Noche UFC Odds, Picks, Projections: Our Best Bets for Grasso vs. Shevchenko, Holland vs. Della Maddalena, More (Saturday, September 16)
Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images. Pictured: Valentina Shevchenko and UFC women’s flyweight champion Alexa Grasso
Check out our Noche UFC best bets for the Saturday UFC event at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, which streams on ESPN+.
Noche UFC ("UFC Night") celebrates Mexican Independence Day and features a rematch between women's flyweight champion Alexa Grasso of Mexico and former longtime titleholder Valentina Shevchenko of Kyrgyzstan.
Grasso scored a major upset and won the duo's first meeting via submission earlier this year, and the rematch headlines an 11-bout fight card tonight (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+).
Grasso vs. Shevchenko 2 is one matchup we're targeting for Saturday's top Noche UFC picks. But it's not the only one.
So where should be looking to place your UFC bets tonight? Our crew has pinpointed four matchups and picks on Saturday’s ESPN+ fight card that present betting value.
You can find their analysis, predictions and picks on those matches plus Sean Zerillo's projections below using odds from BetMGM.
Tony Sartori: Josefine Knutsson vs Marnic Mann
Staff Writer at The Action Network
Fighter walkouts: Approx. 6:55 p.m. ET
A lopsided strawweight bout kicks off the Noche UFC fight card with Sweden's Josefine Knutsson taking on Marnic Mann.
Knutsson is a massive -700 favorite, so we are going to head to the prop market and back her to win via decision at +105 via BetRivers.
A former kickboxer, Knutsson made a flawless transition to MMA and has won all six of her professional fights, five of which came via decision. At 27 years old, the Contender Series veteran is establishing herself as one of the premier prospects of the 115-pound division, which is due to her clinical striking and ability to dominate on the mat.
While she is a strong and tenacious wrestler, she has never really shown much in the jiu-jitsu department, which bodes well for the decision prop if a submission attempt is likely off the table. And then, of course, Knutsson's striking is elite as a former muay Thai gold medalist and professional kickboxer.
There are multiple avenues for her to rack up the points against Mann, who is also a Contender Series veteran. Mann has also put together a strong start to her career, posting a 6-1 pro record.
With that said, she has never won in any of the elite promotions, and now she is going against a legit prospect in the strawweight division in what will likely be a difficult test.
The problem for Mann in this scrap is that there are really no avenues to victory for her unless she gets a finish. Knutsson is the better striker, defender and wrestler – and even though she could get the finish early on, I think she will implement a good amount of wrestling to coast to an easy/dominating unanimous decision victory.
The Pick: Josefine Knutsson via decision (+105 via BetRivers)
Dann Stupp: Tracy Cortez vs Jasmine Jasudavicius
Senior Editor at The Action Network
Fighter walkouts: Approx. 7:55 p.m. ET
The betting odds say that Jasmine Jasudavicius wins her Noche UFC bout against Tracy Cortez approximately 47.6% of the time (+110).
But me? I think those chances are closer to 65% (-185).
And getting plus-money on a bet that you theoretically should win two out of three times is a good way to make a little bank in the long run. We just need our rationale to hold up, and thankfully, I'm feeling pretty good about this one.
Saturday's preliminary-card bout features two flyweights with a solid wrestling base. And perhaps on wrestling ability alone, Cortez vs. Jasudavicius would make sense as a pick'em.
But I also give Jasudavicius the edge in striking, striking with power, clinch work and top game. I like her size and durability. She's also been more active. She thrives as a UFC underdog (3-0), and she's faced a tougher level of competition.
The latter point is especially relevant – at least to me, an MMA bettor who places a lot of value on a fighter's level of competition. And in that regard, Jasudavicius has a pretty solid edge. Especially recently.
Cortez is a rising star, no doubt, but she's also coming off a 16-month layoff. Jasudavicius, meanwhile, is just a few months removed from a thoroughly impressive decision victory over human bicep Miranda Maverick. I thought that Maverick victory would be the one to finally give the Canadian some respect in the betting world. But hey – all the better for us Jasudavicius backers.
We've just got too many factors working in our favor not to take some plus-money on once-again-overlooked Jasudavicius, who also simply has that dog in her.
I'll take her at the +110 as of this writing, and I'm cool riding it all the way down to -150 at a 5% edge compared to my number.
The Pick: Jasmine Jasudavicius (+110 at bet365)
Sean Zerillo: Kevin Holland vs Jack Della Maddalena
Staff Writer at The Action Network
Fighter walkouts: Approx. 11:25 p.m. ET
The MMA betting community had been waiting for the right opportunity to successfully fade the exciting – but relatively one-dimensional – Jack Della Maddalena ("JDM") as a big favorite but saw that opportunity go to waste in a split-decision loss for the short-notice Bassil Hafez (closed as high as +500) in mid-July.
Haffez (landed three takedowns with 6:48 of control time) exposed Della Maddalena's subpar defensive grappling – an evident deficiency from his regional career – likely ruining the potential to bet against JDM in the future with a grappler at a good number.
Kevin Holland rarely mixes in takedowns offensively, but he is a highly underrated submission grappler and possesses the potential to snatch a club and sub against a wobbled opponent in a likely high-paced striking affair.
While Della Maddalena is the superior pocket boxer and combination puncher, Holland's physical gifts (four inches taller, eight-inch reach advantage), output and durability should prove problematic for the Australian.
We have rarely seen JDM extended against competitive opponents at the UFC level. Still, I suspect Holland has the stamina advantage in a high-paced war – on top of superior length, power, and submission grappling.
Holland's power is more prodigious at 170 pounds than 185. He has also faced much higher competition than JDM, competed in main events, and built up his cardio to fight over five rounds.
Back Holland at +120 or better, and use his submission prop (+600) to boost up your round-robin tickets.
The Pick: Kevin Holland (+125 at Caesars)
Billy Ward: Alexa Grasso vs Valentina Shevchenko
Staff Writer at The Action Network
Fighter walkouts: Approx. 11:55 p.m. ET
The recent history on immediate title rematches is, at best, mixed. Most of the time we see these fights when a long-running champion is dethroned, though occasionally a fluky title win plays a part as well. (These aren’t mutually exclusive, as in the case of Leon Edwards' Hail Mary head kick over Kamaru Usman.)
There’s not a clear pattern of what happens in the rematches. Israel Adesanya and Amanda Nunes won back their belts right while Usman and Petr Yan were beaten more definitively in the rematches.
All of which makes Saturday's Noche UFC headliner a tough one to handicap. On the one hand, it’s easy to call it a fluke win for Alexa Grasso – she jumped on Valentina Shevchenko’s back when the former champ threw a spinning kick, not something we see often.
On the other hand, if she didn’t get the tap there, the score would likely have been 2-2 heading into the fifth round with Grasso already having Round 1 in the bag. She proved she can hang with the 35-year-old Shevchenko for extended periods, and she isn’t reliant on a miracle stoppage to get the job done.
What really pushes me toward Grasso here is Shevchenko’s steady decline coming into her last fight. She narrowly squeaked by Taila Santos in a split-decision win prior to fighting Grasso, and she probably deserved the loss there.
Grasso looked to be the clearly better boxer in their fight, and she was able to survive the ground game of Shevchenko, escaping back to her feet on numerous occasions. That’s something past opponents were unable to do, and it arguably says more about Shevchenko’s diminishing ability than it does Grasso.
While I don’t think Grasso holds onto this belt for long given the grappling talent at flyweight, at just 30, she’s still improving every fight. I expect her to outpoint Shevchenko on the feet here and send the aging ex-champ up to bantamweight to chase the vacant title there.
I love getting a defending champion at plus money, and I’d bet Grasso down to +120.
The Pick: Alexa Grasso (+145 at Caesars)