JACKSONVILLE – Ilia Topuria (14-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC) may have earned himself a title shot with his dominant unanimous-decision win (50-44, 50-42, 49-45) over fifth-ranked featherweight Josh Emmett as a favorite in the -350 to -400 range.
Bettors backing ‘over’ 1.5 rounds cashed tickets at a -108 to -112 price. Gamblers at BetRivers taking ‘over’ 2.5 rounds cashed +220 tickets, while others taking ‘over’ 3.5 rounds brought home a +340 return.
Gamblers taking Topuria to win by decision cashed big +1000 tickets at Caesars. They have Emmett to thank for the huge payout.
His chin and toughness were on full display. Emmett somehow found a way to survive both the third and fourth rounds, in addition to talking the UFC doctor into letting him go out for Round 5.
Some pundits have insisted that Emmett’s corner and/or referee Marc Godard should’ve ended the fight before the fourth and/or fifth rounds. I would normally agree with this take, but Emmett was still throwing bombs in those rounds.
And I’ve seen him win a flight with one of those thunderous left hooks with less than a minute remaining in a fight in which he was losing badly (his third-round KO win over Michael Johnson).
Topuria, who entered the bout ranked ninth in the featherweight loop, will likely jump into the top five after a convincing win over fifth-ranked Emmett, who had won five fights in a row until losing to Yair Rodriguez and Topuria.
Rodriguez, the interim featherweight champ, will face Alexander Volkanovski, who is looking to bounce back from a narrow decision loss to Islam Makhachev in an attempt to become a double champ, in Las Vegas next month to unify the 145-pound belts.
Topuria seems content to wait on the winner of that fight by thinking he’s next in line for a title shot. He did concede that he would be willing to take on Max Holloway if he has to wait. Holloway is currently booked to headline UFC Singapore on Aug. 26 against The Korean Zombie as a -1000 favorite at SportsBetting.ag.
In the co-main event, Maycee Barber won her fifth fight in a row with a second-round knockout win over Amanda Ribas. Barber hooked up her supporters as a +170 underdog, while bettors taking ‘under’ 2.5 rounds cashed +154 tickets at FanDuel.
She had seven finishes and an 8-0 record in her first eight career fights, but Barber hadn’t won via finish since 2019 in a first-round KO victory vs. Gillian Robertson.
She got back to her finishing ways last night against Ribas, finishing the Brazilian with a flurry of punches, elbows and hammer fists after a sequence that started with a head kick.
Barber entered the bout ranked 11th in the flyweight loop, so she’ll move into the Top 10 with the win over ninth-ranked Ribas.
The fight prior to the co-main slot was an immense disappointment. Austen Lane, a former NFL player who spent three seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars after being selected by the franchise in the fifth round of the 2010 NFL Draft, received a rousing ovation from the crowd ahead of his UFC debut vs. Justin Tafa in a heavyweight showdown.
However, the fight ended after 29 seconds when Tafa was rendered unable to continue after taking a bad, albeit accidental, eye poke from Lane.
In a featherweight contest, David Onama bounced back from a decision loss to Nate ‘The Train’ Landwehr to score a second-round KO win over Gabriel Santos as a +188 underdog.
Onama’s backers for his prop to win by KO cashed an outstanding +480 ticket. Also, the prop for him to win inside the distance brought home a +320 return and the prop to win in Round 2 netted a gorgeous +1100 payout. I had Onama and the ‘under’ (2.5 rounds), and the complete recap of how my picks fared is discussed below.
Brendan Allen (22-5 MMA, 10-2 UFC) put on a show in the opener of the main card, submitting Bruno Silva with 21 seconds remaining in the first round. Silva is a powerful striker, but he entered the bout having taken six of his eight career losses by submission.
If Allen could get him on the ground, he would have an enormous advantage. But most of the fight took place standing and although Silva had a few moments of success, he was eventually dropped by a right hand from Allen, who followed up with a slew of strikes.
Allen went to the ground with him and took his back. From there, it didn’t take long for Allen to lock in a rear-naked choke for his 13th career submission victory. The 13th-ranked middleweight will move up when the rankings are updated and is likely in line for a Top-10 opponent.
Allen has won five straight fights and is on a 7-1 run in his last eight.
There was only one finish in the eight prelim fights. Mateusz Rebecki crushed Loik Radzhabov with kicks to his legs and body in the bout’s first seven minutes. Then Rebecki closed the show with a KO punch midway through the second frame.
Other winners via decisions included Neil Magny, Randy Brown, Tabatha Ricci, Joshua Van, Jose Mariscal, Jack Jenkins and Sedriques Dumas.
Mariscal handed Trevor Peek his first career loss by UD (30-27, 30-27, 30-27), but it was the most entertaining fight of the show’s first three hours. Peek came into brawl and did just that, landing some big shots early.
But Mariscal was able to take his back and threatened with an RNC, but Peek somehow escaped after falling to his back and appearing to be in big trouble. After Peek accidentally landed a kick to the cup that drew a timeout and a warning from the ref, the fight resumed with Peek aggressively attacking and throwing caution to the wind.
Peek threw all he had at Mariscal from kicks to punches and spinning attacks. As Mariscal escaped one attack and moved to the other side of the cage to get some space, Peek put his hands on his hips and was clearly gassed – before the end of Round 1.
Mariscal was more methodical and technical in the final two rounds. Peek would muster up some energy for a few offensive attacks each round, but he wasn’t throwing punches with nearly as much power or speed.
Nevertheless, this bout had to be in the running for Fight of the Night, which eventually went to Topuria and Emmett. Both of those fighters earned an extra $50,000, while Onama and Barber also won $50,000 apiece with Performance of the Night honors. How Allen got out of the POTN convo is a bit of a head scratcher.
My picks in my UFC Jacksonville preview produced a 7-4 record for 5.53 units of profit. My seven winners started with a three-fight parlay with Topuria, Allen and Brown that was a one-unit risk that had 1.97 units of payout. Other winners included Barber as a +170 underdog (0.5 units of risk for 0.85 units of payout), Allen to win inside the distance for a +105 return (one unit of risk for 1.05 units of profit), Allen to win by submission at +175 (0.75 units of risk for 1.33 units of payout and Allen-Ortiz to go ‘under’ 1.5 rounds for a +125 return (one unit of risk for 1.25 units of profit).
The last two winners came in Onama’s win over Santos that went ‘under’ 2.5 rounds. We risked a quarter-unit (0.25) on Onama as a +190 underdog and won one unit on the ‘under’ by risking 1.38 units.
All four of our losses came in two fights. We backed Topuria to win by KO (+160) for one unit hoping to win 1.6 units. We also dropped a prop play, albeit for just one-half unit, for Topuria to win by submission +190). Therefore, we took a 1.5-unit hit to our profit tally.
Finally, in the lightweight match between Peek and Mariscal, we lost 0.6 units by taking Peek for one-half unit at a -120 price. We also lost 0.3 units backing the pro for the fight to end in Round 1 for a +220 payout.