UFC Fight Night: Smith vs. Spann
#UFCVegas37 MMA Betting Preview
The UFC is back this Saturday and has loaded up a 14-match card for fight fans, headlined by #6 light heavyweight Anthony Smith taking on #11 Ryan Spann. A big victory catapults the winner that much closer to a title shot.
The co-main features Ion Cutelaba vs. Devin Clark in a fight that should be fireworks out of the gates. A monster card overall, featuring 14 fights in total, will kick off at 4 p.m. ET with the prelims, followed by the six-fight main card at 7 p.m. ET. The entire event will be live on ESPN+.
- DATE: SATURDAY 09/18/21
- BROADCAST: ESPN+
- VENUE: UFC APEX
- LOCATION: Las Vegas, Nevada
- # of MATCHES: 14
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MAIN CARD HOT TAKES, PREDICTIONS & BETS
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT (205 LBS): #6 ANTHONY SMITH (35-16) VS #11 RYAN SPANN (19-6)
After headlining seven fight cards in a row, Anthony Smith took a back seat at UFC 261 to headliners Usman and Masvidal but came out victorious over Jimmy Crute via TKO in round 1. This week, he jumps back into his usual main event slot and takes on the ever-dangerous Ryan Spann, which lines up two top 15 light heavyweights with above-average grappling bases. For Smith, he makes the walk for his 52nd time, and at just 33 years young, he’s absorbed a ton of damage along the way and has given his fair share as well, finishing 32 of his 35 wins inside the distance. Smith is dangerous on the feet and can slip you into various submissions at any given point of a fight. Smith usually gets the fight going early and has only gone into the championship rounds on three occasions, win or lose.
Spann was riding an eight-fight win streak before getting finished by Johnny Walker via punches and a few questionable elbows inside of one round. Spann had dropped Walker twice in that fight and was on his way to a quick win until some poor fight IQ came into play, and he went in for a takedown which put him into a position where Walker tied him up and went for the kill. Spann packs some power but typically leans on his wrestling. He's crafty on the mat and can control his opponent while moving into submission spots. Smith will be a step up in competition for Spann here, and while Spann can come out fast and hurt you, the experience and proven gas tank Smith brings should eventually frustrate Spann, and that’s where we see that poor fight IQ come into play. Outside of round one, where both will come out fast and possibly catch the other, Smith should take over. Executing leg kicks will be key.
Prediction: Anthony Smith
Bet: Fight won’t start round 4 -152
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT (205 LBS): ION CUTELABA (15-6-1) VS DEVIN CLARK (12-5)
Devin Clark has five losses, and none of those have ever made the final bell. Cutelaba brings a 93% win finish rate, and against a guy who just simply doesn’t like getting hit and lacks durability, I see that percentage going up after Saturday night.
Prediction: Ion Cutelaba
Bet: Cutelaba (look ITD -110)
WOMEN’S FLYWEIGHT (125 LBS): MANDY BOHM (7-0) VS ARIANE LIPSKI (13-7)
The #1 women’s fighter out of Germany makes her long-awaited UFC debut and takes on Ariane Lipski, who's now just 2-4 since entering the UFC. Bohm is hittable and should go to her grappling and top control. This could be a good dog spot. I have to see Bohm under the UFC banner before I lay any bets on her.
Prediction: Mandy Bohm
LIGHTWEIGHT (155 LBS): #14 ARMAN TSARUKYAN (16-2) VS CHRISTOS GIAGOS (19-8)
Tsarukyan is the biggest favorite on the card. The question is whether Giagos survives and makes the final bell. Round one should be fun, but Tsarukyan should take over and cruise to a clear decision.
Prediction: Arman Tsarukyan
BANTAMWEIGHT (135 LBS): NATE MANESS (13-1) VS TONY GRAVELY (21-6)
Although Gravely isn’t a 2:1 favorite in my book, he should be able to get the nod in this one. Gravely has landed three or more takedowns in each of his UFC fights, and we should see more of this against Maness as well as Gravely grinds out another win.
Prediction: Tony Gravely
MIDDLEWEIGHT (185 LBS): JOAQUIN BUCKLEY (12-4) VS ANTONIO ARROYO (9-4)
If Buckley executes some takedowns, this is his fight. His chin is suspect, and as long as he can avoid getting caught, his cardio and explosive offense should give him the edge.
Prediction: Joaquin Buckley
PRELIM HOT TAKES, PREDICTIONS & BETS
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT (205 LBS): MIKE RODRIGUEZ (11-6) VS TAFON NCUKWI (5-1)
Ncukwi gets back on track here and possibly with a KO finish. This move back up to light heavyweight is a good move for him. Both guys have high finish and knockdown rates, and I don’t hate the price on the under, but ultimately, I side with the more consistent fighter, Ncukwi. Ncukwi is very durable, so let's couple that with the fact that Rodriguez is just 2-5 in fights past the first round.
Prediction: Tafon Ncukwi
Bet: Tafon Ncukwi -125
WOMEN’S BANTAMWEIGHT (135 LBS): #12 PANNIE KIANZAD (15-5) VS RAQUEL PENNINGTON (11-8)
Although just 11-8, while in the UFC, Pennington has only lost to former or current champs. If anyone could snap that trend, it could be Kianzad, but Pennington is solid in there with making adjustments when needed. Kianzad will overwhelm her on the feet, so watch for some takedowns and top control attempts from the always game and very durable Raquel Pennington.
Prediction: Raquel Pennington
LIGHTWEIGHT (155 LBS): ZHU RONG (17-4) VS BRANDON JENKINS (15-7)
Is Rong the wrong favorite here? He lost his UFC debut and got peppered with strikes, absorbing over six significant strikes per minute. Jenkins makes his UFC debut but has some time in PFL and LFA and has put together an 87% finish rate along the way. This fight is just an odd price putting Jenkins, a very durable fighter, as a wide dog.
Prediction: Brandon Jenkins
Bet: Jenkins +240
BANTAMWEIGHT (135 LBS): MONTEL JACKSON (10-2) VS JP BUYS (9-3)
Buys will look to lean on his wrestling, but Jackson should be able to fend and show his speed and sheer advantage on the feet in this one.
Prediction: Montel Jackson
WOMEN’S FLYWEIGHT (125 LBS): ERIN BLANCHFIELD (6-1) VS SARAH ALPAR (9-5)
Blanchfield should cruise here. I am not invested.
Prediction: Erin Blanchfield
WELTERWEIGHT (170 LBS): IMPA KASANGANAY (9-1) VS CARLSTON HARRIS (16-4)
This is a very close fight. Impa comes in as the very slim favorite, but I’d suspect the line flips by fight time. Harris should be a very popular dog play, as he’s much more experienced and has just four losses, with two of them via very close split decisions, but more importantly, he will probably have speed and technique advantage. Harris cruised in his UFC debut back in May in a fight we cashed.
Prediction: Carlston Harris
Bet: Harris +110
BANTAMWEIGHT (135 LBS): GUSTAVO LOPEZ (12-6) VS HEILI ALATENG (14-8-1)
Another close fight to call, and Alateng will have the edge with the grappling, which should come into play in this one. If Lopez can get this one down at some point, watch for some submission attempts that could prove costly for the Mongolian Knight.
Prediction: Gustavo Lopez
WOMEN’S FLYWEIGHT (125 LBS): EMILY WHITMIRE (4-4) VS HANNAH GOLDY (5-2)
Whitmire is back after a little over a year away and comes in with her back against the wall after dropping her last two. Goldy is also in a tough spot after dropping her last two fights. Both fighters have very little defense on their feet. Goldy probably has the better movement and superior striking. Whitmire has only lost via submission in her career, and Goldy has never attempted one. If Goldy can avoid the takedowns and control, her volume on the feet, even if it’s a mess, should get her at least two rounds in the eyes of the judges.
Prediction: Hannah Goldy
UFC PREDICTION & BET SUMMARY
2021 predictions: 185-131-6 (59%)
2021 wagers: 97-85-2 (53%)
Predictions: 566-330-17 (63%)
Wagers: 307-172-8 (64%)
MMA DFS Charts
Offensive output meter
- Fighters that typically press the action, land takedowns, and/or high finish rates matched up against those that get finished, roster. (see my charts above)
- Fights projected to NOT go to a decision
- Smith/Spann -290
- Cutelaba/Clark -215
- Buckley/Arroyo -380
- Rodriguez/Nchukwi -175
- Jenkins/Rong -175
- Buys/Jackson -196
- For the main event, I like Smith. Both are live in round one, but Smith should take over, and if he can finish this one, he should easily hit value. Spann is worth a crack if you build multiple lineups.
- Top Tier fighters to build around include: Cutelaba, Jackson, Smith
- Mid Tier fighter considerations are: Nchukwi
- Live Dogs that could score: Harris, Lopez, Jenkins, Goldy, Spann
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