The UFC is back after a brief, one-week hiatus with its second ever event on ABC. UFC on ABC 2: Vettori vs. Holland goes down this Saturday night, live from the UFC Apex with an important middleweight bout as the surging Marvin Vettori is looking to make it five straight wins while Kevin Holland comes in on a week’s notice and looking to get back in the win column after dropping his last bout a couple of weeks ago.
An impressive victory by Vettori may all but give him the next shot at Isreal Adesanya’s title. While Holland needs a win to keep himself in the top 10 of the division. Before we take a look at some key betting opportunities on this card, let's take a quick look back at UFC 260: Miocic vs. Ngannou. You'll also find my full list of UFC 260 fight picks for the main card and the preliminary card at the bottom of this article.
Last Week's Recap - UFC 260: Miocic vs. Ngannou 2
All Fight Picks: 9-1
Official Plays: 3-0
Omar Morales (-185) got it started with his unanimous decision win over Shane Young (+160). Morales now enters free agency in search of a new UFC contract and with hopes of continuing to move up the featherweight division. Next up was Miranda Maverick (-160), who also walked away with a unanimous decision over Gillian Robertson (+140). Maverick continues to get better each time out, and she’s emerged as one of the brighter prospects in the women’s flyweight division. Finally we got our biggest win, both figuratively and literally, in the heavyweight bout that saw Francis Ngannou (-130) viciously knock out (former) champion Stipe Miocic (+110). Ngannou clearly was not the same fighter that lost his first title fight against Miocic. The now composed, patient, defensively-savvy, and varied striker has all the tools to reign atop the heavyweight division for a long time. A potential title matchup pitting Francis Ngannou against Jon Jones before year’s end may very well be the biggest pay per view fight card in UFC history.
Nina Nunes (-140) vs. Mackenzie Dern (+125)
This women’s strawweight bout is an important one, as the winner will be solidified amongst the top five in the division and could be one to two fights away from a title shot. Both of these women have won four of their last five and are looking for a statement win this Saturday. Nina Nunes comes into this bout after a nearly two-year layoff due to her pregnancy and the subsequent birth of her daughter. You’d think the division would’ve passed her by in that time, but it hasn’t. She’s currently the fifth-ranked fighter in the division. Nunes is a striker with good movement on the feet, and she tends to work off of her jab. She also has very nice leg kicks that she’ll often throw in combination with a straight punch right behind it. It has a dual purpose of not only inflicting damage, but also of stopping her opponent from shooting for a takedown off of her kick. Nunes has decent takedown defense as well, but when taken down she can be controlled for portions of the round. The one positive here is that she’ll actively look to land strikes off her back and get back to her feet. Against Mackenzie Dern, Nunes will want to keep things on the feet.
Dern, on the other side, was once in Nunes’ position. She had too had a child followed by a quick turnaround to a fight in the octagon. Although that was the first loss of her career, since then she’s really committed herself and has hired a nutritionist to get her weight-cutting under control. Dern has also started training with famed MMA boxing coach Jason Parillo, and the improvements have been quite noticeable. She’s a highly-decorated Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner with multiple world titles, but even that will only get you so far in MMA. The newfound success in the striking department has made Dern more of a complete fighter - she’s always had legit power on the feet, but she’s also been able to throw in combinations. Her jab and defensive head movement are better, but she still has a tendency of ducking her head when throwing in combinations and seeing her target. Dern also still lacks in the wrestling department, and she’s not able to consistently get her opponents to the ground. On the ground, however, she’s a wizard. Dern will lock submission in the quickest of fashion, if given the right opportunity.
This fight comes down to two questions for me - Is Nunes, at 35 years old, getting back into the octagon too quickly after just giving birth to her daughter six months ago? Also, is Dern’s striking even better than the last time we saw her in the octagon? I believe both answers to be yes. Nunes has good movement, leg kicks, and a jab to pick Dern apart from the outside. Her takedown defense in open space is definitely good enough to keep the fight on the feet as well. Dern, however, is an aggressive, in-your-face pressure fighter. She has the cardio to go all three rounds too. On the ground, Dern also has the clear advantage - on the feet her striking is improving, and she has the power to hurt Nunes here. This is great value to have, as we’re getting the younger, hungrier, and faster-improving fighter with a clear path to victory on the ground versus an aging fighter with a lot of questions surrounding her return. I believe Dern gets Nunes to the ground somehow and locks up a submission. The Dern by submission prop (+325) is worth a shot, and I may make a pizza bet on fight night, but for now it’s a straight play. One unit on Mackenzie Dern (+125)
Mike Perry (+135) vs. Daniel Rodriguez (-155)
This welterweight matchup should be a barnburner - while it lasts. Both of these fighters will be looking to knock each other out and get back into the win column after losses in their last bouts. Mike Perry comes into this bout with a lot of controversy surrounding him as well. He’s had a couple of allegations of domestic abuse against him and has left a couple of fight camps. This has all led to Perry’s girlfriend - yes, his girlfriend - with absolutely no MMA experience, coaching him. Perry missed weight badly in his last fight and subsequently lost. Since that loss, however, he welcomed his first child into the world and he’s now training at a new, reputable fight gym. In the cage, Perry is both a striker and boxer with big power in his hands who does a good job of throwing leg kicks, and he'll even throw jumping knees in exchanges.
Defensively, he has pretty good head movement and is good at getting out of his opponent’s leg kicks, or at the very least checking them. Perry also has a solid chin, and recently he’s been implementing a lot more grappling into his game. Even though his head movement is good, he’s still hittable and is also susceptible to both flying knees and knees up the middle because he’ll duck his head with hard feints and/or in wild exchanges. Daniel Rodriguez, on the other side of the octagon, welcomes wild exchanges. He’s a boxer who throws a nice 1-2 combination and has knockout power in his hands. He also likes to push forward and walk his opponents down to get in striking range, where he lands heavy shots. Rodriguez ultimately wants to keep the fight standing, preferring to box you up from the outside and land heavy leg kicks to the opposing legs and body. Defensively, he’s hittable on the feet and has been rocked in a few of his fights, and he’s also heavy on his lead foot, so he is susceptible to leg kicks as well.
I believe that this line is priced the way it is because everyone is so “down” on Perry - it’s been nothing but negative publicity surrounding him over the past year or so, and Perry himself has admitted that a lot of things going on in his life had an effect on him as a mixed martial artist. If you are to believe that he’s refocused and dedicated to the sport - and I happen to believe him - then you’ll also find value in the fact that Perry’s resume is far superior to that of Rodriguez. Perry is still young at 29 and still is a skilled fighter. I believe he goes into this fight and simply proves all of his critics wrong. He’s arguably the better striker in this matchup, and he’s clearly the better grappler with both the better cardio and chin to last all three rounds. Perry knows that he can take this fight to the ground and dominate Rodriguez if need be, and I expect that the grappling/wrestling will ultimately be the difference. One unit on Mike Perry (+135)
“Parlay of the Night” - Ignacio Bahamondes (-190) & Mateusz Gamrot (-240)
Last week I featured our first “Live Dog of the Night” section here, but since my two official plays for the night are underdogs, I’ll instead give you my “Parlay of the Night.”
I expect Mateusz Gamrot to relentlessly pursue the takedown against Scott Holtzman throughout this fight and have success in doing so in a win. Ignacio Bahamondes, on the other hand, does everything John Makdessi does, but better. Bahamondes will have no problem picking Makdessi apart from the outside en route to a victory. One unit on Ignacio Bahamondes (-190) & Mateusz Gamrot (-240) at +116 odds
All Picks For UFC on ABC 2: Vettori vs. Holland
Main Card (3 p.m. ET on ABC)
Marvin Vettori (-345) vs. Kevin Holland (+285)
Arnold Allen (+125) vs. Sodiq Yusuff (-145)
Sam Alvey (+165) vs. Julian Marquez (-190)
Nina Nunes (-140) vs. Mackenzie Dern (+125)
Mike Perry (+135) vs. Daniel Rodriguez (-155)
Prelim Card (12 p.m. ET on ESPN)
Jim Miller (+200) vs. Joe Solecki (-240)
Scott Holtzman (+200) vs. Mateusz Gamrot (-240)
Erin Blanchfield (+215) vs. Norma Dumont (-255)
John Makdessi (+165) vs. Ignacio Bahamondes (-190)
Yorgan De Castro (-310) vs. Jarjis Danho (+255)
Hunter Azure (+145) vs. Jack Shore (-165)
Luis Saldana (-135) vs. Jordan Griffin (+115)
Da Un Jung (-140) vs. William Knight (+120)
Impa Kasanganay (-280) vs. Sasha Palatnikov (+240)