Updated: Jan 14, 2022
After a week off and then a rather underwhelming Fight Night, the UFC heads to Arizona this weekend for an absolutely stacked card featuring two title-fights and a rare 5-round featured co-co. For this post, we will focus on the main card and provide early previews and picks for each fight. Circumstances, including weigh-ins and other health concerns during this pandemic, can greatly impact not only each fight on Saturday, but where they end up on the card. That is especially true this week with Figueiredo, who has a history of missing weight. We will keep all of you up to date with relevant information through our social media accounts and then in our Game Picks on Saturday. Picks mentioned in this post are NOT our final picks:
Israel Adesanya (-275) vs Marvin Vettori (+215)
We start our preview with a very exciting main event bout and a rematch between Adesanya and Vettori. These fighters met back in 2018 and fought to a 3-round split decision which ended in Izzy’s favor, but Vettori was only 24 at the time and his wrestling clearly won him the third round. Since then, Izzy went on to claim the UFC’s middleweight title and beat a few legends, Robert Whittaker and Anderson Silva, along the way. However, Izzy will step into the octagon this weekend after a failed attempt to move up a weight and challenge for the light-weight title. In that fight, against Jan Blachowicz, Izzy won the first few rounds but struggled late as Jan pounded him with takedowns and top control. That was Izzy’s only career loss. It is possible that Vettori comes out with the same game plan and he has the skills to do it, but unlike Jan he will not have what looked like a thirty pound weight advantage this weekend. Vettori is still certainly a live a dog, but if Izzy did not move up a weight and lose, his line would be closer to -400. For that, we like the value on Izzy and we will pick the reigning, defending champ for the purposes of this preview.
Deiveson Figueiredo (-225) vs Brandon Moreno (+175)
Our co-main event features another rematch of a fight that went the distance. The first fight, which happened in December of last year ended in a majority draw. Many speculate that Figueiredo only lost because of a point deduction, but we would argue that Figs routinely loses points and always fights dirty, so to say he certainly won’t lose another point here would be misguided. Full disclosure, we have little respect here for Figs as a champion and as a representative of the sport we love. The cheap shots are less bothersome than his inability to beat the scale. You can ask whether he belongs in this weight class, but our questions are more tied to his work ethic. It is hard to believe that someone like him, who relies solely on his power, is continuing to get better after receiving the biggest paydays of his life. On the other hand, Moreno is younger, hungrier (not only because he respects his weight cut), and more importantly continues to develop and improve as a fighter in every fight. Moreno brings so much more than a power punch. He is more technical, he has excellent cardio, and a zombie-like chin. Our money here will be on hearing “And New” after another five round war.
Leon Edwards (-625) vs Nate Diaz (+430)
In this week’s co-co we have a very rare five round featured fight with no belt on the line. The odds are heavily tilted away from the legendary Nate Diaz after he took a long time away from the sport. If you know the Diaz brothers, you know that Nate may not have been prize fighting, but he was certainly training. This guy is always in shape and always ready to put on a show. We expect nothing less than his usual trash talk and trademark Stockton Slaps, but winning the crowd doesn’t win you the fights. Edwards is heavily favored in this fight and with good reason. Edwards does not have a big mouth, he does not have the best striking, nor does he possess the best grappling. Instead, Edwards relies heavily on his fight IQ and his ability to outscore opponents. Notably, Edwards is not a finisher. Five of his last six wins were by decision. It’s not like Nate goes down easy either. We’ve already seen him stand with Conor McGregor and take the irishman’s best punches. We do like Edwards to win here, but with the line so steep, we would prefer taking a different approach for this fight. Our favorite pick is going to be over 4.5 rounds at -118, however, an even juicier line to consider is Edwards by decision at +135.
Belal Muhammad (-230) vs Demian Maia (+180)
Muhammad has made his name in the UFC by fighting at a blistering pace, mixing in both strikes and takedowns to wear down his opponents. Interesting, he has done this mostly against strikers. Only one of Muhammad’s thirteen UFC opponents would classify as having a wrestling base. In comes an aged Demiam Maia, one of the best grapplers in the sport and a fighter who has taken down and controlled this division’s top wrestlers. It is a great stylistic matchup and it would have been a great fight 5 years ago, when Maia was still in his 30’s, but Muhammad wasn’t this fighter then. We will be all over Muhammad at this number.
Jamahal Hill (-286) vs Paul Craig (+225)
Opening the main card, we get to see a very exciting fighter in Hill, who remains undefeated, but had a win changed to a no contest because of a failed drug test for marijuana. You what they say about that stuff: it improves your power on knees to the body. We don’t believe that, but the NSAC apparently do. That won’t be a problem in Arizona this weekend. Hill also had no issue in his follow-up fight, an impressive knockout over veteran Ovince St. Preux. Hill’s opponent this weekend, Paul Craig, has been knocked out a few times in his career. He also does not seem to have high level cardio. We like Hill in this spot. We would take Hill by KO at -165 and under 1.5 rounds at -110 looks juicy too.
*Please do not mistake our opinions expressed here as our picks for the card. We will post all picks for this event and all UFC events in the Game Picks section of the website.
**Odds accurate at time of posting
***Also, let us know if you like this UFC preview! Would you want to see a full card breakdown in the future?