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UFC Fight Night Best Bets, Picks & Predictions for Saturday: Emeev vs. Zawada and Kattar vs. Holloway (Jan. 16)

UFC Fight Night Best Bets, Picks & Predictions for Saturday: Emeev vs. Zawada and Kattar vs. Holloway (Jan. 16) article feature image

Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: Max Holloway at Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island.

  • UFC is back on Saturday for the first time in 2021.
  • To celebrate its return, our UFC staff has broken down their favorite bets for Saturday night's 11-fight card.
  • Check out each individual pick complete with full betting analysis below.

Welcome back, UFC!

The first bout of the year kicks off with six prelim bouts beginning at 12 p.m. ET on ESPN+ with the five-fight main card switching over to ABC at 3 p.m. ET.

With 11 action-packed bouts on the slate, there is plenty of value to be found on the card. So where should you be looking to place your bets? Our crew has pinpointed two fights on Saturday’s card that present betting value in three different ways.

You can find their analysis and picks on those matches below.

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Sean Zerillo: David Zawada vs. Ramazan Emeev

Betting Analyst, The Action Network

Perhaps the organization is hoping that Zawada — who has earned two performance bonuses in three UFC fights — can coax Emeev into an exciting contest.

All five UFC fights for the Daegaestani native have gone the distance (4-1 record), as his desire to control opponents against the cage or ground them (2 takedowns per 15 minutes, 25% accuracy) maintain position amounts to a low-volume, minute-winning strategy.

Zawada (60% takedown defense) hasn’t shown the requisite takedown defense to avoid Emeev’s grip. Still, if he can keep the fight standing for a long stretch, he could win on volume at a distance (+1.09 strikes landed per minute) by maintaining a higher pace.

It’s also possible that Emeev gasses late in the fight – as his style tends to consume a lot of energy.

I do see an edge on the Russian’s moneyline, but I prefer Emeev’ss odds to win by decision (projected -205, listed +100) and for the fight to go the distance (projected -348, listed -175).

Play Emeev’s decision prop to -133, and the Over 2.5 rounds up to -222.

The Pick: Emeev by Decision (-105) | Over 2.5 Round (-200)

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Erich Richter: Max Holloway vs. Calvin Kattar

Contributor at The Action Network

Fresh off his most recent attempt to regain the Featherweight title, Max Holloway will face a new foe in Calvin Kattar.

Kattar is known purely for his boxing skills leading the way to 11 wins via knockout and nine decisions. Conversely, Kattar averages a lowly 0.47 takedowns per 15 minutes in the Octagon, according to UFC Stats. Kattar loves stand up fights and Holloway will happily oblige on Saturday, this should result in a scintillating main event.

Kattar’s recent opponents are not quite at the level of Holloway — although not many are. Ige is tough as nails and took Kattar to the scorecards where Kattar won by unanimous decision. With that said, this is a big step up in competition for Kattar. He has never faced a true title contender in their peak form.

A major issue for Kattar is that he absorbs an absurd 5.66 significant strikes per minute. Compare this to Alexander Volkanovski who absorbs just 3.31 significant strikes per minute and is significantly more adept at landing takedowns.

In their most recent fight, Holloway won two rounds against Volkanovski, according to judges score cards in a controversial decision loss. To say that we are witnessing a decline of Holloway appears unfair and baseless until we see otherwise.

This is also a difficult stylistic matchup for Kattar as he will most likely need a knockout to come away with a victory. It seems unlikely that he will out-strike Holloway — perhaps the best pure striker in UFC Featherweight history. Holloway averages 6.47 significant strikes landed per minute.

Holloway has not submitted an opponent in five years and only has two submission wins over his 21 victories. Unless Holloway’s days are truly numbered, I expect him to have his hand raised with his high volume and accurate striking to lead the way.

The Pick: Holloway by KO/TKO or Decision (-124)

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