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The Octagon makes its debut at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, South Carolina, this Saturday night for UFC Fight Night 154. The card is light on big names, but it features a number of intriguing matchups for fight fans. The sportsbooks are offering odds on all 12 fights on the card, and my top plays are listed below in the UFC Fight Night 154 edition of Prime Picks.
John Lineker (-210)
One of my top plays on this card is Lineker to defeat Rob Font in a bantamweight rematch. These two previously met in 2016, with the Brazilian taking home a decision over Font (16-4) at UFC 198 in Brazil. I see no reason why this fight will go any differently given both men are still similar fighters to who they were the first time they met. They are both primarily strikers, and while both guys excel in the standup department I’d argue Lineker (31-9) is faster and more powerful, which we saw on display in the pair’s first bout. “Hands of Stone” is also two years younger at age 29 compared to 31 for the American, giving him another advantage in this fight. Although Lineker is coming off of a split decision loss to Cody Sandhagen, that was a very close fight and he could have easily been given the decision by another set of judges. Font, meanwhile, is coming off of a nice win over Sergio Pettis to bounce back from a decision loss to Raphael Assuncao. While Lineker did take this fight on somewhat short notice filling in for the injured Cody Stamann, he was actively campaigning on social media for a fight and should be in great shape for this contest. This is going to be a very exciting fight between two men who love to stand and bang for the fans, but I favor the Brazilian to get his hand raised once again. At -210 odds, Lineker is going to be a popular parlay pick this weekend.
Deron Winn (-280)
Another favorite who I like is Winn, who takes on Eric Spicely in a middleweight bout. The first thing to note in this matchup is that "Zebrinha" is taking the fight on just one week’s notice, filling in for an injured Bruno Silva. I tend to fade fighters competing on extremely short notice, and Spicely (12-4) is no exception. He is actually returning to the Ultimate Fighting Championship after picking up two knockout wins in Classic Entertainment & Sports. While hee deserves a second chance to fight inside the Octagon, the first time we saw Spicely in the UFC he wasn’t too impressive. He was just 2-4 inside the promotion and was finished in all four of his losses, including three straight stoppage losses that led to him being released. The Rhode Island native does have a good ground game and he holds a notable submission win over Thiago Santos, but his brittle durability is very concerning at the highest level of the sport. While Spicely may be a submission ace, he doesn’t have a good matchup here against Winn (5-0), who is an excellent wrestler. Winn is perfect in his mixed martial arts career so far at 5-0 and trains with UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier on a consistent basis at American Kickboxing Academy. He had a nice win over Tom Lawlor in Golden Boy MMA to get this UFC deal, and he will do well in the Octagon. Although he didn’t finish Lawlor, all of Winn’s previous for pro bouts saw him win via TKO. That’s not a good thing for Spicely, who is known for getting knocked out. At -280 odds, give me Winn to get the win here.
Chan Sung Jung vs. Renato Carneiro Does Not Go The Distance (-245)
For a prop play, I like a bet on the featherweight main event between Jung and Carneiro not going the distance. This fight is scheduled for five rounds and considering the finishing prowess of both fighters I just can’t see this fight going 25 minutes. Jung (14-5) has 19 career fights and just four of them have gone the distance. All six of Jung’s UFC fights have ended inside the distance, and he hasn’t fought to a decision since his 2010 “Fight of the Year” against Leonard Garcia. As for Carneiro (13-2-1), it’s true that only eight of his 16 fights have ended inside the distance, but that includes three of his last four fights. He’s opened up a lot more offensively in recent fights and is much more willing to take risks, something which “The Korean Zombie” is known for as well. I’m not sure who wins this fight, but it’s likely that someone gets finished. Rather than taking a side in this fight, I much prefer making a play on this fight not going the distance prop, and I feel like -245 are pretty good odds considering the high likelihood of a finish here.
Montana De La Rosa (+185)
For an underdog play, I like De La Rosa to defeat Andrea Lee in a key women’s flyweight bout. Both fighters are very solid, but I can’t pass up these odds on De La Rosa (10-4). She has looked unbelievable in the UFC, going 3-0 with three wins by submission. Overall, De La Rosa is on a four-fight win streak and has shown improvements every time she steps into the Octagon. Lee (10-2) is on a six-fight win streak herself and has gone 2-0 in the UFC, but both of those wins were by decision. I question her ability to finish fights at the highest level. Both fighters are top prospects at flyweight, but I have been more impressed with De La Rosa’s recent run. If she can get this fight to the ground, she will be at a huge advantage and could get a submission victory. At +185 underdog odds, you have to go with De La Rosa in this one.
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 vs. Shogun Rua and he wishes Pride never died. Adam is based out of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and he is a graduate of the University of Toronto and Centennial College. Get in touch with him on Twitter @MMAdamMartin.