Will Dean and Kieran Cobley take a look at the action at UFC 255 with five best bets for the action on Saturday, including Deivson Figueirdo v Alex Perez.
For details of advised bookmakers and each-way terms, visit our transparent tipping record
- By Kieran Cobley
Stick with the champions
It will be the flyweight divisions that will be garnering all the attention at UFC 255 on Saturday night, as both Deivson Figueirdo and Valentina Shevchenko look to defend their flyweight titles.
The undercard looks to have some cracking fights too, including a rematch between Paul Craig and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.
I’m predicting that both flyweight champions will walk out with their titles on Saturday night.
First, let’s look at Figueirdo.
The Brazilian is on a hot streak at the minute, with two submission wins and a KO win in his last three fights, with all three of those stoppages coming within the first two rounds.
Outside of the cage, Figueirdo has been acting as a champion should as well, re-investing his earnings in himself by working with a dietician to help manage his weight cuts. On Monday, he told ESPN journalist Brett Okamoto that he was coming into fight week at 136lbs, meaning he only had to cut 11lbs through the week, as opposed to coming into fight week at around 143lbs like he would normally.
An easier weight cut should mean we see an even better performance from the Brazilian, who already possesses brutal knockout power and fantastic grappling skills.
Alex Perez, his opponent, will be taking on a big step up in terms of opposition, and in my eyes, he isn’t ready to make that jump yet.
At 2/5, there is not much value in backing this as a single, so it is best to combine with a Valentina Shevchenko knockout win for better odds.
Speaking of fighters that don’t have much value in betting on as a single, Valentina Shevchenko is a 1/14 or 1/18 favourite, depending on who your bookie is, and is 1/7 to win by KO/TKO or decision.
She will look to defend her title against Jennifer Maia, a well versed Brazilian Jiu Jitsu expert, but the Brazilian won’t give her any problems.
Shevchenko possesses world champion-level Muay Thai skills, and for Maia to have any chance of winning, she needs to secure a takedown, which means venturing into Bullet’s striking range and risking being clipped.
For this fight, look for Shevchenko to control the centre of the cage, while using her punches to set up her high roundhouse kick that will put Maia to sleep if it connects.
Back on the Bearjew
Paul Craig’s rematch with Mauricio “Shogun” Rua is a fight I have been desperate to see since the first fight between the pair, and one that should have happened earlier this year.
The pair’s first bout was a thrilling back and forth war, and I can very well see that happening again this time round, but with Craig coming out on top.
The scary Scotsman posses incredible grappling ability, with 12 of his 13 wins coming by way of submission, while he has only gone to a decision once in his career, which was the draw with “Shogun”.
Craig will have to watch out for Rua’s striking in this contest, and be very wary of the Brazilian’s clinch game, but if he can get the fight to the mat, he should be able to secure a submission win.
I am tipping the fight as a double chance bet though, given the fact that Rua has took four out of his last seven fights to the distance, showing his incredible durability, but if Craig holds top position in the ground exchanges, he will win it on the judges’ scorecards.
- By Will Dean
One and done for Cosce
The first fight of the night features two UFC debutants, both with seven professional bouts on their records. Louis Cosce was a recent graduate of Dana White’s Contender Series, whilst Sasha Palatnikov plied his trade on the Asian regional scene.
An immediate point of interest to this bout is the record of Cosce, who has seven straight first-round stoppage victories to his name. Whilst this is usually an indication of weaker opposition, it is clear to see that The Monster has adopted a fast and hard-hitting approach to his fighting style. This was the case in his most recent bout, where he secured a UFC contract in just 72 seconds, defeating an experienced veteran as the betting underdog.
In a recent interview, Cosce claimed that four fighters on the current UFC roster declined the opportunity to face him at this event, and that Palatnikov was signed specifically as a result.
Fighting out of Hong Kong, Palatnikov is a well-rounded competitor that seems to favour his grappling. Whilst his striking is by no means terrible, he does not react well to getting hit and I fully expect him to look for takedown opportunities as soon as he feels the power of Cosce. Things will certainly get interesting if the Chinese fighter can survive the first round, but it will be a very long five minutes for him.
Cosce is a massive favourite for a reason in this bout but I’m hesitant to trust an untested debutant at such a price. I do however believe you can rely on him to start this fight with a ridiculous pace, where he will look for the stoppage victory as quickly as possible. Considering The Monster’s most likely path to victory is a first round stoppage, I think the current odds offer tremendous value for that happening.
Best bet: Louis Cosce to win in round 1 at 15/8
Stoltzfus to stay safe
The second bout of the night between Kyle Daukaus and Dustin Stoltzfus should be a grappler’s delight, as both men have impressive skills on the mat.
We last saw Daukaus in June, where he put on a spirited display against Brendan Allen, who is a high-level grappler in his own right. In between the sweeps, reversals and transitions that ebbed and flowed throughout the bout, Allen was able to spend more time on top and land effective strikes once he had established position, which ultimately won him the fight.
Whilst I was impressed with Daukaus’ grit and durability in that bout, I feel he is being overvalued as a result. He may have better Jiu-Jitsu than Stoltzfus, but his willingness to accept the bottom position could be his undoing on Saturday night.
I think Stoltzfus may be the better wrestler of the two, and I fancy him to be the one to end up on top when the fight initially hits the mat. Daukaus will threaten with submissions and look to sweep his opponent, but he will only have a limited window to do this.
For all its unpredictability, MMA judging is consistent in its favouritism towards the fighter in the dominant position. Whilst Daukaus may be the active fighter on the mat, the fact that judges can see 3+ minutes of top control time for Stoltzfus may convince them to award him the round.
As previously stated, I am aware of the dangers that Daukaus possesses with his Jiu-Jitsu ability, and this tip is by no means a certainty. With that being said, I think Stoltzfus can make a strong case for winning rounds in this bout if he can find himself on top and stay as composed and cautious, as he often is. At 11/2, I think there is some serious value for an upset on the scorecards.
Sisters in arms
The sister of the reigning Women’s Flyweight champion and Co-Main Event headliner, Antonina Shevchenko will be looking to build momentum for her family with a win over Ariane Lipski in the preliminaries.
The Kickboxing and Muay Thai credentials of the Shevchenko sisters is well documented, but Antonina’s record is actually more impressive than her younger sister’s. With 39 wins and one loss across 14 years of combat, she is a true veteran of Martial Arts.
Unfortunately for Shevchenko, her transition to MMA has been hindered by competent grapplers. She is 2-2 in her four UFC bouts and was comfortably controlled on the mat by both opponents. Whilst this is a known weakness of La Pantera, I am not convinced it is something she will have to worry about against Lipski, who has attempted just one takedown across four UFC bouts.
Lipski came into the UFC with a lot of potential, but has struggled to live up to the expectations. A former Flyweight champion with KSW (a respected Polish MMA promotion), she earned the nickname The Queen of Violence for her ability to win hard fought bouts, including eight victories by stoppage.
Since joining the UFC however, she has suffered from the step-up in competition. Her striking output has not rivalled her opponents’, which has caused her to fall behind and lose decisions in fights.
I expect the same fate on Saturday night, as Shevchenko is possibly the best striker she will have faced so far in her career. La Pantera’s striking is more diverse and effective at different ranges, and her southpaw stance should give the Brazilian problems.
Despite her dominant records across the different combat sports, Shevchenko only has nine stoppage victories from 50 bouts. Combine this with the fact that Lipski is incredibly tough, and it is fair to assume that this fight will go the distance, where I expect Shevchenko’s arm to be raised.
Odds correct at 1000 GMT (19/11/20)
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