The UFC is back in Vegas for one last stand before moving overseas to London for the next PPV.
It’s quite the send-off with a whole slew of bantamweight brawls including the main event: Petr Yan vs. Merab Dvalishvili. Others include Said Nurmagomedov and Jonathan Martinez, Raphael Assunção and Davey Grant as well as Tony Gravely and Victor Henry. Coming in almost twice as heavy as those men, the big boys, Alexander Volkov and Alexandr Romanov, are taking the co-main event while Nikita Krylov and Ryan Spann are finally going to meet after a late cancellation a couple weeks ago.
Main Card (3:00 PM PST)
Vitor Petrino vs. Anton Turkalj
Petrino: -108 Turkalj: -115
Over 1.5: -160 Under 1.5: +125
Opening up the main card are a couple of light heavyweights straight off of the Contender Series. Turkalj actually already made his debut months ago, but he was a late-notice replacement against the future title challenger Jailton Almeida… so he really didn’t stand much of a chance and didn’t land a single strike in that fight. Before that though, he was undefeated just like Petrino.
On paper they’re pretty similar, but after watching both men on the Contender Series, there are some pretty clear differences. Petrino is MUCH larger and uses his aggressive striking pace and power to get early finishes. Turkalj has the opposite approach, using his grappling to overwhelm his opponents. Normally I’d side with the grappler, but Petrino is so big and dangerous that he should be able to grab another finish, especially since Turkalj got hit quite a bit on the Contender Series.
Petrino by Finish
Said Nurmagomedov vs. Jonathan Martinez
Nurmagomedov: -250 Martinez: +200
Over 2.5: -175 Under 2.5: +136
They’re both now on a 4-fight winstreak headed into this weekend, fighting for a spot in the top 15. Said struggled at the start of his last fight against the grappler, Kakhramonov. However, he ended up turning it around into an incredible submission in the 2nd Round. He only has one loss in the UFC and it’s to the extremely well-rounded UFC veteran Raoni Barcelos. Martinez has done well recently, but did have a 3-4 stretch in the UFC at one point.
This is a pretty even matchup, but Said has been fighting higher calibre fighters and winning. Given how close it is and how often these two end up in decisions, I’m expecting this to be a tough, close decision win for Said.
Nurmagomedov by Decision
Nikita Krylov vs. Ryan Spann
Krylov: -175 Spann: +142
Over 1.5: +140 Under 1.5: -180
We talked about this exact matchup a couple weeks ago when it was originally scheduled and it’s only solidified my pick of Ryan Spann. Krylov was the one who was sick and forced the cancellation while Spann was devastated to lose the opportunity to show his improvements. I already thought Spann was going to grab an early finish and now I’m even more convinced Spann will get in there and make a statement.
Spann by Finish
Alexander Volkov vs. Alexandr Romanov
Volkov: +128 Romanov: -158
Over 1.5: -189 Under 1.5: +145
When Romanov first came into the UFC, I was convinced he was going to be a clear top 5 heavyweight within a couple years. He certainly still has the potential to make it up there, but his last couple fights have only shown that he’s not quite there yet. Volkov is 6′ 7″, difficult to takedown and one of the most experienced heavyweights still in the UFC. If Romanov has drastically improved his cardio and fight IQ, he could take the win. With all that said, I have to side with the veteran Volkov this time.
Volkov by Decision
Petr Yan vs. Merab Dvalishvili
Yan: -267 Dvalishvili: +210
Over 4.5: -213 Under 4.5: +162
With Yan’s recent stretch of luck, it’s impossible to tell what’s going to happen here. He went from being a Pound-for-Pound great to losing his belt due to an illegal knee, then losing his last two fights in hugely controversial decisions.
As for Merab, he’s riding a 7-fight win-streak with his latest win coming over José Aldo. This comes down to their styles and their recent results. Yan is pretty well-rounded, but we saw him struggle with the grappling of Sterling. That’s significant because of Merab’s non-stop grappling pace, but also because of the fact that he’s the closest training partner of Sterling. Merab and Sterling have very similar styles and they’ve already beaten Yan before. That could very well be enough to give Yan his third loss in a row.
Dvalishvili by Decision
BLU’s Prelim Picks (Prelims begin at 12:30 PM PST)
Tony Gravely vs. Victor Henry
Gravely: +116 Henry: -145
Over 2.5: -172 Under 2.5: +133
Here we’ve got another fantastic bantamweight matchup. Both of these guys have shown a lot of promise and lost in a tough matchup in their last fight. They both have a chance to pull out the win, but there’s a lot more on Gravely’s side. He’s slightly younger, more relentless and his style is a good match for Henry’s striking. In such a tight matchup, these factors could very well make the difference, giving Gravely a hard-fought decision win.
Gravely by Decision
Raphael Assunção vs. Davey Grant
Assunção: +110 Grant: -137
Over 2.5: -180 Under 2.5: +140
It’s an embarrassment of riches for the bantamweight division this weekend! It’s another high-octane, razor-thin matchup that could go either way. Assunção is the more well-rounded and experienced fighter… but he has a bad habit getting hit. Sadly, this isn’t a matchup where he can let that happen. Grant has 3 knockout wins in his last 5 fights, while Assunção has been knocked out a couple times in the UFC. With that edge in power and striking ability, I’m predicting a Grant knockout.
Grant by Finish
BLÜ’s Best Bets
Here I highlight some betting lines that you might want to take advantage of for UFC Las Vegas. 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.
The Underdog Ryan Spann at +142
Once again, Spann is looking like he should actually be the favourite in this matchup. Krylov was the one who caused the fight cancellation a couple weeks ago and Spann is more motivated than ever to prove he’s a title contender.
The Underdog Alexander Volkov at +128
He’s the more experienced, well-rounded fighter with the style that favours this kind of matchup. With Romanov looking slightly less impressive than we originally thought, it seems like Volkov is a live underdog this week.
The Underdog Merab Dvalishvili at +210
Yan has the potential to beat every bantamweight on the roster. Sadly, he’s been going through a rough patch lately and Merab is the main training partner of the champ and Yan’s last title loss: Sterling. Even with all that aside, with this matchup being so close, you might as well take a chance on such a skewed betting line of +210.
The Short Run
Harris + Aldrich + Dumas
The Long Run
Harris + Silva + Aldrich + Dumas + Nurmagomedov