Grant Emrick BCDC Analyst Previews UFC 274

UFC 274: Oliveira vs. Gaethje

May 7, 2022

Emrick’s UFC Fighter Pick Record (80-41)

Early Prelim Predictions:

BW: Journey Newson vs. Fernie Garcia

  • Pick: Fernie Garcia

WSTRAW: Ariane Carnelossi vs. Loopy Godinez

  • Pick: Loopy Godinez

FLY: Kleidison Rodrigues vs. CJ Vergara

  • Pick: Kleidison Rodrigues

WFLY: Tracy Cortez vs. Melissa Gatto

  • Pick: Tracy Cortez

Early Prelim Predictions:

WW: Francisco Trinaldo vs. Danny Roberts

  • Pick: Francisco Trinaldo

HW: Blagoy Ivanov vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima

  • Pick: Blagoy Ivanov

FLY: Brandon Royval vs. Matt Schnell 

  • Pick: Brandon Royval

WFW: Macy Chiasson vs. Norma Dumont

  • Pick: Norma Dumont

WW: Randy Brown vs. Khaos Williams

  • Pick: Randy Brown

WW: Andre Fialho vs. Cameron VanCamp

  • Pick: Andre Fialho

Getty Images

Main Card Predictions:

LW: Donald Cerrone vs. Joe Lauzon

  • Pick: Donald Cerrone
  • Reasoning: I really don’t enjoy making a pick for this fight, but siding with the more active fighter feels right for me. Although having lost his last 5 fights, last winning in 2019, the level of competition for Cerrone has included the names of McGregor, Ferguson, and Gaethje, all who remain ranked in the top of the lightweight division. Lauzon hasn’t fought since 2019 and actually has a more recent victory than Cerrone from his TKO win over Jonathan Pearce in late 2019. Joe Lauzon is talented on the ground, but Cerrone has given up only 1 submission loss that was over a decade ago to Benson Henderson. With both fighters having some experience with questionable chins at their age, I can see this being a brawl similar to the Matt Brown vs. Bryan Barberena fight earlier this year. By the end of the day, I have to side witht he more active fighter and person who has maintained the fighter mentality to get the job done. We saw what happened to Nick Diaz and Robbie Lawler battle, as Diaz didn’t show much resemblance to the fighter he used to be. Cerrone by TKO is where I’m leaning, but don’t be shocked if Lauzon reels in a finish of his own. A retirement fight is very possible for both pioneers in the MMA world, but it’s time Cerrone gets his due. 

LHW: Mauricio Rua vs. Ovince Saint Preux 

  • Pick: Ovince Saint Preux
  • Reasoning: Another iffy fight that could go either way, I like OSP to win the rematch early in the fight due to his heightened activity and size differential compared to Rua. Since their 2014 bout, where OSP earned the victory via TKO within the first minute, OSP has fought 18 times compared to “Shogun” Rua’s 8 fights. While it’s right to think of it as “extra miles” on OSP’s body, he has continued to fight ranked competition and earned many growth and learning opportunties from them. I think his 4” reach and 2” height advantages compared to Rua will be helpful in keeping “Shogun” at bay as well. I do believe the longer the fight goes on will be more advantageous to Rua, as 6 of his last 8 fights have entered the 3rd round and has gone 5-0-1 in those fights. OSP has gone 1-4 in his last 5 bouts that entered the 3rd round, so it could be a more methodical fight from Rua in order to win late or via decision. However, I just don’t see it happening and believe OSP will be able to win early in the first two rounds via TKO. It might be a nice parlay piece to not go the distance, but I’d avoid any moneyline on this fight.  

LW: Michael Chandler vs. Tony Ferguson

  • Pick: Michael Chandler
  • Reasoning: Ferguson has been getting a lot of disrespect from MMA fans over his last three fights and losses to Gaethje, Oliveira, and Dariush. All of these losses have come to current or potential champions, as well as a top five lightweight. These are all immensely difficult fights for anyone in the division, but Ferguson has seemed to be a shell of his former “boogeyman” self. Not that MMA Mathematics is a useful tool in all occasions, but I believe it connects well for this fight on Saturday as both fighters have fairly recent bouts with Oliveira and Gaethje. Ferguson had received a 10-8 round scored against him in both fights from all judges, including one 10-7 prior to the TKO loss with Gaethje. Chandler was able to secure at least one round by a majority of judges against Gaethje and Oliveira, including two 10-8’s in Chandler’s favor during the first round of the fight. Although unable to secure the victories, Chandler has looked very good and competitive against the best that the lightweight division has to offer. With Ferguson winning only a single round in his past three fights, I believe his best days may be behind him in terms of competing with the top of the division. Chandler should win this fight and Ferguson will show his unorthodox style to make this a mental and physical challenge for the former Bellator champion. Give me Chandler with a lean towards a 2nd round TKO or a potentially surprising decision victory. 

WSTRAW: Rose Namajunas vs. Carla Esparza

  • Pick: Rose Namajunas
  • Reasoning: The champ has grown tenfold since her first bout with Esparza in 2014. An improved ground game – displayed in the November 2021 Weili fight – and striking should be the major difference in how Rose will secure her victory in the co-main event. Esparza managed to take Rose down 5 times prior to her submission victory in 2014. Esparza’s path to victory is by utilizing this ground game again, especially after seein Weili land 5 takedowns against Rose in their last fight. If Esparza can keep Rose down and apply ground and pound, things will get dicey very fast for the champion. But I don’t see this scenario happening. Rose knows that Esparza is lacking on the feet and will use the bread and butter of the ground game in this fight. This is something she’s been developing since their first fight and has been able to learn from during her fights with a top 5 pound-for-pound female in Weili. Esparza eats more strikes per minute than lands, which doesn’t scream championship level in any case. The striking defense and attack is small potatoes compared to Rose, and I believe Rose’s better takedown defense and Esparza’s low takedown efficiency will lead this fight heavily favoring Namajunas. I do see this fight entering the championship rounds but wouldn’t be surprised to see Rose win via TKO at any point. Give me the champ to secure her second straight title defense.

LW: Charles Oliveira vs. Justin Gaethje

  • Pick: Charles Oliveira
  • Reasoning: This is one of the best main event matchups of the year and the odds couldn’t be crazier. I think Gaethje has everything in the world to fight for tonight, whereas Oliveira suffered a grueling setback with the missed weight and vacant title situation. I’m going to keep this analysis very simple and try to look through all of the smoke that we’ve seen the past few days. Charles is one of the best on the ground, back, or in a dominant position against his opponents. Gaethje knows this and will look to attack a sometimes questionable chin of Oliveira’s early and often. It’s a classic striker against grappler match, even though both guys have proven fairly capable on both ends. I didn’t like what I saw in Gaethje vs. Khabib, most specifically in regards to the defense in the grappling positions. I understand though, Khabib is one of the greatest lightweights in MMA history, but Charles could possibly give him a good run for his money on the ground. If Chandler went for a ground attack early instead of a striking fest against Gaethje, there’s a good chance the fight could’ve ended much differently. I have been doubting Oliveira too long and it’s a shame how much a 0.5 pound difference could change a fighter’s future. While there are an equal number of scenarios where each fighter wins this bout, I think Charles just needs to get to Gaethje’s back only once to end this fight. Arguably, Charles has an even bigger reason to win this fight now to make his way back to championship status in the next fight if he secures a victory. Give me Charles via 2nd round submission and a hard fight back to getting the title back against Dariush/Makhachev in his next fight.  

What Emrick’s Betting (+4.61u):

  • Parlays:
    • Namajunas, Gaethje, Chandler ML
      • 0.556u to win 2.206u
    • Dumont, Chandler ML
      • 2.045u to win 1.626u
    • Cerrone/Lauzon Under 2.5 Rounds, Oliveira/Gaethje Over 1.5 Rounds, Cortez ML
      • 0.5u to win 1.486
    • Cerrone/Lauzon, Rua/OSP, Oliveira/Gaethje ITD
      • 0.459u to win 0.759u
    • Namajunas, Oliveira, Royval ML
      • 0.455u to win 1.167u
    • Chandler ML, Canelo Alvarez ML, Oliveira/Gaethje ITD
      • 1.4u to win 1.139u
  • Straight Bets:
    • Fernie Garcia ML
      • 0.4u to win 0.296u
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