“Use it or lose it.” This saying holds as true to MMA as any other activity. Active fighting conditions nerves/bones to damage absorption keeps fighters’ timing in the right rhythm and makes reflexes and reactionary reads more effortless.
Aiemann Zahabi enters Saturday with three minutes of official MMA fighting in over three years. Inaccuracy plagues attacks when the man does fight. He lands blows at a terrible 46% accuracy rate. Being a low-volume bantamweight striker exacerbates the issue.
A clinch or other grappling game fails to compensate. Zahabi averages 0.33 takedowns per fight. He has only successfully landed one in the UFC, translating into an awful 16% success rate.
Ricky Turcios is a high-paced striker with high expectations as a recent “The Ultimate Fighter” winner. He displays solid striking defense, alongside some offensive grappling potential.
He flashes promise far more often than Zahabi. Turcios fought three times last year. He’s better at starting fights than finishing them. All three of Turcios’ fights inside the Octagon have gone the distance. Even the majority of fights on local circuits required the judges’ scorecard.
Those keeping score at home will chalk another mark in the win column for Turcios and ring rust.
Jared Vanderaa vs. Chase Sherman Pick: Vanderaa By Submission/Decision | +180 at DraftKings
Heavyweight | Main Card | 9 p.m. ET
Knockouts spring to mind when thinking of heavyweights. Over 70% of all heavyweight bouts result in a knockout or submission — the highest divisional finish rate by far.
This bout presents a possible exception. Jared Vanderaa hasn’t registered a knockout win since earning his UFC contract. Even extremely chinny, hardened veterans of the division Alexey Oleynik and Andrei Arlovski both exited relatively unscathed.
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Vanderaa isn’t great at dropping opponents with fists, but he can wrestle and do damage once opponents hit the canvas. Pioneering MMA squad Team Quest awarded Vanderaa a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt in 2020. Numerous professional wins by varied submission attempts substantiated the decision.
Vanderaa hasn’t found one in the UFC yet, but Chase Sherman fits a victim’s profile. He lost his last two fights by different submissions. The first marked Jake Collier’s first UFC submission victory in the winner’s 10th promotional bout. Sherman ranks as a blue belt in BJJ.
Sherman packs a decent punch that isn’t powerful enough to consider him a fierce stopper. Five of his last seven fights have either ended in a submission loss or decision.
This bet carries considerable risk. One miscalculation at heavyweight amounts to the greatest consequences since the weight limit is 60 pounds more than the next-highest division.
That said, I think quantitative and qualitative factors add up to a play with high potential for high profit on a fairly difficult card to locate value on.
Future UFC Hall of Famer Rafael Dos Anjos has sustained success through arguably the toughest opponent schedule in MMA history. The lauded list of 31 UFC names includes Khabib Nurmagomendev, Kamaru Usman, Colby Covington and prime Tony Ferguson.
RDA captured gold himself along the difficult journey.
Long battles invite longer scars. RDA has absorbed more than 1,400 significant strikes throughout his career, the second-most among currently ranked fighters. Although RDA has incredibly not been knocked down in any of his last 30 fights, iron chins aren’t ironclad.
Iron knees benefit most lightweights nearing age 38. RDA lacked matching reflexes in his last several fights against younger strikers.
Knocking on RDA’s door occupies too much of Father Time’s MMA route to know Rafael Fiziev’s location. The 29-year-old flashes impressive reflexes. His latest knockout win arrived via a rare spinning wheel kick. The bag of twitchy tricks contains knockout-causing flying knees and head kicks too.
Fiziev enjoys luring opponents into overly-aggressive mistakes made when pressuring forward. That style counters RDA’s steadfast aggression. The whippersnapper’s ability to punish at lateral angles or even backpedaling reminds me of Chuck Liddell.
Fiziev implements a strong sprawl like Liddell did to keep fights like this one standing. RDA wields an incredibly dangerous ground game as one of MMA’s most-decorated BJJ practitioners. He has secured the second-longest total control time in UFC history.
Fiziev owns a meager blue belt in BJJ. Fortunately, Fiziev’s 95 % takedown accuracy in the UFC muddies RDA’s ability to leverage the ground advantage.
Fiziev averages over 5.3 significant strikes landed per minute to RDA’s 3.62. I anticipate speed summarizing the difference in this contest.