The UFC is back in the Apex this weekend, headlined by Middleweights Brendan Allen -400 and Paul Craig +320 going head to head. I went over that fight and the entire card to give my predictions and best bets, so let's get into it.
Odds provided by Stake.com accurate as of 10:20 AM EST 11/17/2023
Middleweights looking to prove they belong in title contention battle it out in our main event. Brendan Allen has rounded out his game and become a dangerous threat in this division with clean striking and a dominant ground attack. Paul Craig is a submission specialist who has worked to add some striking to his arsenal, although he will always be most dangerous from his full guard, where he has caught many in his wide array of chokes.
This is a good matchup for Allen as I see him fighting smart to defend from Craig's ground game, dominate the striking, and eventually find a knockout.
Pick: Allen O/U: Over 1.5 -118
A big Welterweight prospect gets his toughest test to date here. Jake Matthews is a solid veteran who has grown up in the UFC, developing a solid striking game to go with his dangerous ground game. Michael Morales is a very big and athletic prospect, and although he has shown talent, he is very hittable and leaves many openings that top-tier opponents will take advantage of.
I took Matthews here as the underdog as I like how he has rounded out his game and think his experience will play a huge factor in this matchup.
Pick: Matthews O/U: Over 1.5 -200
Lightweight grapplers square off in this fun matchup. Jordan Leavitt is a good grappler who can hold position well, although he lacks much finishing ability. Chase Hooper looked great after moving up to Lightweight his last fight, his striking is still a question, but his grappling is very solid.
I lean with Hooper as he will not have to fear the strikes coming back and will have an edge on the ground; however, this price makes him tough to back.
Pick: Hooper O/U: Over 2.5 -152
An intriguing Bantamweight prospect makes his debut here. Payton Talbott is an undefeated young talent with a high-pace striking style; he is willing to trade punches, which has worked for him as he has finished five wins by knockout. Nick Aguirre is a solid submission grappler who has proven tough to finish, although he struggled when facing an opponent with good grappling in his UFC debut against Dan Argueta.
I'm excited to watch Talbott here as I think he drowns Aguirre with volume and gets a late finish.
Pick: Talbott O/U: Over 1.5 -185
Strawweights who are looking to enter contention clash here. Amanda Ribas moves back down in weight here, and I'm not entirely sure why, as I thought she was having success at Flyweight; either way, she is a skilled grappler who doesn't take punches well. Luana Pinheiro comes into this one off a close win over Michelle Waterson-Gomez, where she left some to be desired in a step up in competition.
I'll pick Ribas here, as she should have the edge in grappling and striking to take a clear decision.
Pick: Ribas O/U: Over 2.5 -213
Short notice matchup here to open the main card at Welterweight. Uros Medic is a dangerous striker with good takedown defense, and he scored a big comeback knockout in his debut at this weight last time out against Matt Semelsberger. Myktybek Orolbai comes in here on just days' notice; he is a powerful striker with solid experience outside of the UFC, showing he is ready for this level.
This is going to be a great fight where both guys will land big shots, but I'm taking Orolbai to hold up better and get a knockout win late, although I would be much more confident if it were not such late notice.
Pick: Orolbai O/U: Over 1.5 -189
Fantastic fight here at Featherweight between two very fun-to-watch fighters. Jonathan Pearce is a very high-paced grappler, his striking needs work, but he is durable and will keep the pressure on. Joanderson Brito is a dangerous finisher with powerful hands and a solid submission game, although, with the early danger, he can fade later in fights.
I like Pearce here as he is relentless on the ground and very skilled, leading him to take over this fight late if it gets past the first round.
Pick: Pearce O/U: Over 2.5 +117
Intriguing matchup here at Bantamweight. Chad Anheliger is a tough fighter with great cardio, which has helped him outlast several opponents. Jose Johnson is very tall for the weight class and has a dangerous ground game, although he lacks much high-level experience.
I lean with Anheliger at this price as he has more high-level and late-fight experience.
Pick: Anheliger O/U: Over 2.5 -125
Short notice Middleweight matchup starts off the card. Christian Leroy Duncan is an explosive striker with a unique style, his grappling is also solid, but he uses it sparingly. Denis Tiuliulin steps in here on short notice; he has decent kickboxing but has significantly struggled when forced to grapple.
Duncan is the rightful favorite here, but there is no way to lay this pricetag after his last showing.
Pick: Duncan O/U: Under 1.5 -111
Up and coming Heavyweights clash here. Mick Parkin comes into this off an impressive debut where he showed good hands. Caio Machado makes his debut here, and based on what I have seen, I'm not sure he is ready to compete at this level.
Parkin should take this one, and he will likely get his first UFC finish here.
Pick: Parkin O/U: Under 1.5 +131
Featherweight finishers matchup early on the card. Lucas Alexander is a good kickboxer with a kick-heavy style; his grappling is a weak point, as he has been submitted in each of his losses. Jeka Saragih comes in off the Road to UFC, he is a flashy striker, but he lacks some fundamental skills that are needed at this level.
Alexander should take this one, as he is a more experienced and dangerous striker; I see him getting a knockout finish here.
Pick: Alexander O/U: Over 1.5 -172
Bantamweights looking to gain momentum in the division face off in this one. Lucie Pudilova continues her second UFC stint here. Ailin Perez got her first UFC win last time out in a good showing where she dominated using her grappling.
I'll pick Perez here as she looked good her last time out, but I can't pay this price to bet her.
Pick: Perez O/U: Over 2.5 -294
Veteran Lightweights go head to head in the featured prelim. Nikolas Motta is a hard-hitting striker with an aggressive style, although he isn't the most durable fighter. Trey Ogden has struggled in the UFC as he has little power in his hands or wrestling to get fighters to the ground.
I've got Motta in this one, as he is the much more dangerous and aggressive fighter here.
Pick: Motta O/U: Under 2.5 -105
Undefeated debutant takes on a tested veteran at Flyweight. Charles Johnson is a striker with a lot of movements that are tough for opponents to deal with; he also has a good submission game but can be held in the bottom position. Rafael Estevam won his fight on the Contender Series with heavy top pressure; although his opponent did not fight very smart, Estevam remained composed and got the win to his credit.
I've got Johnson here as he has proven very difficult to finish, and he can go for three rounds, which I am not sure Estevam can.
Pick: Johnson O/U: Over 2.5 -244