In this article I will be breaking down the top 3 biggest favorites (per 5Dimes) and giving an assessment on whether they are Moneyline worthy, Parlay worthy, or a complete Pass. Though I may say a favorite is one of those first two options, my official bets may not reflect that. Alright, that’s pretty much it for the setup, let’s get into this.
Casey Kenney (-265) vs Louis Smolka (+225)
This matchup may seem a little closer than the odds suggest, considering Kenney’s strength plays into Smolka’s strength too (grappling). After further review though, this seems like a prime spot for Kenney to beat someone at their own game. Kenney has been in back and forth grappling matchups with some of the best grapplers in the lower weight classes. His victory over Manny Bermudez is something I hold in high regard due to the obvious size/strength disadvantage Casey had to overcome in that fight and still come out on top. Casey went scramble for scramble against probably a top 3 scrambler in Ray Borg. The decision could be seen as slightly skeptical, but he did keep it much closer than I believe Smolka would’ve been able to. I will also give Kenney the slight advantage on the feet as well, despite what we saw from Smolka in his fight with Ryan MacDonald. Smolka had a ton of success on the feet against MacDonald who isn’t the most skilled fighter. Ryan got fed a ton of cans who had a combined record of 70- 62 before he made his UFC debut, not the best recipe to be successful on the big stage. Smolka gave up a triangle choke to Matt Schnell as well, who is primarily a striker. Smolka normally goes in against mediocre fighters and blows them out of the water which in turn makes him seem much better than he actually is. I expect Kenney to be a step ahead every step of the way and even breaking Smolka midway through this contest. It may be slightly back and forth at the
beginning, but we will see Kenney start to pull away. Kenney is a strong play here and I’m not batting an eye at all at anyone betting the juice here.
KENNEY (-265): Moneyline worthy
Roosevelt Roberts (-335) vs Brok Weaver (+275)
Roberts is coming off this fight, slightly cooled off from the hype that he had surrounding him previous to that Pichel fight. He suffered his first loss there, but was able to rebound with a solid victory over a veteran in Yakovlev. I think Roberts will have the crisper hands here which could cause trouble for Brok in terms of getting his takedown game going. Brok looked stiff and uncomfortable on the feet against Vargas before the eventual illegal knee that led to a DQ victory in his favor. Roberts implements very effective takedowns in his game as well, but Weaver seems to rely on it more. Both guys have mediocre takedown defense and the small cage should benefit Weaver here a bit more. With that said, I don’t think he will be successful in closing the distance without eating sharp strikes from Roberts. After about a round of solid work from Roberts, I expect him to pull away. Brok is nothing special, in my opinion, and his “popularity” seems to be trickling into people’s ability to handicap him. He does have a decent path to victory here through his takedowns, but I think Roberts has a pretty high ceiling and we should be able to see continuous improvement on a fight-to-fight basis for him. I don’t feel comfortable laying the -335 ML, but he can be a solid parlay piece.
ROBERTS (-335): Parlay worthy
Mackenzie Dern (-430) vs Hannah Cifers (+345)
Mackenzie Dern came back from her pregnancy looking in great shape, especially with everyone questioning whether she would be able to hit the strawweight mark. Physically, she looked amazing. Performance-wise, not so much. I will give her the benefit of the doubt due to the fact that Ribas seems to have top 5-7 potential and was a very bad matchup for Dern in that fight. We know Dern’s game. She wants to get this down and sink in a submission as soon as possible. Her hands definitely still need some work as they look quite raw. Against a power striker like Cifers, she’s going to have to be very weary about closing the distance if she wants to get this fight to the mat. People completely write-off Cifers in this matchup due to the fact that Angela Hill got her down. It took a solid amount of striking and a slick trip from the clinch position for Angela to secure that. If Dern just bull-rushes Cifers, she could walk into a very hard punch. Another advantage Dern will have here is the size. She could realistically be a solid 125er while on the flipside Cifers could actually be a 105er. Though the path to victory is clear for Dern and she should have a massive advantage on the ground, her rawness on the feet leaves a little to be desired. Also, it’s not like Dern is some high level wrestler that should secure the takedown 100% of the time. If this line was closer to -250, I’d consider it a solid parlay piece. However, at -430, I believe that is far too steep of a price for Dern.
DERN (-430): Pass
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