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UFC on ESPN 38 shines the slugger’s spotlight on numerous prospects who appear ready to reach the mainstream level. The event presents good prospects to profit off these unsung names as well.
Women Strawweight | 7 p.m. ET
Jin Yu Frey draws from far more high-level MMA experience than Vanessa Demopoulos possesses. Frey doubles Demopoulos’ UFC match count 4-2 and was an Invicta champion with nine fights in the organization before advancing to the biggest stage in MMA.
Demopoulos hails from the less-esteemed Lingerie Fighting Championships — yes, that’s a thing. She announced retirement from stripping earlier this year to pursue MMA full-time.
Don’t expect to count Frey among people Demopoulos has finished. Frey’s deficiencies surface when matched against better grappling specialists. In response, she earned a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and has only been submitted once in her last 10 fights.
Demopoulos flashes some offensive grappling potential but has only knocked out one opponent in her career.
Kade Hansen’s armbar victory marks the only UFC fight that’s ended in a finish either way for Frey thus far. The tapout happened during Frey’s UFC debut in a weight class she never fought at. Those conditions breed major mental and physical adjustments that understandably can take a fight to get used to.
Conversely, Frey earned her trio of career finishes in 17 fights when matched up against nobodies during the first four fights of her career. She hasn’t knocked out or submitted any opponent in over seven years and 13 fights.
Demopoulos’ eccentric track record and newness to the UFC renders it difficult to completely gauge her capabilities thus far. Rest assured Frey fights typically go the distance.
This fight shares the ingredients for that recipe for betting success again. The extreme experience edge should secure my pick the win and you the bag.
Middleweight | 10 p.m. ET
One of the greatest competitive jiu-jitsu grapplers of all time, Rodolfo Vieira specializes in chokes. He’s won seven of his nine MMA fights from them. Chris Curtis’ dangerous, versatile striking behooves Vieira to travel that path to victory again.
The right way heads south. Vieira has cleared PrizePicks’ prop in all four of his UFC fights, exploding for seven takedowns in his last two fights. He averages over five takedowns per fight throughout his entire MMA career.
Curtis’ perfect UFC takedown defense and reputation for solid defensive wrestling on the indy circuit before entering the Octagon offers decent resistance. However, Curtis is an undersized middleweight who frequently fought at welterweight in the past.
Vieira’s frame towers over most middleweights and he carved a reputation for intimidating grip strength in the elite ranks of the grappling world.
Furthermore, Phil Hawes utilized takedown attempts as a tool to make Curtis respect the threat of it to create striking opportunities. They weren’t fully committed shots.
I guarantee Vieira will go all-in on getting Vieira to the ground.
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Welterweight | Co-Main | 10 p.m. ET
Rakhmonov’s hype train lacks the speed or passengers of fellow undefeated welterweight Khazmat Chimaev. Both competitors conduct elite performances worthy of equal praise.
Rakhmonov has finished all 15 of his opponents thus far. His incredibly well-rounded game leverages superior sambo skills and wrestling that chains into dominant positions for controlling his opponents’ movements and an array of kicks that complement solid boxing to get inside on opponents.
Closing the distance on Neil Mangy proves to be a typically difficult task. The veteran maximizes every morsel of his 80-inch reach. Magny’s height gifts a natural advantage in clinch situations that he uses to strike with if an opponent gets inside.
Many tall fighters telegraph punches with awkward setups and labored movements. Magny is no exception. He is also a notoriously slow starter. That weakness plays into Rakhmonov’s relentless hands.
Magny has also been submitted by elite ground grapplers multiple times in his career. Rakhmonov soon joining that company seems inevitable.
He guillotined respected veteran Alex Oliveira in the first round of Rakhmonov’s debut. Submitting second-degree BJJ black belt with 11 professional MMA submission victories Michael Prazeres followed that performance.
Whether by strikes or submission, look for Rakhmonov to finish the fight as usual and send the UFC a message that a significant increase in competition won’t decrease dominance.