The Ultimate Fighting Championship on Saturday made its debut in Prague, and UFC Fight Night 145 was full of close fights, according to the betting odds. Officially, only three betting underdogs won their fights, but a number of small favorites in pick-’em bouts managed to edge out victories, too, so that number feels a bit skewed.
The three victorious underdogs at UFC Fight Night “Blachowicz vs. Santos” provide the material for this installment of Beating the Books.
Dwight Grant (+140)
The craziest upset saw Grant brutally knock out Carlo Pedersoli Jr. with just one second left in the first round of their welterweight pairing. Pedersoli looked excellent in this fight, as he outstruck Grant throughout the first round and was well on his way to a clean 10-9 round; however, he let his guard down and paid for it dearly. Grant, meanwhile, finally showed off the knockout power we all expected from him after his stint on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. Pedersoli suffered his second straight knockout loss, so he will likely find himself in a must-win situation in his next appearance. This fight served as more proof of what can happen when you let your guard down in MMA -- even for just a split second -- against a heavy-handed striker wearing four-ounce gloves. Grant made his backers look wise, as he cashed out as a +140 underdog.
Ismail Naurdiev (+375)
The most significant upset on the card also took place in the welterweight division, as Naurdiev won a unanimous decision over Michel Prazeres in his promotional debut. Naurdiev, who is just 22 years old, took the fight on short notice against an underrated talent in Prazeres, who had won eight straight fights inside the Octagon. Prazeres is pushing 40, but considering his success in the UFC, he was a massive favorite to beat an opponent who had never stepped inside the Octagon. Instead, Naurdiev showed that he should have been the favorite, as he outstruck and out-grappled Prazeres over three rounds and won a clear decision. The biggest underdog of the night to cash, Naurdiev was +375.
Carlos Diego Ferreira (+120)
In an early preliminary bout, Ferreira upped his winning streak to four fights, as he won a hard-fought decision over tough veteran Rustam Khabilov. Ferreira is quietly emerging as one of the top lightweights on the UFC roster, and taking out a fighter like Khabilov, who has proven to be extremely difficult to beat inside the Octagon, represents a huge notch on his belt. It would have been nice to see Ferreira get a finish, but he will gladly settle for a lopsided decision against an opponent who was on a run of six consecutive victories. Ferreira, who is now 6-2 in the UFC, cashed as a +120 underdog.
Adam Martin is a mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the sport since 2011. He is currently the lead odds analyst for Sherdog.com, as well as the lead staff writer for MMAOddsbreaker.com. Adam is also the co-host of “The Parting Shot Podcast” on iTunes. His favorite fight of all-time is Dan Henderson-Mauricio Rua, and he wishes Pride Fighting Championships never died. Adam is based out of Toronto, and he is a graduate of the University of Toronto and Centennial College. Get in touch with him on Twitter at @MMAdamMartin.