If you want the long of it, with accolades, tendencies, patterns, variables, etc. I highly recommend checking out Dan Tom’s breakdown:
UFC 219 main-card breakdown: Carlos Condit or Neil Magny? Cynthia Calvillo or Carla Esparza?
Although his confession that he picked Michael Johnson to beat Khabib back at UFC 205 had me second-guessing everything I’ve ever read from him, it’s still pretty clear that he knows what he’s talking about. One read of his breakdowns and you will agree.
I’m just going to give a brief reasoning for why I am betting/picking the way that I am.
Tim Elliot (-210) vs. Mark De La Rosa (+175)
The UFC literally scoured the entire globe to try to find someone worthy enough to challenge Demetrious Johnson. Tim Elliot didn’t just defeat everyone in his path, but for the most part, he made it look fairly easy. So logically, I’ll take my odds that Mark De La Rosa is no different from the rest of them. Not only that, but Tim Elliot had Demetrious Johnson in trouble in their bout on the TUF 24 Finale. It’s easy to forget or dispute this after seeing how the fight unfolded, but Tim Elliot gave Demetrious the biggest scare of his title reign with what appeared to be a very deep guillotine choke. So we have a guy who defeated all of the top flyweights in the free-agent market with relative ease and almost defeated the man who is arguably the GOAT. What makes Mark De La Rosa different? And I ask that question after watching the film on him. De La Rosa is solid with submissions, but Elliot is one of the hardest men to submit in the entire UFC. And I believe this is De La Rosa’s biggest path to victory.
Tim Elliot is a wily, gritty, determined, proven veteran. Nine fight experience and the film does not give me any reason to believe De La Rosa is any different from the other flyweights who were in the TUF 24 house. He seems to me like someone who would have been on the show. His skill level and experience seems commensurate with many who were on that show. So in my mind, this is just another flyweight that would have been on the TUF 24 show who will fall prey to Elliot’s experience and determination.
Bet: Tim Elliot
Cynthia Calvillo (-230) vs. Carla Esparza (+190)
Esperza is one-dimensional…one of the most one-dimensional fighters on the entire UFC roster, in fact. Furthermore, in my opinion, she lacks heart. When she is unable to take her opponent down at will, she becomes tentative and awkward. Not only am I doubtful that she will get Calvillo down, but if she does, Calvillo is extremely slick and skilled on the mat with a much deeper mat arsenal than Esperaza. And if Esperaza takes her down, especially if she takes her down repeatedly, I believe that Calvillo is bound to turn one of the takedown attempts into a choke or mat exchanges into a submission. And if Calvillo stuffs the takedowns, which I expect her to, she has a clear edge in striking. Calvillo also comes into this fight with a lot of hunger and bravado. I think Calvillo is an excellent bet stylistically, momentum-wise, and in terms of intangibles.
Bet: Cynthia Calvillo
Dan Hooker (+170) vs. Marc Diakiese (-200)
Marc Diakiese only has one loss in what was a competitive bout against the then unbeaten Drakkar Klose. I am almost certain that this fight will take place exclusively standing up, and Diakiese is the quicker, stronger, more explosive fighter and Dan Hooker constantly drops his hands and has horrible defense. Every time I picture this fight, I don’t just see Diakiese winning, I see him getting a stoppage. What’s interesting is that Dan Tom stated that both this fight and the Tim Elliot fight are fights to avoid. I on the contrary think that those are two must-include fights on your parlay. We’ll see how things unfold.
Bet: Marc Diakiese
Khabib Nurmagomedov (-290) vs. Edson Barboza (+245)
It feels to me like Khabib is so good that the MMA community are a bit stupefied and do not know quite what to make of him. So when Michael Johnson landed one clean punch, they say Khabib, who immediately took control after said punch, was “rocked” and showed a lot of holes in his game. And yet when Justin Gaethje is punched to a bloody pulp repeatedly by the same Michael Johnson, they practically hail Justin Gaethje as the new face of the lightweight division. I could speculate on all the reasons why this double standard exists, but instead I’ll just conclude that the MMA community find it difficult to believe that anybody can be as good as Khabib has looked so far.
MMA Junkie released their predictions for the fight, and several experts predicted Barboza to get the win. Don’t get me wrong, Khabib is the favorite both in the MMA community and by the oddsmakers, but I feel that the oddsmakers and the MMA community are still seeing two completely different things from what I’m seeing and what, from where I’m sitting, is readily apparent to the naked eye, which is that Khabib Nurmagomedov is clearly the best lightweight on the planet and arguably the most dominant fighter in the sport right now.
I don’t need to go deep into why I say that. Instead, I’ll just point to the fact that the man has not lost a single round in the UFC. The man who gave him the most trouble, Gleison Tibau, was also shut out 30-27 on all three judges’ scorecard. For those who say he has not faced anybody, please show me anybody who has had eight UFC fights and has not loss a round. If what he has done is easy, more people have done it. But aside from Jon Jones, no one has. His lack of a loss of a single round is what gives credence to the eye test, which SHOULD reveal an underrated striking game that is controlled chaos, fearless and powerful, along with arguably the most dominant wrestling and top control in the company. And here’s the thing. This is MMA. Khabib could lose. Barboza is a very skilled striker and could very well catch him. That is the only way I see hm winning this fight. But what’s funny is, that would not change Khabib being the best any more than it stopped GSP from being the best welterweight when Matt Serra knocked him out. Khabib’s status as the best lightweight does not hinge on this one bout any more than GSP’s status as welterweight hinged on the first Matt Serra fight. All that would mean is he has a loss just like everybody else (and still less than the overwhelming majority and one of the elite winning percentages in the company with 9 or more fights), and that it would just take Khabib more time to prove that he’s the best, just as it did GSP.
Barboza is a better fighter than Matt Serra in my opinion, but also in my opinion, this would be equally as big of a surprise. I expect Khabib to dominate as he always done. And for the sake of my betting future, I hope the MMA community and betters continue to be stupefied by his dominance so that I can continue to cash in on him. Once Khabib gets the title, it will then become obvious how dominant he is and you can expect Rousey/Jon Jones type lines where he is always the heavy favorite. I’m talking -400 and up. Until this inevitably happens, I would suggest you bet on him as much as you can afford.
Cyborg (-365) vs. Holly Holm (+305)
She won’t be on my main parlay, but Holly Holm is the best value bet of the night. No way is Cyborg going to run over her like she has done all her other opponents. Holm is far too smart and elusive. And when I envision this fight, I just see a frustrated Cyborg in a fight that will look very similar to the Jessica Andrade/Joanna Jedrzejczyk fight, where the powerful, aggressive Brazilian is outsmarted and outpointed by the more polished striker and better mover. I just see the champion being picked apart and potentially knocked out. Movement and fight IQ to me will be the story of this fight. I wouldn’t dare make this bet on my main parlay, but it’s definitely worth including on a side ticket.
Bet: Holly Holm