From Abu Dhabi to Vancouver, the worldwide sport that is the UFC has another event this week at Rogers Arena will host UFC Fight Night: Cerrone vs. Gaethje. Also known as UFC Fight Night 158 or UFC on ESPN+ 16, 12 fights are on the card, highlighted by the main event between Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone and Justin Gaethje in the lightweight division.
We’ll be taking a look at the fight card with odds from 5Dimes Sportsbook, but, as always, be sure to shop around for the best prices. We’ll go in deeper detail on the main card fights, but take a look at all of them on the docket.
Canadian Kyle Prepolec will take on American Austin Hubbard to get the card going. Prepolec lost to Nordine Taleb back in May in his UFC debut to fall to 12-6. Per the odds, he’s a short underdog at +115 to fall to 12-7. Hubbard is -135 in his second UFC fight after losing to Davi Ramos two weeks after Prepolec’s debut. Hubbard was a champion in LFA before getting a UFC contract, while Prepolec has been fighting in smaller promotions, save for his debut in Bellator seven years ago.
We’ve seen heavy action on Louis Smolka, who has been bet up to a -235 favorite against Ryan MacDonald at bantamweight. Smolka was stopped by Matt Schnell to end a four-fight winning streak, but this is a big fight for Smolka. He was released from his UFC contract to end 2017 and made his way back. This is his third fight and contracts are typically three fights, so he has a lot on the line here against MacDonald, who lost his UFC debut back in March to Chris Gutierrez. Smolka was a better play at a lower price, but he’s still worth money line parlay consideration against the previously undefeated MacDonald.
Jordan Griffin has also been a line mover for his fight against Chas Skelly. Griffin is now the -140 favorite at 145 pounds. Skelly has dropped two straight and hasn’t fought in over 10 months. Griffin lost his UFC debut to Dan Ige, but the 29-year-old is an exciting fighter with a lot of stoppage wins of late. This does look like a tale of two fighters going in different directions and the line move seems accurate here.
Canadian Brad Katona, the winner of TUF 27, is 1-1 officially in his UFC career. He’ll look to get back in the win column against Hunter Azure, a UFC newcomer that impressed on Dana White’s Contender Series back in July. Azure failed to knock out or submit his opponent, but he won via resounding unanimous decision. Azure is a very live dog at +140 in this fight, though Katona certainly has a stronger resume of opponents.
Saturday will be a tough night for one of Cole Smith or Miles Johns. Both fighters come in unblemished. Smith is 7-0 and Johns is 9-0. Johns is a Dana White Contender Series graduate off of his win over Richie Santiago in June. He was a champion in LFA at 135 pounds before that. Smith has a big size advantage here, but Johns is the -130 favorite. Smith has four inches on the favorite, but Johns appears to have the better takedown skills. This should be a terrific fight and the over 2.5 at -205 looks fair.
We don’t have a lot of finishing potential on this preliminary card, so hopefully we get a stoppage here between heavyweight Marcin Tybura and Augusto Sakai. Sakai did go all 15 minutes last time against Andrei Arlovski in a split-decision win. He does have 10 career knockouts, though. Tybura has 13 stoppages and appears to be the more rounded fighter and is a small -120 favorite. Sakai would prefer to keep the fight upright as one of the division’s more violent strikers. Tybura has a ground advantage. Whichever fighter dictates the terms of the bout will win.
Jimmy Crute (-105) vs. Misha Cirkunov (-115); Total: 1.5 (-120/-110)
Here’s a fight with some potential fireworks. Undefeated Jimmy Crute has two wins to his name in UFC, with triumphs over Sam Alvey and Paul Craig. Crute, who was the Hex Fight light heavyweight champion, is 10-0 in his career and was very impressive in his win over Alvey.
Cirkunov has taken some early money here, despite losing three of his last four fights, including a loss in 36 seconds to Johnny Walker back at UFC 235. It’s hard to say that this is a last stand type of fight for Cirkunov, considering he’s lost to the likes of Glover Teixeira and Volkan Oezdemir, but he really needs to win this one. The betting markets are swinging in his favor, but I’m not so sure. This is a worthwhile challenge for Crute and he’s had no problem going deep into fights if need be.
Pick: Jimmy Crute
Uriah Hall (+210) vs. Antonio Carlos Jr. (-250); Total: 1.5 (-145/115)
Uriah Hall will give you everything he can and then some, but this line and some of the movement on the number suggests that he may not have enough to give here. Carlos had an extended winning streak snapped by Ian Heinisch back in May, but he’s ready to get another going. Hall hasn’t fought since December when he bested Bevon Lewis, but he had lost three of his last four before that.
Hall will battle, but Carlos is too good at getting fights to the ground. Hall is much stronger on the feet and when he’s able to strike. He won’t have that opportunity here.
Pick: Antonio Carlos Jr.
Tristan Connelly (+450) vs. Michel Pereira (-600)
This Connelly/Pereira fight was a late addition to the card. Credit to Tristan Connelly for taking the fight, but he’s likely being led to slaughter here in front of the hometown crowd. Pereira rocked Danny Roberts in his debut back in May and won the fight in less than two minutes.
Pereira is a striker through and through. It has gotten him in trouble in his career, as he is just 22-9, but he’s always in attack mode and you have to appreciate that. Connelly has fought on very small promotions for the most part in his career. He’s won seven of his last eight fights, but this looks like a big ask.
Pick: Michel Pereira
Todd Duffee (+105) vs. Jeff Hughes (-125); Total: 1.5 (-115/-105)
A couple of big boys throwing bombs here as Jeff Hughes battles Todd Duffee. Hughes is 10-2 in his career, but only has five stoppage wins. His most recent fight was his UFC debut against Maurice Greene in a rematch of the LFA title fight between the two that headlined LFA 38. Greene won by split decision, but Hughes, who impressed on DWTNCS to get a contract, now squares off against a different opponent.
Duffee is fighting for the first time since July 15, 2015. That is not a typo. His last fight was against Frank Mir. That’s a blast from the past. Duffee has had a ton of injuries to contend with, including shoulder and knee issues. At this point, he’s only 33, so there may be something in the tank, but over four years away from the cage is a lot.
Pick: Jeff Hughes
Nikita Krylov (-105) vs. Glover Teixeira (-115); Total: 1.5 (100/-120)
Light heavyweights Nikita Krylov and Glover Teixeira should produce a good lead-in to the main event. It’s hard to believe that this is just the third UFC fight for Krylov, who is 1-1, with a loss to Jan Blachowicz and a win over Ovince Saint Preux. The former FNG champ is going to have his hands full here with Teixeira.
Teixeira may not be the guy he once was now that he’s 39, but he still proved he could win a tough fight over Ion Cutelaba last time out. Teixeira and Cutelaba traded big strikes before a submission win for Glover. This appears to be a pretty good fight and a good opportunity for Krylov. Krylov has 25 stoppage wins out of his 26 victories, so he’ll keep coming. How will Teixeira handle it?
Fight IQ and savvy vs. power and persistence. This has Fight of the Night potential.
Pick: Glover Teixeira
Donald Cerrone (+160) vs. Justin Gaethje (-185); Total: 1.5 (-160/140)
Nobody has taken more punishment in his UFC career than Donald Cerrone. Cowboy never turns down a fight. He never shies away from an opponent. Maybe he should have in this one. Justin Gaethje is a violent striker. We saw that in his fight against Edson Barboza last time out, as the guys just stood up and threw. Gaethje is back on track after losses to Dustin Poirier and Eddie Alvarez.
This is a big step up in class for Cerrone, much like his last fight was. After getting back on track with some nice wins over some marginal opponents, Cerrone is fighting for the fourth time this year and after the doctors were forced to intervene against Tony Ferguson.
This almost feels like Cerrone knows his place in the business. It’s like an old wrestler that is there to “put over” a new kid on the block. Gaethje is carving out his own path, but a win over a big name like Cerrone looks good. He’ll get it here.
Pick: Justin Gaethje