It’s been an unusual few weeks for mixed martial arts fans without fights every weekend, but the action returns with six consecutive events that will take us through mid-November.
Saturday night’s UFC Fight Night: Grasso vs. Araujo features a five-round main event between two female flyweight contenders looking to get one step closer to a title shot. The 12-fight card at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, offers bettors a good mix of up-and-coming prospects and veterans moving up the rankings.
Projecting a fighter’s trajectory as it peaks can be a significant advantage in getting ahead of the market. As a result, these smaller cards can become easier targets for bettors despite the lack of star power. Here are two games that I have found valuable at current BetMGM odds. Let’s start with the main event.
They say the third time is the charm. These two flyweight contenders have been trying to fight all year, with previous bouts in January and August being scrapped due to injuries and visa issues. So now I can finally enjoy a very advantageous match for the favorite. Alexa Grasso is an impressive 3-0 since moving up to the flyweight division and is coming off a first-round submission win over Joanne Wood. While I’m not convinced she has the finishing ability to be a future champion, she continues to show marked improvement every time she steps into the Octagon. This fight is the perfect test for her to show her maturity as a fighter ready to take the next step.
Grasso wins with volume over power, using his footwork to stay ahead of his opponent. Additionally, she uses her leg kicks well, which will be a key factor against the more aggressive Araujo. The five-round duration of the fight allows him to strategically set traps and throw counters, exposing Araujo’s defensive responsibilities. Grasso is the far superior defensive fighter absorbing just 3.79 significant strikes per minute, a big difference from Araujo’s 5.13.
After the first few rounds, the damage will pile up, forcing Araujo into sloppy entries as she desperately tries to get inside on Grasso. However, I’m sure that will only make her exasperated as Grasso gains confidence as the most technical striker. Araujo will quickly realize that fighting on the mat is his only option, but making it durable will make all the difference. It’s hard to imagine she’s in control of Grasso enough to win three out of five rounds without taxing her own cardio to show where it compromises that facet of her game. Araujo’s last six fights have gone to the scorecards, and that will probably become the seventh. Grasso’s game plan to stay at bay and extend the fight into the later rounds supports the likely outcome of this fight in front of the judges. So let’s drop the big prize and try with Grasso by decision to more money.
The bet: Alexa Grasso by decision (+125)
Menifield is a power puncher who has had mixed results in his UFC career, which may not last much longer if he can’t put Cirkunov aside. Cirkunov has lost three straight fights, and there are some red flags with the 35-year-old Canadian. First, he changes weight class very late in his career. Second, Cirkunov has finished three of his last four losses. So now he faces a fighter with massive power in his comeback fight at a heavier weight class. I don’t see it ending well for Cirkunov at all.
Menifield is likely to be down and controlled, but I’m willing to bet he has adequate takedown defense to hold off Cirkunov. Considering Cirkunov lacks the striking technique to set up his takedowns, it should be easy enough for Menifield to dodge his telegraphed shots. The stylistic confrontation is preparing well for the favorite. I bet the moneyline at -200, and I’d also be interested in putting a small bet on the prop KO.
The bet: Alonzo Menifield (-200)
Statistics provided by ufcstats.com
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