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UFC Fight Night: Gane vs. Volkov
#UFCVegas30 MMA Betting Preview
On a weekend filled with a plethora of fights across the MMA and boxing landscape, the UFC’s main event Saturday is set to deliver and will be one to talk about when it's all said and done. Top-ranked heavyweights #3 Cyril Gane and #5 Alexander Volkov face off in the five-round main event, looking to move into title talks with a solid performance. Twelve fights precede the headliner, with the large majority oddsmakers have favored finishing inside the distance. This makes for an exciting card by night’s end. Speaking of night’s end, this one will wrap much earlier than normal, as the card kicks off with an earlier start time this week, with the prelims firing up at 1 p.m. ET, followed by the main card at 4 p.m. ET. The entire card will be live and available on ESPN+.
- DATE: SATURDAY 06/26/21
- BROADCAST: ESPN+
- VENUE: UFC APEX
- LOCATION: Las Vegas, Nevada
- # of MATCHES: 13
MAIN CARD TAKES, PREDICTIONS & BETS
HEAVYWEIGHT (265 LBS): #3 CIRYL GANE (8-0) VS. #5 ALEXANDER VOLKOV (15-3)
This should be a great main event featuring two top-10 heavyweights. The winner will earn a leg-up in title talks with an impressive victory. Gane has yet to lose, and though still early in his professional career, he has visibly continued to improve against some of the world’s best. Gane is fresh off a decisive win against the ever-dangerous Jairzinho Rozenstruik, where he swept five rounds, outlanding the striker 102-42. Gane has very good movement, where he will land counters while keeping range, not forcing the fight. His ability to avoid shots coming his way has him absorbing less than two strikes per minute on average, which is outstanding considering his string of opponents being typically stand-up strikers. Now he faces another one here in Alexander Volkov. Volkov has won two straight since his loss to Curtis Blaydes about a year ago, in a fight where he was taken down 14 times. Immediately following that loss, he got right back to work and finished Walt Harris inside of two rounds and followed that up with another KO finish of Alistair Overeem back in February, which actually resulted in the release of the future Hall of Famer after one last run at the title falling short. I expect the two to trade on the feet out of the shoots and Gane’s ability to control the distance working towards his favor in this fight. Volkov will have to press, and at that point, Gane will need to go to work with the takedowns, which I believe he will eventually find success in landing. I'm not saying he goes crazy as Blaydes did, but I could see one or two, which would be enough to make the rounds the takedowns are present in. This will be critical in this matchup, as Volkov will press the pace and pressure Gane more than any other opponent has done so far. Volkov has also packed on some added weight as of late, as we've seen. A fighter that used to come in around the 240-mark has come in just about at the limit in his last two bouts, with both resulting in TKO wins. This fight will be a close one, and although Volkov has much more experience, I see Gane doing just enough to stay undefeated by night’s end.
Prediction: Ciryl Gane
HEAVYWEIGHT (265 LBS): TANNER BOSER (19-8-1) VS. OVINCE SAINT PREUX (25-15)
Boser pretty much went home and took a nap, and here he is right back at it, after a frustrating loss just a short couple weeks ago to Ilir Latifi on June 5th. Boser outlanded Latifi 45-10 in that fight, though two Latifi takedowns appeared to sway the judges. A motivated Boser has been vocal and eager to get back into the win column as soon as possible, and getting the call on short notice is OSP, who moves up to heavyweight yet again, to take a stab with the big guys. His last attempt was against Ben Rothwell, and though unsuccessful, he had his moments. Boser will be a much smaller heavyweight opponent for OSP, though he will be much busier on the feet and always has a ton of damaging leg kicks which will keep OSP looking to stay outside. For the heavyweight division, Boser doesn’t have much power, and is a guy that wins his fights by staying busy. OSP is very selective and leverages his reach advantage, and will show some urgency if behind in fights at any moment. Though only 3-5 since 2018, OSP can finish with strikes or on the mat via his submission game, but Boser is a tough out, only being finished once across 28 fights.
Prediction: Tanner Boser
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT (205 LBS): KENNEDY NZECHUKWU (8-1) VS. DANILO MARQUES (11-2)
Some big light heavyweights here in this spot, matched up in a very interesting fight. Marques has won his first two UFC fights since getting the call, and Nzechukwu got back on track after getting submitted in his UFC debut against Paul Craig, by winning his next two, including a clean knockout against Carlos Ulberg, handing the City Kickboxing stud the first loss of his career. You’d have to think after watching that tape, that Marques will look to follow the game plan of Paul Craig, and avoid the striking and let his BJJ go to work. I just don’t see Nzechukwu getting sucked into it again and rather avoiding the submission attempts and eventually catching Marques.
Prediction: Kennedy Nzechukwu
Bet: Nzechukwu -118
FEATHERWEIGHT (145 LBS): ANDRE FILI (21-8) VS. DANIEL PINEDA (27-14)
Pineda is another guy that goes out there looking for the finish, which opens himself up for getting finished himself. His style typically results in a gas tank that drains fairly quickly, and it's not often we see him take his fights to the final bell. In 43 fights, he’s only gone to a decision on five occasions, with the last coming in 2016. All five of those fights have resulted in decision losses. Pineda’s cardio typically lets his opponents back into the fight if he’s winning early, and against a guy like Fili, it won’t end well if this goes to the cards. Fili has to avoid the power during the early onslaught, and if taken down, he’s gotta work his way back up asap. Pineda has 27 wins and all are via finish, with 18 coming by way of submission. If Bryce Mitchell couldn’t submit Fili back last October, I’d be shocked if Pineda can. Give me Fili, staying composed and sticking to his corner’s gameplan.
Prediction: Andre Fili
WELTERWEIGHT (170 LBS): TIM MEANS (31-12-1) VS. NICOLAS DALBY (19-3-1)
This should be a banger. Tim Means is always in exciting fights, and actually is on a little run here after cruising in his last two fights against Laureano Staropoli and Mike Perry. In those fights, he outlined his opponents in five of the six rounds, while also keeping them guessing with an occasional takedown attempt. For Dalby, his record since returning to the UFC paints a much better picture than how he’s fought. He’s reflected as 2-0-1, though in the no contest, he was submitted by a +300 Jesse Ronson inside of one round, though Ronson later failed his drug test, reversing it to a NC. In his last fight, he was given the nod against Daniel Rodriguez, though Rodriguez outlanded Dalby in all three rounds, with total significant strikes at 83-50. In this matchup, watch for Dalby to attempt to stay outside, similar to Wonderboy Thompson, looking to mix in kicks, while keeping Means at bay. Means will utilize his boxing volume, with jabs along the way while he looks to close and land some muay thai knees and elbows. Although Means is technically orthodox, he switches his stance up quite a bit during his fights keeping his opponents guessing, and it's often we see him working southpaw. I expect to see more of this here against Dalby, a fighter who’s just 1-6 against lefties.
Prediction: Tim Means
LIGHTWEIGHT (155 LBS): RENATO MOICANO (14-4-1) VS. JAI HERBERT (10-2)
I’m not rushing to wager Moicano at this price. He’s lost three of his last four by knockout, and I'm not sure his chin is what it once was, unfortunately. Herbert can strike and has speed and power that can get through, if he doesn’t get caught first of course. Eight of his ten wins have come by way of knockout, and he’ll have to avoid the takedowns, which he probably will struggle in doing. Moicano has to get this one to the mat, in my opinion, and go to work with the submissions. I like the under in this fight.
Prediction: Renato Moicano
Bet: Moicano/Herbert UNDER 2.5 -148
PRELIMS TAKES, PREDICTIONS & BETS
BANTAMWEIGHT (135 LBS): RAONI BARCELOS (16-1) VS. TIMUR VALIEV (17-2)
This one you won’t want to miss. Two very underrated high-level fighters matched up where a win gives one of the two a good boost up in the rankings. Barcelos is 16-1 overall, and has gone 5-0 since entering the UFC, having really no issues along the way. Valiev is 1-0-1 under the banner, with a no-contest against Trevin Jones, though Valiev was originally TKO’d before the positive marijuana test for Jones. In this match up, I see Barcelos being the much more active striker on the feet, then eventually implementing some takedowns and having success. Valiev may have his moments, but the majority of the fight, I just see him on the defense in this case, while Barcelos controls the pace and where the fight takes place.
Prediction: Raoni Barcelos
Bet: Barcelos -220
WELTERWEIGHT (170 LBS): MICHEL PRAZERES (26-3) VS. SHAVKAT RAKHMONOV (13-0)
Tons of hype behind Rakhmonov. In his debut, he got scheduled out of the shoots with the dangerous Alex Oliveira, and ended up finishing him inside of one round, taking his record to 13-0. Up next here is Michel Prazeres, who is always 50/50 to make weight, and some suspect him of gaining an advantage, not pressing the weight cut on his end, and rather taking the percentage hit on his purse. Not assuming anything here, so let's assume no funny stuff occurs. Prazeres is very tenured, though making his return after a pretty long layoff, and isn’t getting any younger, not just a month from his 40th birthday. Rakhmonov is just a swiss army knife on the feet though. He’ll throw from all angles, mix in the kicks, and has very respectable takedown defense and great cardio to boot. Based on what I’ve seen from this young prospect, I can still support him, even against a sneaky tough, 26-3 vet. Who’s to say Rakhmonov doesn’t become the first to finish Prazeres by night’s end?
Prediction: Shavkat Rakhmonov
WELTERWEIGHT (170 LBS): WARLLEY ALVES (14-4) VS. JEREMIAH WELLS (8-2-1)
Wells comes in making his UFC debut on very short notice. Alves is always mysteries related to his preparedness for these bouts, but his last match he looked very invested and ready to go, and it paid off, with a TKO win over Mounir Lazzez, handing him just the second loss of his career. Wells does have some experience, also main-eventing some smaller shows, but he hasn’t been very active as of late. His last fight took place just short of two years ago, though he has won five of his last six, and last two via finish. Wells is a pretty athletic guy, and I suspect here in his debut he rushes to get off first, looking to take control of the fight catching Alves off guard. Wells has slowed later in some of his previous fights, and with the bright lights here and possible adrenaline dump, Alves and his experience should be very apparent. Alves is just so inconsistent to back here though, and I'm not trying to get caught speeding. I mean the guy has choked out Colby Covington, took Kamaru Usman to a decision, then turns around and gets finished himself by James Krause and Randy Brown.
Prediction: Warlley Alves
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT (205 LBS): MARCIN PRACHNIO (14-5) VS. IKE VILLANUEVA (18-11)
Striker vs striker matchup, though Ike is the better boxer in my opinion. Coupled with that will be the gas tank working in his favor, which could come into play late in this fight. It's tough to completely fade Prachnio though as shocked Khalil Rountree in his last fight, weathering an early storm and eventually winning the fight with an uptick in volume. Prachnio is the much more athletic of the two, and we could see him just outwork Villanueva while avoiding the big shots, but with 83% of his 18 wins coming by way of knockout, Villanueva is always live.
Prediction: Marcin Prachnio
Bet: Fight Doesn’t go to Decision: -187
WOMEN’S BANTAMWEIGHT (135 LBS): #15 JULIA AVILA (8-2) VS. JULIJA STOLIARENKO (9-4-1)
Crazy line on this one with Avila pushing -400 in some spots. Stoliarenko isn’t very technical on the feet, and typically throws some playground haymakers. This shouldn’t pose any issues for the much better striker Avila. Watch for Avila to land with some power, though Stoliarenko should be able to hang around.
Prediction: Julia Avila, probably by decision.
FEATHERWEIGHT (145 LBS): CHARLES ROSA (13-5) VS. JUSTIN JAYNES (16-7)
Although Rosa has only been finished on one occasion, I wouldn’t be surprised if this one hits the under rounds. Jaynes comes out guns blazing and really fights to get in and out of there as quickly as possible. Win or lose, Jaynes hasn’t gone to a decision in his last eight fights, and I suspect the trend continues here. Jaynes is a one round fighter from a cardio perspective, so if Rosa can weather the storm heading his way early, expect him to execute some takedowns, with a shot at securing a late submission.
Prediction: Charles Rosa
Bet: Rosa/Jaynes UNDER 2.5 rounds -125
LIGHTWEIGHT (155 LBS): YANCY MEDEIROS (15-7) VS. DAMIR HADZOVIC (13-6)
Potential pink slip-on deck for one of these two as both are coming in on consecutive losses. Hadzovic had dropped a hard fought decision to Christos Giagos, and followed that up with a 44 second submission loss to Renato Carneiro. Fortunately for him, he’s matched up against a striker here in Yancy Medeiros. Medeiros has dropped three straight, but against some guys who I’d consider a step up. Lando Vannata, Gregor Gillespie, and Cowboy Cerrone. Medeiros will have a decent sized reach advantage here, which will work great with his ability to control the distance. Hadzovic will be looking to counter punch, and with much less volume compared to Medeiros, he should struggle to score. Medeiros should land more along the way, while also staying busy mixing in some kicks. Medeiros switched things up this go around as well, training back home in Hawaii with the likes of Max Holloway and crew. I can’t trust either guy with my money, but I’ll side with Medeiros in getting the nod.
Prediction: Yancy Medeiros
- Nzechukwu -118
- Moicano/Herbert UNDER 2.5 -148
- Barcelos -220
- Prachnio/Villanueva Fight Doesn’t go to Decision: -187
- Rosa/Jaynes UNDER 2.5 rounds -125
- Barcelos/Rakhmonov -110
- Add Nzechukwu +245
- Add Alves +390
FULL CARD PREDICTIONS
- CIRYL GANE defeats ALEXANDER VOLKOV
- TANNER BOSER defeats OVINCE SAINT PREUX
- KENNEDY NZECHUKWU defeats. DANILO MARQUES
- ANDRE FILI defeats DANIEL PINEDA
- TIM MEANS defeats NICOLAS DALBY
- RENATO MOICANO defeats JAI HERBERT
- RAONI BARCELOS defeats TIMUR VALIEV
- SHAUKAT RAKHMONOV defeats MICHEL PRAZERES
- WARLEY ALVES defeats JEREMIAH WELLS
- MARCIN PRACHNIO defeats IKE VILLANUEVA
- JULIA AVILA defeats JULIJA STOLIARENKO
- CHARLES ROSA defeats JUSTIN JAYNES
- YANCY MEDEIROS defeats DAMIR HADZOVIC
UFC PREDICTION BET SUMMARY
- 2021 predictions: 129-99-4 (57%)
- 2021 wagers: 68-69-2 (49%)
Overall record on SI
- Predictions: 510-298-15 (63%)
- Wagers: 278-156-8 (64%)
DFS PLAYS & STRATEGIES
- Choose active fighters. Coupling an active fighter on his/her way to a unanimous decision will give you key points for your team. Just like any other DFS traditional sport, you want the active, offensive player that scores. Key metrics here are SLpM and TD AVG/15min.
- Play the heavyweights. The approximate overall finish rate in the UFC is 54%. Most weight divisions range from 40%-60%, while the heavyweights push a 75% finish rate. You will receive bonus points for finishes inside the distance.
- Try to always include the main event or title fights. Five round fights mean more time to rack up points if you pick the right fighter. In some cases, even if you have the loser, the points can be more than a three-round winner.
- Don’t get excited and rush a pick based on stats, consider sample size. Some fighters have limited fights compared to their opponents when looking at metrics. Stats could be exaggerated. Do your research. Watch for spots with debuting fighters as well. Always check the records of the opponents they faced on their way to the UFC. Always pull fight tape as well. You’d be surprised at what you will find.
- Review methods of victory. I supply the finish rates within this article, and as you dive in even more, you can compare method of victory to method of loss for the matchups. For example, you can find matchups where Fighter A has a high % of submission victories matched up with Fighter B, with a high % of submission losses.
As mentioned in the tip sheet above, here’s my MMA DFS Heat Chart for UFC Fight Night. As you can see, the chart is ranked based on fight finish odds. Fight finishes are where the points are in MMA DFS. Take a quick glance at the stack, and we will break down the individual matchups below.
Two key offensive metrics are strikes and takedowns. They get off on their opponents, watch your points rack up quickly. Here's my Offensive Output Meter for the card. With this chart, you can compare historical fighter averages in these two key metrics as I rank all fighters participating Saturday.
Below is the differential for strikes landed vs strikes absorbed per minute. Gane has a great differential, while Villanueva and Jaynes, not so much.
Here is the takedown average per 15 minutes along with opponents takedown defense percent. As you can see, Prazeres shoots for takedowns, though Rakhmonov has a 100% takedown defense to counter as an example.
UFC DFS RECOMMENDATIONS
- 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
- Gane/Volkov -125
- Boser/OSP -110
- Fili/Pineda -150
- Herbert/Moicano -190
- Marques/Nzechukwu -187
- Prazeres/Rakhmonov -150
- Wells/Alves -225
- Villanueva/Prachnio -187
- Rosa/Jaynes -150
- For the main event, although I side with Gane, Volkov at 7500 is worth a play if you are building multiple lineups.
- Top tier fighters to build around include: Rakhmonov, Alves
- Mid tier fighter considerations are: Barcelos, Gane,
- Live dogs that could score: Nzechukwu, Volkov
- Hail Marys include Herbert, Pineda, Villanueva
- Highly owned fighters will be Alves, Rakhmonov, Gane
Good luck, everyone. I hope to see some of you cashing after Saturday night! Follow me on Twitter @Y2CASEY