Fight week is officially underway for UFC Orlando, which will see Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson take on Kevin Holland in the main event of one of the better Fight Night lineups we have seen recently.
There are currently 15 fights scheduled for the event and there are a handful of exciting matchups that I am really looking forward to on this card, particularly from a betting standpoint.
There has been one lineup change since we originally posted our UFC Orlando Early Preview: Jack Hermansson will now be fighting Roman Dolidze instead of Derek Brunson after Brunson was forced to withdraw from the fight with an injury.
Since we have such a huge lineup with so many exciting fights, I am going to jump right into the OddSmokerMMA Picks & Predictions for UFC Orlando:
Yazmin Jauregui – I absolutely love this spot for Jauregui, who enters this fight with a 9-0 record and six knockout victories. Istela Nunes is a pretty decent kickboxer, but she has not looked great in the UFC, going 0-2 so far to drop her career record to 6-3 overall. Jauregui won an absolute dogfight in her UFC debut in her last outing against Iasmin Lucinda, and there is no reason to believe she can’t do the same thing here. Jauregui should be the more powerful of the two and should be able to pick up a comfortable decision win with a mix of higher volume and more damage. I wouldn’t entirely rule out this one ending via stoppage either, since Nunes has been stopped in two of her three career losses. I definitely intend to check out the Jauregui R3/Dec and Jauregui by R2/R3 KO props once the markets fully open on the books.
Francis Marshall – This one was pretty simple for me: Marcelo Rojo will certainly have the experience advantage here, but that is pretty much it. Rojo has a 16-9 career record with 14 stoppage victories; however, he has also been stopped in six of those losses with five of them by submission. That’s not a good recipe against a fighter who is 11 years younger who also happens to have a 66% submission rate in his young career. Marshall, a 6-0 DWCS alum from this past season, should be able to withstand the early threats from Rojo in this one and will eventually be able to get him out of there in the later rounds via submission. I normally don’t like picking fighters in their UFC debuts, but I love the ceiling for Marshall and think this is an excellent spot for him to get his feet wet on the big stage.
Natan Levy – This should be an exciting fight early on the card, with both of these fighters having entertaining styles. Levy is 7-1 in his career, and although his fighting style is based in karate, he is a very well-rounded fighter who can rack up takedowns as well. Genaro Valdez (10-1) has never seen the scorecards in his career and definitely isn’t afraid to stand in the pocket and bang it out on the feet as he showed against Matt Frevola in his UFC debut. While Valdez is extremely dangerous with a 100% stoppage rate, he also showed he is very hittable in that Frevola fight. Although Levy currently doesn’t have any knockout victories on his resume, I think it’s entirely possible he gets his first in this fight. Valdez has never been deeper than 11 minutes into a fight in his pro career, so it will be interesting to see how his gas tank holds up in the later rounds of this one. I like Levy to survive the early danger here and grind out Valdez over the stretch, possibly putting him away late.
Tracy Cortez – This will be a fun matchup between two potential future contenders in the UFC Womens Flyweight division in Cortez and Amanda Ribas. Cortez is riding a 10-fight winning streak heading into fight since losing her professional debut, while Ribas has dropped two of her last three fights although she arguably could’ve won her last one (split decision loss against Katlyn Chookagian). Both of these women are solid fighters in the division and have seemingly bright futures in the UFC, but I have to give the nod to Cortez in this one. She has shown she can beat her tougher competition so far in her career (the Erin Blanchfield win is aging nicely), and with Ribas coming off a nasty bicep injury, I think Cortez will be able to do enough to squeeze out a decision victory in what should be a very competitive and close fight.
Jonathan Pearce – Pearce enters this one against Darren Elkins on a four-fight winning streak and looking to continue his climb through the featherweight division. Elkins is a solid fighter in his own right, but ironically, “The Damage” has taken quite a high amount of damage himself in recent years. Despite that, he’s still managed to win three of his past five fights and is always live to find a way to get an opponent out of a fight. Although Elkins will certainly still be live to find something here, Pearce will be eight years younger in this fight and is better pretty much all-around on paper. I think these two could have one of the more entertaining fights on the card, and like Pearce to get the job done via knockout one of the latter rounds.
Marc Diakiese – This is one of my most confident picks on the entire card as Diakiese should be significantly better everywhere than Michael Johnson at this stage of their respective careers. Johnson has faced (and beaten) some of the biggest names in UFC Lightweight division history, but he has not looked great in recent years as he’s dropped four of his past five fights. Diakiese has been improving his grappling recently with an insane 19 takedowns in his past two fights. I think he will be able to do much of the same here against Johnson, grinding him down and picking up a very comfortable decision in this one, if not a stoppage in the latter rounds. Johnson has been stopped in 11 of his 18 career losses, however, only two of those have been via knockout. I expect Diakiese to try and ground this one and wear down Johnson, so I wouldn’t entirely rule out the late submission win.
Scott Holtzman – I’m not entirely confident in either one of these fighters at this point in their careers, but this should be a pretty fun matchup, nonetheless. Clay Guida is one of the most experienced fighters on the UFC roster with a 37-18 record, while Holtzman will enter with a 14-5 record himself. Holtzman is coming off back-to-back knockout losses, so it will be interesting to see how he looks coming back from those. However, those losses came to Mateusz Gamrot and Beneil Dariush, two fighters who are currently residing in the top half of the division rankings. While Guida is still a solid grappler, he won’t have the same power as those two fighters, and unless he can lock in a lucky submission, I’m not sure I see a path to victory for him here. I think Holtzman will do more damage in the striking exchanges and will be able to hold his own in the grappling enroute to picking up a solid decision win to end his two-fight skid.
Emily Ducote – This fight is pretty likely to end up going the same way a majority of recent Angela Hill fights have and end up being decided on the judges’ scorecards, which is always a scary proposition in MMA. On paper, Ducote is the better all-around fighter in this matchup, although Hill certainly gets the advantage in the experience category. I think Ducote will be the better of the two on the feet and will be the more dangerous fighter on the ground as well if it goes down there. However, Hill has gone the distance in her past eight fights and has seen a ridiculous amount of them end via split decision. While she has lost five of her last seven fights overall, it’s hard to entirely rule her out of pretty much any fight. I think this fight will be pretty competitive and likely go the distance, but in the end Ducote should pick up the victory here.
Phil Rowe – This should be one the most entertaining matchups on the card and will almost certainly be a Fight of the Night contender as both of these fighters are extremely dangerous. Niko Price has stopped 13 of his 15 career wins, while Rowe has a 100% finish rate in his 9 victories. Both of these fighters are high volume strikers who aren’t afraid to stand and bang. Rowe will have 3″ height and 4.5″ reach advantages in this matchup, which makes me lean towards him in the striking exchanges. Price has also been more prone to being stopped in his career, with four of his five losses coming inside the distance. While Price should definitely find some success in the striking exchanges, I think Rowe will be able to cause more damage and use his length to dictate the range to outland Price in this one. Also, despite winning three of his four UFC/DWCS fights by knockout, Rowe is also very live to snatch up a submission with four career wins via guillotine and rear-naked choke. This one should be a war for however long it lasts, but I like Rowe to get the job done and have his hand raised in this one.
Eric Anders – I was very surprised to see Kyle Daukaus returning so quickly after literally having his face broken in three spots only five months ago via a brutal knee from Roman Dolidze. Daukaus is 9-3 in his career but hasn’t been overly impressive during his time in the UFC thus far. Both of these fighters have solid takedown defense with low accuracy landing them, and I think Anders will clearly be the better of the two if this one stays on the feet. Anders has eight knockouts in his 14 career wins, and he will certainly have the power to get another one here if Daukaus can’t get this fight to the ground. While it’s hard to be overly confident in Anders, I do like him a lot as the betting underdog in this matchup. I think he will be able to comfortably outpoint Daukaus on the scorecards if he doesn’t get him out via knockout first.
Roman Dolidze – I have no intention of betting on this fight, as Dolidze is stepping in on extremely short notice against Jack Hermansson in this one. Hermansson definitely has the experience nod here, facing some of the biggest names in the UFC middleweight division, but Dolidze is 11-1 and looks like someone that could potentially make a run in this division. He’s 5-1 in the UFC already but this will certainly be the toughest opponent he has faced and doing so on short notice will be a tough task. I don’t like the pick enough to put my money on it, but I do think Dolidze has a very solid chance to pull off the upset here as the more dangerous fighter overall. I think he will likely need to do it with a stoppage in the first two rounds, however, as this one will probably lean towards Hermansson the longer it goes due to the short notice booking.
Sergei Pavlovich – It always saddens me when I have to pick against a fighter that I really like on a personal level, but this is going to be a rough spot for Tai Tuivasa. Pavlovich is 16-1 with 13 knockouts in his career and he’s going to have a whopping 9″ reach advantage in this matchup. Tuivasa is one of the toughest fighters in the heavyweight division and has stopped 14 of his own 15 wins via knockout, but he is coming off a pretty brutal loss only three months ago to Cyril Gane. Neither of these fighters utilizes grappling in their respective gameplans, so this will almost certainly be a slugfest because these two. While Tuivasa has faced the tougher level of competition here and is always live for a knockout, it’s impossible for me to take him here over the surging Pavlovich. Since both of these fighters are pretty durable, I do expect this one to make it past the halfway point and think Pavlovich will be able to outland and outpace Tuivasa to a comfortable decision or potentially late knockout in this matchup.
Matheus Nicolau – This should be a fun matchup between two flyweight contenders hoping to make a statement and jump up the divisional rankings. Nicolau is 18-3-1 and has won five straight fights, while Matt Schnell is coming off perhaps the best come-from-behind win of the year thus far in his last outing against Sumudaerji where he looked to be finished on more than one occasion. While Schnell did pick up the win in that fight, it can’t be ignored that he was getting absolutely demolished early in the fight or that he has been finished in five of his six career losses. While Nicolau’s last four wins have all come via decision, I think he can potentially get this one done inside the distance and further solidify himself as a name to watch moving in the flyweight division. I like Nicolau to get this one done via submission.
Rafael Dos Anjos – RDA will have his hands full as he makes his return to the UFC welterweight division here against the surging Bryan Barberena, who has won three straight fights. Dos Anjos has dropped five of his last eight fights, but all of his recent losses have been to pretty elite competition (Rafael Fiziev, Michael Chiesa, Leon Edwards, Kamaru Usman, and Colby Covington). While Barberena is an excellent fighter in his own right, it is impossible to put him on the same level as those fighters. Barberena will be five years younger with 4″ height and 2.5″ reach advantages in the matchup, but I don’t think it will make much difference unless he can get an early stoppage. RDA is the much more well-rounded fighter of the two and will almost certainly look to grapple in this matchup, where he will have a sizeable skill advantage. I think he will have plenty of success landing takedowns and mixing in enough damage to pick up a relatively easy 30-27 on the judges’ scorecards in this fight.
Kevin Holland – It is always going to be an entertaining card when Holland is involved, and this time should be no different, as he will be taking on Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson in the main event. Both of these fighters are excellent strikers who prefer to keep their fights standing more often than not, which makes both of them fan favorites to a majority of the MMA community since they are rarely involved in boring matchups. Both of these guys have struggled in their recent matchups against grapplers, but that shouldn’t much of an issue here. Holland is nine years younger than Thompson and will have sizeable 3″ height and 6″ reach advantages as well. Both of them are very durable, and despite both having fight-ending power, I expect this one to go into the championship rounds and potentially the full 25 minutes. While Thompson will be competitive throughout, I think Holland will be able to use his size and youth to outland and outpace “Wonderboy” down the stretch in this one. Holland is also a threat to snatch up a submission once he gets opponents injured, so it might be worth a look to check the odds for a late Holland submission in this fight as well.
My favorite picks for UFC Orlando are Holland, Marc Diakiese, Sergei Pavlovich, and Matheus Nicolau. The fighters who I like the most to potentially pull off the betting upsets in their matchups are Phil Rowe, Eric Anders, and Tracy Cortez.
Check back on OddSmokerMMA later today for my favorite bets for UFC Orlando and throughout the week for our full betting card. Let us know your favorite picks for this weekend and which fighters you think will be walking away with bonuses in the comment section!
Looking for a sportsbook to sign up with so you can start placing bets on the UFC and other MMA promotions? Be sure to check our Betting page where you can find links for Sign-Up bonuses for FanDuel, DraftKings, and BetMGM!
If you enjoyed this post or just like our website in general, please make sure to follow us on social media and tell your fellow MMA fans about OddSmokerMMA so we can continue to grow! All of your love and support is much appreciated!
Leave a Reply