UFC Fight Night: Imavov vs. Gastelum Odds, Predictions, and Free Picks
Updated Record: 59% (+22.53 Units)
Aaannnnnnd we’re back.
It’s felt like ages since we last got to dive into a UFC card, and the time over the break was well spent refining some things in anticipation of a monster 2023.
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Now that that's out of the way, let’s jump into the first card of the year
Location: UFC Apex, Las Vegas, NV
Prelims: 4:00 PM EST - ESPN+
Main Card: 7:00 PM EST - ESPN+
Enough with the clerical already, let’s jump into the spots I’m on for Saturday.
Isaac Dulgarian vs. Daniel Argueta
Our first bet of 2023 is on a guy making his UFC debut, but one I expect to be a loud one. Through nine amateur and professional fights, Dulgarian has yet to allow one to leave the first round, showing a mix of prowess both in stand-up and on the ground.
His level of competition has improved in each of his five professional fights as well, most recently beating a fighter in June with a professional record of 7-2.
In his first UFC fight, Dulgarian is drawing Daniel Argueta, a guy who has now lost twice in the only two real tests of his career. Making his UFC debut in June, Argueta lost a unanimous decision to 34-year-old Damon Jackson, matching in strikes but getting rag-dolled on the ground for 80% of the fight.
I’m keeping the units small since this is a legit step up for Dulgarian, but I think he has a real shot of ending this one rather quickly.
Pick: Isaac Dulgarian (+168 at FanDuel Sportsbook) to risk 1.68 units
Allan Nascimento vs. Carlos Hernandez
Two guys with a combined three fights inside of the UFC will step back into the octagon Saturday, as the two DWCS alums are still looking to make a name for themselves in the big leagues.
For Nascimento, the odds movement was sharp out of the gates, but interestingly, the total rounds market has stayed fairly stagnant, not really reflecting how heavy of a favorite he has become.
A closer look shows exactly why that may be. In his last 10 professional fights, eight have gone to the judge’s scorecard, with three of his last six being split decisions.
Hernandez’s track record reads similarly, with his past three straight (his first three with high-level promotions) all going the distance. In a fight I have much closer to even than the odds now suggest, I expect a ground-and-pound type fight that runs a lot of clock and takes this to the final bell.
Pick: Over 2.5 Rounds (-175 BetOnline.ag) to risk 3 units
Claudio Ribeiro vs. Abdul Razak Alhassan
We’re jumping on our first age factor angle of the year, taking a guy I’ve had my eye on for a while and one I have big expectations for. Since a 2019 loss, Ribeiro has rattled off six straight wins, all finishes, five of which have come in the very first round.
His first-round win over Ivan Valenzuela in this past season’s DWCS was finally enough for the UFC brass to give him a shot.
As they often like to do with guys they see with futures here, they’ve given him a punching bag in 37-year-old journeyman Abdul Razak Alhassan for his debut. Coming into Saturday, Alhassan has lost four of his last five fights, with just one win in the octagon since 2018.
I think Ribiero takes this one with relative ease, and the only thing holding me back from a four-unit play is his debut on this stage.
Pick: Claudio Ribiero (-104 at FanDuel Sportsbook) to risk 2.08 units
Punahele Soriano vs. Roman Kopylov
A pair of 9-2 fighters square off in this one, both of whom are still looking for their first marquee UFC win to this point. For Kopylov, a two-fight losing streak was stopped in September, beating Alessio Di Chirico in the third round via KO/TKO for his first under the banner.
A closer look shows, however, the win came against one of the worst fighters in the UFC in recent memory, with Di Chirico having lost now seven of nine with the company.
Soriano also stopped a two-fight slide his last time out, although his two losses, both via decision, came against two certified-killers in Brendan Allen and Nick Maximov (split).
With near-equal professional fights as well as 3+ fights each in the UFC, I’m also putting weight on these two’s fight metrics. Coming into this fight, Soriano holds large edges in both knockdown average (+71%), as well as takedown average (+176%) and takedown accuracy (+73%).
With more paths to victory and the more established path up to this point, I love the value Soriano presents at this number.
Pick: Punahele Soriano (-155 at DraftKings Sportsbook) to risk 3.1 units
Nassourdine Imavov vs. Kelvin Gastelum
As I sit here Sunday afternoon, six days out from this card, Imavov has ticked up slightly from his opener of -200; and I think we see it continue in that direction throughout the week.
Originally scheduled for UFC 273 last April, visa issues for Imavov pushed this fight out until now. As a result (in part), it’s been 16 months since we last saw Gastelum inside of an octagon, an April 2021 loss to Jared Cannonier and his fifth defeat in his last six attempts.
The slide started with an April 2019 title fight loss to Israel Adesanya, likely the peak of Gastelum’s career despite being just 31 years old as of Saturday. Joining the UFC via the Ultimate Fighter in 2013, Gastelum has wins over the likes of Uriah Hall, Tim Kennedy, and Michael Bisbing; but I believe his best days are well behind him.
It doesn’t help that he draws a savage in his return fight, as “The Sniper” Imavov comes in having won four of his first five fights with the UFC, most recently dominating Joaquin Buckley in September. The metrics also heavily favor Imavov, who comes in with advantages in both significant striking and submission averages (+2000%).
Having fought three times (all wins) since Gastelum last taped them up, I think we see a statement win here from Imavov as he puts himself firmly in the top 10 in the process.
Pick: Nassourdine Imavov (-210 at DraftKings Sportsbook) to risk 2.1 units
BMP of the Week (Beer Money Parlay)
Isaac Dulgarian + Raoni Barcelos + Raquel Pennington + Dan Ige (+5097 at DraftKings Sportsbook)
Isaac Dulgarian (+168 at FanDuel Sportsbook) to risk 1.68 unit
Nascimento/Hernandez Over 2.5 Rounds (-175 BetOnline.ag) to risk 3 units
Claudio Ribiero (-104 at FanDuel Sportsbook) to risk 2.08 units
Punahele Soriano (-155 at DraftKings Sportsbook) to risk 3.1 units
Nassourdine Imavov (-210 at DraftKings Sportsbook) to risk 2.1 units
Full Card Picks w/ Confidence Levels
Full Card w/ Modeled Odds
Full Card All Dashboards
*All odds as of the day of posting.
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