This Saturday we’ve got UFC Fight Night 185 from the UFC Apex Center in Vegas. The main event pits Curtis “Razor” Blaydes and someone I consider a friend (bias admission) fellow Houstonian Derrick “The Black Best” Lewis in a battle of huge human beings. Here you will find the plays you need to hit your double ups and find the green in your GPPs. I’ve broken each pick into three categories to make it easy for you. Here we go:
LEAD CINCH LOCKS
Curtis Blaydes – For the first time ever, I am writing up both sides of a fight. While I do list Derrick Lewis in the upsets section below, I admittedly do so out of sentimentality and the slim “punchers chance” he has. So, while my heart is with “The Black Beast” my head is with Blaydes and the far more likely outcome of a Curtis Blaydes victory. Outside of being stopped by Frances Ngannou (twice), Blaydes is perfect in the UFC. He’s the longer, more precise striker with a better gas tank than Lewis, and he should get the victory here.
Tom Aspinall – Aspinall is taking on the super veteran of the UFC’s heavyweight division, Andrei Arlovski. Many thought Arlovski was done when he went from June, 2018 to November, 2019 where he won only one of six fights. However, he is currently riding a two fight win streak at the ripe age of 42, but I think this is where reality smack the hell out of “The Pitbull”. Aspinall is a tangy striker whose crisp, straight punches has him riding a five fight KO streak. Arlovski’s chin has always been suspect, and Aspinall will check it in this fight.
Ketlen Vieira – Vieira is a stud. Do not let her recent knockout at the hands of Irene Aldana fool you: Vieira is a championship caliber fighter who can handle business wherever the fight goes. Outside of the aforementioned misstep against Aldana, she is 5-0 inside the UFC with wins over quality opponents such as Cat Zingsno and Sara McMann. Vieira will face Russian knockout (not knockout artist mind you, just a knockout) “Foxy” Yana Kunitskaya, who is probably equally as notorious for being brought in as the sacrificial lamb for Christine “Cyborg” Justino’s UFC debut as she is for her good looks. Either way, Kunitskaya is very overmatched here, and I look for Vieira to finish this fight quickly and violently.
SOLID BUT UNSPECTACULAR WINS
Serghei Spivac – Theres not much about Spivac that screams “UFC fighter”. He’s not built like an action figure, nor does he possess the gigantic size of his opponent “The Mountain”, Jared Vanderaa. However, what I’ve seen from Vanderaa is a slow, plodding monster who’s best bet is to smother opponents with his size. Spivac should be able to use his speed and creativity in the clinch to wear down “The Mountain” and snag the win.
Drako Rodriguez – Winner of tonight’s Best Nickname Award, “The Great Drakolini” is a slick submission artist who earned his ticket to the UFC via an impressive showing on The Contenders Series. In addition to his skills on the mat, Rodriguez has fast hands and is a plus athlete. Aiemann Zahabi is a game opponent, but has throughout his MMA career has consistently shown a penchant for getting over aggressive and getting himself in bad situations, and that’s what I see happening here.
UNDERDOGS AND CONTRARIAN UPSIDE
Chas Skelly – Skelly is one of the scrappiest fighters in the UFC roster, both inside and outside the cage. Injuries have limited him to just two fights in almost 4 years, but now he’s back and looks healed up and ready to roll. Skelly has decent power in his hands, and is terrific at using his scramble-based wrestling approach to keep his opponents on the defensive. Emmers is 1-1 in the UFC. He’s a solid wrestler, but is extremely hittable on the feet. I think that sets up well for Skelly to implement his usual gameplan and grind out a “W”.
Aleksei Oleinik – Oleinik’s opponent Chris Daukus has made waves in the heavyweight division by scoring first round knockouts in his first two UFC bouts. In my opinion, it’s these first two fights and the resultant money coming in on Daukus that has made him a -190 favorite, and I just do not get it. But it’s Oleinik’s experience and submission game that should make the difference here: Oleinik has 46 submissions on his record, which is nearly four times as many fights as Daukus has in his career. I don’t see Daukus being able to keep this upright, and that should result in a tap out win for “The Boa Constrictior”.
Derrick Lewis – I had to. I’ve already admitted my bias in the intro. I know Blaydes is a monster favorite. I understand nobody, including Vegas, is giving The Black Beast a snowballs chance in hell here, but the truth is this: Derrick can knockout any human walking this earth. Also, he’s one of the best in the world at carrying his power into the later rounds, even when he looks like he’s about to drop from exhaustion. It’s a long shot, but it’s worth a shot in my opinion.