For FrontPage Bets
Light heavyweight contenders Magomed Ankalaev (16-1, -600) and Thiago Santos (22-9, +485) lead Saturday night’s UFC Fight Night at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
FrontPageBets takes a look at the evening’s main card, with all lines courtesy of DraftKings and subject to change.
Ankalaev like a bigger Khabib
Ankalaev has fought his way up to the light heavyweight division in a style that I’m sure looks familiar to him. Basically take what Dagestani lightweights like Khabib Nurmagomedov and Islam Makhachev do and scale it to 205 pounds. Ankalaev is a beast with his grappling and lays down on the mat in the punch. Sometimes it leads to the finish, sometimes it goes over the distance, but nobody has made him tired.
Santos ultra hard, but on the downside
Three years ago, Santos pushed Jon Jones to the limit in a light heavyweight title fight before losing by split decision. He also came out of that fight and required surgery on both knees. Since then he has dropped two out of three fights. He still looked badass, but he’s 38 and his hand and foot speeds aren’t what they used to be.
The selection: Ankalaev should definitely be the favorite here. The +485 for Santos and -600 for Santos seems a bit extreme. Still, we can’t pull the trigger when Santos starts the excitement. Santos will likely take a beating but will go the distance. Ankalaev by decision (+140).
Marlon Moraes (23-9-1 +195) vs. Song Yadong (18-5-1, -240)
In his ninth UFC fight, Korean bantamweight Yadong has yet to break through as one would expect from someone who has lost just one in eight. That’s partly because, in one loss and one draw, he’s encountered strong wrestlers who were able to knock out his spectacular knockout ability. A win over Moraes is the kind of name-value win that should propel him there. Moraes was another knockout artist, but he’s looked in the last few games with three straight losses and four of his last five lost, all via TKO.
The selection: Yadong via KO (-110).
Alex Caceres (19-12, +190) vs. Sodiq Yusuff (11-2, -235)
This featherweight bout looks like a solid value proposition for the underdog. Caceres is in his ninth year with the UFC. He clearly won’t be a champion at this point. But he’s also a veteran crafter who brings a five-fight win streak to the fight. Yusuff, on the other hand, has undeniable knockout power, but he’s been idle and taking losses. While a Yusuff KO win is certainly a real possibility, Caceres has feasted on prospects trying to make a name for themselves at his expense and we see no reason it should be otherwise.
The selection: Caceres on decision (+400).
Karl Roberson (9-4, -135) vs. Khalil Rountree (9-4, +115)
A light heavyweight matchup between two guys who tend to look either awesome or awful with little in between, which explains the tight line. Roberson has lost twice in a row, Rountree won his last win after losing his previous two. Rountree is capable of delivering a knockout at any moment, so we’ll take that, all other things being equal.
The selection: Round Tree via KO (+215).
Drew Dober (23-11, -165) vs. Terrance McKinney (12-3, +145)
Short-term substitutes face tough battles, but upstart McKinney looks like a better fit than most. McKinney has won five times in a row and has attracted attention for his fearless attitude. Dober is no joke, but he comes from the kind of daunting back-and-forth losses that put him in a back-against-the-wall spot. McKinney seems to have all the energy in this easy fight.
The selection: McKinney via KO (+330).
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