In this gambling guide, I go through every fight on the UFC Vegas 21 card. I give my opinion on how each fight plays out and a best bet and value pick for each fight.
Jason Witt (+105) vs Matthew Semelsberger (-135)
Opening the card we have a clash between two hard-hitting welterweights. Both fighters have clear paths to victory. Witt will be looking to take the fight to the ground and control Semelsberger with his heavy top game. Semelsberger will need to maintain distance and land power shots and combinations on Witt while also defending the takedowns.
On the feet, I see a clear advantage for Semelsberger. Semelsberger has a lot of power and throws good combinations. I think that in this fight, Semelsberger’s strikes up the middle will be key to stopping Witt from closing the distance. Witt has shown that if he gets hit with big shots he can be put down. Evident in his UFC debut, Takashi Sato was able to finish him in less than a minute after landing a hard straight left hand.
Although Semelsberger will have an advantage in striking, Witt will have an advantage in wrestling. Witt is a very good wrestler with a heavy top game and has shown to have very heavy ground and pound when on top. I believe that Semelsberger will have a cardio advantage, but if Witt can successfully land a takedown he might be able to wear on Semelsberger and tire him out.
With both men having clear paths to victory, this fight could go either way. I’m going to side with Semelsberger, mainly because I really like his striking and I think that he will be the bigger fighter and can stuff early takedown attempts from Witt. Also, I don’t see Witt being able to handle Semelsberger’s power. I can see Semelsberger landing clean shots early and finishing Witt in the early stages of this fight.
Best Bet: Matthew Semelsberger (-135)
Value Pick: Semelsberger wins inside the distance (+250)
Gloria de Paula (-190) vs Jinh Yu Frey (+155)
We have a good matchup of strawweights in the second fight on the card. A very promising prospect Gloria de Paula looks to extend her win streak to three with a win over 35-year-old Jinh Yu Frey.
I absolutely love Gloria de Paula in this fight, I think that she has the advantage in every aspect of the fight. She has very good striking with a great clinch game. Her ground game is also very good, training out of Chute Boxe Dhiego Lima with fighters like Charles Oliveira, Thomas Almeida, and UFC Strawweight Mayra Bueno Silva.
Gloria is also the much bigger fighter in this matchup. Yu Frey is a more natural atomweight, but because the UFC has not added that weight class she is forced to compete at 115 pounds. This size discrepancy has been a problem for Yu Frey in her UFC career. Kay Hansen was able to overpower her on the ground in their fight and eventually would submit in the 3rd round.
I expect Gloria de Paula to win this fight with ease in all honesty. I don’t see what Jinh Yu Frey could do that would win her this fight, barring a crazy power shot. The odds on Gloria are juiced up to -190. But I have no issue playing her at those odds because I think there is still value on her.
Best Bet: Gloria de Paula -190
Value Pick: Gloria de Paula wins by decision +110
JJ Aldrich (-150) vs Courtney Casey (+120)
This fight should be a fun scrap. JJ Aldrich always brings the fight and is very fun to watch. She will be looking to rebound off a close split decision loss with a win over UFC veteran Courtney Casey.
I’m leaning JJ Aldrich in this fight. I like her boxing and her clinch work. She is a very tough fighter because of her forward pressure and pace. JJ Aldrich will need to close the distance on Casey to get into boxing range to land shots. I think she will be able to do so because of the lack of kicks from Casey, Aldrich should be able to walk into range. I also like that Aldrich can smother her opponents especially up against the cage.
If Casey were to have an advantage in this fight, I would expect it to be in the grappling. It will be interesting to see if and when she decides to take Aldrich down and how much success she will have there.
Although I’m slightly leaning towards Aldrich. I’m not very confident in it and will definitely be staying away from this fight as a whole.
Best Bet: JJ Aldrich -150
Value Pick: JJ Aldrich wins by decision +100
Nasrat Haqparast (-375) vs Rafa Garcia (+275)
UFC newcomer Rafa Garcia is taking a short notice opportunity against a very tough out in Nasrat Haqparast. Haqparast, coming in as one of the biggest favorites on the card. Although, I do not believe that this will be as easy as it seems.
Rafa Garcia is 12-0 going into his UFC debut. Garcia is much more of a wrestler, though he does have heavy hands on the feet. Garcia tends to throw 1 shot at a time, which I think could be a problem against someone as defensively sound as Haqparast. Garcia will be looking to apply a lot of forward pressure on Haqparast and will look to take the fight to the ground.
In Haqparast’s last fight he faced Alex Munoz. Munoz himself is a very good wrestler, being the wrestling coach at Team Alpha Male. Haqparast was able to defend Munoz’s takedown attempts at an 88% clip. I think that fight will help Haqparast a lot in this one because Munoz and Garcia have similar styles. Garcia also throws hard low kicks that I think he could benefit from throwing in this fight to limit Haqparast’s movement.
Garcia does present some problems for Haqparast. But I don’t think that they’re problems that Haqparast hasn’t already dealt with. I expect Haqparast to outland Garcia on the feet and defend his takedown attempts to earn a decision victory. However, I do not see much value in this fight because of how much juice is on Haqparast. I think the over might be the best play in this fight, but I will most likely be staying away from this one.
Best Bet: Fight goes to decision -110
Value Pick: Nasrat Haqparast by decision +165
Rani Yahya (-300) vs Ray Rodriguez (+240)
The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist Rani Yahya takes on Ray Rodriguez in what should be a fun, high pace matchup. I expect this fight to be competitive on the feet, but if Yahya can land a takedown especially in the early rounds, Rodriguez will be in deep trouble.
Yahya has been the better grappler in most of his UFC fights. But Yahya has had difficulties when fighting someone who has the ability to defend his takedowns and forces Yahya to strike with them. Another hurdle that Yahya runs into is his cardio. Yahya’s cardio tends to fade hard when he gets into the later rounds. That is where I see a pathway to victory for Rodriguez.
If Rodriguez can defend Yahya’s takedown and force Yahya to strike with them, I do believe Rodriguez will have success. Also if Rodriguez can drag this fight into the later rounds, I can see him controlling Yahya on the ground or in the clinch.
Considering that this fight will be very close, I don’t see much value in the fight on either side. However, I do see some value in the method of victory for each fighter. For Yahya, his most probable method of victory would be submission. Whereas for Rodriguez it would probably be by decision.
Best Bet: Over 1 ½ rounds -150
Value Pick: Ray Rodriguez +240
Charles Jourdain (-260) vs Marcelo Rojo (+210)
In this matchup, it seems that the UFC is trying to set up young prospect Charles Jourdain with an easier fight to get him back in the win column. I think that this fight could be challenging for Jourdain but he should be able to get the job done.
I do like some things that Rojo does, but in order for him to win this fight, I think he will need to have a more grapple heavy gameplan. Jourdain will have the advantage in the striking, although Rojo does have the power to hurt Jourdain. For Rojo to win he will need to grapple, but I don’t know if he can just win this fight by grappling Jourdain.
I’m going to stay away from this fight. Mainly because there are many unknowns from both fighters. This should be a fun one to watch, but I will not be playing anything in this fight.
Best Bet: Over 2 ½ rounds -110
Value Pick: Jourdain wins inside the distance +110
Angela Hill (-380) vs Ashley Yoder (+290)
Angela Hill is the biggest favorite on the card at -380. I think that these odds are validated. I don’t really see a pathway to victory for Yoder. This fight should be on the feet for the whole 15 minutes, but if Yoder can land a takedown this fight becomes a lot more competitive.
While this fight is standing, it will be completely controlled by Hill as she is the much better striker. Considering that Yoder’s only way to victory is to wrestle Hill, I don’t see that as a probable outcome. Yoder only has a 38% takedown accuracy rate, while Hill has a 77% takedown defense rat
I also see Hill having the cardio advantage. Although I see Hill winning this fight fairly easily, I don’t see much value on her at -380. I think that the approach to this fight would be to either bet Yoder or don’t bet on this fight at all.
Best Bet: Hill wins by decision -175
Value Pick: Ashley Yoder +290
Eryk Anders (+150) vs Darren Stewart (-185)
Opening the main card we have what should be a competitive fight with Eryk Anders taking on Darren Stewart. I’m pretty high on Stewart in this fight. I think that the two main factors that will lead to a victory for Stewart are his volume and his cardio advantage.
Stewart will have a large advantage in the striking, so I’m expecting Anders to shoot for takedowns often. I believe that Stewart is a good enough wrestler to defend Anders’ attempts and keep the fight standing. Anders has had problems in the past with cardio. I think this will play a big role in this fight, especially if Anders cannot find a takedown early.
The first round will be key for both fighters. Stewart will look to strike with Anders, but I can also see Stewart trying to clinch and wear on Anders to drain his gas tank. I expect Stewart to win a decision over Anders. I see Stewart just throwing more volume and possibly catching a winded Anders with a big shot in the later rounds. I do see value on Stewart at -185, and will most likely play him as a straight bet.
Best Bet: Darren Stewart -185
Value Pick: Stewart wins inside the distance +300
Manel Kape (-140) vs Matheus Nicolau (+115)
Matheus Nicolau makes his return to the UFC octagon in a fight that will not disappoint, against Manel Kape. Kape had a less than stellar UFC debut against Alexandre Pantoja in February. The main problem for Kape in his debut was his lack of volume on the feet.
Nicolau is a very tough matchup for Kape. Nicolau has very good boxing and throws good low kicks. If Kape has the same issue with output, I could see Nicolau outpointing him to a decision victory.
Although I like Nicolau’s boxing combinations, he does tend to exchange in the pocket with his opponents. This will not be a good decision against someone who has as much power as Kape. If Nicolau can draw out Kape’s attacks, I see him finding a lot of success countering Kape.
I like the value on Nicolau here at +115. I think Nicolau will win the exchanges on the feet and has the defensive wrestling to keep it there. My only work for Nicolau is if he is in the pocket for too long Kape has the power to hurt him. I expect Nicolau to win a decision, but if he can land his left hook he could finish Kape.
Best Bet: Matheus Nicolau +115
Value Pick: Nicolau wins by decision +250
Jonathan Martinez (-320) vs Davey Grant (+250)
This fight looks a lot like a Jonathan Martinez showcase fight. If the win over Thomas Almeida wasn’t enough. Martinez coming in as an over 3-1 favorite, which is telling on how this fight is going to look.
Martinez has very good striking with great kicks. Grant’s only path to victory will be to submit Martinez. But Martinez does have underrated takedown defense. My only concern for Martinez is actually the weight. Martinez has had trouble in the past making 135. His most recent fight was at 145 pounds.
If Martinez has his weight in check and looks good on the scales, I see no reason why he should lose this fight. Because of the line, I wouldn’t bet him straight up, but I will throw him in parlays with confidence.
Best Bet: Jonathan Martinez -320
Value Pick: Martinez wins inside the distance +175
Dan Ige (-150) vs Gavin Tucker (+125)
This fight looks like the favorite for FOTN. Tucker and Ige both have very similar skill sets. However, I do believe that Ige is slightly better everywhere.
Ige is the better striker in my opinion. Tucker has the better grappling, but I think that Ige’s defensive wrestling will keep this fight standing. I like Ige’s cardio in this fight, especially after the 5 rounder he had with Calvin Kattar. Tucker has shown that he can get rocked on the feet, as seen in his last fight with Justin Jaynes.
I expect Ige to win by a decision here. Ige will win the exchanges on the feet, and can possibly catch Tucker with a big shot. Ige’s takedown defense will be important in this fight, to keep it on the feet. This fight will be competitive so I’m not crazy confident, but I see Ige winning.
Best Bet: Dan Ige -150
Value Pick: Dan Ige wins inside the distance +350
Misha Cirkunov (-125) vs Ryan Spann (-105)
The Co-Main Event features two top fifteen light heavyweights in a fight that is guaranteed to not disappoint. This fight could go either way, but I’m expecting it not to go past the first round.
Although I like the under 1 ½ round in this fight, I also like Ryan Spann to win. I think that Spann poses many problems for Cirkunov. Spann has heavy hands but is also a good wrestler.
Cirkunov has shown that his chin is not the greatest, and if Spann can land a clean shot I see him putting Cirkunov down. If Cirkunov tries to shoot for a takedown, I believe that Spann has the wrestling to defend the takedowns and keep the fight standing.
My favorite play for this fight is the under 1 ½ rounds. I love this play for many reasons, one of them being that Cirkunov’s last six fights have all ended in the first round. Also 12 of Ryan Spann’s 18 wins have come in the first round. I expect Spann to hurt Cirkunov on the feet and follow up with heavy ground and pound for a first round TKO victory.
Best Bet: Under 1 ½ rounds -140
Value Pick: Ryan Spann wins inside the distance +160
Leon Edwards (-275) vs Belal Muhammad (+215)
In the Main Event we have Leon Edwards taking on short-notice replacement Belal Muhammad.
I don’t see a way that Leon loses this fight. Belal is going to look to take Leon down but I don’t think that he will have success. Belal had a lot of problems taking Dhiego Lima down against the cage because of Dhiego’s length. I can see this being a problem again for Belal because Leon has a similar build to Dhiego and he uses his length very well against the cage to avoid being taken down.
Leon has a big advantage in striking. Belal doesn’t have a great striking defense, and I see Leon piecing him up on the feet. I think that Leon can deal with Belal’s pressure because of how good he is in the clinch. One of Leon’s best strikes is his left elbow in the clinch, he had a lot of success against RDA with this strike.
I think that Leon can stuff Belal’s takedown attempts early and do damage in the clinch. I expect Leon to finish this fight on the feet in the 3rd or 4th round. I don’t know if I see value in Leon at -275 by himself. I do see value in putting him in a 2 fight parlay or even playing him inside the distance at +240.
Best Bet: Leon Edwards -275
Value Pick: Edwards wins inside the distance +240
Let me know what you think about this gambling guide for UFC Vegas 21 and if you agree or disagree with my picks. This underrated card has the potential to be very entertaining. Hope everyone enjoys the fights!
Linked below are more in-depth breakdowns of these fights, written by other great writers at Overtime Heroics.
Manel Kape vs Matheus Nicolau
Gavin Tucker vs Dan Ige
Misha Cirkunov vs Ryan Spann
Leon Edwards vs Belal Muhammad
Follow me on Twitter @carterbergezMMA for updates on my work and live reactions to every UFC event. Also, follow the Overtime Heroics team on social media @OTHeoicsMMA to stay up to date with the latest news in MMA.
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