As unfair as it might sound, most casual MMA fans are interested in this Saturday’s main UFC Fight Night event between Paige VanZant and Michelle Waterson for…let’s just say superficial reasons.
That’s because this is “The Karate Hottie” Michelle Waterson:
And Paige Vanzant looks like this:
I realize that I’m guilty of sexist promotion here, but I promise you that there are ton of actual fight factors that should arouse your interests. Um, poor choice of words – let’s just get to your UFC betting options, courtesy of BookMaker.eu.
Please note, the UFC odds are updated daily and subject to change.
Paige VanZant (-115) vs Michelle Waterson (-105)
Over/under 4.5 rounds, over -150, under +130
Advantage: Michelle Waterson
Waterson has been training in American freestyle karate for 20 years now. Like Sage Northcutt, she’s a combat sports native, especially when it comes to striking disciplines. In addition to karate, Waterson is a student of WuShu, Muay Thai and boxing. This translates to smooth striking technique and fluid movement around the cage – her diverse arsenal of kicks is particularly effective.
Though she lacks true knockout power, Waterson can still do some damage on the feet. In her first Invicta Atomweight title defense, Waterson battered Yasuko Tamada so thoroughly that her mother would’ve had a hard time recognizing her after. On top of that, she is extremely experienced in point scoring – a product of her sport karate background.
While she’s know more for her striking, Waterson might be an even more dangerous submission threat. She’s excellent in snatching a limb or neck in scrambles, especially after she’s softened up an opponent. Still, she’d do well to keep the fight standing, where she will have a distinct technical advantage over VanZant.
Advantage: Paige VanZant
Like most of her Alpha Male teammates, VanZant is a good, strong wrestler. That will likely be her MO against the smaller Waterson, who is a natural atomweight and faces a size disadvantage against nearly every UFC strawweight. Waterson lost the Invicta title after getting muscled around by Herica Tiburcio, and VanZant will likely follow the same game plan.
VanZant is likely extremely aware of her striking deficiencies, especially after she was carved up by Rose Namajunas. Luckily for her, she shouldn’t have too much trouble pressing Waterson into the cage and activating her grinding clinch game. From there, headfighting, opportunistic knees and endless trip and sweep attempts should quickly drain Waterson’s stamina meter.
While VanZant is still unquestionably raw, she mitigates much of her lacking technique with cardio, pace and durability. Against Namajunas, she ate nearly 60 significant strikes and fought her way out of two airtight chokes – and still kept coming forward. You can’t teach that kind of toughness.
UFC Betting Values
Watching VanZant get picked apart by Rose should give Waterson hope, but Namajunas did not have to contend with such a big size differential. I expect VanZant to test out her standup against Waterson, then quickly revert to a clinch and wrestling-heavy game.
There are two solid plays in this matchup. The safest pick in the UFC Fight Night odds is the over on 4.5 rounds at -150. Both women are tough, gritty fighters that can gut it out for five rounds. The other is VanZant to win at -115, as she is the bigger fighter who will likely stifle Waterson’s offense for the majority of the fight.
Our Fight Picks:
Over on 4.5 rounds at -150, VanZant to win at -115
For more UFC odds news, check out UFC Picks: Cash in on UFC on FOX 22 Smackdown in Sactown