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The Ultimate Fighting Championship may have gotten lucky with a few injury replacements at UFC Fight Night 182 on Saturday in Las Vegas. This much-maligned card, perhaps saved by a pair of new matchups less than week before the event, manages to provide some interesting betting lines. A few prop bets in the main and co-main events appear more reasonable than picking one fighter outright, and no underdogs particularly jump off the page. Look no further than this edition of Prime Picks for your betting needs.
Paul Felder-Rafael dos Anjos Goes to Decision (-175)
The hero of this card, Felder has an uphill battle ahead of him in the form of a very tough stylistic matchup in dos Anjos. Even though Felder takes this fight on just few days’ notice, his training has been Diaz-esque as he prepares for a triathlon. Although running, cycling and swimming may not improve your fighting prowess, his cardio – which has always been one of his stronger suits – may be in rare form for this fight. Felder sports a practically indestructible chin, aside from his first UFC bout when Jason Saggo dropped him in the waning seconds of their 2014 contest, and excellent submission defense skills. He does not appear to be at risk of a stoppage loss, unless he takes unnecessary damage that forces intervention from other forces.
The lone finish defeat for Felder came when Francisco Trinaldo opened up a cut on the eyebrow that developed into a chasm. Although not quite to the level of Darren Elkins, Felder takes damage frequently in his bouts, and this will be much like that. His face held together against Dan Hooker for five rounds, and even though most felt he should have gotten his hand raised, he survived a tough first few rounds to rally as the bout progressed. Dos Anjos may not be the striking threat that Hooker presented, but the 36-year-old and former welterweight can still put up solid numbers when presented with the right opponent.
For all of dos Anjos’ accolades and impressive run at lightweight, he did so in a well-rounded way that kept his opponent guessing. Against Anthony Pettis, the Brazilian hit nine of ten takedowns and clobbered the then-champ for 25 minutes. When squaring off with Robbie Lawler, dos Anjos did not display near the success with his ground game, but let his hands go in a way he had never done before, landing more strikes than any of his other bouts past or future. The former champ can use his diverse attack to threaten with a takedown, grind Felder in the clinch, and even step back to deliver leg kicks that have hobbled Felder in recent bouts. Above all, he has proved that he too can make it to the end of a 25-minute bout, doing so in four of his last six fights.
Felder’s ability to take a fighter to their limit has won him success in the past, which is where a line on the fight itself rather than a victor could prove useful. Both men have the gas tank to reach that final bell, without fading in the later rounds to get finished. Felder is expected to be in dos Anjos’ face for much of the fight, crowding him with strikes as he tries to get elbows off. On the other hand, dos Anjos could try to take the fight down, but Felder is a savvy enough grappler that he will not likely stay on his back for long. Barring a tough weight cut that makes Felder fade and get taken out in the later rounds, this headliner has the makings of a fun back-and-forth clash that will go the distance.
Abdul Razak Alhassan-Kalinn Williams Ends Under 1.5 Rounds (-170)
Alhassan sports a 100 percent first-round knockout rate when he wins, but when he has lost, it has been by decision. On the other hand, Williams’ lone defeat came on the scorecards as well. Williams has displayed a shocking amount of power that could threaten Alhassan, recording two knockouts – including a recent victory over Alex Morono – in under 30 seconds in the last 13 months. Both men like to throw caution to the wind to strike, and although neither has been caught thus far, this bout could very well end that “never been finished” stretch for one man.
When Alhassan has gotten it done inside the Octagon, he has not needed much time or many strikes to do it. The Texan is a headhunter, plain and simple. His recklessness and willingness to brawl so that he can tag his opponent has been on full display in every fight where he was not put on his back on multiple occasions. Williams does not appear to have the kind of pedigree to game plan like that, nor the wrestling chops to force Alhassan to defend takedowns. Although Williams started his career training Brazilian jiu-jitsu, striking is where he has found his love.
In a 170-pound smash-em-up derby between two men that almost exclusively move forward, something’s gotta give. “Judo Thunder” the favorite for a reason having beaten more established names, Williams has some serious pop in his punches and could pose a threat when they start out throwing fire. A wild brawl will almost certainly ensue early, as long as Alhassan is not gunshy after his bout with Mounir Lazzez, and it will not likely stop until one fighter is face-down. This fight should not likely get out of the first round, let alone the first few minutes into the second round. If it does, and you believe the two will both survive the opening barrages, Fight Goes to Decision is a sizeable +425.
Eryk Anders (-125)
On some occasions, picking the chalk across the board has its advantages. The UFC has been quick to point out as of late, most favorites have won. Both Andrei Arlovski and Glover Teixeira proved the exception to this recent trend, but in other instances, minor favorites have been recorded that on paper should be much more heavily favored. In this case, Anders is a very slight betting favorite over Antonio Arroyo, and based on their bodies of work, has a very intriguing line to capitalize on. Although Anders has holes in his game, Arroyo does not appear to be the fighter that will take advantage of them.
Arroyo was originally planning on meeting Andreas Michailidis on the card, but an unexpected withdrawal for the Greek fighter led to Anders stepping in on short notice. Even though Anders sports a .500 record after 10 jaunts to the Octagon, many of his losses can be either explained away or at least seen in a more forgiving light. Split decisions to Lyoto Machida and Elias Theodorou could have gone either way, and Thiago Santos has bludgeoned a lot of men on his way to the top. The two most stark against Anders are his otherworldly drubbing by Khalil Rountree and his most recently setback to Krzysztof Jotko. In the former, Rountree displayed muay Thai skills well beyond his years, and in the latter, Jotko simply outworked him from bell to bell. Luckily for Anders, Arroyo has not shown himself to be the caliber of fighter of either two, and instead is one that cuts too much weight to reach 185 pounds and faints before competing.
Anders has the physical tools – although like Arroyo, he too cuts a lot of weight to compete at 185 pounds – to manhandle an opponent, pushing them around the cage with powerful strikes. The former football player has learned a well-rounded game that mixes in takedowns, allows for extended time in the clinch if necessary, and can fight off superior submission grapplers. Arroyo is the kind of fighter that may meet him in the middle of the cage and slug it out should it go that way, or could stand back and try to remain in kicking range to let off some vicious strikes. Although Arroyo is a huge middleweight as well, he can get put on his back and have his gas tank sapped, as displayed in his last appearance against Andre Muniz. Anders can excel here in this matchup, and unless he walks into a head kick or gets caught in an early submission while both men are dry, he should be able to get a win in the later rounds or ride out a clear-cut decision.
Brendan Allen (-120)
Some of the analysis of why Allen is a decent bet and a fighter that will get his hand raised is based on his substantially different, yet ultimately scuttled, style matchup against Ian Heinisch. This bout will not be featuring two former Legacy Fighting Alliance middleweight champs, and instead is a short-notice opponent change with the rebounding Sean Strickland. Strickland made a big splash in his first fight since his 2018 motorcycle accident, boxing up Jack Marshman for three rounds with some entertaining trash talk spread throughout their meeting.
While on paper, Strickland’s performance against Marshman looked impressive, it was over a fighter whose lone win the last three years came against John Phillips. His crisp boxing and high pace can work wonders on most opponents, especially if they are willing to stand and trade for lengthy durations. On the other hand, Strickland’s takedown defense has largely held up the last several years, outside of just two of eight given up to current champ Kamaru Usman. Allen is a middleweight grappler and not a 170-pounder, so it will be interesting to see a fighter other than Bubba McDaniel or Luke Barnatt test Strickland’s defensive wrestling chops.
Allen will likely come charging out of his corner like his hair is on fire, and he will indeed attack aggressively and wildly until the bitter end. He comes into this rescheduled meeting with all the momentum in the world, having scored wins over names like Tom Breese and Kevin Holland as he strung together a lengthy winning streak. Charging headlong into the action so that he can drag the fight down and pursue submissions or ground-and-pound, “All In” has a kind of recklessness that might play against him in the future but has not led to him getting caught yet. Should he get Strickland down, he will threaten with submissions and open up with ground strikes. His boxing may not be as technically sound as his opponent’s, but it is effective enough to keep his wits about him on his feet as he works his way in to close the distance. If this fight stays standing, it could be Strickland’s to win; if you think this is the case, Strickland as a slight +100 underdog is the right choice. Otherwise, Allen has shown much more as of recent to merit a pick for the former LFA champ.