The UFC is back in action this weekend from the Apex in Las Vegas with a matchup of talented strikers in Sean Strickland +101 and Nassourdine Imavov -128. The year's first card is not short on action as it will feature big names like Dan "50K" Ige -128 taking on Damon "Action" Jackson +101 and Umar Nurmagomedov -1,111, putting his perfect record on the line against Raoni Barcelos +600.
All Odds Provided By Stake.com Accurate as of 1/12/2023 6:00 PM EST
The short-notice main event sees both fighters move up to Light Heavyweight. Sean Strickland is in his second straight main event for the UFC, and he has done well in five-round fights showing his high-pace striking and an ability to mix in grappling when needed. Nassourdine Imavov has proven ready for this step up in competition as he has demonstrated very high-level movement in his striking that has given many Middleweights problems when facing him.
I'll bet Imavov here, as his sharp counter-striking style should do well against Strickland.
Pick: Imavov O/U: Under 4.5 -128
Two Featherweights on opposite trajectories meet here. Dan Ige has battled with the best and has proven to be a good striker who is very durable. Damon Jackson has been on a solid run of late, winning fights using his grappling and striking.
Although it has not gone great for Ige of late, this is a step down in competition, and these odds provide value on him.
Pick: Ige O/U: Under 2.5 +130
This is a fun matchup at Middleweight. Punahele Soriano is a fighter I like as he is explosive on the feet, has the grappling game, and is durable. Roman Kopylov is coming off his first win in the UFC with a third-round knockout over Alessio Di Chirico.
I'm betting on Soriano here, as he is the better fighter all around, and I like the coaching he is getting at Xtreme Couture.
Pick: Soriano O/U: Under 2.5 -149
Streaking contenders at Women's Bantamweight collide here. Ketlen Vieira is a talented grappler who has learned to win fights with her striking when needed. Raquel Pennington has quietly won five of her last six fights using her solid boxing.
I've got Pennington in this one to use her striking and takedown defense to win at least two out of three rounds.
Pick: Pennington O/U: Over 2.5 -357
I wrote about a massive clash of prospects here at Bantamweight earlier in the week click here to read that. Umar Nurmagomedov has shown a very effective style, both standing and wrestling, in ways that keep him out of danger and freeze opponents. Raoni Barcelos has a very high-level ground game and mixes that with powerful striking to create a dangerous combo for any fighter.
I expect this to follow the pattern of Nurmagomedov's recent fights, with him keeping his distance and eventually getting the takedowns. However, I do not see him being able to submit Barcelos with his high-level grappling, so I will take this fight to go the distance at -217 on Stake.com.
Pick: Nurmagomedov O/U: Over 2.5 -256
Hard-hitting action at Middleweight here. Abdul Razak Alhassan has had great moments with his insane power and has cashed big props for me before. Claudio Ribeiro comes in with very powerful striking as well.
I've got my only round bet of the card here on Abdul Razak Alhassan Round One, as this is where much of his win equity is, and there is value in the number.
Pick: Alhassan O/U: Under 1.5 -227
Two debuting Lightweights with high finishing rates meet in this one. Mateusz Rebecki comes in off the contender series having a combination of wins by decision and submission while also having gone five rounds before. Nick Fiore has a perfect six fights and six first-round finishes showing he is very dangerous early in fights.
I'll pick Rebecki in this one as he has shown to be a proven fighter who looks ready for UFC-caliber competition, while I still have questions about Fiore.
Pick: Rebecki O/U: Under 1.5 -154
Two up-and-comers at Bantamweight meet early in their careers here. Mateus Mendonca makes his debut here; he is undefeated, coming off a quick knockout win on Dana White's Contender Series. Javid Basharat has looked impressive in decision wins against solid competition in Trevin Jones and Tony Gravely.
It's very tempting to take a chance on Mendonca here as I like what I've seen from him, but I have no interest in putting my money against Javid Basharat, who is already shown he is a quality fighter at this level.
Pick: Basharat O/U: Over 2.5 -120
Good matchup here at Flyweight. Allan Nascimento is a good grappler, as he showed by dominating Jake Hadley. Carlos Hernandez is an aggressive striker, although he was taken down a lot in his close contender series win over Daniel Barez.
I'll go with Nascimento in this one, as his grappling will likely be too much for Hernandez.
Pick: Nascimento O/U: Over 2.5 -192
Late opponent switch for this Featherweight battle. Daniel Argueta gets another UFC showing after his comeback attempt against Damon Jackson fell short in his debut; he is a solid wrestler with lots of quick finishes on his resume, plus strong cardio. Nick Aguirre took this fight late and will look to win using his grappling and, specifically, a series of tricky chokes.
I like Argueta and am eager to see him again, but this price is too much for me when he was out-grappled for most of his last fight.
Pick: Argueta O/U: Over 1.5 -141
Fun one at Flyweight with two fighters looking to make a name for themself. Jimmy Flick is back, and he will look to use his slick submission game again here as he did with his flying triangle against Cody Durden. Charles Johnson is coming off a close fight with Zhalgas Zhumagulov, but he showed he could compete against the high-level competition in the UFC.
I am confident in laying this price on Johnson as he has shown tremendous submission defense in his career, which accounts for most of Jimmy Flick's offense.
Pick: Johnson O/U: Under 1.5 +109
The new year opens with an excellent stylistic clash at Flyweight. Priscila Cachoeira is a tough hard hitter who has won four of her last five. Sijara Eubanks is a strong wrestler with good ground and pound.
I'll pick Eubanks to land the takedowns and finish the fight, but this price is too steep with better spots on the card.
Pick: Eubanks O/U: Under 2.5 -159
Nassourdine Imavov -128
Dan Ige -128
Punahele Soriano -164
Raquel Pennington -102
Charles Johnson -357
Umar Nurmagomedov vs. Raoni Barcelos Goes The Distance -217
Abdul Razak Alhassan Round 1 +200