UFC 201 has already seen five fights altered due to injury, and while that has cut down on the depth of the event, you’d have a hard time convincing me any card headlined by Robbie Lawler isn’t worth the price of admission. Lawler will be making the third defense of his welterweight title against Tyron Woodley, and if it’s anything close to the four title bouts Lawler has been involved in since his return to the UFC, fans are in for a treat. On top of that, Rose Namajunas will attempt to show off her submission skills once again, as she takes on undefeated Polish fighter Karolina Kowalkiewicz. With a win, either woman could earn a title shot against Joanna Jedrzejczyk, and if its Kowalkiewicz it would set up the first ever all-European UFC title bout. Moving down the card shouldn’t get any less fun. The always-exciting Matt Brown will take on heavy hitter Jake Ellenberger, and bantamweight slugger Francisco Rivera faces Erik Perez. Kicking off the main card could be a scramble-heavy affair in the flyweight division, as former world #1 Ian McCall faces one of the top prospects in the division. The lines for the five main card bouts have already been released at Several Bookmakers, so today MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened the betting odds for the seven preliminary bouts at UFC 201. Those bouts include a light heavyweight battle between Nikita (no longer “The Al Capone”) Krylov and Ed Herman, a
lightweight welterweight match between lightweights Jorge Masvidal and Ross Pearson, and Wilson Reis — who was scheduled to face Demetrious Johnson for the flyweight title on this card — welcoming Hector Sandoval to the UFC. Check out the odds for all seven prelim bouts below: ——————– MAIN CARD (Pay-Per-View, 10pm ET)
——————– PRELIMINARY CARD (Fox Sports 1, 8pm ET)
——————– PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 6:30pm ET)
——————– Brad’s Analysis: Nikita Krylov has all the physical advantages in this fight, and he’s been showing steady improvement since coming into the UFC, but I won’t ever be able to forget him getting Von Flue choked by OSP. If OSP can do that to him, Ed Herman can grab a sub. Will Herman actually pull it off? Probably not, he’s too slow and broken down at this point to hang with Krylov’s activity, but it’s nearly impossible to play a guy who is as sloppy as Krylov at a big price against a vet like Herman. I’ll be looking for the number on Herman by sub here, and that’s probably it. A guy who is hard to trust for the exact opposite reasons of Krylov is Jorge Masvidal. Technically, he’s better than Ross Pearson everywhere, but he’s so prone to spells of inactivity that he gives rounds away. I still have to pick him here, even though these tend to be the kind of spots where Ross Pearson overperforms. Perhaps the angle to take is that Masvidal will be good enough to win with his combination of slick boxing and a superior grappling game, but during one of the rounds he simply won’t do enough to win. Pearson +3.5 could have legs. Wilson Reis goes from a title shot to a bout against a UFC newcomer. Talk about a spot for a potential letdown. There are also several flyweights who could snatch his number one contender spot if he doesn’t put on a quality performance. Those factors are enough to keep my from betting Reis straight, but I think he’ll have a hard time getting away from his grinding roots, and the Over 2.5 could be worth a play. Freddy Serrano is 36, has three pro fights, and is taking a massive step up in competition. He does bring a wrestling advantage into his bout with Ryan Benoit, but has been more than willing to slug with opponents thus far. That’s right in Benoit’s wheelhouse, and the 26-year-old has solid takedown defense and ability to get back to his feet as well. The more I think about this fight, the more I want to play Benoit, but he’s not really a round winner, so the TKO or ITD props may be the way to go. Mike Graves is still yet to get the kind of support I expected him to coming off of TUF. This may be the spot where that changes, but I think that could be a misguided decision by bettors. Bojan Velickovic is built to give grappling based fighters problems, and he’s done that at every stage of his career. His size and strength combine nicely with solid technical defensive grappling to stonewall most wrestlers. While his UFC debut wouldn’t have inspired much confidence, I think he’s significantly better than that fight showed, and will hang around in the UFC. Graves still probably gets the win, but I won’t be betting him, especially if the public pushes it up. Anthony Hamilton is a very flawed fighter, but he has the makeup and tools to beat Damian Grabowski. Hamilton is 5 inches taller and 30 pounds heavier, and has decent offensive wrestling. Grabowski will often spend more time than he should searching for a submission, and while that has worked against regional level heavyweights, even a lower-tier UFC fighter like Hamilton should be able to stay safe. I like Hamilton, and consequently, the Over 1.5 in this fight. Fatties gonna fatty. This opener is an ugly fight. Cesar Arzimendia seems like he’s supposed to be a prospect, but too often looks completely lost. Brown lost to way too many guys in his Cage Warriors run for me to think he has much of a future. Two things Brown does possess are cardio and toughness however, and I think that’s enough to survive Arzimendia early and then force the Paraguayan to crumble late.