Handicapper Justin Hirst:


Handicapper MikesMMAPicks UFC 279 (September 10)

  • Risking 1U on Chimaev-Diaz UNDER 2.5 rounds -175
  • Nate Diaz, 20-13, 37yo, takes on Khamzat Chimaev, 11-0, 28yo, in a welterweight scrap at UFC 279. Expect a massive discrepancy in physicality to be on display. Diaz has been rag-dolled a number of times throughout his illustrious career. Capable opponents have made it a point target his lowly 41% takedown defense. Diaz likely won’t have the time or space to clown around and convalesce. Chimaev’s killer instinct is a real threat here vs an opponent who appears to be nearing the end of his fighting career. Rather than targeting the moneyline on an -1100 favorite or the -650 fight doesn’t go the distance prop or Chimaev inside the distance at -450, I like the under 2.5 rounds at -175.

UFC Vegas 57 (June 25)

  • Risking 1U on the Nurmagomedov-Maness fight doesn’t go the distance prop at -175.
  • Umar Nurmagomedov sits north of -1000 vs Nate Maness, who is likely severely outmatched in the grappling department when these two men engage in battle. Although Nurmagomedov has shown of a flashing kicking game, expect him to take this fight to the mat vs the lanky bantamweight. Maness can crack, and may have limited time at range to land with power. Maness looked drained at weigh-ins, and already had a tough task ahead of him. Fight doesn’t go the distance at -175 is separated from Nurmagomedov wins inside the distance by only a few cents, and covers both sides of the fight in case Maness catches lighting in a bottle.

UFC 273 (April 9)

  • 1.5U Vinc Pichel Scorecards = No action. at -170
  • Vinc Pichel, 14-2, 39yo, takes on undefeated Mark Madsen, 11-0, 37yo, in a lightweight bout at UFC 273. Yes, Mark Madsen is the better wrestler in this spot with the ability to land takedowns and get out to an early lead in rounds one and two. I’m expecting Madsen to have success, and then begin to fade in front of a boisterous crowd vs Pichel, who, although is getting up there in age, has an uncanny ability to dig deep and pour it on.

UFC Columbus (March 26)

  • Risking 1.5U on Bryan Barberena at -105Bryan Barberena, 18-6, 32yo, takes on a grizzled veteran of the sport in Matt Brown, 23-18, 41yo. If this fight doesn’t end early via a Matt Brown KO in front of his hometown crowd, it is going to come down to pace. Brown’s gas tank and footwork are a real concern at this stage in career. Barberena comes with his own warts, though I trust him to take over late in this spot if he remains conscious, and like the price tag at -105.

UFC London (March 19)

  • Risking 0.5 U Makwan Amirkhani to win inside the distance at +425.

    Although both Mike Grundy and Makwan Amirkhani have fallen on tough times, they are both grapplers at heart. I expect both fighters to implement their game early and put the pedal to the metal. Considering Makwan Amirkhani’s main path to victory is a submission and is cextremely explosive early, there is some value on his inside the distance line at +425. He has 12 finish victories to his credit, and I would not be surprised to see Mr. Finland lock something up under the bright lights.

Bellator (Jan. 29)

  • Risking 1U on Chris Gonzalez at -200.

Eagle FC 44 (Jan. 28)

  • Risking 1U on Ray Borg at -175.


UFC 270 (Jan. 22)

  • Risking 1.5U on Cyril Gane at -108
  • The heavyweight strap is on the line on January 22nd. Fantastic matchup here between two former training partners in Ciryl Gane and Francis Ngannou. This is a dangerous game of inches with the big boys throwing heat wearing 4-ounce gloves. A reality is that Francis Ngannou possesses a death touch. Ngannou could come out early, land one strike and end Gane’s night, as he’s done to many an opponent. He could also catch Gane at any point during the first few rounds. Gane is the more well-rounded fighter with better technique, both defensively and offensively. Gane is extremely nimble, has the superior gas tank, as well as excellent footwork. This fight takes place in the larger Octagon, which must be considered when handicapping where the fight may travel throughout the course of 25 minutes. Although we saw improvements from Ngannou vs Miocic, I believe Ciryl Gane is the deserved favorite here, and should be capped conservatively between 57-59%. Anything can happen at heavyweight, though if Gane can stay defensively sound, he should win the fight more often than not. This free play on Ciryl Gane was posted at -108

UFC Vegas 47 (Feb. 5)

  • Risking 1.9U on Sean Strickland at -188
  • Sean Strickland vs Jack Hermansson is a solid test for both fighters. Hermansson will likely look to close distance vs the superior striker in Strickland, who has really come on of late after suffering a horrific motorcycle accident a few years ago. Strickland’s momentum is growing every time out, and he appears to be on the verge of becoming a contender. Don’t sleep on Strickland’s takedown defense as well as ground game that continues to develop. Both of these fighters are dogs who will fight hard for your money. I believe we’ll see Strickland eventually stifle Hermansson’s continued attempts at the takedown, and find sustained success at range over time. If Hermansson is able to land takedowns, he’ll likely commit to a submission attempt, and that is when things may get interesting, as Strickland has yet to be submitted. The pick here is Sean Strickland.

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