The undercard for Saturday’s UFC Fight Night in Colorado is a good snapshot of the type of Fight Night card we will be seeing on a regular basis: two to three fighters with recognizable names, and another five or six fights between mid- and low-tier prospects who most people outside of their communities will have never heard of. For serious fans and gamblers, cards like this one are really fun. For the casual fan, it’s a chance to learn about the sport and gain some appreciation for the depth and breadth of the combat world out there.
The UFC is in a years-long expansion across geographic, business, and psychological lines that will eventually lead to a mainstream position in the sports world alongside established monolithic sports like basketball, football and baseball. The transition means a lot of new fighters will be hitting the rosters and competing almost every week on cards across the country (in little towns like Broomfield, CO), and out of those hundreds of fights each year, some superstars will emerge to carry the sport even further into the hearts and minds of people around the globe.
Of course that also means that a lot of fighters will pop up for three UFC fights, go 1-2 or 0-3, and then disappear back into the ocean of regional promotions, or decide that a personal trainer job might provide a bit more stability. For this Colorado card, we have a little bit of both, as is to be expected.
Holloway and Magny are the bigger names on the undercard. Both of these fighters are incredibly skilled, experienced competitors who should defeat their opponents handily. Cole Miller likes to exchange punches, so his fight with Holloway should be pretty entertaining. The Magny vs. Kunimoto matchup looks really bad for Kunimoto on paper; it’s just hard to think of any way he is going to corner, takedown, and submit Magny inside of three rounds, without getting taken apart from distance.
Holloway is a very tough cookie with great striking, and Magny is one of the most intelligent fighters in the sport with great cardio. They’re both heavy favorites. Either one could make a run to the top of their division and feasibly challenge for the belt someday.
A great fight for bettors and fans out there is the Michel Prazeres vs. Kevin Lee matchup. Prazeres is a slight underdog, but he looked great in his last fight, especially his striking. Prazeres is a Brazilian with tight striking skills and, of course, Brazilian jiu jitsu to boot. He could upset Lee, who comes out of the Phil Davis mold: good wrestling and an incredible physique. Although the striking game is what a lot of fans like to see, this fight should end up on the ground a few times, and we may see some Brazilian grappling vs. Midwest wrestling.
Another interesting match-up pits former Bellator champ Zach Makovksy against Tim Elliot, a herky-jerky striker fighting out of Missouri. Both guys really need this one. Makovsky has had a hit and miss career after Bellator, and he’s coming in off of a loss. Another loss here and he may just sink below the waves, his fans shaking their heads at the potential. Elliot is coming in off of two losses. This fight is on the prelims for a reason: it’s the type of match-up that reminds me of a fight between two bottom dogs in the middle of winter; winner is hitched back up to the sled, loser slinks off into the woods.
Speaking of being thrown to the wolves, poor Levan Makashvili. His UFC debut is against Nik Lentz, whose only loss in his last four fights was to Chad Mendes and the line reflects that. Lentz is an almost 5 to 1 favorite.
Ray Borg and Chris Kelades are the next fight up, and the odds here are closing in on 8 to 1 for Borg. Prior to his loss to Dustin Ortiz in his UFC debut, Borg had gone through an amateur and regional tear against men most fans have never heard of. Kelades has a similar fight history, solid run through the Triple A, and now a shot at the big time. These two guys have a combined three fights in the UFC (Borg is 1-1 and Kelades 1-0), and yet the bookies are throwing up 8-1 odds. Fun stuff.
These types of odds will be the norm for a while, as injuries shake up cards, rosters balloon with regional fighters from all over the world, and unknown fighters are tested against battle hardened UFC vets. It’s a fun time for sports betting and fans who want to pick diamonds out of the rough. Unknown quantities make for unexpected outcomes, so expect the unexpected on Saturday night.
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