UFC Cage Locks: Will it be Blanchfield or Fiorot to hit next level in Atlantic City?

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Erin Blanchfield and Manon Fiorot can both conceivably view Saturday’s UFC Fight Night main event as a dress rehearsal for a championship fight since the winner will be positioned to compete for the women’s flyweight title.

In addition to the anticipated five-round 125-pound headliner, Vicente Luque and Joaquin Buckley meet in a welterweight co-main event, former middleweight champion Chris Weidman returns to action to face feared striker Bruno Silva, plus a pair of Canadians aim to extend winning streaks when the action goes down at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.

Only one of the 28 fighters scheduled to compete on the 14-fight card missed weight Friday. Julio Arce was over the featherweight limit by one pound. He will be fined 20 per cent of his purse but his bout with Herbert Burns will still take place.

UFC Fight Night: Blanchfield vs. Fiorot bout order and predictions below:

MAIN CARD

— Erin Blanchfield vs. Manon Fiorot

— Vicente Luque vs. Joaquin Buckley

— Chris Weidman vs. Bruno Silva

— Nursulton Ruziboev vs. Sedriques Dumas

— Bill Algeo vs. Kyle Nelson

— Chidi Njokuani vs. Rhys McKee

PRELIMINARY CARD

— Nate Landwehr vs. Jamall Emmers

— Virna Jandiroba vs. Loopy Godinez

— Julio Arce vs. Herbert Burns

— Dennis Buzukja vs. Connor Matthews

— Ibo Aslan vs. Anton Turkalj

— Viktoriia Dudakova vs. Melissa Gatto

— Andre Petroski vs. Jacob Malkoun

— Angel Pacheco vs. Caolán Loughran   

 

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CAGE LOCKS

Which outcome do we think is the absolute safest bet on the card? Each will pick our “lock” of the week to put together a “three-headed monster parlay.”

Aaron: Ruziboev vs. Dumas does not go the distance -450 (Betway)

The betting lines expect that this fight goes under 1.5 rounds and I expect that one of these two potent finishers does just and finds a finish before the final bell.

Dan: Caolan Loughran to win outright -325 (BetWay)

Caolan’s UFC debut didn’t go according to plan against an accomplished competitor in Taylor Lapilus where he lost by UD back in September. Prior to joining the UFC, Loughran’s pro record was 8-0 and I expect him to get back to his winning ways against an unproven opponent in Angel Pacheco on Saturday. The Brazilian makes his UFC debut following a loss to Danny Silva on DWCS. I think Loughran’s pressure boxing combined with slick grappling will pose too much of a threat to Pacheco’s predictable jiu-jitsu based style.

Mike: Petroski vs. Malkoun Over 1.5 Rounds -320 (Bet365)

Both middleweights have been stopped in the opening round and both have some finishing ability of their own, however this one has decision written all over it (Malkoun decision specifically – little bonus prop prediction for you) with the theme of the fight being Malkoun’s frequent takedown attempts.

Three-headed Monster Parlay Odds: +110 (to win $110)
2024 Record: 4-6
Total 2024 Winnings on $100 bets: -$91.73

OUR FAVOURITE FAVOURITE

Which favourite with odds shorter than -200 are we most confident in? 

Aaron: Bruno Silva wins inside the distance -190 (BetOnline)

I truly will not be upset if I get this one wrong, but Weidman suffered another injury in his last fight against Brad Tavares and while nobody can help but admire Weidman for the type of person the former champion is, I think Silva is a very tough matchup at this stage of his career. Should he lose here, I truly hope that he retires and continues his great work as a broadcaster for the promotion.

Dan: Erin Blanchfield -180 (DraftKings)

Erin’s well-rounded game will suit her nicely in this matchup. Her relentless pursuit of a submission, coupled with the backing of a hometown crowd over five rounds should be enough to swing the scorecards in her favour. Blanchfield will be wary of Fiorot’s knockout power and will try to take this bout to the mat often and ask serious questions about the 34-year-old’s ground game.

Mike: Vicente Luque -110 (Bodog)

If you look at Luque’s losses in the UFC then you can see how this is an exploitable style matchup in Buckley’s favour. Still, Luque’s elite strength of schedule, proven durability and finishing prowess, plus the fact he’s fighting in his home state puts him over the edge for me at these coinflip odds.

Aaron’s favourite record: 6-4
Total 2024 winnings on $100 bets: -$14.95

Dan’s favourite record: 7-3
Total 2024 winnings on $100 bets: $133.47

Mike’s favourite record: 4-6
Total 2024 winnings on $100 bets: -$351.46

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HUNGRIEST DOG

Which underdog on the card are we most confident will get their hand raised in victory?

Aaron: Nate Landwehr +186 (BetOnline)

One thing that is perpetually true about Landwehr is he will fight for your money and I was surprised to see such long odds on this one. In fact, Landwehr is a bigger underdog here against a far less established Jamall Emmers than he was against the perpetually ranked Dan Ige.

Dan: Kyle Nelson +195 (BetMGM)

Kyle is riding a three-bout unbeaten streak and has more than a puncher’s chance of pulling off an upset here, especially as you begin to look at other underdog odds on this card. This contest will be a close fight and I don’t see it ending inside the distance, leaving it in the hands of the judges. Nelson has yet to lose by decision in the UFC and this trend could very well continue.

Mike: Virna Jandiroba +195 (DraftKings)

Jandiroba is oft overlooked at 115 pounds partly due to her lack of flare and partly because she hasn’t won more than two consecutive bouts during her UFC tenure. The narrative that the younger fighter, Godinez, who’s riding a streak twice as long as her opponent should extend her winning streak has these odds slightly more inflated than they should be in my opinion, so I like the value on the Brazilian in what I see as a competitive matchup. Jandiroba has the edge in experience and that shouldn’t be overlooked despite her not yet entering the top tier of the strawweight division.

Aaron’s underdog record: 5-5
Total 2024 Winnings on $100 bets: $190

Dan’s underdog record: 2-8
Total 2024 Winnings on $100 bets: -$590

Mike’s underdog record: 5-5
Total 2024 Winnings on $100 bets: $62

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DART THROW

What’s a longshot play with odds of +500 or longer that we like? 

Aaron: Vicente Luque by submission +525 (BetOnline)

In Luque’s last time out, he was taking Rafael dos Anjos down at will, landing eight of 11 takedowns and now he faces another fighter in Buckley who possesses subpar takedown defence. Luque’s best winning conditions are on the ground and he has always been opportunistic with his submissions during scrambles, which I could very well see happening here.

Dan: Sedriques Dumas by decision +750 (BetRivers)

Ruziboev’s knockout power is no longer a secret. Dumas has won his last two bouts by decision. Factor in the significant plus-money here…why not?

Mike: Chidi Njokuani by decision +800 (BetRivers)

Njokuani’s drop down to welterweight is intriguing to me after three straight losses at 185 and even though it’s likely this one ends inside the distance via strikes, I like the value here with Njokuani’s experience, his 7-2 record in fights that require judges plus Rhys McKee being 0-3 when it goes to the scorecards. Should be a fun one however it unfolds.

Aaron’s dart throw record: 1-8-1
Total 2024 Winnings on $100 bets: -$300

Dan’s dart throw record: 1-9
Total 2024 Winnings on $100 bets: -$200

Mike’s dart throw record: 2-7-1
Total 2024 Winnings on $100 bets: $600

(Betting odds above subject to change prior to fights)

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