Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight kingpin Cain Velasquez gets an unfriendly welcome back to the Octagon this Sunday (Feb. 17, 2019) when he takes on Francis Ngannou inside Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Ariz., headlining the promotion’s first-ever ESPN Fight Night. Down at Lightweight, James Vick and Paul Felder attempt to rebound from recent defeats at each others’ expense, while Cynthia Calvillo looks to continue her resurgence against Cortney Casey and Kron Gracie makes his Octagon debut against Alex Caceres.
We’re juggling way too many subscriptions these days; therefore, let’s see if we can’t pay for them all in one fell swoop.
What went wrong at UFC 234?
Well, the main event imploded, but we came out unscathed. Devonte Smith, Ricky Simon and Jalin Turner all performed up to expectations.
UFC On ESPN 1 Odds For The Undercard (ESPN+, ESPN):
Jimmie Rivera (-145) vs. Aljamain Sterling (+125)
Manny Bermudez (-200) vs. Benito Lopez (+170)
Andrea Lee (-190) vs. Ashlee Evans-Smith (+165)
Scott Holtzman (-175) vs. Nik Lentz (+155)
Jessica Penne (-160) vs. Jodie Esquibel (+140)
Luke Sanders (-185) vs. Renan Barao (+160)
Aleksandra Albu (-155) vs. Emily Whitmire (+135)
Thoughts: See, UFC 234 organizers? This is what competitive matchmaking is supposed to look like. Practically every line here is reasonable and accurate.
Which is, unfortunately, not ideal for my line of work.
Emily Whitmire seems like a solid underdog investment, though. Albu’s had just one fight in almost four years and looked mediocre against Kailin Curran in that bout. Whitmire’s the more technical striker and Albu’s combination of poor fight IQ and overuse of brute force with her takedowns opens up Whitmire’s ground game.
In addition, a bit on Andrea Lee could work, too. Ashlee Evans-Smith’s wrestling has been sorely underwhelming in the Octagon and Lee should be able to tear her up on the feet.
UFC On ESPN 1 Odds For The Main Card:
Cain Velasquez (-165) vs. Francis Ngannou (+145)
James Vick (-115) vs. Paul Felder (-105)
Cynthia Calvillo (-300) vs. Cortney Casey (+250)
Kron Gracie (-350) vs. Alex Caceres (+290)
Vicente Luque (-360) vs. Bryan Barberena (+300)
Myles Jury (-150) vs. Andre Fili (+130)
Thoughts: This sounds dumb even to me, but I’m sorely tempted to lay down a pittance on Alex Caceres.
Kron Gracie is a monster on the mat, but has been out of action for two years, is still developing his striking, and largely relies on pulling guard to get to his world. It’s a lot harder to trap someone against the edge of the Octagon than the Rizin’ ring, too, so his tendency to just wade in until his opponent runs out of room to retreat isn’t going to be effective. Caceres can win this by staying at range and just picking him off all night, and seeing as we’ve got a bit of a buffer set up after those early successes, I’d say it’s a possibility worth investing in.
UFC on ESPN 1 Best Bets:
- Single bet — Emily Whitmire: $40 to make $54
- Single bet — Andrea Lee: $38 to make $20
- Single bet — Alex Caceres: $20 to make $58
Francis Ngannou vs. Cain Velasquez is the sort of compelling match up the Heavyweight division is short on these days; therefore, you better not miss it. See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver live UFC on ESPN 1 results on fight night, which is as good a place as any to talk about all the action inside the Octagon, as well as what you’ve got riding on the sportsbook.
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