UFC on ESPN 1: Nagannou vs Velasquez Recap & Bet Pack Review

UFC on ESPN 1: Nagannou vs Velasquez Recap & Bet Pack Review

Heading into the first UFC on ESPN event, a lot of questions surrounded the return of former 2-time Heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez. With the main event lasting just 26-seconds, the headlining fight may have generated even more questions and fewer answers than the MMA world was looking for.

Reminiscent of his 64-second title fight defeat to Junior Dos Santos on the inaugural UFC on FOX event, Cain found himself on the wrong end of a devastating fight-ending sequence at the hands of the monstrous Francis Ngannou.

Unlike the first FOX event which televised just a single fight, the those that tuned into the ESPN card were treated to an entertaining night of fights, including a clear Fight of the Year candidate, the reemergence of a Heavyweight contender, and the potential start of a new chapter in the Gracie family legacy.

Let’s take a look at what could be next for some of the key fighters coming out of Saturday night.

Francis Ngannou

The former title challenger appears to be back on track with his second devastating finish in as many fights. Much had been made of his poor performances against Miocic and Lewis and with just cause. Fortunately, for Francis, he appears to have made the required adjustments to maintain his position near the top of the Heavyweight food chain.

The question still remains, how does he fair in a fight that goes beyond the open few moments. An excellent test of that scenario would be a showdown with the current UFC Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier. The storyline is already built in after “The Predator” devastated DC’s teammate. Is Cormier waiting for a money fight with Lesnar? Possibly, but for the legitimacy of the division, this fight needs to happen.

Cain Velasquez

Cain is an immense talent that has seen his career stunted by a myriad of injuries. Velasquez appeared to injure his knee during the melee but seemed in good spirits after the fight. Should the injury only be minor and if the desire remains to compete, Cain needs to return to action as soon as possible.

At 36-years old, Cain isn’t old for the division. His body might say otherwise, unfortunately. I would like to see Velasquez take a step back in competition to help him regain traction. After his first JDS defeat, he won his next 4-fights and recaptured the title. A perfect example of the potential for a Heavyweight resurgence is Andrei Arlovski. Arlovski has been down and out and returned to relivancy on multiple occassions. He would be a perfect next opponent for Cain’s next fight.

Paul Felder

“The Irish Dragon” made an emotional appeal for recognition after an entertaining and effective performance. Felder’s quest to compete at the top of the division took a massive step forward on Sunday night with a gritty decision win over James Vick. Vick was previously ranked in the top 10 and with the win, Felder has done enough to warrant a number by his name. Felder wants to continue to climb the ranks and should be booked accordingly. I like the idea of Paul facing the winner of Edson Barboza and Justin Gaethje. Let’s keep it simple and go with that.

Cynthia Calvillo

The Team Alpha Male product narrowly escaped the fight with a victory despite entering the cage has a heavy favourite. Calvillo opted to utilize her striking instead of engaging Casey on the mat, where she appeared to have a wider advantage. Calvillo called for a fight with Strawweight wrecking machine Tatiana Suarez. I see Saurez and Nina Ansaroff squaring off for the next title shot. Calvillo’s performance wasn’t enough for me. Let’s pair Calvillo with either Claudia Gadelha or Karolina Kowalkiewicz and see how she does with a step up in competition.

Kron Gracie

He came, he saw, and he submitted “Bruce Leroy”. Kron was as advertised- do not let him touch you or else it is over. The performance was impressive, but let’s keep in mind that Gracie is still just 5-0 and Caceres has now been submitted 7-times. Gracie needs to take baby steps. Brandon Davis has proven vulnerable to a grappling-centric attack, but is gritty enough to potentially push Kron a little more in his sophomore outing. Let’s make that happen.

Vicente Luque

Clearly, the FOTN and an early candidate for FOTY, Luque and Bryan Barberena put on an absolute show reminiscent of the first Griffin/Bonnar battle. Barberena took everything that Vicente had to offer and sent it back in kind and it nearly worked. Luque’s ability to take the American’s best offerings and not fold was equally as impressive.

My only concern is that Luque nearly capitalized on the gap in Bryan’s grappling defense in the first frame, but never attempted to re-exploit those issues when the fight started to turn against him.

Regardless, the end result was huge for Luque. He entered the fight unranked and defeating another unranked fighter does not guarantee himself a number, but it should get him a huge next fight. Alex Oliveira, Geoff Neal, and Neal Magny are all ranked, but Luque has earned himself a bigger fight. Santiago Ponzinibbio appears headed towards a fight with former Lightweight champion Raphael Dos Anjos. If Ponzinibbio gets by RDA, Luque and Santiago need to headline a Fight Night. Oh, the fireworks!

Andre Fili

Fili appears to be entering the best stage of his career after some initial struggles. Does he have what it takes to move into the elite of the division? Possibly, but he is not there just yet. Jeremy Stephens is a plausible next opponent as Fili works up the rankings.

Aljamain Sterling

Sterling had previously stumbled against other top-ranked Bantamweights (Assuncao and Moraes), but he appeared determined to avoid another setback. He utilized his wrestling pressure and length effectively, rendering Rivera’s striking a non-factor for large portions of the fight. Sterling called out Marlon Moraes for a rematch which is understandable, but Marlon needs to fight for the title next.

For Aljamain he has potentially positioned himself as the next-in-line for a title fight, but it is not a strong candidacy that couldn’t be overlooked if another fighter picks up a couple of key wins. With Jon Lineker recently booked and almost every fighter ahead of Sterling coming off a loss, the pickings are slim. Former champion Cody Garbrandt will be in need of an opponent soon and he offers a perfect next step for “The Funk Master” to climb to a title shot.

Final Thoughts

My 2019 struggles continue with another poor performance. Again, we saw a 6 of 12 fights end with the underdog getting their hand raised. Will this trend continue? I’m not sure. I felt confident in several of my plays, especially my Rivera pick, but Sterling rose to the occasion and Jimmie seemed to shrink from it.

My Casual Bettor Cluster returned a moderate profit on the strength a of 3-leg parlay in the Wildcard section. The Hardcore Cluster picked up a couple of small wins, but it was losing night overall. Check out the entire Bet Pack below.

A pair of wins in the final 2 fights would have ended the night 8-4, a mildly respectable record. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. I have time to turn it around, but the Sports betting business everything is about the here and now. A hot streak (see the last half of my 2018) or a slump can quickly be forgotten with a sudden change of fortune.

Time to get back to work!

Kamikaze Overdrive Premium Bet Pack

 

Parlays & Single Bets

Depending on your betting style, you can select the Hardcore Betting Cluster which employs a betting strategy focussed on straight and 2-leg parlays that limit the risk and offer a decent return based on your financial commitment. If you are willing to take a little more risk and aren’t interested in putting as much cash in play, but still want a shot at a big return- then the Casual Betting Cluster is for you. Playing both of these strategies together is not recommended.

Hardcore Betting Cluster (HBC)

Gold Plays

BET #1
+ Jimmie Rivera  To WIN -135
ODDS: -135
BET: 8u
RETURN: 13.93u

 

BET #2
+ Myles Jury  To WIN -135
+ Manny Bermudez  To WIN -175
ODDS: +174
BET: 6u
RETURN: 16.41u

Silver Plays

BET #1
+ James Vick  To WIN -112
ODDS: -112
BET: 5u
RETURN: 9.46u

 

BET #2
+ Cain Velasquez  To WIN -160
+ Scott Holtzman  To WIN -175
ODDS: +155
BET: 4u
RETURN: 10.21u

Bronze Plays

BET #1
+ Alexandra Albu  To WIN -120
+ Andrea Lee  To WIN -164
ODDS: +195
BET: 3u
RETURN: 8.85u

 

BET #2
+ Jodie Esquibel  To WIN +120
+ Luke Sanders  To WIN -170
ODDS: -170
BET: 3u
RETURN: 4.76u

Wildcard Plays

BET #1
+ Cynthia Calvillo  to WIN by Submission +215
ODDS: +215
BET: 3u
RETURN: 9.45u

 

BET #2
+ Jimmie Rivera  to WIN by Decision +120
+ Manny Bermudez  to WIN by Submission -110
ODDS: +320
BET: 3u
RETURN: 12.6u

BET #3
+ Vicente Luque to WIN Inside the Distance +100
+ Kron Gracie to WIN by Submission -165
ODDS: +221
BET: 3u
RETURN: 9.64u

Casual Betting Cluster (CBC)

Gold Plays

BET #1
+ Jimmie Rivera To WIN -135
+ Myles Jury  To WIN -135
+ Manny Bermudez  To WIN -175
ODDS: +376
BET: 8u
RETURN: 38.09u

Silver Plays

BET #1
+ James Vick To WIN -112
+ Cain Velasquez  To WIN -160
+ Scott Holtzman  To WIN -175
ODDS: +383
BET: 6u
RETURN: 29u

Bronze Plays

BET #1
+ Alexandra Albu  To WIN -120
+ Andrea Lee To WIN -164
+ Jodie Esquibel  To WIN +120
+ Luke Sanders  To WIN -170
ODDS: +931
BET: 4u
RETURN: 41.25u

Wildcard Plays

BET #1
+ Cynthia Calvillo  to WIN by Submission +215
+ Jimmie Rivera  to WIN by Decision +120
+ Manny Bermudez  to WIN by Submission -110
ODDS: +1223
BET: 6u
RETURN: 79.38u

 

BET #2
+ Vicente Luque  to WIN Inside the Distance +215
+ Velasquez/ Ngannou  Total Rounds Under 1.5 -115
+ Kron Gracie to WIN by Submission -165
ODDS: +846
BET: 4u
RETURN: 37.83u

 

Draftkings Lineup

Lineup

Cynthia Calvillo $9200
+ Jimmie Rivera $8300
+ Scott Holtzman $8500
+ James Vick $8000
+ Manny Bermudez $9100
+ Alex Caceres $6900

Spares

Cain Velasquez $9000
+ Alexandra Albu $8600
+
+

 

Betting Breakdowns

Cain Velasquez -160 vs Francis Ngannou +156 

Which Cain are we going to get here? The non-stop takedown machine with relentless ground and pound or a slow, rusty sitting target? The line on Cain has stayed relatively the same with the general public split on how this one goes. Ngannou struggles when his opponent starts chaining TDAs together and unless he defends and cracks Velasquez, Francis is going to be put on his back. I would love to go all in on the former Champion, but with the layoff, he falls to a Silver play for me.

Draft-Kings-Logo

Cain does get the call in my Fantasy lineup as a spare. There are several big favourites on this card, but Cain comes in at $9000. If he is going to win it will be with GNP volume and a finish. Add him where you can, he will be a popular play so I have another option in mind.

James Vick -112 vs Paul Felder +105 

I went back and forth on this one. I kept coming back to Vick in almost all areas. If Felder can reach him, he can knock him out, but to me that sounds like a puncher’s chance. I like Vick to work his volume and keep Felder on the outside. If Paul closes, Vick will utilize his leverage to shut him down. Vick did open as the dog so we aren’t getting the best value on him at this point, so that knocks him down to a Silver play for me.

Draft-Kings-Logo

I do have Vick in the lineup. There aren’t a lot of dogs on the card that I feel overly confident in, so getting Vick at $8000 is worthwhile. His volume should be decent and his most likely path to a finish is to catch Felder in a choke on the mat. Add him.

Cortney Casey +295 vs Cynthia Calvillo -325 

I like Calvillo, but the chalk is heavy here. I will look instead at a prop bet for the TAM fighter. Pass.

Draft-Kings-Logo

Calvillo gets the call in my regular lineup. She will spam takedowns and work for a submission win. Most expensive WMMA fighters will get overlooked in place of guys like Bermudez and Velasquez. Play her.

Alex Caceres +255 vs Kron Gracie -276 

No thanks. Gracie is too brand new and could be rusty here. Caceres could pull this out if Kron gasses before he can get a finish. I will look at a prop here.

Draft-Kings-Logo

Kron wins with either a takedown-heavy decision or a submission wins. Unfortunately, you will have to pay to play and it is too much for me. On the flip side, I had to use a counter bet to fill out my roster. Caceres could pull this one out if Gracie isn’t up to the big lights. I feel he was the best option here of the available dogs.

Bryan Barberena +375 vs Vicente Luque -415 

Moving right along, I feel like a broken record. Luque is too expensive to play straight up, but we could get a boost from a prop play. Pass.

Draft-Kings-Logo

The same can be said here. Vicente gets the win, but it will be at a crippling price. Pass.

Andre Fili +125 vs Myles Jury -135 

Jury is climbing again, but we are still getting a deal. He opened around the -195 mark and started to climb in value almost immediately. The public sees that Fili could be on a 3-fight winning streak if the MJ nod goes his way. Conversely, Jury just got knocked out my Mendes. Fili’s track record against technically capable strikers and overall poor fight IQ won’t hold up against Jury strong defense and diverse attack. Myles gets the call as a Gold Play.

Draft-Kings-Logo

I don’t see Jury getting the finish unless he gets in a strong position on the mat. At $8800, that is a lot to pay for a decision win that will mostly be built around defense. Pass.

Aljamain Sterling +129 vs Jimmie Rivera -135 

I love this fight and boy are we getting a deal here. Sterling is a fantastic grappler. He showcased that last time out. The issue is, if he can’t get his ground game involved, he doesn’t offer enough o the feet to earn a strong decision. Rivera is quicker and much more active with stout TDD. Jimmie opened close to -265 and has steadily improved since. I get why Sterling is getting some money, but this is a stylistic nightmare for him. Rivera outworks him on route to a decision. Gold Play for me.

Draft-Kings-Logo

I have Rivera in my lineup. I don’t anticipate a finish, but his volume should be respectable and he is affordable. I am not a huge fan of my lineup, but I am making it the best I can with what is offered.

Benito Lopez +170 vs Manny Bermudez -175 

This is another Gold Play and I love it. Bermudez opened north of -300 and has steadily improved since. Lopez is a wildman, but that wild style opens him up to the opportunistic submission game of Manny. In each of his last 2 fights, Lopez spent too much time on the mat and in the clinch to believe he can avoid Bermudez. Benito needs a quick finish or for Manny to gas himself out quickly. Coming in at 140 tells me he didn’t strain too hard to make it which is better for us.

Manny locks him up and locks up the win. Gold play.

Draft-Kings-Logo

Manny is a definite play for me. I have him winning inside the first half of the fight, most likely earlier. He scores big.

Andrea Lee -164 vs Ashlee Evans-Smith +155 

Lee’s headspace is certainly a concern considering her domestic issues. That being said AES has had some fight IQ issues that often has me wondering where her mind is at. AES looked good against Rawlings, but that isn’t saying much. Smith came in around -215 at the open, we are getting a solid play here. I feel she can shutdown AES in the clinch and land the better of the shots. I would expect that this one goes to the judges and could be tight. Normally, Lee would be a Silver play but I have her as a confident pick in the Bronze section.

Draft-Kings-Logo

I see this one as a decision fight with middle of the road volume from our girl. Pass.

Nik Lentz +170 vs Scott Holtzman -175 

Holtzman’s value has stayed fairly close and most sites have him between -170 and -195. It is a decent return, but only if his TDD holds. That is what this fight comes down to. If Lentz can take him down with regularity he could win a decision. He needs to keep him down as well as Holtzman should lad with regularity and impact.  Holtzman outworks him for a decision win or possible late stoppage. Silver Play.

Draft-Kings-Logo

Lentz is willing to slug it out and that will allow Holtzman to land with regularity. Holtzman hits harder and could get done with a stoppage.

Luke Sanders -170 vs Renan Barao +167 

Sanders will most likely drop in value with Barao missing weight. Barao has missed weight before and got to 138 which mean he probably drained himself trying to make it down. His career could depend on it. If he is further diminished, Sanders will walk all over him. Unfortunately, Sanders has struggled a lot as well, so anything more than a Bronze play is too much.

Draft-Kings-Logo

I wouldn’t be shocked to see Sanders get the finish, but I will play elsewhere. I just don’t have a great feel on this one considering Luke’s track record.

Jessica Penne -125 vs Jodie Esquibel +120

Esquibel didn’t fight that poorly against Aguilar and could have got the nod. Penne hasn’t fought in a long time and got smashed when she was active. If she can score takedowns with regularity she can win this fight, but I see Esquibel working a more active striking attack, bouncing in and out, similar to Taylor vs Penne. Bronze underdog here.

Draft-Kings-Logo

I will pass here. I thought about going down this road, but I’d rather play a stronger top 5 then a weaker 6.

Alexandra Albu -120 vs Emily Whitmire +114 

Albu was a much bigger favourite when the line popped. She was close to -200 and has steadily been bet down. A lot of the sharps are on Whitmire, feeling her technical edge will be the difference. I think AA outworks her and outmuscles her for the majority of the fight. I wouldn’t be shocked to see a stoppage considering Whitmire’s defensive shortcomings on the floor. Albu is a bronze play.

Draft-Kings-Logo

I think AA could get a stoppage here and at $8600 she is a solid alternative. Mix her in.

Confidence List

1. Cynthia Calvillo -325 

2. Manny Bermudez -175 

3. Jimmie Rivera -135 

4. Myles Jury -135 

5. Vicente Luque -415 

====================

6. Scott Holtzman -175 

7. Cain Velasquez -160 

8. James Vick -112 

9. Alexandra Albu -120 

10. Luke Sanders -170 

11. Andrea Lee -164 

12. Kron Gracie -276 

13. Jodie Esquibel +120 

 

Value Bet List

1. Jimmie Rivera -135 

2. Myles Jury -135 

3. James Vick -112 

4. Jodie Esquibel +120 

5. Alexandra Albu -120 

 

Counter Bets

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2.

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4.

5.

 

Betting Scenario

Scenario Breakdowns

The section will always be a work in progress, as I hopefully continue to find different scenarios that produce consistent winners. Click the names below to read each scenario’s explanation.

EPU Candidate(s)

1. Jessica Penne/Jodie Esquibel

I anticipate that this fight is going the distance and would lean towards a decision win for Esquibel but I will just ride with the slight dog by any means she can get it done by.

2. Alexandra Albu to Win Inside the Distance +250

Whitmire has been subbed in both her pro defeats and was finished on the mat via strikes in the TUF tourney. She is vulnerable on the floor and Albu can pack a punch. Look for AA to get this fight to the floor and go to work. At +250 it is worth a shot.

EPU
Under 1.5
Under 2.5
Over 2.5
Over x2
2014
42
46
46
11 of 46 Events
2015
28
35
42
10 of 39 Events
2016
28
38
41
11 of 41 Events
2017
27
40
35
8 of 38 Events
2018
26
35
30
8 of 33 Events
2019
6
7
8
1 of 8 Events
FP
W
L
Win %
2015 Picks
47242351%
2016 Picks
55312456%
2017 Picks
47202743%
2018 Picks
42251760%
2019 Picks
72529%

FPO Candidate

1. Jimmie Rivera to Win by Decision +120

Rivera is the perfect fighter for this spot. Jimmie has gone the distance in 16 of his 22 wins. He has the ability to outwork Sterling without finishing him. I like the extra bump we get here. Close fight, but Rivera takes this one.

Final Prelim
FP
Over 2.5
Under 2.5
Over %
2014
46
30
16
65%
2015
36162044%
2016
39261367%
2017
3425974%
2018
33221167%
2019
84450%
FP
W
L
Win %
2015 Picks
29121741%
2016 Picks
35171849%
2017 Picks
29121741%
2018 Picks
31131842%
2019 Picks
51420%

HEF Candidate(s)

1. Cain Velasquez -160 vs Francis Ngannou +156

2. James Vick -112 vs Paul Felder +105

3. Andre Fili +125 vs Myles Jury -135

4. Aljamain Sterling +129 vs Jimmie Rivera -135

5. Andrea Lee -164 vs Ashlee Evans-Smith +155

6. Jessica Penne -125 vs Jodie Esquibel +120

7. Alexandra Albu -120 vs Emily Whitmire +114

HEFs
FP
W
L
WIN %
2015
177938453%
2016
21210610650%
2017
1791106961%
2018
1921009252%
2019
45232251%
FP
W
L
Win %
2015 Picks
178958353%
2016 Picks
21210810451%
2017 Picks
179879249%
2018 Picks
192959749%
2019 Picks
45202544%

 

Prop Bets

Cain Velasquez/Francis Ngannou Total Rounds Under 1.5 -115 

Remember the first main event that Cain was involved in on a new network? I don’t expect this one to go that quickly. This type of play keeps both fighter’s finishing skills in play. If Cain takes him Ngannou down he will start to land GNP and look for the finish- can’t risk letting him back to a vertical base. Conversely, Ngannou will be all systems go looking for the kill shot. Someone gets it. Play the Under.

Cynthia Calvillo to Win by Submission +215 

I love that we are getting this type of return on this play and I love the tenacity that Calvillo goes after the finish with. Casey is a tough out, but she is vulnerable on the mat. Some would argue that if she can go the distance with Gadelha on the floor, she can survive with CC. I think Calvillo pushes her early and eventually works to her back for the sub. I love these submission plays- Maia and De La Rosa both cashed recently.

Kron Gracie to Win by Submission -165 

Caceres has been submitted on 6 occasions and Gracie has finished all 4 of his pro fights by tap out. If you are going to play this fight and back the favourite this is as good as you are going to get. I like it. Back it.

Vicente Luque to Win inside the Distance +100 

My lean is to Luque grabbing a submission win, potentially after hurting Barberena. That being said, I want to keep everything open and getting plus money makes this a viable option. Barberena is tough, but Luque throws a lot at an opponent and should be able to finish him off either on the feet or the mat.

Aljamain Sterling/Jimmie Rivera 

See the Betting Scenario section.

Manny Bermudez to Win by Submission -110 

There is going to be a lot of tapping and napping on this card if things go to play. Bermudez has won 10 of 13 fights by submission and getting nearly even money is certainly worth a look. If Lopez lets Manny on the inside, he is getting finished.

Jessica Penne/Jodie Esquibel

See the Betting Scenario section.

Alexandra Albu/Emily Whitmire 

See the Betting Scenario section.