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Grant Emrick BCDC Analyst Previews UFC Fight Night

UFC Fight Night: Grasso vs. Araujo

October 15, 2022

Emrick’s UFC Fighter Pick Record (228-124-2) – 65% Correct

Main Event Record (20-9) – 69% Correct and Nice!

Prelim Predictions:

WW: Mike Jackson (1-1, 1 NC) vs. Pete Rodriguez (4-1)

  • Pick: Pete Rodriguez

FLY: Tatsuro Taira (11-0) vs. CJ Vergara (10-3-1)

  • Pick: Tatsuro Taira *Lock of the Week*

WSTRAW: Piera Rodriguez (8-0) vs. Sam Hughes (7-4)

  • Pick: Sam Hughes

FW: Joanderson Brito (13-3-1) vs. Lucas Alexander (7-2)

  • Pick: Joanderson Brito

MW: Nick Maximov (8-1) vs. Jacob Malkoun (6-2)

  • Pick: Jacob Malkoun *Dawg of the Week*

BW: Raphael Assuncao (27-9) vs. Victor Henry (22-5)

  • Pick: Victor Henry

BW: Mana Martinez (9-3) vs. Brandon Davis (14-9)

  • Pick: Mana Martinez *Avoid betting on this fight*

Main Card Predictions:

LHW: Misha Cirkunov (15-8) vs. Alonzo Menifield (12-3)

  • Pick: Alonzo Menifield (-205)
  • Quick Reasoning: Cirkunov isn’t close to the same guy he was in 2016. He’s now 2-6 since 2017 and dropped fights to Krzysztof Jotko and was finished by Wellington Turman in his last two bouts. After two tries in the MW division, Cirkunov moves back up a division and faces a top-20 LHW in Menifield. Menifiield has good takedown defense and is 3-3 in his last six, including 3-1 in his past four bouts. I’d give Alonzo the advantage based on his recent four-fight momentum and continuing to build in the LHW division. In contrast, Cirkunov has been searching internally for how to bounce back into the victory column. Until proven otherwise, I’m going to roll with Menifield to get the victory, which should come by finish in the first two rounds. 

MW: Jordan Wright (12-3, 1 NC) vs. Dusko Todorovic (11-3)

  • Pick: Jordan Wright (+165) *Avoid betting on fighters, but parlay FDNGTD*
  • Quick Reasoning: Speaking of finishes, this one shouldn’t involve the judges whatsoever. When it comes to metrics, Wright leads in strikes per minute, accuracy, takedowns, and takedown accuracy. But his chin is a bit suspect and he does absorb an ungodly 7.61 strikes per minute compared to landing 7.37 against his opponents. Todorovic and Wright have fought the best of the unranked MW division the past couple of years, but have continued to fall short. Wright’s opponents who he beat in the UFC have a combined record of 3-9, while Todorovic’s are at 1-9. With 9 of 10 combined UFC fights ending before the final bell, and all within two rounds, this fight is a coin flip. I think Wright’s takedown ability and power can nullify Todorovic’s ground game and lead to a TKO, but I take this with very low confidence. Under 1.5 rounds is the move, but please don’t bet on a fighter to win this. 

FLY: #4 Askar Askarov (14-1-1) vs. #5 Brandon Royval (14-6)

  • Pick: Askar Askarov (-240)
  • Quick Reasoning: He’s just so damn fundamental! I’m not sure what happened with Askarov’s fight against Kai Kara-France, but he should be ready to turn around whatever ailed him earlier this year in Columbus. I believe it was an underestimation of Askarov’s opponent that cost him, as he 100% has the skillset to be a title challenger in this division with his balanced striking and groundwork. It’s a very technical style when it comes to Askarov, but a completely different story with Royval. Brandon Royval is a dog, and there’s no doubt about it. An unorthodox southpaw who can pull off wacky submissions, but also has great awareness in and out of exchanges is clear in Royval’s game. Watch Royval’s fight with Matt Schnell earlier this year for a clear indication of finding his opponent off guard at the right time and finishing Schnell with a guillotine choke. While this is all impressive work from Royval and he may own a slight striking advantage over Askarov, I think this is a big bounce-back opportunity for Askar and he can take advantage of a mistake-prone Royval. Royval was taken down eight times two fights ago by Rogerio Bontorin and was almost finished by Schnell before he locked in the choke. Askarov should be able to land his takedowns and use his body pressure to maintain the position and land some ground-and-pound. I’m leaning strongly toward Askarov, but if Royval can take over this will be a very exciting fight. I’ll go Askarov by decision or late-round TKO in this one. 

BW: Cub Swanson (28-12) vs. Jonathan Martinez (16-4)

  • Pick: Jonathan Martinez (-205)
  • Quick Reasoning: The drop in weight class worries me for Cub. He’ll be facing someone who works the body heavily in Martinez and attacks very well with leg kicks. I’ll be very curious to see how Cub looks with the extra weight cut from FW and if his power or durability can hold up to the same level as before. Both fighters have similar striking metrics and accuracies, while Cub can offer a little bit more in terms of the ground game. Martinez does offer a very technical skillset and mixes it up very well between the head and body. I like the trajectory that Martinez offers though, as he’s 5-1 in his last six and is 11 years younger than Cub. This is Martinez’s toughest match since facing Davey Grant in early 2021, but I think he’s game for the task after taking the scorecards with ease in his past three fights. There are too many questions about Cub and his move to the BW division, so I’m going to side with Martinez as he continues to get better in each fight. Cub knows his own body best and we have to trust him on the move, but this is a tough test and will take some of the muscle off him for protection. Give me Martinez by UD, but this could be a nice upset win for Cub as he starts a new chapter as a BW. 

WFLY: #5 Alexa Grasso (14-3) vs. #6 Viviane Araujo (11-3)

  • Pick: Alexa Grasso (-215)
  • Quick Reasoning: People might hate this main event, but I’m pretty excited. Grasso’s striking is very underrated, as she can pack a punch and has output nearing 5 strikes landed per minute. The x-factor in this fight comes down to Grasso’s takedown defense and Araujo’s ability to get this fight to the mat. Araujo lands about 2 takedowns per 15 minutes and is landing at a 60% clip, while Grasso defends 60% of takedown attempts. If Araujo can maintain her cardio while working this against the fence or on the ground, then this should be light work for her to seal the dub. But if this doesn’t happen for her frequently – which I don’t believe it will – it will allow Grasso to utilize her slick striking en route to a late-round TKO or UD. Also, the stat that always bugs me, which is a negative striking ratio is prevalent for Araujo. Viviane is absorbing 5.13 significant strikes for every 4.76 she dishes out per minute, which plays heavily into Grasso’s game. Even if Grasso ends up on the ground, she has often found herself flipping the position and ending up in control for good portions of the exchange. There’s only been one finish for each fighter in the UFC, so I’m thinking this goes to the championship rounds for sure, but the money should side with Grasso. I think the odds should be a tad tighter, but Grasso has been well-tested early in her career by the likes of Tatiana Suarez and Carla Esparza, and even holds a recent victory over the surging Maycee Barber in 2021. Both fighters are talented, but I have to side with Grasso and believe her cardio, striking, and ability to get out of tough ground positions will lead her to victory. 

Emrick’s Combat Sports Betting:

  • Straight Bets:
    • Dawg of the Week (5-8): Jacob Malkoun ML
      • 0.5u
    • Lock of the Week (4-1): Tatsuro Taira ML
      • 2.5u
  • Parlay Bet:
    • Askarov, Menifield, Henry, Pete Rodriguez ML’s
      • 0.5u
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