Grant Emrick BCDC Analyst Preview UFC Fight Night

UFC Fight Night: Sandhagen vs. Song

September 17, 2022

Emrick’s UFC Fighter Pick Record (212-116-2) – 65% Correct

Prelim Predictions:

LW: Nikolas Motta (12-4) vs. Cameron VanCamp (15-6-1, 1 NC)

  • Pick: Cameron VanCamp *Dawg of the Week*

BW: Tony Gravely (23-7) vs. Javid Basharat (12-0)

  • Pick: Javid Basharat

WFLY: Mariya Agapova (10-3) vs. Gillian Robertson (10-7)

  • Pick: Gillian Robertson

LW: Trey Ogden (15-5) vs. Daniel Zellhuber (12-0)

  • Pick: Daniel Zellhuber

WSTRAW: Denise Gomes (6-1) vs. Loma Lookboonme (6-3)

  • Pick: Loma Lookboonme

WW: Trevin Giles (14-4) vs. Louis Cosce (7-1)

  • Pick: Trevin Giles

FW: Damon Jackson (21-4-1, 1 NC) vs. Pat Sabatini (17-3)

  • Pick: Pat Sabatini

Main Card Predictions:

MW: Anthony Hernandez (9-2, 1 NC) vs. Marc-Andre Barriault (14-5, 1 NC)

  • Pick: Anthony Hernandez (-200)
  • Quick Reasoning: This one is an easy call for me, but let’s hope it shakes out this way on Saturday. Hernandez has very good grappling compared to the rest of the MW field, some that could even give Brunson and Muniz a run for their money. He’s already had a submission win over ground-game certified Rodolfo Vieira and even managed to take down an oversized opponent in Josh Fremd 8 times in his last matchup. “Fluffy” has better striking accuracy than Barriault, but if Hernandez struggles in the standup, then his 70% takedown accuracy and 5+ takedowns per 15 minutes should be sufficient to win. Barriault has a better output on the feet and can be dangerous on the ground, but he’s also very hittable and shouldn’t be able to outmaneuver Hernandez on the ground. Give me Hernandez by submission or decision, but he shouldn’t underestimate Barriault’s power on the feet with 9 of 14 wins by TKO. 

HW: Tanner Boser (20-8-1) vs. Rodrigo Nascimento (8-1, 1 NC)

  • Pick: Rodrigo Nascimento (+150)
  • Quick Reasoning: The edge lays in the ground game of Nascimento. It’s not often I’d pick someone whose last win was Alan Baudot, but I believe Nascimento – like “Fluffy” Hernandez – should be able to work Boser to the ground and threaten with a finish via submission or ground-and-pound. For Rodrigo, 6 of 8 victories have come by way of submission and all of his 9 fights have not gone the distance. If a near-40-year-old Ilir Latifi can take Boser down twice and control him for 6+ minutes, I believe Nascimento can do the same and offer some better shots on the feet. Tanner Boser will be better on the feet if this fight is at range, using his elusiveness and speed that have led him to a 2:1 striking differential. However, Nascimento’s long reach of 80” might make it tough for Boser to catch his opponent if Rodrigo uses his range effectively. Because of the ground-game advantage and 5” reach advantage for Nascimento, I’m going to side with him to get this one done via submission. If it goes the distance, I’d expect Boser to get his hand raised though.

MW: Joe Pyfer (9-2) vs. Alen Amedovski (8-3)

  • Pick: Joe Pyfer (-450) *Lock of the Week*
  • Quick Reasoning: It’s true, Amedovski is “kill or be killed.” And he’s already been “killed” in each of his first 3 UFC fights. After a nearly-three year layoff, Amedovski got knocked down by Joseph Holmes, then submitted after landing just one strike in the fight. No offense to Joseph Holmes – who has a pretty sick mustache if that makes up for it – by Pyfer’s ceiling and skills are much better in comparison. Amedovski also has a porous ground game while Pyfer can mix it up from any position. Personally, I believe this fight is a reward fight and a cut fight. The reward for Pyfer being the only one to chase a finish and complete it in the first week of DWCS this year, and a cut for Amedovski dropping his fourth straight UFC bout this Saturday. We all know the speech from Dana White about “be like Joe Pyfer,” so I’d take him by finish against the downward trending Amedovski. 

FW: Andre Fili (21-9, 1 NC) vs. Bill Algeo (16-6)

  • Pick: Bill Algeo (+100)
  • Quick Reasoning: This one is a very tough call and I’d avoid placing a ML bet on either fighter here. Fili can very well use his grappling abilities to get Algeo down similar to Herbert Burns in his last matchup, while Algeo could fight the takedowns and clip Fili on the feet. Since Algeo’s UFC debut, he has outstruck all of his opponents but has also been taken down in each fight. Fili is 2-4 when not landing a takedown, and I think he’s going to get it this time around. I believe that Fili has faced better competition in the UFC, but he has been on a slide with a 1-3 record since 2020 against Sodiq Yusuff, Charles Jourdain, Bryce Mitchell, and Joanderson Brito. Tough competition for sure, but I think this is a better matchup for Algeo than Herbert Burns was. Give me Algeo by TKO or decision, but I’m avoiding any and all bets on this one.  

MW: Chidi Njokuani (22-7, 1 NC) vs. Gregory Rodrigues (12-4)

  • Pick: Chidi Njokuani (-120)
  • Quick Reasoning: Another one to avoid when betting on a specific fighter, but I really like the experience from Chidi. A former Bellator fighter with solid competition, as well as a KO win over Andre Fialho years ago has helped propel Chidi into a MW contender with enough power to KO a horse. That doesn’t mean Rodrigues isn’t special either, he’s coming off a three knockdown KO victory over Julian Marquez in June. Regardless of the closeness in his fight with Armen Petrosyan prior, this showed that Rodrigues is a very good fighter that belongs in the UFC. The separation between these two is in the output and the work on the ground. Chidi has a lower output and doesn’t shoot for takedowns often, but offers a great striking differential of just under 3:1 and utilizes his takedown defense very well at 76%. Rodrigues goes for output with 6 significant strikes landed per minute and can takedown opponents multiple times in a fight. However, Rodrigues does get hit with 5.73 significant strikes per minute, which is very dangerous when facing an opponent like Njokuani. I do believe Chidi’s 29-fight experience, 5” reach advantage, and immense power against a hittable opponent like Rodrigues gives me comfort in my pick for Chidi by TKO. Ok, I might just bite the bullet and bet on Chidi now actually. This one should probably end in the first two rounds, so either fighter and under 2.5 rounds might be the move.

BW: #4 Cory Sandhagen (14-4) vs. #10 Song Yadong (19-6-1, 1 NC)

  • Pick: Cory Sandhagen (-195)
  • Quick Reasoning: Song Yadong? Yadong Song? Personally, I like Sandhagen vs. Yadong but who am I to judge? Well, I might’ve at least been able to judge that Dillashaw/Sandhagen fight correctly. Other than that, no more tomfoolery for this awesome cap to the night. At the start of the week, I was fully prepared to pick Song Yadong. Now I stand before you a changed man. This fight reminds me a lot of Cruz vs. Chito Vera in terms of competition level and meteoric rise. The big difference is that Sandhagen is just too damn good and has the better competitive resume, all while having plenty of youth left in the tank to compete at a high level. Sandhagen’s only losses in the UFC have come to current or former champions in Petr Yan, TJ Dillashaw (won’t say robbery but it should’ve gone to Sandhagen), and Aljamain Sterling. He’s not afraid to get into firefights with his competition, as he dished out 297 to 259 significant strikes against Yan and Dillashaw combined. Yadong and Cory both have beat notable chinless fighter Marlon Moraes in the past couple of years, but Yadong has had some questionable fifths and results since 2019. A weird MD draw to Cody Stamann, a well-aged close SD win over Chito Vera, and a UD loss to Kyler Phillips put Yadong in awkward territory. With a win Saturday, he could be next up for a title fight eliminator. But a loss could derail the hype for Yadong altogether. He’s still only 27, so there’s plenty of time to climb the rankings and reach champion-contender status. Neither fighter has been KO’d in the UFC, so this high-output slugfest could come down to who breaks first. I believe Yadong has more power, but the size and technical advantage will have to go to Sandhagen. Both fighters are great and I’m sitting back to watch this fight bet-free for the entertainment, but Sandhagen has the five-round experience in back-to-back fights to his name. Because of this, I’m siding with Sandhagen and Yadong to put on a very close fight with it ending 48-47 or 49-46 for Sandhagen. The x-factor will be Yadong’s cardio and striking power. If Yadong can keep both alive, this fight could swing in an instant. Show me Sandhagen by UD, but also Yadong will prove he can hang with the best of the division.

Emrick’s Combat Sports Betting:

  • Straight Bets:
    • Dawg of the Week (5-6): Cameron VanCamp ML
      • 0.5u to win 0.8u
    • Lock of the Week (3-0): Joe Pyfer by finish
      • 1.5u to win 0.6u
    • Njokuani/Rodrigues Under 2.5 Rounds
      • 2u to win 1.052u
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