FIGHT NIGHT is back!
With record-setting spikes in COVID-19 positive tests across the country creating unease about how it may impact what sports fans hope to see from MLB and the NBA in late July and football come September, the Ultimate Fighting Championship is set to put on an eighth show in seven weeks tonight at the UFC’s Apex Facility in Las Vegas.
Thanks, Dana White. The dude hasn’t blinked at criticism galore from the media and politicians.
And hey, let’s enjoy this card tonight. Why, you ask? Well, for the first time in two months, we won’t be afforded UFC betting opportunities a week from today.
The promotion takes a much-deserved weekend off before delivering four shows in a three-week stretch on Fight Island. I previewed some of those festivities earlier this month.
Now let’s hit on tonight’s story lines before getting to my picks that — by the way — cashed at a 4-1 clip last Saturday for 5.68 units of profit!
Dustin ‘The Diamond’ Poirier went on a tear in 2017 and 2018, defeating Jim Miller before ripping off four straight wins over three former champions (Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis, Eddie Alvarez and Max Holloway) and one current interim champ (Justin Gaethje), finishing Gaethje, Alvarez and Pettis.
The Lafayette, LA., product won the interim lightweight strap with his unanimous-decision win over Holloway, who was the featherweight kingpin at the time. It set him up against reigning lightweight champ and undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov in Abu Dhabi at UFC 242.
In the biggest fight of his life, Poirier came up short like the 27 previous others who had faced Nurmagomedov, who won the scrap by third-round submission (rear-naked choke).
Since that September 7 loss in the desert, Poirier has had the longest layoff of his career. It speaks to his activity during his storied career that his most extended break has been less than 10 months.
It’s given Poirier the time to heal up physically and perhaps even more important, recover emotionally from coming up short his last time out. I’m of the belief that it’s been just what the doctor ordered for Poirier to make another run at the title.
Does that start tonight, or does Dan ‘The Hangman’ Hooker have other plans? Can the fifth-ranked New Zealander win his fourth consecutive fight (and improve to 8-1 since June of 2018 in the process) as a +180 underdog?
In the co-main event, will Mike ‘Platinum’ Perry snap out of a 2-5 slump in his last seven Octagon appearances when he makes his 13th career walk without any coaches or corner help other than his new girlfriend, or is Mickey Gall poised to pull an upset as a generous underdog?
Can Brendan ‘All In’ Allen improve to 4-0 in the UFC against unbeaten promotional newcomer Kyle Daukaus in a welterweight contest?
Will Gian Villante have a smooth transition up a weight class in his heavyweight debut, or is 6-foot-7 Maurice Green poised to bounce back from consecutive losses and give Villante an unsavory taste of what heavyweight hands feel like?
Is Luis Pena about to take another step toward getting a number next to his name in the featherweight loop, or will Khama Worthy pull another upset in his second UFC appearance?
Let’s see if we can keep pickin’ and grinnin’ for UFC on ESPN 12: Poirier vs. Hooker.
PICK #1: I’ve stated my case for Poirier, who is better and stronger anywhere and everywhere this fight goes. Hooker is a stud, no doubt about it, and his first-round knockout win over Gilbert Burns at UFC 226 is aging better than most fine wins. Nevertheless, I feel like Poirier to win inside the distance (let’s put four units on it) at a -110 price is a gift. And hey, if you have a Bet365 account, that shop has this prop wager at +120.
PICK #2: My prediction is for Poirier to win by KO/TKO, and I’m thinking in the third or fourth round. However, Poirier has seven career submission wins, so we’re going to ensure a profit with the inside-the-distance wager (if he gets a submission instead of a KO). Let’s also put one unit on the prop for Poirier to win by KO/TKO for a +125 payout.
PICK #3: It isn’t difficult to sense how much Perry is underestimating Gall in the co-main event. No coaches? Check. No corner help? Nope. No game plan? None other than to win by KO early. And yes, that might happen because Perry is the vastly superior striker if he can keep the scrap standing. However, Gall is better on the ground, has a four-inch height advantage and a three-inch edge in reach. If Gall can survive Perry’s early surge, I like his chances as the fight progresses. He wants to get this fight to the ground or keep it against the fence with his clinch game. Give me one-half unit on Gall as a +275 underdog (5Dimes).
PICK #4: Allen (14-3 MMA, 3-0 UFC) has 13 finishes (eight submissions and five KOs) in his 14 career victories. Thirteen of his 17 career contests have ended in Rounds 1 or 2, with eight concluding in the opening frame. Daukaus (9-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) has eight career submissions and just two of his nine career fights have made it into Round 3. Let’s go with 1.5 units on ‘under’ 1.5 rounds for a +107 return (5Dimes).
PICK #5: Let’s go with one-half unit on Allen to win inside the distance at a -125 price (William Hill). **Note: If your price for this prop is North of -140, consider passing here.
PICK #6: Worthy took his UFC debut against Devonte Smith last August on just four days’ notice. All he did was deliver a first-round KO victory as a +650 underdog. He’s won six straight fights. Let’s call for one more upset with one-half unit on Worthy as a +220 underdog at 5Dimes.
Also, here’s the UFC’s promo trailer for tonight’s headliner, and you can here me explain my plays in this video on our YouTube channel. If you wish, please rate, subscribe and all that good stuff.
Thanks. Best of luck, folks, and enjoy the show!