Matinee matchups are the story this week for the UFC. The UFC on ABC 2 card begins at 12 p.m. with prelim action and then runs throughout the day on Saturday until dinnertime or so in the Eastern Time Zone. This is one of two events left scheduled for the UFC Apex training facility in Las Vegas. UFC 261 with a packed house in Jacksonville is just over two weeks away.
UFC on ABC 2 will feature a main event between Marvin Vettori and Kevin Holland, as Holland steps in on short notice for Darren Till, who suffered a broken collarbone. Holland is a big underdog, but credit to him for coming back after losing badly over five rounds against Derek Brunson back on March 20.
We’ll break this one down for you with odds from BetOnline Sportsbook and hit all 15 fights scheduled for this card.
Sasha Palatnikov (+240) vs. Impa Kasanganay (-280); Total: 2.5 (-215/175)
Action begins in the welterweight division with Sasha Palatnikov in search of his second UFC win. The 32-year-old scored a KO win over Louis Cosce back on November 21 at UFC 255. Palatnikov was more than a 3/1 underdog in that fight, but scored the third-round KO. He was ahead on the cards at the time of the knockout, but it was still good to remove all doubt.
Impa Kasanganay is hoping to get back into the win column after getting knocked out by Joaquin Buckley for his first career loss. The Dana White Contender Series graduate was 8-0 prior to that finish, including a win over Maki Pitolo about six weeks prior. Kasanganay only has two stoppage wins to his name and that one knockout loss. Palatnikov has three decision wins and three knockout victories. If it goes to a decision, as the line suggests, it should benefit Kasanganay.
William Knight (+120) vs. Da Un Jung (-140); Total: 1.5 (-155/125)
William Knight missed out on his UFC 260 chance because of COVID-19 protocols, but he finds himself on this card as a slight underdog to Da Un Jung. Jung was originally set to face Shamil Gamzatov, but visa issues opened up a spot for Knight. Knight, another DWCS grad, was victorious over Aleksa Camur at UFC 253 and was gearing up for a big match against Alonzo Menifield on the PPV card, but now draws Jung.
Jung fought to a draw with Sam Alvey back at UFC 254 to snap a two-fight win streak in UFC and a 12-fight win streak overall. It wasn’t a great performance for either fighter in the draw, so we’ll have to see how Jung bounces back here. Both guys have some serious striking power and Jung deserves to be the favorite with his record of success.
Jordan Griffin (+112) vs. Luis Saldana (-132); Total: 2.5 (-205/165)
Luis Saldana is getting a lot of respect here from his win over Vince Murdock back in November on the Contender Series. His violent finish and strong performance earned him a contract and this will be his first fight under said contract when he takes on Jordan Griffin. Griffin, another DWCS find, has lost three of his four fights, but he was given another contract and another chance to prove himself. He goes from fighting veterans like Dan Ige, Chas Skelly, and Youssef Zalal to fighting Saldana, who is much closer to his experience level, at least in terms of fighting upper echelon competition.
I can’t help but think Saldana is a little overpriced here because of some recency bias against Griffin. The quality of opponent is much lower here for the underdog.
Hunter Azure (+145) vs. Jack Shore (-170); Total: 2.5 (-170/140)
The preferred side in this fight seems to be Jack Shore, who has taken the early money for this featherweight scrap against Hunter Azure. Azure’s only loss in the UFC came against a veteran fighter in Brian Kelleher. Otherwise, Azure has looked strong against Brad Katona and Cole Smith. The 29-year-old isn’t the most exciting fighter with only three finishes in his nine wins, but he has been effective in terms of controlling fights.
Shore is a perfect 13-0 with 12 finishes. The former CW champ is 2-0 in the UFC with a couple of submission wins. Azure hasn’t seen anybody with this type of ground game and that includes some of the UFC vets he has faced. Shore is a rising prospect at 26 and is a guy that should be destined for bigger things. He had no issues taking down both Aaron Phillips and Nohelin Hernandez. We should see the same here.
Jarjis Danho (+260) vs. Yorgan De Castro (-310); Total: 1.5 (-115/-115)
You hate to call any fight a must-win, but this is one of those for Yorgan De Castro. De Castro was 6-0 in his pro career before running into Greg Hardy last May. He followed that up with a rather uncompetitive loss to Carlos Felipe. De Castro, who was thought to be a pretty decent prospect, finds himself a -300 favorite here against Jarjis Danho.
The 37-year-old Danho is back in the UFC after more than four years on the shelf. He last fought September 3, 2016 to a draw against Christian Colombo. He lost his first UFC fight to Daniel Omielanczuk. Who knows what Danho will look like here, but the market seems to give him a minimal chance, even with De Castro’s struggles.
John Makdessi (+163) vs. Ignacio Bahamondes (-188); Total: 2.5 (-175/145)
John Makdessi has had a while to sit and stew over the loss to Franciso Trinaldo that upended his three-fight winning streak. He’ll try to start a new one against UFC newcomer Ignacio Bahamondes. Veterans like Makdessi seem to have been phased out en masse over the last several months as Dana White has trimmed the fat on the roster. Perhaps Makdessi is fighting for his roster spot here.
The 23-year-old Bahamondes had a huge finish against Edson Gomez after racking up a split-decision win over Chris Brown in his first LFA fight. The youngster is 11-3 in his young career with eight knockouts. As long as Makdessi avoids the potent feet of Bahamondes, he has a chance. The problem is that the aggressive 23-year-old gets the benefit of the small Octagon at the Apex and has a massive seven-inch height advantage. This looks like a terrible matchup for Makdessi, even as the far more experienced fighter.
Erin Blanchfield (+210) vs. Norma Dumont (-250); Total: 2.5 (-280/220)
Erin Blanchfield makes her UFC debut on short notice here as a replacement for Bea Malecki. Blanchfield is only 21 years old, but has looked really good in Invicta, including a win by majority decision over Kay Hansen, who has already made an impact in the UFC. She doesn’t seem to be getting much respect here against Norma Dumont.
Dumont split her two fights in 2020 with a loss to Megan Anderson and a win over Ashlee Evans-Smith. Evans-Smith is a fringy UFC fighter and Dumont just pummeled her with strikes and top control. It was really a no contest and kind of a wasted performance from Dumont. I think it’ll take a similar performance to beat Blanchfield convincingly, so I’d lean with the +210 side of it.
Scott Holtzman (+192) vs. Mateusz Gamrot (-227); Total: 2.5 (-225/185)
Scott Holtzman and Mateusz Gamrot continue what is a very long set of prelims. The 30-year-old Gamrot lost his perfect 17-0 record in his UFC debut back in October against Guram Kutateladze, but he looks poised to get his first win as a big favorite here over Holtzman. Holtzman was 1-1 in 2020 after posting the same record in 2019. The 37-year-old was 8-0 heading into his UFC debut against Anthony Christodoulou and won that fight. Since then, he’s only gone 6-4 in his UFC action.
Gamrot, a former champ in KSW, took that debut fight on fairly short notice and it showed, but he still fought to a split-decision. It wasn’t an exciting fight. Gamrot attempted a lot more strikes and had five takedowns to zero for his opponent, but he still came up on the short end. It seems like it might have been a poor judgment that went against him. He should bounce back and win here, but that’s a big price.
Jim Miller (+195) vs. Joseph Solecki (-230); Total: 2.5 (-155/125)
Veteran Jim Miller will step into the cage for the 48th time in his career. Joe Solecki brings a 10-2 record into his fourth career UFC fight and third under contract. Solecki has two submission finishes and a dominant decision triumph to his name. The 27-year-old relies on his wrestling and grappling background, which should make this an interesting fight against Miller, who has 18 career submission wins in his long career.
Miller’s experience may be a factor in keeping him alive in this fight for a while, but Solecki should be the stronger, more agile fighter with the big age difference between the two. It’s just hard to lay -230 when Miller has still performed well, even late in his career.
Mike Perry (+137) vs. Daniel Rodriguez (-157); Total: 2.5 (-130/100)
Mike Perry and Daniel Rodriguez get the main card started at the welterweight limit. Perry needs a win badly here. The 29-year-old is an exciting fighter with 11 career knockouts, but that excitement has dwindled of late with three losses in his last four fights. Four of his last five fights have gone the distance as well. He also missed weight prior to his UFC 255 fight against Tim Means and didn’t seem to care much about it. He’s also had some issues away from the Octagon.
I’m not going to say that he’s fighting for his job here, but he may not be worth the headaches if he’s also not producing results. This will be the fifth UFC fight in 14 months for Rodriguez, who most recently lost to Nicolas Dalby at UFC 255, the same card Perry fought on. It was his first loss in nearly three years. Rodriguez seems to be a more focused combatant and a guy whose stock is higher than Perry’s. I like the favorite here.
Pick: Daniel Rodriguez
Mackenzie Dern (+115) vs. Nina Ansaroff (-135); Total: 2.5 (-200/160)
Mackenzie Dern and Nina Ansaroff square off in the only women’s fight on the main card. This is a big fight for Dern, whose stock is rising quickly with three straight wins. Her only loss came against a very good opponent in Amanda Ribas, probably the best opponent she has faced to date. Dern now takes on a solid opponent in Ansaroff, but she hasn’t fought since June 8, 2019. She lost to Tatiana Suarez in that last fight.
I’m not entirely sure I understand this line. Ansaroff is now 35. She was in her prime three years ago. Dern is on the rise and her lone loss came against a really good fighter in this division. This is my favorite play of the card.
Pick: Mackenzie Dern
Sam Alvey (+165) vs. Julian Marquez (-190); Total: 2.5 (100/-130)
Smilin’ Sam Alvey is a veteran of more fights than Jim Miller. This will be Alvey’s 49th career MMA fight at the young age of 34. In fight years, he’s a lot older than that, but Alvey brings a solid 33-14-1 record into this match against Julian Marquez. The problem is that four of those losses and the lone draw have come in his last five fights. Alvey has made a lot of contributions to the sport, but it would seem as though his best days are behind him.
Marquez is back quickly here. After being away from the UFC for 2.5 years, he returned to get a submission win over Maki Pitolo on February 21. It was an emotional moment for Marquez and one that was long-awaited to say the least. It will be very interesting to see how he does with the really quick return here after so much time away. This is far from a full fight camp and it was a pretty even fight with Pitolo. It’s a big number, but it’s Marquez or bust for me. I’ll probably stay away, though.
Pick: Julian Marquez
Kyle Daukaus (-102) vs. Aliaskhab Khizriev (-118); Total: 2.5 (-175/145)
What a huge moment here for 30-year-old Aliaskhab Khizriev. The middleweight won the FNG title on March 30, 2018 and then didn’t get another fight until winning his Dana White Contender Series match over Henrique Shiguemoto in just 50 seconds back on September 8, 2020. Khizriev now gets a main card spot on national TV in the US. It is a big deal.
Kyle Daukuas is a huge middleweight. He stands 6-foot-3 and has a big size advantage in the smaller Octagon here. He’s 10-1 in his career and bounced back nicely to beat Dustin Stoltzfus after losing to Brendan Allen five months prior. Daukaus has eight career submission wins and that seems to be his claim to fame. Being 6-foot-3 with that kind of ground game in this division can certainly create some buzz. I like him at the short dog price here.
Pick: Kyle Daukaus
Arnold Allen (+125) vs. Sodiq Yusuff (-145); Total: 2.5 (-200/160)
27-2. That is the combined record for Arnold Allen and Sodiq Yusuff. Both fighters have a loss. Allen has 16 wins and Yusuff has 11. That includes seven UFC wins for Allen and four for Yusuff, plus a Contender Series triumph that got him a contract. Yusuff’s only loss came in a title fight in Titan FC against Luis Gomez.
Allen has gone deep in most of his recent fights. Yusuff has two knockouts and two 15-minute fights as a member of UFC. His win over Mike Davis on DWCS also went the full 15. That’s why we get a -200 on the total here. Allen does seem to have the better takedown offense, but maybe we just haven’t seen Yusuff have to use that part of his game yet. This is a tough fight to handicap in the featherweight division, but with a lot of decisions at the top level for both guys, I think the over at -200 is better than gambling on a fighter.
Pick: Over 2.5
Kevin Holland (+275) vs. Marvin Vettori (-350); Total: 4.5 (130/-160)
We’ve finally made it to the main event of the night, where Kevin Holland comes back on a very quick turnaround to headline another event. After fighting Derek Brunson in the main event of the March 20 Fight Night card, Holland is back to maybe go another five rounds as he faces Marvin Vettori. Holland’s loss to Brunson snapped a nice win streak for the 28-year-old, but dropped him to 4-4 in decisions.
Marvin Vettori was supposed to fight Darren Till, but now he gets Holland, which has put him into a bigger favorite role, but you have to think he’d have rather taken on the bigger name. Vettori has gone the distance in four of his last five fights, but only one was a five-rounder. He fought to a split decision with Israel Adesanya back in April 2018, but has beaten all other comers since. He’s never lost via stoppage, which is another reason why he’s such a big favorite here. With five rounds scheduled, Vettori is likely to just wear down his opponent on the ground.