a fight going all the way to the judges, and if we’re heading in that direction, we have to look at which fighter is more likely to control the action on the mat during the contest.
Craig often finds himself with his back on the mat, while Antigulov is an accomplished wrestler. That combination, with Craig happy to look for submissions off his back and Antigulov attacking from top position, should give the Russian the edge when it comes to any tight rounds.
Expect a cagey, tactical contest, but we’re looking for value and a Antigulov win on the scorecards looks too good to pass up.
"Paul Craig threw that triangle up like a Venus flytrap!"
— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) March 29, 2019
If you’re looking for a side bet, Craig to win in Round 3 is 9/1, and he’s produced stunning late finishes in the UFC in the past, including a LAST-SECOND submission of Antigulov’s compatriot Magomed Ankalaev in London a couple of years ago.
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