If you’re a UFC fan, make sure you’re in front of the TV on Saturday night, because this is the only live UFC show of the month.
The card isn’t packed with household names, but there are some fun matchups in prospect, and some decent value picks, too.
Here are my selections ahead of fight night this weekend.
Sergio Pettis vs Brandon Moreno
The main event of the evening sees a battle of rising flyweight prospects, as Sergio Pettis (younger brother of former lightweight champ Anthony) does battle with Mexico’s own Brandon Moreno.
Pettis is as slick a striking stylist as you’ll find at 125 lbs in the UFC, but Moreno has more to his game.
His striking might not be as refined, but he throws with power and, crucially, excels on the mat.
I expect him to work out Pettis’ timing, let him get comfortable on the feet, then blitz him, take him down and finish him on the mat.
PICK: Moreno (-170)
Randa Markos vs Alexa Grasso
The co-main event sees an interesting battle of strawweights, as Canada’s Randa Markos takes on Mexico’s Alexa Grasso.
Grasso had issues on the scale during Friday’s weigh-in, missing weight by three full pounds (119 lbs). Markos agreed to a catchweight bout to keep the matchup alive, but I don’t see her having quite enough on fight night to outwork Grasso.
Grasso arrived in the UFC with a lot of hype, but hasn’t really delivered on the promise many believed she had.
And, in contrast with her in-form countryman in the main event, there’s a danger that fighting on home soil could potentially prove more hindrance than help with the pressure on to deliver a big performance after defeat to Felice Herrig last time out.
But despite those slight concerns, I think we’ll see a much more motivated, focused Grasso in this fight. The octagon jitters should now be out of her system, and she should be able to showcase her fast hands and slick striking skills en route to a decision victory against a fighter who won’t be hard to find (or hit).
Markos has shown a tendency to stand and throw strikes in recent fights when her wrestling might have been more useful. If she looks to wrestle, it could make things more interesting, but I have Grasso outstriking the Canadian to take the win on the scorecards after three hard-fought rounds.
PICK: Grasso (-160)
Alan Jouban vs Niko Price
I’ve already covered this bout in a separate blog post here on Sports Action (you can check it out here), but to keep things flowing I’ll give you the super-abridged version. I’ve gone with the underdog.
At +145, the Price is right.
PICK: Price (+145)
Martin Bravo vs Humberto Bandenay
Undefeated Martin Bravo (11-0) looked good in his octagon debut against Claudio Puelles last November, but with such a small sample size, plus the fact he’s facing a promotional newcomer in Humberto Bandenay, I’d steer clear of this particular matchup. Bravo is the likely pick, though.
Rashad Evans vs Sam Alvey
I believe former light heavyweight champion Evans represents decent value here in his second UFC outing at middleweight.
He looked off-form on his 185-lb debut (where he lost a split decision to Aussie Dan Kelly), but he seems much more himself this week ahead of his bout with Alvey, who isn’t known for pushing the pace in his fights.
If Evans exerts the sort of controlled pressure we know he’s capable of and uses his wrestling skills to avoid Alvey’s heavy hands, I can see him outworking "Smile’n Sam" over the three-round duration to pick up the decision victory.
PICK: Evans (+105)
Alejandro Perez vs Andre Soukhamthath
Expect a fun scrap to kick off the main card, but steer clear of this one from a betting perspective. This one could get a little wild.
[Quoted odds from Bovada]