UFC Fight Night: Gane vs. Volkov goes down this Saturday night at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. We have a sneaky good card here for a UFC Fight Night. In the headliner, we have an important heavyweight matchup between the undefeated, Ciryl Gane, and perennial top-10 heavyweight, Alexander Volkov. The rest of the card has some intriguing matchups and betting opportunities that we will get into but before we dive into this week’s card, let’s take a look back at UFC 263: Adesanya vs. Vettori 2. As always, you can find all of my picks for this week's UFC event at the bottom of this article. Now let's recap our last card.
All lines below provided by DraftKings Sportsbook at time of publishing. All stats provided by UFCStats.com
UFC 263: Adesanya vs. Vettori 2 Betting Recap -
All Fight Picks: 9-5
Official Plays: 2-2
Solid night of picks, despite the negative number in the units column. Lauren Murphy (+117) got us in to the win column with a gritty, split decision victory over Joanne Calderwood (-148) which all but guarantees her a title shot against Valentina Shevchenko. Next up, Drew Dober (-155) and Brad Riddell (+125) engaged in a fight of the night war, but unfortunately for us Dober was on the wrong end of the decision. In the first title fight of the night, our pick, Deiveson Figueiredo (-225) could not retain his flyweight title as he was submitted by Brandon Moreno (+175). After some weight cutting issues, it may be time for Figueiredo to move up to bantamweight. We got back in the win column as Isreal Adesanya (-275) was able to retain his title against Marvin Vettori (+215) in dominant fashion. Next up for him is Robert Whittaker. Let’s now turn our attention towards this week’s card, UFC Fight Night: Gane vs. Volkov
Ciryl Gane (-155) vs. Alexander Volkov (+125)
We are getting one hell of a main event when Ciryl Gane takes on Alexander Volkov in an important heavyweight bout for the division. The winner of this bout could very well be next in line for a title shot, especially if Jon Jones continues to hold out. Gane is an impressive heavyweight. He’s a former soccer player that’s transitioned into MMA through Muay Thai. He has incredible movement for a heavyweight, as he moves like a bantamweight. That movement helps him land 5.04 significant strikes per minute while only absorbing 1.85 per minute. He’s a varied striker throwing an array of punches, kicks, and combinations. He switches stances fluidly which often makes his opponents hesitant and keeps them from getting into an offensive groove. He will look to do the same against Volkov and avoid his power and accurate straight right hand while getting off his own offense in a heavy-hitting main event fight here.
Volkov comes from a kickboxing background. He calmly pressures his opponents while doing a good job of cutting off the cage. Offensively, he throws a nice jab to a straight right hand that is very accurate and powerful. He also throws an uppercut to a hook that he does a great job of sneaky behind his opponent’s guard. He’s landed that combination in last two fights and it lead to the finish. Like Gane, he throws good volume on the feet, landing 4.88 significant strikes per minute, but absorbs 2.48. Volkov will look to cut the cage off in this matchup which will help him negate Gane’s fluid movements. Landing heavy leg kicks will also help slow Gane down and sap some of his power. As I stated above, this is a big matchup for the division and for both men. They very well could be fighting for the heavyweight title by year’s end. Gane would like to keep his record blemish free. Volkov would like to continue his winning streak since revamping his training camp and body. Gane is a uber talented and athletic heavyweight who’s looked good on his ascension up the heavyweight division. He now meets an uber seasoned veteran and former champion in Volkov. On pure ascetics and their respective “tool boxes,” it’s easy to love Gane. However, for me, this fight is incorrectly lined. I agree with Gane being the favorite, but not this big of a favorite. This is closer to a pick’em fight to me. I have this fight lined at Gane around -125 and Volkov at around +105. Based on that, I have to bet Volkov here and it seems like the “public/sharps” seem to agree.
Volkov has been around +145 all week and as of this writing, Thursday evening, he’s now at +125. I love that he’s added weight to his frame. After fighting around 247lbs for most of his career, he’s added weight, tipping the scales at the division limit of 265lbs. That increase in weight and power as a result has been evident in last two fights, both ending via knockouts. His overall performances since the new found refocus and weight gain has been impressive. Ultimately, I believe that he will use his methodical forward pressure and cage cutting skills to negate Gane’s movements and land the more accurate and powerful shots over the course of five rounds. The pick and unit count is 1.5 on Alexander Volkov (+125)
Andre Fili (-230) vs. Daniel Pineda (+180)
This fight has “war” written all over it as Andre Fili takes on Daniel Pineda in a featherweight bout. Both of these guys are tough, gritty fighters who are going to fight for your money from horn to horn in this match.
Pineda is a talented black belt who is more than comfortable with the fight being contested on the ground regardless if he is in top or bottom position. From top position, he’s very strong and has controlled the majority of his opponents. He could have success as Fili can be taken down, but is hard to hold down. Pineda lands 1.55 takedowns per 15 minutes, but Fili has a pretty solid 64% takedown. It’ll be interesting to see if Pineda’s ground control will hold up. However, where he really likes to work is on the feet and I believe that the majority of the fight will take place there. He typically goes to war with his opponents on the feet where he utilizes powerful low kicks and big overhand punches looking to land a knockout punch, and he has a kill or be killed mentality as evidenced by 13 of his last 14 fights not seeing a decision.
Fili will oblige him too. Fili is a well-rounded fighter who can do a little bit of everything, but mainly excels on the feet particularly as a counter striker. He will also mix in the occasional low kick as well. He will look to use his range in this matchup and control distance against Pineda. By doing that, he will be able to counter Pineda as he wildly closes distance to throw a strike or attempt a takedown. Pineda can be a bit sloppy with his striking, often not being defensively sound. Fili will also look to hit timely takedowns. He lands 2.50 takedowns per 15 minutes and Pineda has a 44% takedown defense. Pineda is dangerous on the mat, but no more dangerous than some opponents Fili has fought in the past. Fili is a vet of the sport and will not hesitate to hit a timely takedown to mix up things up and score points if need be.
Pineda’s kill or be killed fight style is a double edged sword. Obviously, you love that he’s willing to go all out to get the victory, but unfortunately that leads to him being countered. That is exactly what happened in his previous fight against Cub Swanson. He was able to land some big shots and hurt Swanson early. However, Swanson weathered the storm and was able to pick him apart in route to knocking him out with a timely counter. Fili and Swanson are very similar fighters stylistically. I expect Fili to avoid Pineda’s power early and pick him apart over the course of three rounds and also mix in some timely double leg takedowns. The other important factor for me is Fili’s movement on the feet. I believe that will also help him avoid the aggressive offensive onslaught of Pineda. All in all, stylistically, I believe Fili has Pineda covered everywhere so I’m going to lay the big number. The pick and unit count is 2.5 on Andre Fili (-230)
Tim Means (-137) vs. Nicolas Dalby (+110)
Both of these welterweights come into this matchup on win streaks (two for Means and five for Darby) and are each looking to continue their rise through the welterweight division and crack the top 15 ranks.
Means is going to look to keep this fight standing where he can utilize his boxing. He has a sharp, quick jab that he uses to keep his opponent at distance and setup his combod. He is a crisp, technical striker who throws a vast array of combinations (5.16 strikes/min). He also mixes in beautifully timed elbows and knees in the pocket and clinch. He prefers to stand and strike with his opponents, but he does a good job of mixing in timely level changes and I see him doing that here as Dalby likes to rush his opponents.
Dalby has a karate style where he uses distance and his in/out movements to land his strikes. He will also blitz his opponent throwing three to four punch combinations. He will look to land his patent 1-2 and then high kick combination. He also mixes in good low kicks that I believe he will look to land on Means to keep him off balance and stop him from getting too comfortable with his combos. Dalby is good at landing timely takedowns (1.45 takedowns/15 min) but he has trouble controlling his opponents when down.
The key factor for me in this fight is that Means is a southpaw striker. Dalby has been open and honest about his struggles with southpaws and his record reflects that. He has a 1-6 record against southpaws and the one win was a controversial split decision that many in the MMA space thought he lost. Means is a skilled southpaw striker who I believe will give Dalby trouble with superior boxing skills. I believe that he will be able to pick him apart on the feet and land timely takedowns when necessary. Also, Means had a full camp for this fight where Dalby comes in on short notice. The bet is 1.5 units on Tim Means (-137)
“Underdog of the Night” - Jai Herbert (+195)
When trying to find an underdog, I’m looking for a guy that has a path to victory as well as an obvious miss pricing in the line. In this matchup, I think we have a little of both. Renato Moicano () takes on Jai Herbert () in a lightweight matchup that should be exciting while it lasts. Both of these guys like to fight at range and work behind their jabs. Miocano’s clear advantage is on the ground. Herbert has questionable takedown defense and get up game. This is why I think Miocano is solid favorite here. However, he’s fallen in love with his striking and primarily operates in that realm. That is where Herbert shines. He is a sharp striker who will have a sizable five inch reach advantage. He has a piston jab and throws a crisp one-two combination. Both guys have shown questionable chins, but it’s Miocano’s that we really have to worry about here. He’s been knocked out in 3 of his last four fights. He’s now fighting up at 155 where guys hit harder than at 145. Going up against a technical and speedy boxer in Herbert is not a good recipe for guy that has fallen in love with his striking. If Miocano sticks to striking, I could see him getting knocked out.
“Prop Bet of the Night” - Ciryl Gane vs. Alexander Volkov Over 4.5 Rounds (-115)
Both of these guys are close to a title shot so I anticipate a bit of a feeling out process early and often in this fight. Both fighters are cerebral and calculated in their approach. They are patient when looking for their kill shots. Both fighters are also relatively durable. Volkov has only been finished three times in forty-four career pro fights while Gane has never been finished in short career. Naturally, what worries me is that this is a heavyweight fight where 72.8% of heavyweight fights in the UFC’s history have ended inside the distance (per FightMatrix.com). Not mention this fight is taking place in the smaller UFC cage, which lends itself to more finishes. Regardless, I like patience and fight IQ of both fighters, not to mention, the toughness, durability, and experience of Volkov in combination with the durability, exceptional movements on the feet and defense of Gane to get us to the window here. I’m going contrarian with the main event.
Bonus “Prop Bet of the Night” - Danilo Marques Wins By Submission (+260)
Kennedy Nzechukwu () takes on Danilo Marques () in a light-heavyweight bout. This is a pure stylistic matchup here that I’m looking to take advantage of. Nzechukwu is going to want to keep this fight standing as he is clearly the better striker with the longer range. Marques is going to want to get this fight to the ground where he is clearly the better grappler/submission artist. The line suggests that this will be a close, competitive fight. Nzechukwu is young in his career and still a bit green in a lot of areas, but especially in the grappling department. Marques is a gritty, relentless grappler that will keep going for the takedown until he gets it. On the ground, he’s very strong in top position and does a good job of controlling his opponents, continuously looking to lock up a submission. Marques is 2-0 in the UFC and both of those wins have been as an underdog, the same position he is in here. I believe he has a clear path to victory.
All Picks For UFC Fight Night: Gane vs. Volkov
Main Card (4PM EST on ESPN+)
Ciryl Gane (-155) vs. Alexander Volkov (+125)
Tanner Boser (-177) vs. Ovince Saint Preux (+140)
Raoni Barcelos (-230) vs. Timur Valiev (+180)
Andre Fili (-230) vs. Daniel Pineda (+180)
Tim Means (-137) vs. Nicolas Dalby (+110)
Renato Moicano (-250) vs. Jai Herbert (+195)
Preliminary Card (1PM EST on ESPN+)
Kennedy Nzechukwu (-125) vs. Danilo Marques (+102)
Shavkat Rakhmonov (-305) vs. Michel Prazeres (+235)
Warlley Alves (-240) vs. Ramazan Emeev (+187)
Marcin Prachnio (-215) vs. Ike Villanueva (+170)
Julia Avila (-345) vs. Julija Stoliarenko (+260)
Charles Rosa (-177) vs. Justin Jaynes (+140)
Yancy Medeiros (+120) vs. Damir Hadzovic (-150)