After a week off that seemed like an eternity, the UFC gets right back to its regular scheduled programming Saturday's card headlined by #5 Jose Aldo vs #4 Rob Font.
The card is loaded with 15 fights, with a handful hovering around pick em’ odds. Matchmakers have done us a solid BY booking several matchups which oddsmakers have projected to finish inside the distance. The prelims start at 7 p.m. ET and will be followed by the main card at 10 p.m. ET.
You know the drill, let’s dive in.
DATE: Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021
VENUE: UFC APEX
LOCATION: Las Vegas, Nevada
THE MAIN CARD
This is what I’m talkin’ about. I love the old school, tightly ranked matchups that lead to title contention. I’m not about the cherry picking and turning down fights that we’ve seen some faces make as of late, which also came highly recommended by recently cut fighter Kevin Lee. Rob Font and Jose Aldo are about to find out who’s best at the moment and the winner will truly in the mix for title challenger talks.
We all know Aldo is a legend. We even saw fellow fighter on this week’s card, Louis Smolka, jump at an opportunity to get a picture with him this week. Over the years, it wasn’t about if Aldo would win, it was how will he win. He started his career 25-1 and at one point had 18 wins in a row. He was untouchable. Then, he ran into some dude named Conor McGregor and was clipped 13 seconds into the fight and the win streak was halted. He went on to bounce back against Frankie Edgar, but with the McGregor loss, he went on a 3-6 run, but against the likes of Max Holloway, Alexander Volkanovski, and Petr Yan, all former or current title holders. He was in the crossroads, really in a spot of determining what the next chapter would be. As we saw, he got back to the grind and rattled off two straight wins over the last year.
Font has earned a ton of respect and has looked better with each fight. He’s now won four straight, with his most recent win against former champ Cody Garbrant in a fairly one-sided fight. His boxing ability is his go-to, and he’s known for peppering jabs while loading up power shots that follow close behind. He’s 9-3 in the UFC, with his three losses coming against guys that can match his volume and technique. This is where I believe stylistically, the former champ Jose Aldo has a shot.
Aldo can stand with them all. It's no secret that we are wondering and waiting for him to get back to his old ways with those nasty leg kicks, where in the past he would chop his opponents down to the point where things just weren’t fair. We saw shades of the old Aldo back last August against Pedro Munhoz (who beat Font) in his last fight, where he landed 114 significant strikes across three rounds, including 70% accuracy in round three. If we see this version of Aldo again Saturday night against a very tough Font, this could be a pick em' fight. It's crazy to think Font is 34, Aldo is 35. Roughly 10-11 years ago, Font was delivering pizzas, while Aldo was running through the likes of Cub Swanson, Mike Brown, and Urijah Faber in the WEC. This is going to be a heck of a scrap. Give me anything close to +135 or better on Aldo and I’m biting.
Prediction: Jose Aldo
Bet: Aldo +135
Two of the best strikers in the division. Both know each other with time spent at the Tiger Muay Thai gym. These two will both stand and trade for the majority of this fight. Fiziev is a little more wild, while Riddell keeps things tight and is the more technical of the two. Riddell has a ton of experience on Fiziev when you couple in his kickboxing background. Before transitioning to MMA, Riddell produced a successful kickboxing record, going 59-10. Looking at this matchup, Fiziev lands more per minute but that comes with the amount he absorbs along the way. He actually gets hit more than he lands, which leads to a negative striking differential for him. On the other side, Riddell shows more of a defensive approach while moving forward looking to pounce.
If Fiziev can successfully implement some takedowns, he’s in this fight. But if these two just go ham on the feet, I gotta side with Riddell.
Another great spot on an underdog, in my opinion.
Prediction: Brad Riddell
Bet: Riddell +110
Guida, the 56-fight vet, takes on a very dangerous yet less active fighter Leonardo Santos in a very intriguing matchup.
Santos is mysterious. He’s 41, and is coming off a KO loss to Grant Dawson last March, which snapped a 12-fight win streak. He looked slower and more gassed in that fight than I expected. It makes me wonder how his cardio will fair against Guida. Guida has tons of experience and a gas tank for days. The guy is just constant pressure and actually has improved his stand up. He’s a takedown machine and although Santos has good defense, you’d have to think Guida can get him down here.
Santos has an out if he can lock in a submission in one of these scrambles, as Guida has been susceptible to getting stuck in chokes, which is Santos’ go-to. But Guida’s volume trumps Santos here, which can win him rounds. Guida’s been heavily involved with his outdoors/fishing business as of late, and I’m wondering how much that has pulled from his preparation here. Guida could take it if it goes to the cards, but with 15 minutes to work, I could see Santos dropping Guida and closing in for a choke.
Prediction: Leonardo Santos
Bet: Santos -190 (look via SUB +500)
I’ll be surprised if this one makes the final bell.
Crute and Hill look to bounce back after both suffering losses where their limbs were literally compromised. Crute took some nasty leg kicks from Anthony Smith to the point where the doctor had to step in as nerve damage kept Crute from literally standing on it. Hill is back after a nasty elbow dislocation after getting caught in a submission position from the always dangerous Paul Craig.
Crute is a black belt and more of a grappler. He’s 12-2 overall and 4-2 during his UFC run. He’s only had one fight go beyond the first round in the UFC, and he’s a fast starter and willing to get into predicaments to go for finishes of his own.
Hill is coming in after that dislocation and has had a pretty rough camp in preparation for this fight. He had a pretty bad foot injury where his pinky toe needed some stitches. Aside from the injuries, Hill has also handled three deaths of those close to him. Although that is a lot coming into a fight, I can see Hill turning this into added motivation to get this done. He wants that Craig fight back pretty bad, and think of the statement it makes to beat the guy that submitted Craig himself here in Crute.
Hill’s loss to Craig was largely due to Hill inviting himself into Craig’s world on the mat, more than once. I just don’t see him making that same mistake in his very next fight against another dangerous submission guy in Crute.
Prediction: Jamahal Hill
Bet: Hill +150
We called the Curtis win in his short notice debut against Phil Hawes last month. The guy is built for this. He lives combat sports and would fight nightly if allowed. With his impressive UFC debut and making quick work avoiding injuries, he is stepping up against to fight Brendan Allen, who’s original opponent, Brad Tavares, withdrew.
Allen is 5-1 in the UFC, only losing to Sean Strickland, while beating some tough guys along the way in Punahele Soriano, Kyle Daukaus, Tom Breese, and Kevin Holland, to name a few. Curtis stays at 185 for this one after typically fighting at 170. Allen will be the bigger of the two and although Curtis is durable, he’s going to be taking some shots from Allen here. Allen has skill from the outside while also is known for some dirty boxing in the clinch. I can’t get sucked into the recency bias quite yet with Curtis, although I’m a fan. He’s definitely a live dog, but I’m siding with Allen.
Prediction: Brendan Allen
Morono has been busy as of late, making this his third fight in the last seven months. He finished Cowboy Cerrone back in May, and followed that up with a clear decision win over David Zawada in September. Here he takes on Mickey Gall, who is fresh off a dominant submission win over Jordan Williams. Gall has alternated wins and losses in his last seven fights, going 4-3 since 2016 and the CM Punk spectacle.
Gall is tough with some solid submissions. He’s a very good one -ound fighter, but anything after five minutes is mysterious. He’s 1-2 in fights that go to a decision, and 2-3 beyond round one. Gall definitely slows the longer the fight goes and that could be problematic here against Morono. Morono is very durable and his cardio is proven, having an average fight time beyond 10 minutes. He’s never been submitted, but that was the case for Jordan Williams too in Gall’s last fight where he chocked him out in one round. The line here is pretty disrespectful on Gall, but I see Morono weathering the early onslaught and securing the win by decision or TKO on a gassed Gall.
Prediction: Alex Morono
BRYAN BARBERENA defeats DARIAN WEEKS
DUSKO TODOROVIC defeats MAKI PITOLO
JEREMIAH WELLS defeats JAKE MATTHEWS
MANEL KAPE defeats ZHALGAS ZHUMAGULOV
CHEYANNE VLISMAS defeats MALLORY MARTIN
ALONZO MENIFIELD defeats WILLIAM KNIGHT
CHRIS GRUETZEMACHER defeats CLAUDIO PUELLES
AZAMAT MURZAKANOV defeats JARED VANDERAA
LOUIS SMOLKA defeats VINCE MORALES
Santos -190 (look via SUB +500)
Kape -225 (look via DEC +130)
2021 predictions: 270-166-8 (62%)
2021 wagers: 148-121-1 (55%)
Overall record on SI:
Predictions: 651-365-19 (64%)
Wagers: 358-208-9 (63%)
Good luck everyone and I hope to see some of you cashing after Saturday night! Follow me on Twitter @Y2CASEY.
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