Tyler Monahan previews the weekend’s UFC Fight Night at Flash Forum and shares his best bets.
UFC’s return to Abu Dhabi has been nothing short of a massive success. Two weeks ago we were witnesses to the grudge match between Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa in which Adesanya dominated and last week Holly Holm put on a clinic against Irene Aldana. This Saturday is a very solid card and although there aren’t any of the biggest names in the sport there are still some fights that should open the eyes of many.
All odds from FOXBet Sportsbook.
UFC Record: 20-7
Ben Rothwell vs Marcin Tybura
In a matchup between two of the older fighters in the heavyweight division the well-respected Ben Rothwell takes on a fighter that fights a completely opposite style in Marcin Tybura. Rothwell is known for his heavy punches that put opponents to sleep rather quickly, he’s won 28 of his 38 wins via knockout. After a string of tough losses he has gotten back on track with consecutive wins over Stefan Struve and Ovince Saint Preaux but you can see he is a step slower. Luckily he doesn’t need to be super light on his feet when his whole style focusses on landing one shot. He can till sprawl and get out of takedown attempts I just don’t know if he can do it as consistently as he used to.
Marcin Tybura will look to test that theory on Saturday, he is 19-6 in his career with six of those wins coming by submission. There are questions about how strong his jaw is though as he has last six fights in his career, four by knockout. Tybura’s best bet will be to try and control this fight on the ground and look to get a submission hold locked in as quickly as possible. Whoever can get the other to fight their style could end up winning this fight, I like Rothwell to take this one by KO
Pick: Ben Rothwell by KO, TKO or DQ +250
Edson Barboza vs Makwan Amirkhani
In another matchup of two fighters who fight opposite styles, Edson Barbosa looks to get back on track against Makwan Amirkhani after a series of losses that have derailed his career. He’s lost five of his last six fights, although two of those losses come against some of the best in the business in Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje. Barbosa still has a nasty knockout punch so Amirkhani is going to have to look out for that but now more than ever Barbosa is going to look for a quick win, making him more likely to let his guard down.
If Makwan Amirkhani can withstand an early flurry of leg kicks and jabs and get this fight to the ground he has the ability to win via submission but I like his odds of making this fight last longer than it probably should. If he can control the pace of this fight then he can probably win this one by decision. I think this fight lasts into at least the third round.
Marlon Moraes vs Cody Sandhagen
These two bantamweights will try to bring the house down in a fight that is sure to be fast paced and hard hitting. Marlon Moraes is the bigger name but comes into this fight as the underdog because many expect his opponent Cody Sandhagen to control the pace of this fight and simply wear down Moraes.
In the past Moraes has shown that he likes to come out of the gates flying, this causes him to wear down as the fight progresses but his goal is always to end the fight early before that happens. Sandhagen has shown that he can take a punch but also does a great job at defending and creating separation so his opponent doesn’t land any impactful shots. Sandhagen does have the slight advantage in reach so it wouldn’t be too surprising to see him try and stay farther away from Moraes for the majority of the opening rounds.
Both of these fighters can take their fair share of punishment which makes me believe that neither of them are going to be down for the count in this one, it’s all about managing the shots they take and landing effective ones when the opportunity presents itself. I think Cody Sandhagen is going to withstand an early push from Moraes and then control the remainder of the fight. This one could go the distance and if it does I like Sandhagen’s chances.