UFC Fight Night: Vera vs. Cruz
Emrick’s UFC Fighter Pick Record (186-94) – 66% Correct
BW: Youssef Zalal (10-5) vs. Da’Mon Blackshear (12-4)
- Pick: Youssef Zalal
CW: Jason Witt (19-8) vs. Josh Quinlan (5-0)
- Pick: Josh Quinlan
FLY: Ode Osbourne (11-4, 1 NC) vs. Tyson Nam (20-12-1)
- Pick: Ode Osbourne
LW: Gabriel Benitez (22-11) vs. Charlie Ontiveros (11-8)
- Pick: Gabriel Benitez
WFLY: #12 Cynthia Calvillo (9-4-1) vs. #9 Nina Nunes (10-7)
- Pick: Cynthia Calvillo
HW: Martin Buday (10-1) vs. Lukasz Brzeski (8-1-1, 1 NC)
- Pick: Martin Buday
CW: #13 WSTRAW Angela Hill (13-12) vs. Lupita Godinez (8-2)
- Pick: Lupita Godinez
Main Card Predictions:
MW: Bruno Silva (22-7) vs. Gerald Meerschaert (34-15)
- Pick: Bruno Silva
- Quick Reasoning: As a Meerschaert fan, I respect the hell out of his ground and submission game. But, I believe his approach will struggle against the upper tier of the MW division. Although Silva was taken down 7 times in his three round fight with Andrew Sanchez, the power and output he possess should lead him to tag Meerschaert and potentially shut his lights out. In my opinion, Silva looked great – albeit whilst losing – in his last outing against Alex Pereira, which gives him some promise to climb the ranks of an againg division. Meerschaert has a legitimate submission threat and will look for takedowns, but his chin has seen two of his last three losses via TKO, maintains a negative striking differential (3.04 against 3.53), and consistently has difficulty against strikers/kickboxers like Jotko, Heinisch, and Holland. Even though Bruno Silva eats nearly 4.8 strikes per minute, his 5 strikes landed per minute and ability to maintain his power throughout the fight gives me confidence to put Meerschaert out at any point. Take Silva by TKO in this one, sending him to the outer realm of the MW rankings.
WBW: Ariane Lipski (14-7) vs. Priscila Cachoeira (11-4)
- Pick: Ariane Lipski (-190)
- Quick Reasoning: Barring another blasphemous scorecard by the judges – see the Ji Yeon Kim and Cachoeira fight from earlier this year – Lipski should be able to take advantage of Cachoeira’s porous striking defense. The only way I see Lipski losing is via TKO, as her chin is the most suspect part of her game with KO losses in two of her last three fights. Lipski’s submission threat is also dangerous against Cachoeira, so I see the strength of schedule, striking, and ground work all favoring Lipski to pull off a submission or UD victory.
LHW: Devin Clark (13-6) vs. Azamat Murzakanov (11-0)
- Pick: Devin Clark (+130)
- Quick Reasoning: I picked Murzakanov in his previous fight against Tafon Nchukwi, but dear god did I nearly regret it. Nchukwi pieced him up in a one-sided clinic for the first two rounds before getting clipped with a hail-mary knee by Murzakanov to close the show. Overall, for as big of a prospect Azamat is supposed to be, his first fight deflated my expectations. Devin Clark, on the other hand, has won against everyone he should be beating outside of the rankings. He’s coming off of a great TKO win over William Knight, as Clark was able to withstand the power of Knight and work to a well-rounded, quality victory to deliver Knight’s first finish loss in the UFC. Outside of his loss to Ion Cutelaba in a wrestle-heavy fight, Clark’s losses since 2017 have only come to highly ranked opponents in the promotion such as Anthony Smith, Ryan Spann, Aleksandar Rakic, and Jan Blachowicz. Still maintaining a positive striking differential and landing nearly 2.5 takedowns per 15 minute span is very impressive considering the list of opponents. I believe that the UFC experience and well-rounded capabilities of a fringe-ranked fighter like Clark should lead him to victory come Saturday night. At the strong underdog odds, go with Clark.
WSTRAW: Yazmin Jauregui (8-0) vs. Iasman Lucindo (13-4)
- Pick: Yazmin Jauregui (-200)
- Quick Reasoning: With no prior UFC tape on these two prospects, this could be a tougher one to call. Because of this, I’m relying more so on the higher MMA sources which strongly believe that Yazmin Juaregui is poised to be a long-term star in the UFC world. While she has the shiny undefeated record, her striking is apparently very legit with crisp boxing that has led to 6 TKO’s in her 8 victories. Lucindo seems to have the more well-rounded game compared to Jauregui, so the ground attack would be the best path to victory for her. Unless Lucindo can keep Jauregui down, Jauregui – the Combate Global champion – should be able to put some serious damage on Lucindo standing up. Based on the lack of UFC tape and comparables, I’d stay far away from betting this one, but it does seem that the MMA community believes the greater potential belongs to Jauregui. By default, give me Jauregui via UD.
FW: Nate Landwehr (15-4) vs. David Onama (10-1)
- Pick: David Onama (-300)
- Quick Reasoning: My early pick for fight of the night, this matchup has “fireworks” written all over it. However, the big question is whether Landwehr’s chin can hold up. Landwehr has been knocked out in two of his last four fights, which came against Julian Erosa and in his debut versus Herbert Burns. He also has pretty solid resume-building victories over Ludovit Klein via submission and Darren Elkins. Landwehr does offer 6.5 strikes landed per minute, while also absorbing just under 6. Since Onama’s debut loss to Mason Jones, he’s looked great in a TKO win over Gabriel Benitez and a submission over Garrett Armfield. Onama’s fight metrics for strikes landed and absorbed are closer at 5.61 vs. 5.58, so the differential may be worrisome against a fighter like Landwehr. But with a height and reach advantage, along with a good momentum build, I’ll side with a slightly more-rounded Onama to get this done within three rounds. Landwehr’s chin is worrisome to me, so I could see a TKO from Onama inbound.
BW: #5 Marlon “Chito” Vera (19-7-1) vs. #8 Dominick Cruz (24-3)
- Pick: Marlon “Chito” Vera (-240)
- Quick Reasoning: Main event “Chito” may just be the new mythical fighter the UFC needed. He may get slapped around for 80% of the fight, but the power Vera possesses is deadly in the BW division. The statistics may not tell the full story of “Chito,” as he will more than likely get outstruck in nearly every fight. But, the power and damage inflicted on his opponents will show the true picture of the danger he possesses. And as time goes on in the fight, Vera will only get better, which makes this a disaster of a matchup for Cruz to face in this main event. Yes, Cruz is 17-0 outside of title fights, which has to be one of the most impressive stats I’ve seen. However, this is absolutely his toughest fight since fighting Cejudo for the title in early 2020. This loss was via TKO, and with a powerful and durable opponent like Vera, this could be exploited at any point in the fight. Vera was able to knockdown Font three times in their last fight, and averages 109 significant strikes per knockdown. More than likely, Vera will eclipse this mark during this fight, so we may see another knockdown and display in age gap take place between the two. For the 26 UFC fights this year that involved a betting favorite aged 8 years or younger than their opponent, 20 (77%) of the younger fighters went on to claim victory. In the only UFC five-round fight this occurred in this year, Jiri Prochzka submitted Glover Teixeira in the fifth round. I feel like this is a great comparison for a fighter like “Chito” who can come in strong later in the rounds to overpower Cruz en route to a stoppage round TKO or UD victory.
Emrick’s Combat Sports Betting:
- Straight Bets:
- Dawg of the Week (3-4): Devin Clark ML
- 0.5u to win 0.7u
- Josh Quinlan ML
- 2u to win 0.869u
- Dawg of the Week (3-4): Devin Clark ML
- Parlay Bets:
- Ode Osbourne & Bruno Silva ML’s
- 1.5u to win 1.345u
- Ode Osbourne & Bruno Silva ML’s