UFC Vegas 81: Three Best Moneyline Bets
UFC VEGAS 81: THREE BEST MONEYLINE BETS — We’ve got the main event covered here, so this is where I think you can find additional value for the UFC card in Vegas.
Irina Alekseeva (5-1) vs Melissa Dixon (5-0)
Fresh off her UFC debut where she submitted Stephanie Egger with a kneebar, Alekseeva looks to get some momentum rolling in the UFC. She clearly likes to throw down and exchange in the pocket with her wide, winging hooks. She also has a judo background which she uses to ground her opponents when she finds herself in close proximity with them.
Alekseeva often looks to finish her opponents, but I question her level of competition before coming to the big show. Add in the fact that she has missed weight in half of his six professional fights, I feel she leaves a lot to be desired.
Walking into her first fight in the UFC, Dixon brings an impressive 5-0 record with three of those wins coming by finish. There have not been many moments where she looks like she is in trouble, normally dominating her opponents with pressure and takedowns. What is most impressive about her grappling game is her ability to adjust her hips during scrambles, takedowns, and throws, to ensure she ends up in advantageous positions.
When she gets top control, she is very fluid with transitioning to better positions to eventually get the dominant position required to find a finish.
I feel we are getting a good enough number here on the debuting Dixon, especially considering that there is a little bit of hype on Alekseeva due to her debut performance. I believe Alekseeva is more of a fighter than Dixon, but I think Dixon is a much better martial artist. Look for Dixon to use her grappling to wear on Alekseeva then finish her late with ground and pound.
The Pick: Melissa Dixon -140
Christian Rodriguez (9-1) vs Cameron Saaiman (9-0)
One of the most talented fighters on the roster, Rodriguez derailed a hype train in his last performance against Raul Rosas Jr. He thwarted his takedown and submission attempts, ultimately turning it on Rosas Jr and landing more effective damage. From his amateur days, you could tell Rodriguez was talented and destined for great things.
He is a smooth, fluid striker, as well as a very solid grappler. His lone defeat came on short notice up a weight class against a stronger opponent, but if he can get his weight issues under control, he could be one of the best 135ers in the world.
Training alongside middleweight contender, Dricus Du Plessis, 22-year-old Saaiman has solid hype on his name after starting his UFC run with three-straight victories. He is an athletic freak and that is what he has largely leaned on to get many of his wins. The explosiveness, power, and speed of his striking is tough for most opponents to deal with, but he does leave a lot of openings for more technical fighters to take advantage of him.
Takedown defense is another part of his game he should emphasize improvements on, but he has shown solid enough work from his back to stay active and work back to his feet.
This is the fight I am most excited about on the card, two bright young prospects who could meet again in the future as contenders or champions. I lean toward the cleaner process of Rodriguez as I think he is the slicker striker, and his grappling is good enough to put Saaiman in bad positions. His scrambling is also good enough to stay ahead of Saaiman in those scenarios.
By all accounts, Rodriguez counts durability as a major asset. So I’m not worried about the early power and speed advantage Saaiman might enjoy. Regardless, at the current number I’m more than happy to take a shot on Rodriguez.
The Pick: Christian Rodriguez -155
Jonathan Martinez (18-4) vs Adrian Yanez (16-4)
Riding his UFC-best five-fight winning streak, Martinez had a huge victory last time around by defeating Said Nurmagomedov. It was a close fight, but he did enough in the judges eyes to warrant victory. Normally Martinez leans on a kick-heavy volume approach to outpoint his opponents to win decisions.
He has tried mixing in some takedowns into his game but it’s obvious he still needs a lot more work on his ability to control once he grounds his opponents. Confidence is at an all-time high and it’s clear he is in the prime of his career.
Yanez came up short in his last fight, which marked the first defeat in his UFC career. He entered that fight a highly touted prospect and came in solidly favored over his last foe, Rob Font. However, the veteran skills and striking approach of Font came through.
It didn’t come without adversity as you could see the damage on Font’s face when he got his hand raised, Yanez made him work for every second of that fight. Yanez is such a crisp boxer who throws in combinations and does a phenomenal job of setting up traps to eventually spring on his opponents.
I’m surprised Yanez is not an out-right favorite here, but I think that is an attribution to the short-term memory of the MMA betting world. He was the +110 underdog earlier this year, so he is starting to get some love with the line movement we are seeing, but I still feel he should be closer to -150. I think his boxing approach will be perfect to counter the kick-heavy game of Martinez.
I expect Yanez to repeatedly land counters and eventually find the knockout within the first two rounds of this fight.