If you’re thinking that this Saturday’s UFC Fight Night in Sao Paulo is looking kinda weak, you’re not alone. On the surface, there really aren’t any fights that will have significant impact on their respective divisions. But that doesn’t mean that there the bouts themselves are worth skipping.
The main event was supposed to be banger between light heavyweight knockout artists Glover Teixeira and Jimi Manuwa. After a flood of injuries, we’re getting Thiago Santos vs. Eryk Anders instead. They’re two middleweights that’ll be fighting at 205 pounds because each is coming in as a late replacement. In Anders’ case, the American is flying to Brazil on less than a week’s notice.
We’ve got the lesser known Nogueira returning to the cage after a PEDs-related suspension, and it’ll be Sam Alvey hoping to spoil the comeback on the Brazilian’s home soil. Given that both dudes love to throw hands, this could easily become an enjoyable slugfest.
Who else we got? Alex Oliveira is another slugger, and he’ll test welterweight prospect Carlo Pedersoli – an American stepping in on short notice for the biggest fight of his life. Perhaps Pedersoli can pull an Alex Hernandez and take down a respected 170-pounder out of nowhere. Also on the card is former bantamweight champ Renan Barao, women’s strawweight vet Randa Markos and Brazilian bruiser Francisco Trinaldo.
Not much starpower, but plenty of firepower to go around. And as always, some intriguing bets to consider. Let’s jump right into our picks, courtesy of the UFC odds at BookMaker.eu.
Eryk Anders +140 vs. Thiago Santos -175
Fight goes/doesn’t go to decision: +325 / -475
Santos is something like a middleweight Edson Barboza. His kicks are downright brutal, and his round does serious damage whether he goes low, mid or high. Peep his resume and you’ll see TKOs from spinning wheel kicks, kicks to the body and head kicks. Though he doesn’t have the explosive athleticism of Barboza, he’s a better puncher as Santos can just as easily finish fights with his fists.
Anders is a former star linebacker from college football powerhouse Alabama. With that background, it shouldn’t be surprising that he’s an elite athlete that’s really, really good at trucking dudes over and bombing on them from the top. He’s also got natural killshot power, though with just three years of pro experience “Ya Boy” still doesn’t have the technique to truly maximize it.
In this matchup, Anders cannot afford to stand with a killer striker like Santos. Luckily for him, the Brazilian tends to panic when pressured into the fence. Those mistakes could give “Ya Boy” the opportunities to impose his vicious top game.
Our pick: Fight doesn’t go to decision at -475
We lean towards Santos to win, but this is an even safer pick. There’s almost no chance that this goes five full rounds, considering the circumstances. Somebody’s going to get tired – we’ve seen Santos gas and Anders didn’t even know he’d be fighting until a few days ago. Once the fatigue sets in, either guy easily has the stopping power to end this early. The price is high here, so use it as a parlay anchor.
Alex Oliveira -415 vs. Carlo Pedersoli +310
Fight goes/doesn’t go to decision: +130 / -170
Pedersoli’s 11-1 record is impressive, but that was built in tiny regional promotions. Still, managing a win over UFC castoff Nicolas Dalby says something about the 25-year old. Stepping in as a late replacement for Neil Magny, Carlo is armed with brown belts and karate and Judo and a purple belt in BJJ. He’s comfortable in every phase, but this isn’t a prospect that had the same hype as somebody like Alex Hernandez of Mirsad Bektic.
Oliveira is a Muay Thai menace, landing powerful strikes at long range. Blessed with enormous natural strength, we’ve seen Cowboy straight up ragdoll dudes and bash their heads in with vicious GNP. While he was tuned up by Cowboy Cerrone, Oliveira does own wins over solid fighters like Tim Means, Will Brooks, K.J. Noons and most recently, Carlos Condit.
Our Pick: Oliveira inside the distance
We’re taking a small risk with this prop. While we hate to completely write off a young prospect, Pedersoli is taking a fight on foreign soil without a full training camp. He’s in this fight because he was available and willing, but jumping from Bradley Scott to Oliveira is a huge task.
Antonio Nogueira +255 vs. Sam Alvey -324
Fight goes/doesn’t go the distance: +140 / -180
Lil’ Nog is at an age where a mandated hiatus probably helps him out. The man is 42 and has been through a ton of wars. While he’s the better boxer of the Nogueira twins, he’s not in the same league as his more famous brother when it comes to grappling. That shouldn’t matter anyway against Alvey, who only wants to stand up.
Alvey is 10 years younger than Nogueira, and that matters against an aging veteran. While not the type of explosive athlete that plagues the Brazilian, Smile’n is obviously the more spry of the pair. In 43 fights, the American has only been knocked out once – and that was in 2015. A conservative counterstriker, Alvey’s style can be frustrating since he always waits for his opponents to lead, so against a low-output guy like Nogueira there could be a lot of slow moments.
Our Pick: Alvey to win at -305
Nogueira’s had a distinguished career, but coming off a PEDs suspension and several brutal knockouts means we’ve got to seriously fade him.
Alternative Pick: Fight goes to decision at +140
While Alvey has a decent range of knockouts, his low output style diminishes the chances he finds a finish against a boxer like Nogueira. We love the net payout on this prop, and other bettors did too – the price has moved up significantly from +175.
Evan Dunham +203 vs. Francisco Trinaldo -260
Our Pick: Fight goes to decision at -190
Both these guys are straight bruisers who come forward, wing hard punches and grind down opponents. Trinaldo is fun to watch since he throws everything at 100%. Despite being a smothering top grappler, the Brazilian has fallen in love with the standup.
Dunham is even more aggressive than Trinaldo, landing over 5 strikes a minute. His clinch game is gold, as the powerful American can be downright mean in close quarters. A solid wrestler himself, Dunham isn’t sexy, but he’s been game enough to earn bouts with the likes of Cowboy Cerrone, Rafael dos Anjos and Edson barboza. Like the main event, it’s too risky to pick a winner, so we’re betting the decision prop. Both are extaordrinarily tough and a little too shopworn to be reliable finishers.
Renan Barao -135 vs. Andre Ewell +105
Our Pick: Barao to win
TJ Dillashaw thrashed Barao so badly that the former champion has been in a 2-4 spiral ever since. His confidence is gone, and his game has yet to evolve. But surely he can beat a UFC newcomer, right? After all, it’s not like Barao is ancient at 31. Ewell makes the jump from respectable orgs like LFA and CES, but this is a tall order for a debut.
Check out the latest UFC betting odds for today.