One year ago, Jessica Andrade was stopped in the second round by current flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 261 in Jacksonville, Florida. The former women's strawweight champ fell short in her quest to secure gold in a second division.
On Saturday night, she returns to the strawweight division to face No. 10 Amanda Lemos in the main event. Andrade is currently a -190 favorite against a technical striker in Lemos, who enters the bout riding a five-fight winning streak. The 13-fight card provides plenty of betting value with short odds, exciting matchups and live underdogs. My UFC parlay missed last week, ending a run of six consecutive cashes and making this week the perfect time to start a new streak. Let's get right to the action starting with how I am betting the main event.
Jessica Andrade (-190) vs. Amanda Lemos (+155)
This is terrific match-making by the UFC as Andrade draws a very dangerous striker with a viable path to victory. The shortest distance from "Point A" to "Point B" is a straight line and that's exactly the trajectory the Brazilian will throw her strikes at the former champ. Lemos will bring multiple combinations of punches and knees right up the middle, and this fight will be determined by which fighter does a better job of holding up against their opponent's attack.
That's where I think Andrade holds a clear advantage. She is an elite grappler for the division and holds a significant cardio advantage that Lemo's can't match in the later rounds. Lemos knows her 87% takedown defense was not built off fighters with Andrade's level of wrestling, which increases her urgency to finish the fight in the early rounds. Andrade's intense pace and high output (6.35 significant strikes per minute) will give Lemos a shot at bullying the bully, but I'm not convinced Lemos can swim in deep waters with a former champion like Andrade. I got my money on Andrade avoiding danger and using her physicality to end Lemos' winning streak in dominant fashion.
The bet: Jessica Andrade (-190)
The Parlay: Jessica Andrade, Maycee Barber and Tyson Pedro (+164)
Maycee Barber (-200) vs. Montana De La Rosa (+160)
Maycee Barber bounced back from consecutive losses to earn a razor-thin decision over Miranda Maverick. She gets a tough test in De La Rosa, who will certainly look to get this fight to the ground. If she is successful, there is no denying Barber's in trouble. But each fight starts standing, and Barber has excellent hand speed and she will undoubtedly make De La Rosa feel her power early in this fight. Her technical boxing helps her cut off the cage and hunt down fighters who lack the footwork to keep distance. That's the biggest advantage in the fight in my opinion. De La Rosa has one out: the takedown. If Barber sprawls her shot early, each additional takedown will get tougher as De La Rosa slowly realizes her fate. Maycee Barber by decision (+100) is the most likely outcome, but I bet Barber outright at -200. I have seen too many quick stoppages in the women's division, and Barber can swarm her opponents. The last thing we want to do is turn a winning bet into a losing one. Let's take what the market gives us with Barber's moneyline.
The bet: Maycee Barber (-200)
Marc-Andre Barriault (-165) vs. Jordan Wright (+140)
"The Beverly Hills Ninja" lives by the sword and dies by the sword. Jordan Wright is 12-2 in his career with 11 wins coming via first-round stoppage. Bettors get their money quickly, one way or the other, as Wright's longest fight has lasted only 5:18 in the Octagon. That's impressively consistent, but the results have been up and down since entering the UFC. Both wins with the promotion were followed up by knockout losses. His opponent, Marc-Andre Barriault, is coming off a knockout loss of his own in which he got starched in sixteen seconds by Chidi Njokuani less than three months ago.
Barriault has a decent enough jab to keep Wright off balance early as long as he does a better job with his footwork in the pocket. It's not a secret Wright is going to go for broke early in an effort to end the fight. I think his chances are much better than the odds imply. Barriault is typically a slow starter who is overly patient. His "rope-a-dope" style is a dangerous game to play against a finisher like Wright, especially considering Barriault is a short-notice replacement coming off a loss where his chin immediately betrayed him. Wright does indeed have massive defensive holes as well, but I think his aggressive "YOLO" approach allows him to get Barriault first. Both fighters are very hittable, but +250 for Wright to finish the fight are odds I have to get involved in. Forget the moneyline, I can't imagine this one going the distance.
The bet: Jordan Wright by KO/TKO or Submission (+250)
*Stats provided by ufcstats.com.