Luke Sanders vs Renan Barao
It feels like forever ago that Renan Barao was easily one of the best fighters in the world. He looked unbeatable through so many fights as he blew through opposition with ease. However, this is the fight game and it only takes one fight to change your career for good or bad. Unfortunately for Barao it was two brutal beatings from TJ Dillashaw to steer his career down like a roller coaster. He is clearly not the same fighter as he once was when he held gold and betting on him is just almost close to throwing money away because you never know what’s left in him. Fortunately for Barao he is fighting Luke Sanders which isn’t the most terrorizing fighter on the roster and has flaws of his own especially when it comes to fight IQ. I still feel Barao has just enough left in the tank to take a decision win here as his fire power to finish fights just isn’t there anymore.
Prop: Renan Barao wins by decision (+556)
Aljamain Sterling vs Jimmie Rivera
I think this is a pretty straight forward fight between a wrestler and primarily a striker. If Sterling can have success using his own grappling, strength, and size then I believe he can steal some rounds and win a potentially close decision against Rivera. Rivera will look to keep it standing and will have to defend takedowns throughout the bout. He is the better standup fighter and should be able to win the decision if he can keep this fight on the feet. I like the value on Sterling to take the decision win here because he does have a path to victory, albeit not an easy one perhaps.
Prop: Aljamain Sterling wins by decision (+210)
Bryan Barberena vs. Vincente Luque
Bryan Barberena is pretty durable wrestler who likes to make it ugly with grappling, aggression, and takedowns. I’m thinking Luque steamrolls him as long as he takes his time and defends the grappling aggression from Barberena. Luque will have a clear-cut striking advantage and if he puts it all together, he will get Barberena out of there sooner rather than later. I’m leaning a TKO finish for Luque, but it may be more safe to play just the ‘inside the distance’ prop.
Prop: Vincente Luque by inside the distance (-131)
James Vick vs Paul Felder
I think this matchup favors Paul Felder here a bit as I do believe he is the better overall fighter. I’ve never been big on James Vick at all as I think he gets overrated by many including oddsmakers. As he gets older his weight cut gets tougher, but he still makes 155 so more power to him. I think Felder can have success on the feet by out striking Vick and outpointing him. He’ll have to be cautious of Vick’s power though and if he can do that, I do think he can finish Vick. I’m taking Felder by finish as I like the value on it.
Prop: Paul Felder wins by inside the distance (+233)
Cain Velasquez vs Francis Ngannou
I think this fight falls on what kind of Cain we are getting here. He has only fought twice since 2013 and a ton of injuries have plagued his career. He is no doubt one of, if not the best and most talented heavyweight today when he is 100% healthy, however we just can’t assume anything because we have nothing to go off of. He last fought in July of 2016 disposing of Travis Browne inside the first round and he definitely looked great there but, that was two years ago, and he has had to deal with more injuries of course. Still only 36 years old isn’t terrible as far as the heavyweights go but I really don’t want to trust Velasquez here. He has a clear path to victory which will involve heavy pressure early on and get takedowns quickly. He does not want to stand any longer than he must to avoid getting hit by the deadly hands that Ngannou possesses. If Cain can do that early on and not play around on the feet, then he 100% wins this fight in my opinion. Plus, the longer the fight goes the more it clearly benefits Cain as he has some of the best conditioning in the UFC. We’ve seen the problems Ngannou has being able to go multiple rounds as he just doesn’t have the cardio to be able to push him through late rounds. He’ll want to try and get Velasquez out of there early if he wants any solid chance of getting his hand raised. I don’t think this fight hits the scorecards as it’s either an early KO from Ngannou or a round three or four finish from the former heavyweight champion. I’m picking Velasquez here to get it done by finish – most likely by TKO.
Prop: Cain Velasquez wins by TKO (+125)