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Veteran strikers overflow Saturday’s card. Taking down stand-up fighters mitigates their danger. Trust Brian Ortega to implement that time-tested gameplan and you’ll both have your hand and bank account raised by night’s end.
Middleweight | Prelims | 11 a.m. ET
Dalcha Lungiambula uses his advanced understanding of body leverage through judo experience to maintain a 75% takedown defense. He never surrendered more than one takedown in any of his five UFC fights.
Punahele Soriano hails from a wrestling background but doesn’t weaponize it much in MMA. He has only landed one takedown in his last four fights, shooting with 66% accuracy. He will also have to figure out how to get inside to do so against a 4-inch reach disadvantage.
The math and fighter methods align for a successful parlay bet, presuming you can find one more on PrizePicks’ expansive board.
Featherweight | Main Event | 5 p.m. ET
Saturday’s main event presents a classic case of grappler vs. striker. In this case, human highlight reels bedazzle with the flashiest of their side.
Brian Ortega specializes in choking out opponents. Half of his UFC victories derived from incapacitating helpless opponents — excluding another win that got overturned due to testing positive for anabolic steroids.
Variety is the spice of submissionists. Ortega obtained wins via triangle chokes, a rear-naked choke and his signature guillotine.
I saved the best submission attempts for the last fight. A mounted guillotine and subsequent fully locked triangle choke endangered Alexander Volkanovski’s heralded featherweight championship run.
The latter attack turned his head purple. Volakanovski gritted through on the way to a victorious comeback, but UFC Hall of Famer Daniel Cormier thought the fight was over twice and ESPN honored the bout as the best of 2021.
A counter straight thrown with precision set up the exhilarating exchanges on the ground by knocking Volkanovski down. The current featherweight champion isn’t the only one. Ortega sneaks into the featherweight division’s top 10 in career knockdowns.
Uppercuts serve as the weapon of choice. Ortega utilizes the classic boxing punch as his go-to power tool to end fights. The strongest one levitated former UFC champion, Frankie Edgar, for a knockout in the first round — the first knockout loss Edgar ever suffered in 29 fights.
Elbows join the close-range weapons of choice. Ortega utilized a spinning one to knock down the aptly nicknamed “Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung.
Analysts commit a serious omission if discussing effective elbows without mentioning Yair Rodriguez. His literally last-second knockout of “Korean Zombie” contends for the greatest comebacks in MMA history.
Beyond connecting on that Hail Mary, Yair is known for throwing some of the flashiest kicks in MMA. He possesses endless cardio that sustains spinning wheel kicks, roundhouse kicks, ax kicks and more flying at any time from any direction. The eccentric offense throws off plenty of opponents.
Strong opponents perform frequent throws of their own on Rodriguez. He holds a pedestrian 60% takedown defense. Max Holloway secured 3 successful attempts against Rodriguez in their last fight, despite many regarding the former as the best boxer in MMA. Jeremy Stephens slants toward pure striking as well, yet matched Holloway’s takedown trio the fight prior.
Completed takedowns start a mighty struggle to get up. Halloway gained almost seven minutes of control time on the ground against Rodriguez. Jeremy Stephens amassed over five minutes out of 15 total. Violent striker Dan Hooker bested that mark with over six minutes of top control. Frankie Edgar obtained over eight minutes of top control time, albeit wrestling is one of his strengths.
The four veterans combine for just one black belt and six UFC submission victories. Ortega himself earned a black belt and three submission wins inside the Octagon so far with one overturned. He’s on a far different level on the canvas than anyone Rodriguez has faced except arguably “Korean Zombie.”
Rodriguez’s striking advantage fails to carry equal weight. Rodriguez possesses an insignificant reach advantage. Close quarters serve well for opponents who can stay out of kicking range and get into grappling exchanges with his aggressive pressure.
Ortega fits that profile. However, his striking defense is porous — especially to the body and head — Rodriguez oftentimes fails to capitalize with his wild, winding style, only landing blows at 45% accuracy.
I give this prediction with far higher certainty. Style makes fights. Ortega’s favors this one. History nods its experienced head in agreement with those picking grapplers over strikers.
I like Ortega straight up, but thrillseekers searching for a higher potential return at increased risk wouldn’t be making a terrible play taking Ortega by submission at +250.
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