The UFC is back at the Apex Center in Las Vegas for one more time before its pay-per-view schedule returns with UFC 274 next weekend.
This Saturday night's 12 scheduled fights are more than enough to hold me over, as I was able to find some good value spots at the top of the card. The main event could easily be the most exciting, as No. 5 ranked Rob Font takes on No. 8 ranked Marlon Vera. The five-round fight will push the winner one step closer to title contention in the bantamweight division.
I have betting breakdowns on three fights including the main event, plus a nice +232 parlay. Not having to dive into the method-of-victory props is a pretty good signal that the moneyline odds are providing good value. Let's get right to the action!
Font's four-fight win streak ended after No. 3 ranked Jose Aldo worked him for five full rounds back in December. The lopsided loss wasn't pretty, but it provided valuable experience that could be the difference in this fight. The Aldo fight was the second consecutive five-round main event for Font, which is a big advantage considering it's unfamiliar territory for his opponent.
Vera's overall cardio is not a concern, but how he handles the pace of the fight is. He is always dangerous, but he is also a slow-starter that relies on knockdowns, dynamic strikes/submissions and big moments to change the course of the fight. Font will work the body and use his technical boxing to accumulate points early without expending a ton of energy. Vera can have success getting off some decent shots in the clinch and on the break, but Font has the fight IQ to create space and weaponize his jab. That will help the favorite dictate distance to ensure Vera's grappling advantage does play a factor in the fight.
Vera would be smart to utilize his kicks early and go to work on compromising Font's front leg. It's critical that he takes Font out of his comfort zone. However, is it realistic to expect Vera to start fast in his first five-round main event? I have to say no. As the fight progresses, Vera will feel the pressure of needing a finish, and Font will be the more composed fighter, taking advantage of openings created by Vera's aggression. It wouldn't shock me if Vera puts Font in danger at some point, but I am willing to bet Font survives and puts together a more complete five rounds for the judges.
The Bet: Rob Font (-140)
This is my best bet of the night as Grant Dawson will be highly motivated to get back on the winning track after a controversial draw in his last fight. The draw ended Dawson's eight-fight winning streak and moved him to 5-0-1 in the UFC. He averages 3.36 takedowns per 3-round fight and should relentlessly secure takedowns against Gordon. Once the fight hits the mat, you will see Dawson's top pressure methodically softening Gordon up while threatening with submissions. Gordon has the grappling chops to win some scrambles, but Dawson should quickly be able gain control and drag him back into deep waters. Whether it's ground and pound, submission or decision, I'm confident it ends with Dawson's hand raised.
The Bet: Grant Dawson (-185)
It's not easy betting against a true legend of the sport. Arlovski fought professionally for the first time 23 years ago, and this will be his 50th fight since he debuted with the promotion back at UFC 28. It's very difficult to back any fighter with that type of mileage. When you consider the matchup with the more active Collier, it becomes clear that the market is giving MMA's iron man too much credit. The 43-year-old Arlovski has one only one path to victory: the scorecards. His last nine wins, dating back to 2015, have all been by decision.
He won't be able to outpoint his opponent Saturday night. Collier is a quick athlete who moves more like a light heavyweight. He attacks with high volume and does a good job mixing some thunderous leg kicks. The wide contrast in output (5.59-3.72 significant strikes per minute) will ultimately make Arlovksi's only path to victory look more like a dead end. Collier has decent submissions if Arlovski tries to slow the fight down, but I expect this to stay standing where the judges will side with the volume of the +125 underdog.
The Bet: Jake Collier (+125)
The Parlay: Grant Dawson, Natan Levy and Tatsuro Taira (+232)
*Stats provided by ufcstats.com