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UFC Sandhagen vs Moraes features a number one contenders match plus some fun fights.

Story of the Card: UFC Fight Night Sandhagen vs Moraes features a probable number one contenders match in the Bantamweight Division. Then, the co main event this week features one of MMA’s most exciting but frustrating talents in Edson Barboza. We’ve also got some big boys throwing down in the heavyweight division on this card, and a former GLORY kickboxer looking to take a step up in competition.

UFC Fight Night – The Best Bets for Saturday Night

Giga Chikadze vs. Omar Morales

Giga Chikadze is one of the most exciting up and comers in the featherweight division. The former GLORY kickboxer is a clinical striker who has yet to lose in the Octagon. He’s a perfect 3-0 in his first year and showcases the kind of MMA striking you would expect from someone who competed and excelled at the highest level of kickboxing. An injury took him out of a but against Alex Caceres but he’s still looking at a big step up in competition taking on Omar Morales.

Morales is a good MMA striker who has also shown flashes of an emerging ground game. To me this fight will be a test of Morales’s ability to put the mixed in Mixed Martial Arts. If he tries to just strike with Chikadze I expect him to get chewed up but if he throw in level changes and use the threat of the takedown to take him out of his game he could pull the upset. I think Giga gets it done here, he’s shown all the right signs in transitioning his game to MMA and as Israel Adesanya and other converted kickboxers have shown if he can set his game up in a way that makes sense he can leverage his top tier striking to make a run in the division.

The Pick: Giga Chikadze to win +128 to win at PointsBet Sportsbook.

Number to Know: 38-6. That’s Giga’s kickboxing record, much of it in the top levels of the sport with Glory. Look for him to leverage his striking en route to a victory.

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Ben Rothwell vs Marcin Tybura

The big boys swanging and bangin! Ben Rothwell aka the hairiest man in MMA takes on Polish heavyweight and one time hot prospect Marcin Tybura. Ben Rothwell is 38, which is still relatively young for heavyweight, and coming off two straight wins. He is also horrifically durable. MMA is a sport about technique and strategy but it’s also a sport where durability is vital. Rothwell has taken some hellacious shots and has somehow not been knocked out by strikes since 2009.

Marcin Tybura is a good fighter who proved to have a lower ceiling than many hoped when he started his UFC run. He’s got decent striking and a surprisingly slick striking game. The only problem is where Rothwell has an almost scary level of durability Tybura’s chin has started to become questionable. If this fight stays standing which I expect it will I think Rothwell eventually lands something that puts Tybura away. I think this fight is close right up until the finish.

The Pick: Ben Rothwell to win -180.

Number to Know: 11. That’s the number of years since Rothwell was knocked out by strikes courtesy of Cain Velazquez. This from a guy who has been both active and fighting top guys. Inhuman durability carries the day.

Edson Barboza vs Makwan Amirkhani

Edson Barboza, owner of the most famous wheel kick knockout in UFC history, takes on Makwan Amirkhani in the co main event. Barboza was originally slated to take on rising prospect Sodiq Yusuff but Yusuff had to withdraw so Amirkhani is in. Barboza is wildly talented, one of the best kickers the sport has seen and a dynamic athlete. He beats everyone except the top guys who all find a way to push him against the cage and force him backwards. When people force him backwards Barboza’s game falls apart and he seems to gallop around the cage.

When he’s allowed to have his fight he looks incredible as he did in his absolute demolition of Dan Hooker. I don’t see Amirkhani being able to impose himself on Barboza. Amirkhani, who goes by the delightful nickname “Mr. Finland” is a slick submission artist who trains out of SBG. Like all SBG fighters he seems to show sort of a feast or famine style of fighting. He can look incredible, as he did in his last fight, or he gasses and loses a disappointing fight. I just think Barboza is one of those fighters who is too talented to lose to anyone without a great game plan and I don’t see Mr Finland beating him. Barboza gets back on course.

The Pick: Edson Barboza to win -245.

Number to Know: 126. Significant Strikes landed in Edson’s fight with Dan Hooker. When Barboza can play his game he puts on a show.

Marlon Moraes vs Cory Sandhagen

This is a great fight and the winner will probably receive a crack at 135 lb champ Petr Yan. Sandhagen is a tall rangy fighter who beat some of the divisions best before stumbling against Aljamain Sterling this June. Before he lost in a quick submission to Aljo he was on an incredible streak with 7 wins, 5 coming via finish. Moraes meanwhile looked to be on his way to a belt all the way until the 2nd round of his title fight with Henry Cejudo. He gassed in that fight and lost but bounced back with a win over Jose Aldo. These are both great fighters and this should be a close fight.

Moraes starts fast, has incredible kicks and often bulldozes opponents early. Sandhagen is a long rangy fighter who throws a ton of volume and makes beautiful reads as the fight goes on. I think there’s a chance Moraes catches Sandhagen early but I think there’s a better chance Sandhagen survives and takes over as the fight goes on. Sandhagen has beautiful footwork and good durability. He got caught early in his last fight so I think he’ll be focused to prove that was a fluke in this next one. Moraes is a great fighter but his gas tank and mindset in the Cejudo fight seems worrying. The longer this goes the more I like Sandhagen. I think Cory gets the win.

The Pick: Cory Sandhagen to win -150 at DraftKings Sportsbook.

Top Prop: Fight doesn’t go to decision. These guys are both violent as hell, and I think this stays inside the distance.

Number to Know: 6.95 is the number of significant strikes per minute for Sandhagen. I think the volume advantage is big here.

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