Betting Guide for UFC Fight Night on 5/30/20
The UFC is back in action again on Saturday. This time coming live from the UFC APEX -- the UFC's own athletic performance facility in Las Vegas Nevada. It's the company's first event in Las Vegas since March 7th, and this one will much look different even from the recent events in Jacksonville.
There won't be thousands of empty seats surrounding the cage for this event, as the APEX arena is much smaller than a traditional arena. The octagon itself will even be five feet smaller than the one seen in Jacksonville and many other big UFC events. That gives the fighters less room, forcing them to engage with each other more, which increases the likelihood of early finishes.
So who can get those finishes? And can we still expect some fights to go the distance?
Let's take a look.
Tyron Woodley (-184) vs Gilbert Burns (+156)
The former welterweight champion, Tyron Woodley, returns to the octagon for the first time since losing his belt to Kamaru Usman in March of last year.
On the other side of the cage, Gilbert Burns will be looking to extend his current three-fight win streak since moving up from the lightweight division.
Burns is a Jiu-Jitsu world champion, but its likely that we won't get to see much of that on display as Woodley boasts the third-highest takedown defense rate (93.7%) in UFC history. So this fight will likely take place on the feet, where both men hold significant power in their hands. To win the championship belt in 2016, Woodley handed Robbie Lawler his first knockout loss since 2004. Burns is coming off of a first-round knockout victory over Demian Maia in his most recent fight.
Woodley is the more patient fighter, averaging 2.5 significant strikes landed per minute compared to 3.13 for Burns. But the former champ has also been more efficient, landing 49% of those strikes, compared to 44% for Burns.
Burns fought to a decision in both of his welterweight fights prior to Maia, and Woodley has actually gone the full five rounds in four of his past five outings. Don't be surprised to see a long drawn out fight here, Woodley will certainly have the advantage late over Burns, who has never been in a five-round fight.
I am in on Woodley -184 to get the win here, and also like him at +220 to win by decision. Even with the smaller cage and this being a five-round fight, Woodley's odds to win by decision, are almost even, with his odds to win by KO/TKO (+210).
Augusto Sakai (-112) vs Blagoy Ivanov (-104)
Blagoy Ivanov's record is certainly not typical of a heavyweight fighter. Even fighting against knockout artists such as Derrick Lewis and Tai Tuivasa, Ivanov has managed to go the distance in each of his past five fights -- and the past four of those were five-round fights! He has been fighting top competition since joining the UFC and still has never been knocked out in his career, with his lone inside the distance loss coming by submission to Alexander Volkov in 2014, while fighting for Bellator. Ivanov's tendency to fight to a decision has this heavyweight fight priced at -156 to go to a decision.
Augusto Sakai on the other hand if 4-0 in the UFC and Dana White's Contender Series, with three of those wins coming by KO/TKO. He is very active, landing 5.51 significant strikes per minute, which bodes well for him against Ivanov, who absorbs an average of 3.93 strikes per minute. But Sakai has fought much lesser competition. None of his past UFC opponents currently have a winning record over their past five UFC fights.
The unblemished UFC record and knockout reel are what make Sakai the betting favorite in this fight. But Ivanov marks a huge step up in competition and Sakai will be trying to become the first fighter ever to ever knock Ivanov out.
I'm siding with Ivanov as a slight underdog here. With the small cage in play, Ivanov's +500 number to win by KO/TKO is also attractive.
Antonina Shevchenko (-142) vs Katlyn Chookagian (+120)
If this matchup looks familiar to you, it's because Katlyn Chookagian challenged Antonina Shevchenko's sister, Valentina Shevchenko for the flyweight championship in February. Chookagian lost that fight by third-round TKO, marking the first time in her nine UFC fights that she didn't fight to a decision.
Antonina is certainly rawer than her sister, with only three UFC fights under her belt to go along with her win on Dana White's Contender Series. But she has looked good so far, amassing a 3-1 record across those fights, including two wins inside the distance. Her lone loss came via split decision to veteran Roxanne Modafferi.
Both of these fighters have a high output rate, landing over 4.0 significant strikes per minute. But there's a big difference in efficiency, as Shevchenko lands ate a 57% rate compared to 32% for Chookagian. The latter also absorbs 2.57 more significant striker per minute. She is known to take a lot of those strikes via leg kick, which presents a great matchup for Shevchenko's Muay-Thai style.
Chookagian didn't exactly take the division by storm en route to a title shot. She got the call on just a two-fight win streak, as there really isn't anyone ready to compete with the champion as of now. And even the lesser experienced Shevchenko sister looks to have the advantage here. The value is on the favorite becoming the second-straight Shevchenko sister to pick up a win over Chookagian.
Mackenzie Dern (-460) vs Hannah Cifers (+350)
Now we move down to the lightest division, as Mackenzie Dern and Hannah Cifers face off at 115 pounds. Dern is the biggest favorite on the card and she's expected to end the fight early, as this bout is priced at -240 to end inside three rounds. That's an insane number for a women's strawweight fight, especially on a card where a heavyweight fight has plus-odds to go the distance and makes the +178 number for this fight to go to a decision very appealing.
Dern returns to the octagon for the first time since October 2019, following the birth of her first child. She will have a big size advantage in this one, as she is three inches taller than Cifers and has struggled to make the 115-pound limit in her MMA career. Cifers is one of the smallest fighters in the division.
The size advantage is very meaningful in this fight, considering Dern's strength is her grappling. She is one of the most decorated female Jiu-Jitsu competitors in history, and already has one submission victory in her three-fight UFC career. The big question in this fight is whether Dern will be able to take Cifers down. Cifers has been taken down by much lesser competition, but Dern has struggled to get fights to the ground, boasting a mere 8% takedown rate in the UFC.
Dern also struggles in the striking department, converting one just 32% of her significant strikes, while Cifers lands an average of 4.82 significant strikes per minute.
The most likely way for this fight to end is Dern by submission (+100). She is nearly three times more likely to win by submission than by decision (+270). If she gets the fight to the ground, it's likely going to end.
Both of Cifers' UFC wins have come by decision. Her avenue to win his one is by out-pointing Dern with a heavy volume of strikes en route to a decision victory. If you see that happening, +700 for Cifers to win by decision is the bet to make.