UFC Fight Night features an MMA legend trying to remain among the division’s elite.
Story of the Card – UFC Vegas 9 is a real meat and potatoes fight card. There’s not a lot going on here as far as title hopes or incredibly hyped UFC prospects. However there are some fun fights and some necessary ones that should help us sort out the divisional hierarchies. In the Main Event we’ve got an MMA Legend in Overeem, trying to show he’s still among the elite. Plus, the co-main event features two deeply flawed but talented fighters going at it. Both St. Preux and Menefield have a chance to work their way into Light Heavyweight Top 10 Contention in this fight. We’ve also got some big boys throwing down and a fun featherweight scrap. So, let’s get to the bets.
UFC Fight Night – The Best Bets for Saturday Night
Marcos Rogerio de Lima vs. Alexander Romanov
A heavyweight bout, Marcos “Pezoa” Rogerio de Lima takes on undefeated UFC debutante Alexander “King Kong” Romanov of Moldova. This should be a fight that really showcases what the heavyweight division is all about, deeply flawed fighters with horrifying power and the ability for momentum to shift on a dime. Pezoa hits notably HARD, even in a division where everyone hits hard. He also makes boneheaded decisions like getting tapped out by attempting to grapple Stefan Struve in the 2nd round when he had been having his way on the feet through the entire 1st round.
Romanov has never lost but he’s also never fought in the UFC and this should be a big step up in competition. These are big boys who both often finish their opponents so I see this fight going one of two ways. Either Pezoa catches Romanov and knocks him out or once again shows questionable decision making in the cage and allows himself to end up on his back with Romanov who will ground and pound or club and sub his way to a finish. This is a fight where if you can find one I’d take the prop for this to end via finish.
The Pick: I just don’t trust Rogerio de Lima to make good decisions. In heavyweight MMA more often than not one or two mistakes can cost you the fight. I’ll be on Alexander Romanov to win -112 on PointsBet Sportsbook.
Top Prop: Fight to end by KO.
Number to Know: Number to know- 0 Decision victories for Alexander Romanov. It’s safe to say Romanov goes for the finish in his fights and I’d expect the same for his UFC debut.
Brian Kelleher vs Kevin Natividad
Brian “Boom” Kelleher is set to take on last minute replacement Kevin “Home Alone” Natividad at featherweight. Kelleher is a dangerous grappler who has looked decent as of late, he dropped a close fight to Cody Stamman but acquitted himself well in that fight. Nativdad is a good fighter who looks well rounded and mixes things up pretty well. This will be his UFC debut and it’s on short notice as Kelleher’s original opponent dropped off the card earlier this week.
This is a tricky fight to call. There are definitely occasions where a guy steps up on short notice and puts everyone on notice with a great performance (see Alexander Hernandez against Beneil Dariush). However, more often than not this is a tough way to debut. We know Kelleher is good on the ground. But as of late he’s been showing some development into a decent striker as well. I’ll lean towards the guy with a full training camp behind him as well as some octagon experience.
The Pick: Should be a fun fight. I’ll take Brian Kelleher to win -220 at FanDuel Sportsbook
Number to Know: 8. That’s the number of submission finishes for Kelleher in his career. Kelleher by submission is my favorite prop in this fight.
Ovince St Preux vs Alonzo Menifield
One time Light Heavyweight Title challenger Ovince St Preux will be taking on Alonzo Menifield in something of a gatekeeper vs(sorta) rising prospect fight.
OSP moved up to heavyweight in his last fight and had a pretty lackluster showing against Ben Rothwell in a split decision loss. He’s now back at Light Heavyweight facing Alonzo Menifield. Menifield was on a tear with 8 straight stoppage victories before he lost to Devin Clark via decision in his last outing.
This fight looks like it will go one of two ways given the styles involved. Either Menifield will pour it on early and finish OSP, probably via strikes or “club and sub”. Or it could be OSP surviving the early onslaught and beating a gassed Menifield, probably via submission in the later rounds.
OSP didn’t look chinny up at heavyweight but he is 37 now and Menifield is a powerful striker. At the same time, he gassed pretty badly in his last fight after failing to put away Devin Clark. There’s also no evidence in his previous fights that he does well if his opponent can survive the opening round. The longer this goes the more I like OSP’s chances, give me OSP via submission or a decision.
The Pick: Saint Preux to win is the bet for +108 at FanDuel Sportsbook.
Top Prop: I love OSP by submission. He could absolutely finish a gassed Menifield on the mat, maybe even with his patented Von Flue choke. When people are thinking about renaming a choke hold after you, submission is usually a solid pick.
Number to Know: 189 vs 46. This the respective time spent inside the Octagon for Saint Preux and Menefield. Despite both being relatively old fighters, OSP is 37 and Menifield is 32, there’s a big disparity in cage time. Give me the experience in this matchup of two talented but flawed fighters.
Alistair Overeem vs Augusto Sakai
Future Hall of Famer Alistair Overeem takes on rising Heavyweight Augusto Sakai in our main event this week. One of the most decorated strikers in MMA history, he’s still going and still only losing to the cream of the crop in the division. At 40 years old with a suspect chin Overeem is always nervewracking to gamble on. Sakai is always aggressive in his fights, even the ones he loses. He’s a big strong striker and at 29 years old he is a pup in the land of the ancients that is heavyweight MMA.
I think this could be an evenly matched fight on the feet which may surprise some people. I could see Overeem winning on the feet right up until the moment he gets slept by Sakai. If this goes to the floor, Overeem has a distinct advantage and path to victory but if it remains on the feet I like Sakai to surprise some people and turn in a good showing. He might even get a finish. It’s hard to bet against “The Reem” but I like the value of a Sakai pick here.
The Pick: I’m taking Augusto Sakai to win at +130 at PointsBet Sportsbook.
Top Prop: If there’s a theme to Overeem’s losses it’s brutal knockouts. I like Sakai by KO.
Number to Know: 6. That’s the knockout losses for Overeem since 2017. Overeem is a legend for a reason but if there’s been a knock on him lately it’s his chin and his declining durability. He was dominating the Jairzinho Rozenstruik fight all the way until he got knocked out with seconds to go. I worry the chin is only gonna get worse and I think Sakai could get it done here.
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