UFC Fight Night 73 features a light heavyweight battle between two Top 10 contenders with the winner putting his name in the mix for a title shot. Below are my studs and value plays for Saturday night’s match-ups:
Best Plays on the Card
Uriah Hall ($10,900) vs. Oluwale Bamgbose
Hall (11-5, 3-3 UFC) is only 3-3 in the UFC and still living off that highlight reel knockout he had on The Ultimate Fighter.
My problem with Hall is he fights too tentatively. He’s often looking for that one perfect shot instead of letting his hands go. His last fight against Rafael Natal is a perfect example. Hall lost a close decision in a fight he spent a lot of time circling around the octagon instead of being more aggressive.
Still, Hall had won three fights in a row up until that loss with two first-round knockouts. I think he’s getting a perfect opponent on Saturday night in Bamgbose (5-0, 0-0 UFC). Bamgbose took the fight on short notice and is making his UFC debut. He’s won all five of his fights by first-round knockout but he throws big, wild punches, which plays right into Hall’s strengths.
Hall is a disciplined counter-striker who gets frustrated when he faces another disciplined fighter that slows down the pace and makes him chase. That won’t be a problem with Bamgbose. As long as Hall doesn’t fall into the trap of looking for the perfect shot, he’ll have plenty of opportunities to knock Bamgbose out.
Jared Rosholt ($10,700) vs. Timothy Johnson
Maybe the most underrated fight on the card is this heavyweight battle between Rosholt (12-2, 4-1 UFC) and Johnson (9-1, 1-0 UFC). Rosholt is underrated because of his grinding style and Johnson will shoot up the rankings with a win Saturday.
Johnson was extremely impressive in his UFC debut; scoring a first-round knockout over Shamil Abdurakhimov. Johnson connected on 22 significant strikes before finishing off Abdurakhimov, earning him a Performance of the Night bonus.
Johnson has a strong wrestling background but Rosholt is one of the top grapplers in the heavyweight division. Rosholt also possesses good cardio for a heavyweight and has absorbed just 0.99 significant strikes per minute in his five UFC fights. That’s the lowest rate in the history of the company. He’s a well-rounded fighter.
Johnson is going to come at Rosholt strong in Round 1 and he certainly has the power to finish him. However, Rosholt is also a powerful striker and I think his defense is going to be the difference. If Johnson doesn’t catch Rosholt early, he’ll be in trouble.
Rosholt has a history of grinding out wins using his wrestling but I predict this one will end early because of Johnson’s aggressive style. Rosholt gets the finish.
Ray Borg ($11,300) vs. Geane Herrera
Borg (8-1, 2-1 UFC) is both a big betting favorite and he has one of the highest DraftKings salaries for this card. I think he wins this fight and could submit Herrera (8-0, 0-0 UFC). I just wish Borg was a more active striker for the price.
Herrera is making his UFC debut on short notice and Borg will represent by far his biggest test to date. Herrera has a lot of potential and he’s a fighter I’ll be on in the future. However, against Borg I see Herrera’s takedown defense and little time to prepare being his downfall.
Borg is only 22 but he’s already a Top 15 flyweight. After a split-decision loss to Dustin Ortiz in his UFC debut, Borg has submitted his last two opponents. Borg isn’t a strong striker but he’s extremely dangerous once he takes an opponent down.
Of their 16 combined wins, 11 have come by submission, so this fight is likely to take place on the ground. That may not seem like a great opportunity for a finish but I think Borg has a great chance to win this fight by submission.
I see Borg having the advantage on the ground, the edge in conditioning and he’s fought tougher competition. Herrera will be a great play in the future but Saturday night I’ll call for three straight submission wins for “The Tazmexican Devil.”
Best Value Plays for the Price
Ovince St. Preux ($9,500) vs. Glover Teixeira
I’ve been a Teixeira (22-4, 5-2 UFC) fan for years but I don’t like what I’ve seen from him in his last two fights. Granted, one of those two losses came against Jon Jones, who is on a completely different level, but Teixeira looks like he’s slowing down at the age of 35.
It’s one thing to get beat by Jones but I was surprised Teixeira was thoroughly dominated by Phil Davis as well. Davis is a great fighter but Teixeira is supposed to be a Top 5 light heavyweight in his own right and he was handled easily.
Teixeira was taken down 12 times in his last two fights against great wrestlers but he was also manhandled in the striking department. Teixeira was out-struck 187 to 62 against Davis and Jones.
It’s surprising for a fighter who has landed 86.2 percent of his significant strikes in UFC light-heavyweight competition to his opponent’s head. That’s the top rate among active fighters in the light heavyweight division.
St. Preux (18-6, 6-1 UFC) isn’t the wrestler Jones and Davis are but he’s athletic and has a 60.87 percent takedown accuracy. He also defends very well. St. Preux absorbs just 1.82 significant strikes per minute, which ranks third best in the division.
St. Preux has won 14 of his 18 fights by stoppage. I think his power, athleticism and defense is going to cause Teixeira problems. It’s hard to fathom but I like St. Preux to give Teixeira his third straight loss inside the Octagon.
Sam Alvey ($8,400) vs. Derek Brunson
I have to take a shot with Alvey (25-6, 3-1 UFC) at this price. Brunson (13-3, 4-1 UFC) is the more athletic, well-rounded fighter but with Alvey’s punching power, he’s worth rostering at this salary if you’re searching for a cheaper option to fill out your lineup.
Brunson is 4-1 in the UFC with his only loss coming to title contender Yoel Romero. Brunson is an excellent wrestler and while Alvey has a takedown defense of 71 percent, there’s a chance Brunson dominates this fight with his grappling.
However, Alvey has never been knocked out in 32 fights. He’s won his last three fights by first-round knockout and has 17 knockouts overall in his career. Alvey is the more active striker, so if he can stay off his back, he has a really good chance to win this fight. Staying off his back will be a problem though, so he’ll likely have to get to Brunson early and knock him out.
Brunson is a big favorite in this fight and he has one of the highest salaries on DraftKings. He’s supposed to win but I give Alvey a better than average chance to pull the upset, making his low salary and one-punch knockout power appealing to pair with some higher-priced fighters.