UFC Kansas City is looking like a striker’s dream with some pretty explosive striking matchups.
The main event includes one of the greatest MMA strikers of all time, Max Holloway, taking on a potential title contender in Arnold Allen. The co-main is set to be just as thrilling with another featherweight barnburner between the veteran, Edson Barboza, and Billy Quarantillo. Also on the main card is another incredible matchup, this time at bantamweight, with Pedro Munhoz and Chris Gutierrez. If that wasn’t enough striking for you, there’s also former Glory kickboxer Dustin Jacoby taking on the undefeated knockout artist Azamat Murzakanov.
There’s also a HUGE ranked fight on the prelims; a wild matchup between Brandon Royval and Matheus Nicolau. Canadians will also be happy to know that there are TWO fellow Canadians on the card with some potentially favourable matchups: Tanner Boser and Gillian Robertson. All of these matchups (plus more) are covered below and feature BLÜ’s predictions along with the Bet99 Sportsbook Odds. Bet99 is the official betting sponsor of the Area 51 Sports Network.
Main Card (7:00 PM PST)
Clay Guida vs. Rafa García
Guida: +200 García: -260
Over 2.5: -209 Under 2.5: +160
I’ve been siding with the perennial underdog, Clay Guida, for his last few fights and reaped the rewards. Sadly, this isn’t going to be one of those matchups. Guida overwhelms people with his grappling and his pace. Garcia has great grappling and he’s over 10 years younger. I’m not going to count Guida out completely, but I’ll certainly be favouring the much younger man in this matchup. Also, with both men involved in mostly decisions, this one will likely reach the final bell.
García by Decision
Pedro Munhoz vs. Chris Gutierrez
Munhoz: +171 Gutierrez: -213
Over 2.5: -225 Under 2.5: +171
In one of the most explosive matchups of the night, we’ve got two elite UFC strikers trying to climb the bantamweight ladder. Munhoz is the veteran coming into this one at 36 years old. He’s been in the top 15 for a while, but has slowly been sliding out of the rankings with losses to Sterling, Edgar, Aldo and Cruz with a 1-4 record in his last 5. Gutierrez has been on the opposite trajectory, flying up the rankings recently with 7 wins in his last 8 and some VERY impressive finishes over Edgar and Danaa Batgerel in his last two fights.
It’s pretty clear that Gutierrez should be favoured in this matchup; he’s got all the momentum, he’s younger and he’s longer. All of that points to a finish… but Munhoz has never been finished in his entire career. With that in mind, I’ll stick with that trend, giving Gutierrez a convincing decision win.
Gutierrez by Decision
Ion Cutelaba vs. Tanner Boser
Cutelaba: -134 Boser: +110
Over 1.5: -148 Under 1.5: +114
One thing that seems certain about this matchup is that there should be a finish. I’ve gotta say though, the betting lines are bit puzzling here. Cutelaba has been finished in most of his last 5 fights because he gets hit a lot. On the other side, we’ve got a man who’s very dangerous on his feet and is moving down from heavyweight. It seems pretty likely that Boser will use his extra power and strong chin to weather the early storm from Ion and grab a finish.
Boser by Finish
Dustin Jacoby vs. Azamat Murzakanov
Jacoby: -163 Murzakanov: +133
Over 2.5: -108 Under 2.5: -119
Following the overarching theme of this UFC card, both of these guys are pure strikers. As such, this will come down, once again, to who’s the better striker. On paper, the 12-0 fighter, Murzakanov would seem like the better choice. That being said, if you watch his UFC fights, he was actually losing most of them on the cards until he grabbed a finish. Jacoby is the opposite, grabbing mostly decisions. With those two styles, I have to favour the guy who’s going to take this the entire distance: Dustin Jacoby. I just don’t believe Azamat will be able to finish Jacoby and it’s pretty clear that, if he can’t get that finish, Jacoby will win the decision.
Jacoby by Decision
Edson Barboza vs. Billy Quarantillo
Barboza: +145 Quarantillo: -180
Over 2.5: -123 Under 2.5: -105
In yet another striker’s delight on this card, Barboza will try and put a stop to his losing streak and also halt the momentum of Billy Q. Barboza has been sliding down the ladder recently with a 2-5 record in his last 7 fights. That aside, he’s always maintained a high level of danger on the feet. Quarantillo is a good striker too, but there’s simply no comparison in terms of skill. Billy Q gets hit way too much compared to Barboza and that’s something that’s not going to end well in a matchup like this. I’d be a little surprised if Barboza is able to grab a finish over someone so durable. With that in mind, Edson should be able to squeak ahead in a hard-fought decision.
Barboza by Decision
Max Holloway vs. Arnold Allen
Holloway: -184 Allen: +150
Over 4.5: -134 Under 4.5: +105
Capping off the night is one of the most intriguing UFC featherweight matchups of the year with the top two contenders in the division. Holloway is 2-3 in his last 5 fights… but ALL of those losses have come to the same man: the featherweight GOAT, Volkanovski. Outside of that he’s been widely considered as the top contender in the division for years, even beating the interim champ, Rodriguez, in 2021. On the other side, Allen has a 19-1 record, undefeated in the UFC with recent finishes over Kattar and Hooker.
If Allen was fighting any other non-champ in a 5 round fight, I’d give him the win. However, Holloway has still proven to be at that championship level. His striking is on another level and he’s no slouch when it comes to grappling either. Allen is going to be near the top of the division for a long time, but the skill, cardio and experience of Holloway should win him this fight.
Holloway by Decision
BLU’s Prelim Picks (Prelims begin at 3:00 PM PST)
Brandon Royval vs. Matheus Nicolau
Royval: +171 Nicolau: -213
Over 2.5: -105 Under 2.5: -123
It’s shocking that this matchup isn’t on the main card; they’re in a spot where a big win could solidify a title shot later this year or early next year. Although they’re both definitely on that level, Nicolau has shown himself to be just a bit more dangerous. Royval is the kind of fighter that goes all-out: all of his last 8 fights (except for 1) has ended in a finish. Nicolau is a bit more patient, but has been flawless in the UFC against some tough contenders with wins over Kape, Elliott, Dvořák and Schnell.
With Royval being so aggressive, I expect him to get too comfortable and too close, allowing Nicolau to grab an impressive finish. Even if he doesn’t get the finish, he’s also simply more well-rounded and a skilled and smarter with his fight IQ. Either way, we should see a Nicolau win and a VERY exciting fight.
Nicolau by Finish
TJ Brown vs. Bill Algeo
Brown: +160 Algeo: -200
Over 2.5: -217 Under 2.5: +166
They may not be the most well-known guys on the card, but this is shaping up to be one of the wilder matchups on the card. Both of these guys leave it all in the cage, so it could go either way and it should be exciting. Since grabbing his contract on the Contender Series, Brown has gone 3-3 in some fairly close matchups. Sadly, none of those fights were against any significant names. Algeo has also gone 3-3, but his level of competition has been a bit tougher. He made Herbert Burns look like an amateur and beat a pretty tough fighter in Joanderson Brito. This matchup should be close, but Algeo seems to have the slight edge.
Algeo by Decision
BLÜ’s Best Bets
Here I highlight some betting lines that you might want to take advantage of for UFC Kansas City. These are odds that favour the bettor. Although some of them may conflict with my picks, they offer a fair reward for a slight bit of risk.
Cutelaba vs. Boser Under 1.5 at +114
On paper, this is one of those matchups that seems destined to end with an early finish. Most of Cutelaba’s recent fights have ended before the 1.5 round mark and Boser is coming down from heavyweight. With that kind of power flying around and two aggressive fighters, a +114 line is definitely worth the stab.
The Underdog Tanner Boser at +110
As mentioned in the previous bet, Boser is coming down from heavyweight. He was knocking people out up there and was taking some BIG shots. I just don’t think Ion will be able to get a finish. Plus, we’ve already seen him get finished in the 1st Round multiple times. A +110 betting line looks pretty juicy when you’ve got that kind of power being thrown around.
The Underdog Edson Barboza at +145
Barboza has definitely been on a bit of a slide in his career, but those losses have come to the truly elite featherweights. That’s something we just haven’t seen from Quarantillo yet. With Billy Q getting hit so much in his previous fights, I’d say that the absurd skill and speed of Barboza’s striking will be too much. With all that skill and experience, why not take a gamble at +145?
The Short Run
Nicolau + Garcia + Gutierrez
The Long Run
Nicolau + Garcia + Gutierrez + Jacoby + Holloway