The UFC APEX facility welcomes mixed martial arts (MMA) back to “Sin City” this Sat. night (Aug. 1, 2020) when 185-pound veteran Derek Brunson attempts to halt the rise of budding middleweight star Edmen Shahbazyan in the ESPN+ main event.
The “UFC Vegas 5” fight card also features a clash between top-five flyweights Joanne Calderwood and Jennifer Maia alongside a number of potential barnburners, including Vicente Luque vs. Randy Brown and Lando Vannata vs. Bobby Green 2.
While we’re still a couple weeks out from the next major pay-per-view (PPV) event, it’s never too early to start saving.
What Went Wrong at UFC on ESPN 14?
Everything worked out on the undercard, though Francisco Trinaldo made me sweat for a bit. Unfortunately, while my prediction that Gadzhimurad Antigulov would be able to outwrestle Paul Craig proved correct, my prediction that he would subsequently dominate on the mat proved disastrously wrong. Oh well; still a profit, just not a jackpot.
Jonathan Martinez (-250) vs. Frankie Saenz (+210)
Gerald Meerschaert (-175) vs. Ed Herman (+155)
Ray Borg (-235) vs. Nathan Maness (+195)
Markus Perez (-200) vs. Eric Spicely (+170)
Timur Valiev (-155) vs. Jamall Emmers (+135)
Chris Gutierrez (-350) vs. Cody Durden (+290)
Thoughts: Three guys fighting above their ideal weight classes may seem like strange choices, but trust me on this. Gerald Meerschaert, Ray Borg, and Timur Valiev are all worth your time.
I don’t think it unfair to say that Ed Herman’s recent Light Heavyweight success came against sorely limited opposition. Pat Cummins is notoriously fragile and Khadis Ibragimov threw away his UFC career by brawling instead of relying on his excellent sambo game. Meerschaert is a more effective striker and submission artist than either of those two, and even reeling from a knockout loss to Ian Heinisch, still figures to be too durable for Herman to out-slug and too crafty for Herman to outmatch on the mat. “GM3” gets back in the win column.
Nathan Maness is a solid fighter with a couple nice wins on his record, but showed some massive flaws in his game that allowed Taylor Lapilus to comprehensively take him apart despite “Mayhem’s” considerable height advantage. While Borg’s lack of reach may look daunting on paper, Maness isn’t a difficult man to close the gap against and is on the wrong end of the hand speed battle. Borg’s got the tools to hold his own on the feet and on the mat, so bet accordingly.
Timur Valiev, though a natural Bantamweight, had an excellent run in PFL’s 2018 145-pound tournament, showing the speed and variety necessary to make up for the size. Emmers, though a capable striker and very effective wrestler, has a worrying habit of indulging opponents in the striking that got him knocked out on the Contender Series and beaten by Giga Chikadze in his Octagon debut. He can’t afford a slow start against Valiev, and even if he does get his head on straight, Valiev has the striking advantage and enough balance and scrambling ability to neuter the threat of Emmers’ takedowns. Expect a strong debut from the Ricardo Almeida BJJ product.
Edmen Shahbazyan (-320) vs. Derek Brunson (+260)
Lando Vannata (-145) vs. Bobby Green (+125)
Joanne Calderwood (-160) vs. Jennifer Maia (+140)
Vicente Luque (-185) vs. Randy Brown (+160)
Kevin Holland (-210) vs. Trevin Giles (+175)
Thoughts: Both Bobby Green and Vicente Luque are notably undervalued here.
Beating Yancy Medeiros, who’d suffered life-changing beatings in his previous fights, and Marcos Mariano, who was signed as cannon fodder, does little to convince me that Lando Vannata is finally living up to his potential. On the flipside, giving Francisco Trinaldo and Drakkar Klose everything they could handle made it fairly clear that Green’s resurgence is no joke. If Green can avoid dropping a 10-8 first round like last time, he’s got the goods to take over as the fight progresses. It’s a toss-up at worst and slightly favors Green at best, making “King” a worthwhile underdog pick.
Frankly, I don’t see what advantages Randy Brown has over Vicente Luque besides height and reach. Luque’s got far more firepower, a ridiculously durable chin, better technical kickboxing, and a more dangerous ground game. Brown is highly unlikely to rock “The Silent Assassin” on the feet or find consistent wrestling success, leaving him at the mercy of some of the division’s heaviest hands. Luque is just too tough, too slick, and too powerful for “Rude Boy” or practically anyone outside the Welterweight top 10. Be sure you’re in position to benefit.
Best bets for UFC Vegas 5:
Parlay-Ray Borg and Vicente Luque: $50 to make $60 Parlay-Gerald Meerschaert and Timur Valiev: $40 to make $63.60
LATE EDIT: Borg withdrew for undisclosed reasons and Valiev withdrew due to visa issues. I’m concatenating the bets.
Parlay: Vicente Luque and Gerald Meerschaert: $40 to make $56.83
Single bet-Bobby Green: $40 to make $50
Between the potential for serious action fights and a must-watch debut on the undercard, this one don’t look too shabby.
Initial Investment For 2020: $300
Current Total: $443.76
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 5 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, followed by the main card portion that also streams on ESPN+ at 9 p.m. ET.
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