Welcome fight Enthusiasts to UFC 222. I’ll ask forgiveness today as today’s fight write ups will be brief. I am struggling with the Flu and simply don’t have the energy to rewrite everything discussed over this past week on the podcasts (Games Galore with Brian Edwards, Wagertalk with Scot Speitzer and of course our weekly rendezvous with Gabriel Morency and Cam Stewart on their live radio program Game Time Decisions).
All these segments are available via @Twitter for those interested in detailed breakdowns. I also was pleased to appear on VSiN’s ‘The Edge’ with Matt Youmans yesterday post weigh-ins and that segment can be viewed by going to VSiN.com. Just access the replay tab then find ‘The Edge’ Matt Youmans and Erin Rynning (3-2-18) I appear at the 1:41 mark of that show. In my weekly column for VSiN called ‘Insight the Octagon’, I did make a couple of releases. That column is below with an update from today for those of you who are not yet subscribing to that outstanding gaming newsletter. It’s important to note that these articles need to be submitted on Monday evening and much can change during fight week, so I’ll provide a comment at the end of each breakdown before listing the remaining fighters we’ll invest with tonight.
(All GambLou.com releases are understood to be a standard/hypothetical $100.00 per position unless otherwise stated. We employ $100.00 to easily track results as every GambLou.com release is recorded and accounted for each Monday AM in the “Money Morning’ report. On line, up to date reporting for all sporting events we work is available by accessing the ‘Profitability’ tab on the Gamblou.com webpage. The Profitability tab displays win percentage, gross profit and bottom line profitability up to date in real time. After all, it’s business).
‘Insight the Octagon’ published 2-28-18
The Women’s Featherweight title takes center stage Saturday as Brazilian Chris Cyborg -1650 faces Russian underdog Yana Kunitskaya +1100. Cyborg is arguably the most dominant Women’s mixed martial artist alive. She is powerful, explosive, and unyielding on the floor, standing, against the fence or in the clinch. These ladies compete as Featherweight’s Saturday (145 lbs.) even though Kunitskaya has only fought at Bantamweight (135 lbs.) since 2015. Kunitskaya steps into this ‘mission impossible’ with four weeks’ notice so she’s had very little time to prepare for a larger, more skilled opponent. This mismatch is not main event status which is why I’ll focus on other fights this week. The real headliner Saturday is Edgar vs. Ortega which should be the main event and a five-round fight.
UFC 222 Edgar -180 vs. Ortega +160 Featherweights
Frankie Edgar is arguably the most complete mixed martial artist in the UFC. His wrestling base is world class, his grappling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and striking have enabled him to remain dominant in the Lightweight/Featherweight divisions since early 2007 (Edgar held the lightweight title from 2010 to 2012). Edgar’s twenty-three fights in the UFC against the most capable fighters in the organization provide him vast experience and confidence. His fight IQ, footwork, movement, grit and unrelenting pressure have made him a title contender since his arrival to the organization. A win over Ortega earns Edgar the elusive title Championship fight he was originally scheduled to compete in this past December. Edgar was injured in late 2017 postponing the first scheduled title fight then Holloway was injured prior to this scheduled title fight. Edgar’s title opportunity has now morphed into an elimination bout. This is substantial psychologically as he must now take a step backwards to earn the title shot that he’d already been preparing himself for…twice.
So, Brian Ortega steps in on short notice to bypass Edgar as next in line for the Featherweight title. Edgar’s been preparing for a fighter with vastly different skills than Ortega. Instead of a long, angular striker Edgar now faces a larger, younger, faster Jiu-Jitsu specialist in an elimination bout not a Championship one. It’s reasonable to question the affect the title delays and this opponent change will have on Edgar. He’s now forced to deal with another world class mixed martial artist to earn his title opportunity. Edgar is aware of his age and limitations after years of epic battles and this is an arduous spot as these delays, setbacks, opponent changes may affect him adversely.
Brian Ortega has physical advantages over the 5’6” Edgar. Ortega will be the much larger heavier man in the Octagon when the bell rings Saturday night. His height is listed as 5’8” but he towered over the 5’8” Cub Swanson in his last outing. I believe Ortega to be closer to 5’10”. Ortega is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu savant trained by Rener Gracie since he was damn near in diapers. He had his first pro fight at nineteen. Ortega’s cerebral in his approach to fighting and has had to work diligently to incorporate striking skills to his game to complete himself as a World Class fighter. Ortega has always possessed lethal submission skill, but his improved striking has enabled him to compete with other striking based fighters until they make an error allowing Ortega to clasp on to them and choke them out. Ortega will have a slight reach advantage over Edgar, but his height will make him seem even longer when they are standing. Being seven years younger is also an edge for Ortega as fighters more than five years younger than their opponents hold a 62% advantage in fights since the UFC’s inception*.
Edgar opened -190 with the return on Ortega +180 (Pinnacle). This three-round fight comes down to whether Edgar has enough time to grind on Ortega, usurp his strength, control the ground position and wangle Ortega’s will. Edgar is more effective draining opponents over five-round fights as a three-round tilt favors the younger, faster man with less championship experience in my judgement. Frankie Edgar has been the poster boy for prepared, professional, polished mixed martial artists since his first fight in the UFC in 2007 but Saturday night the younger, larger Ortega is going to have the ability to vie with Edgar anywhere this fight takes place.
Added 3-3-18: (We own advantage with Ortega +160 and still recommend him at any price +130 or better)
Soukhamthath -130 vs. O’Malley +115 Bantamweights
Sean O’Malley is a tall, lean, lanky striker who’s soared into recognition and popularity since his appearance on Dana White’s contender series. Then this past December he won a three-round decision in his UFC debut. O’Malley has speed, length and explosion but he has not been chipped on the chin yet nor has he had to battle any opponent on the floor for any length of time. He’s yet to experience any real difficulty inside the Octagon but against this striking-based opponent he will surely be tested in what appears to be a stand-up war.
Soukhamthath enters the cage Saturday night at 1-2 in the UFC but he just signed a five-fight extension with the organization. This extension suggests that the UFC views Soukhamthath as a fighter well more capable than his record suggests (as do I). O’Malley will be the taller, longer man in this Bantamweight fight but Soukhamthath will be the stronger more powerful striker. In my judgement Soukhamthath’s experience, strength and ground capability make him a worthy favorite.
We’ve seen these lines move as we get closer to opening bell in past weeks. There could be O’Malley money as we approach Saturday, so I advise a modest position on Soukhamthath -130 now then patience waiting for a better price later in the week
Added 3-3-18: (this number did compress as we thought, now at pick-em (-105 on each fighter) We’ll add another half unit to the wager making a full unit position at a blended price of -115).
Viera -195 vs. Zingano +180
I released Zingano +170 yesterday at weigh-ins and it has cost us a dime. Viera struggled to make weight and is a tough yet unproven and inexperienced fighter. She’s a grappler BJJ artist and must get this to the floor for advantage because her striking skills are unrefined to say it nicely. She jumps in with Zingano who has been honing her skills while she’s been away mending a knee. This line opened a pick-em now Zingano can be had +180. Zingano is a world-class fighter and an accomplished mixed martial artist. She’s set to outclass Viera in this fight tonight and I believe if anyone should be a slight chalk in this fight it’s Cat Zingano.
Zingano +180 (current)
Dern -420 vs. Yoder +380
Dern is a savant BJJ artist but is short, has a sizable reach deficit in this fight and it is her UFC debut. I also question her toughness and ability to grind out a full three rounds. While she is worthy of being a favorite against Yoder she is in no way should be -420 chalk against a fighter who has ten years’ experience in MMA and three UFC fights under her belt. Dern must get this fight to the floor and quickly if she is to submit Yoder because if the longer, talker, larger Yoder is able to weather the early storm and find herself in round two I believe she has a great chance to win this fight.
Yoder +380 (half released earlier this week)
Stamman -130 vs. Caraway +120
Stamman has a solid wrestling foundation, he can strike successfully with the fighters in the division as well he’s tougher than a two-dollar steak. In his two UFC Bantamweight appearances he’s showed up as the underdog and licked two worthy opponents in Tom Duquesnoy and Terrion Ware. Stamman is taking a step up in class but I feel it is a step up in name recognition only for Caraway must prove himself to be the same fighter now that he was prior to the many issues he’s had to face to get here. Caraway’s been off for almost two years undergoing shoulder surgery and healing a knee. He also lost long-time girlfriend (Meisha Tate) who’s now engaged, pregnant and moving on. Moreover, his longtime trainer and mentor/coach passed away during this period. Caraway arrived in Vegas sick for it was apparent in an interview this week (with John Morgan of the MMA Junkie) that he was couching, sniffling and clearing throat even though he told Morgan that it was allergies. Stamman is a tough first opponent for anyone let alone someone having to face these emotional and physical obstacles.
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• @Megalocksinsidr provided this statistic