UFC 235 Betting Preview: Finding Value on the Undercard

Mar 02, 2019 09:50 AM EST
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Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Mickey Gall.

In addition to the main and co-main events UFC 235 boasts a stacked undercard (6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN), including Ben Askren’s UFC debut, the former UFC Bantamweight Champion Cody Garbrandt, and upcoming prospects Zabit Magomedsharipov, Johnny Walker, and Cody Stamann.

We’re going to dig deeper into this card and look for the best betting angles for UFC 235.

A quick note on the betting odds below: A $250 wager on -250 odds, pays out $100, while a $100 bet on +210 odds, profits $210.

Zabit Magomedsharipov (-250) vs. Jeremy “Lil’ Heathen” Stephens (+210)

No. 13 ranked featherweight Zabit Magomedsharipov (16-1) is one of the UFC’s hottest prospects. Magomedsharipov has endeared himself to fans with his exciting fighting style.

The Russian featherweight is extremely active on his feet. Zabit lands 4.49 significant strikes per minute and out-lands his opponents by 2.35 significant strikes per minute.

Zabit overwhelms his opponent on the feet with volume and has a knack for flashy striking; he constantly throws spinning back fists, capoeira kicks, and the like.

However, Zabit’s striking game can become overly reliant on style over substance and he is there to be hit.

Where Zabit truly shines is on the ground. Magomedsharipov is a world-class Wushu Sanda competitor with a great array of takedowns and trips and has submitted three of his four UFC opponents.

Magomedsharipov has landed 23 takedowns over four UFC fights and averages 7.24 takedowns and 1.3 submission attempts per 15 minutes of fight time.

Magomedsharipov’s opponent, Jeremy “Lil’ Heathen” Stephens (28-15), has been fighting since 2005. Stephens made his UFC debut in 2007 and is currently the No. 6-ranked UFC featherweight.

At heart, Stephens is a brawler. He is most comfortable in the cage when he can bite down on his mouthpiece and trade with his opponent. Stephens, who prefers to throw powerful hooks, lands only 0.34 more significant strikes per minute than his opponent.

It’s worth noting that Stephens is a competent grappler — he can usually perform well enough to get the fight where he wants it to be. The American only attempts 3.22 takedowns and 0.4 submissions per 15 minutes of fight time.

Zabit should win, but his -250 moneyline isn’t the best way to bet this fight.

  • 75% (3/4) of Zabit’s UFC wins are by submission
  • 14% (2/14) of Stephen’s UFC losses are by submission
  • 0% (0/23) of Stephen’s UFC fights since 2009 have ended in submission
  • 0% (0/4) of Zabit’s UFC wins are by KO/TKO
  • Zabit has zero knockdowns in the UFC
  • 71% (10/14) of Stephen’s UFC losses are via decision

Magomedsharipov has not displayed knockout power and Stephen’s chin is battle-tested. On the ground, Stephens has been out-grappled plenty of times before but has not been submitted since 2009. Magomedsharipov should win this fight based on activity over 15 minutes.

The Pick: Zabit Magomedsharipov via decision (+145)


Cody “Spartan” Stamann (-190) versus Alejandro “Turbo” Perez (+165)

Fighting out of Michigan Top Team, Cody “Spartan” Stamann has proved to be a promising prospect in the UFC’s bantamweight division. Stamann is 3-1 in the UFC with wins over Bryan Caraway and Tom Duquesnoy. Stamann’s sole UFC loss is to No. 5-ranked bantamweight Aljamain Sterling.

Stamann is part of the latest wave of wrestle-boxers. He is a stout powerhouse who throws clean, crisp punches. Stamann lands an impressive amount on the feet but is still developing technically and defensively.

The strongest part of Stamann’s game is his wrestling and top position grappling. Stamann has landed 15 takedowns and eight passes in his four UFC fights.

Perez is 7-1-1 in the UFC with three knockouts and four decision wins. He’s primarily been a high-volume striker who is more focused on putting strikes out there rather than picking his shots — Perez lands just 35% of his attempted significant strikes.

This high-volume, low-success approach has had Perez on the fortunate side of many tight decisions:

Stamann can win this fight on the feet with his striking volume and should be able to outclass Perez with takedowns and top control.

  • Stamann lands 1.26 more significant strikes per minute than Perez
  • Stamann lands 3.73 more takedowns per 15 minutes than Perez
  • Stamann’s significant strike accuracy is 14% higher than Perez
  • Stamann’s significant strike defense is 3% worse than Perez

Cody Stamann has displayed more development between fights, and has competed against opponents at a higher level than Perez. Stamann should take this one handily.

The Pick: Cody Stamann (-190)


Mickey Gall (-260) versus Diego Sanchez (+220)

New Jersey native Mickey Gall (5-1) first entered the public consciousness when he beat Mike Jackson at UFC Fight Night 82 in what was ostensibly a fight for the right to face wrestler-turned-MMA fighter CM Punk. Gall went on to dominate Punk and currently has a 4-1 record in the UFC.

Based out of Gracie New Jersey Academy, Gall is a grappler who looks to take his opponents down, get their back, and lock in a choke. Gall attempts 5.2 submissions per 15 minutes and all his wins have been via rear naked choke.

On the feet, Gall has displayed toughness and some power but is still developing and is very hittable. He is out-landed by 0.74 significant strikes per minute and CM Punk is the only opponent he’s out-struck in the UFC.

Overall, the level of Gall’s competition has been well below that of most UFC fighters.

On the other hand, Diego Sanchez (28-11) has a fought a who’s who of mixed martial arts. “Lionheart” has been fighting since 2002 and made his debut as part of the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter.

Over the course of his career, Sanchez has fought everywhere between featherweight and middleweight. He returned to welterweight two fights ago and is 1-1 since.

Sanchez started his career as a pure grappler, became a wild brawler throughout his prime, and in recent years has returned to his grappling roots. Once considered to have an iron chin, Sanchez has been knocked out in three of his last five fights. “Lionheart” is coming off a decisive win over Craig White in his most recent UFC fight.

It’s hard to trust either fighter at these lines. Gall is the younger, more athletic fighter, but has been very hittable and relies on his grappling to win fights. Sanchez may not be as durable as he once was, but his losses have come gainst fighters much more accomplished than Gall.

Furthermore, the last two young fighters to test Sanchez’s grappling (Craig White and Marcin Held) both lost to Sanchez by decision.

  • 100% (5/5) of Gall’s wins are by submission, but none (0/11) of Sanchez’s UFC losses are by submission
  • 73% (8/11) of Sanchez’s UFC losses are by decision and 78% (14/18) of Sanchez’s fights since 2009 have ended in decision
  • Gall’s only UFC fight in which his opponent landed a takedown went to decision
  • Sanchez’s last nine wins have been via decision

I’m not sure who will come out on top, but I feel confident saying Sanchez’s world-class grappling will ensure this one goes the full 15 minutes.

The Pick: Fight goes to decision (+130)

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