Paul Craig is ranked eighth in the UFC’s light heavyweight division, one spot ahead of Volkan Oezdemir, whom he will fight Saturday on the main card of UFC Fight Night in London.
That makes sense, given that Craig has won five in a row and six of his last seven. His last three victories were TKOs of Shogun Rua and Jamahal Hill and a submission of Nikita Krylov.
Oezdemir enters the bout having lost his last two, albeit to now-champion Jiri Prochazka and Magomed Ankalaev, and five of his past seven.
It’s an important fight within the division.
Craig is the fighter with the momentum and has the style to cause the hard-hitting Oezdemir all sorts of trouble.
But Oezdemir is better than an 8-5 favorite at BetMGM to win their three-round bout on Saturday. Oezdemir is -165 and Craig is +135.
Craig has scored 13 submissions among his 16 professional wins and even submitted Ankalaev with a triangle choke in 2018. Oezdemir has faced a higher level of opposition overall, but Craig has had the greater success.
I am going to play Craig for the simple fact I believe he’s the better, more versatile fighter. I recognize that Oezdemir has the power to end it with one punch, and it’s a risk backing Craig for that reason, but Craig is also very resilient.
I think Craig submits Oezdemir, and he’s +200 at BetMGM, so I’ll also take the plus money and bet Craig to win by submission at +200.
Other betting plays for UFC London
• In the main event, I think Tom Aspinall gets it done against Curtis Blaydes, but even though Blaydes went on at length to explain how the majority of heavyweight fights don’t go all the way, I believe this one will.
Aspinall is 12-for-12 with finishes in his wins and he’s going to hunt for one against Blaydes, but Blaydes isn’t an easy guy to finish.
I’ll bet yes at +200 on the prop bet of “Will the fight go the distance?” I’ll also lay -140 and bet Aspinall to win.
• In a lightweight bout, it’s set up to be a big show for Paddy “The Baddy” Pimblett. Pimblett, though, hasn’t convinced me he’s truly an elite MMA fighter.
But the odds on the fight at BetMGM are indicating that Pimblett is elite. He’s a -275 favorite with Leavitt at +210.
I’m going to take the plus money on Leavitt and bet him to win. I think Pimblett’s primary way to win this will be by knockout, but I believe Leavitt’s chin will hold up.
• I will lay -400 and play Molly McCann to defeat Hannah Goldy. Goldy is +310.