Grant Emrick BCDC Analyst previews UFC 279

UFC 279: Chimaev vs. Diaz

September 10, 2022

Emrick’s UFC Fighter Pick Record (206-109-2) – 65% Correct

Early Prelim Predictions:

WW: Darian Weeks (5-2) vs. Yohan Lainesse (8-1)

  • Pick: Darian Weeks

WSTRAW: Melissa Martinez (7-0) vs. Elise Reed (5-2)

  • Pick: Melissa Martinez

BW: Chad Anheliger (12-5) vs. Alatengheili (15-8-2)

  • Pick: Alatengheili

WFW: Norma Dumont (7-2) vs. Danyelle Wolf (1-0)

  • Pick: Norma Dumont *Lock of the Week*

Prelim Predictions:

HW: Jake Collier (13-7) vs. Chris Barnett (22-8)

  • Pick: Jake Collier

MW: Denis Tiuliulin (10-6) vs. Jamie Pickett (13-7)

  • Pick: Jamie Pickett

CATCHW: Jailton Almeida (16-2) vs. Anton Turkalj (8-0) 

  • Pick: Jailton Almeida

FW: Hakeem Dawodu (13-2-1) vs. Julian Erosa (27-10)

  • Pick: Hakeem Dawodu

Main Card Predictions:

LHW: #13 Johnny Walker (18-7) vs. Ion Cutelaba (16-7-1, 1 NC)

  • Pick: Johnny Walker (+180) *Dawg of the Week*
  • Quick Reasoning: I’ll try to actually keep this short this time. Both guys are in desperate need for a big win, and even with shaky results in his recent fights, I love Walker’s size and athleticism to get this done. His takedown defense is only 62%, so I’m very worried about Cutelaba – who gets nearly 5 takedowns per 15 minutes – continuously throwing Walker to the ground. If Walker can use his 7” reach and 5” height advantage to keep Cutelaba at bay, he should make it a more technical striking clinic. It’s a big if and a risky play, but I’m siding with Walker’s tougher stretch of opponents and close – also boring – five rounder with Thiago Santos to prepare him for  a bounce back win. I’ll take Walker at nearly +200 and pray for what should be a first round finish either way. 

WBW: #4 Irene Aldana (13-6) vs. #10 Macy Chiasson (9-2) 

  • Pick: Irene Aldana (-175)
  • Quick Reasoning: The odds are on point in this one. However, Chiasson hasn’t been great against better strikers like Aldana. She suffered a loss to “Rocky” Pennington in December 2021, but bounced back with a less-than impressive victory over Norma Dumont in May. In that fight, she utilized her power in the clinch by holding Dumont against the fence and hitting her with pitter-patter knees. If Chiasson uses this strategy in this fight, expect many boos and another argument of damage versus control time. But, Aldana should be better than to let Chiasson keep her in that sort of position. Aldana has fearsome power in her hands and has finished 3 of her past 4 victories, two of which that came over Yana Kunitskaya and Ketlen Vieira. Aldana has finished better opponents than Chiasson and has an 84% takedown defense to thwart away Chiasson’s grabbling attempts. The odds are favorable for Aldana bettors, so I’d feel comfortable taking her to win this by TKO or UD as long as Chiasson doesn’t prolong the clinch exchanges. 

CATCHW: Kevin Holland (23-7, 1 NC) vs. Daniel Rodriguez (16-2)

  • Pick: Kevin Holland (-210)
  • Quick Reasoning: Holland is undoubtedly a great fighter with Jalin Turner-like size for the WW division, but don’t sleep on his opponent. Rodriguez lands over 8 significant strikes per minute, which is the most ever at WW and the greatest number of any weight class. Rodriguez has beaten the brakes off of most of his opponents, going 7-1 in the UFC thus far, but Holland should be his toughest test to date. Holland has some sneaky power to go along with his 6’3” height and 81” reach, always finding a way to utilize his frame to create a matchup nightmare for his opponents. The striking accuracy and defense metrics are very similar between the two, and neither fighter averages over one takedown per 15 minutes. Overall, Holland has faced the better competition at a higher weight class, so I believe he’ll have a solid edge in octagon IQ and experience. It does take Holland some time to get going, but Rodriguez has a major red flag of his own. Putting himself in constant striking positions leaves Rodriguez open to getting hit with 5.4 significant strikes per minute. If Holland capitalizes on his rangy size, then he should have no issue getting to Rodriguez’ openings. Take Holland here, most likely by decision, but this could be fireworks and potential fight of the night. 

WW: #14 Li Jingliang (19-7) vs. #11 LW Tony Ferguson (26-7)

  • Pick: Li Jingliang (-330)
  • Quick Reasoning: Keeping this one short for our sanity. Tony got knocked out viciously in a fight he was winning against Michael Chandler in May of this year. Many people hoped and dreamed of Tony bouncing back after that first round, but the dreams were shattered by a foot to the face. Now, Ferguson has moved up to WW to face a fighter that is tied for second in the division for most TKO/KO’s. Jingliang just KO’d ranking-hopeful Muslim Salikhov with ease in his last fight, so I’m sure he’ll look to keep the streak going and hold sole position of second place in WW KO’s. I think Tony may have some mobility left in him and potentially some ground work to use in this matchup, but if he gets clipped a few times by someone like Jingliang, then this one should be over quick. The weight cut does look better on Tony, and – in all reality – he has lost to the best of the best in his LW losing streak. Expect Ferguson to have his moments, but if he makes it to the final bell than I’d consider it a moral victory. Give me Jingliang by finish, but anything can happen!

WW: #3 Khamzat Chimaev (11-0) vs. Nate Diaz (21-13)

  • Pick: Khamzat Chimaev (-1000)
  • Quick Reasoning: Yes, Diaz rocked Leon Edwards for like 30 seconds in their fight. But lets be real, he got manhandled for a vast majority of that fight. Is he entertaining? Absolutely, one of the most entertaining in the fight game. But don’t kid yourselves, this isn’t the Nate Diaz of old. The UFC have most likely blackballed Diaz into this fight and set him up for “embarassment” against Chimaev. In all reality, Chimaev should be next up for the WW belt after beating Gilbert Burns. Chimaev has finished 10 of 11 fights and fought a fierce UD battle with Burns in his time out. The Sweden-based fighter has all the tools to become a two-division champion, but I’m mostly worried about the mental aspect of his meteoric rise in the fight game. Altercations backstage and between other fighters the week of his first main event, fighting like an asshole instead of using his bread and butter of takedowns/crisp striking exchanges in the Burns fight, and feeling of invincibility worries me a lot. If Diaz goads Chimaev into unnecessary striking battles, there could be a chance he goes from mythical fighter to overhyped in a mere matter of seconds. With the power and submission threat he holds, Chimaev should make quick work of Diaz. However, I’m worried he’ll be a little sidetracked by “putting on a show” come Saturday night. He already has a large following, and I’ve personally been on the hype train since he fought in back to back fight nights and finished both opponents with ease. No matter if he wins early or late, the following will still be there. He should make quick work in this fight and wait for the title shot or take a fight at MW next. Happy trails Nate, it was a good and weird ride. Chimaev by finish. 

Emrick’s Combat Sports Betting:

  • Straight Bets:
    • Dawg of the Week (4-6): Johnny Walker ML
      • 0.5u to win 0.85u
    • Lock of the Week (2-0): Norma Dumont ML
      • 2u to win 0.7u
  • Parlay Bets:
    • Almeida, Dumont, Chimaev ML’s
      • 2.5u to win 1.58u
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