UFC Fight Night Picks, Predictions & Best Bets: Jackson vs. Topuria, Leavitt vs. Wiman (Saturday, Dec. 5)
Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images. Pictured: UFC fighter Ilia Topuria (blue gloves) punches Youssef Zalal.
- Trying to find an angle for every fight on tonight's UFC slate? Sean Zerillo breaks down everything you need to do for the undercard and main card, from betting odds and picks to model projections and analysis.
Saturday’s 11-bout UFC Fight Night slate features some action-packed matchups at the top of the card with Jack Hermansson facing Marvin Vettori in the main event and Ovince Saint Pruex taking on Jamahal Hill in the co-main event.
But the fights that our crew has their eyes on are much further down the card and feature two UFC newcomers. You can find their analysis and bets on those matchups below.
UFC Fight Night Betting Picks
Reed Wallach: Jordan Leavitt vs. Matt Wiman
Contributor at The Action Network
Jordan Leavitt makes his UFC debut after a second round submission victory on Dana White’s Contender Series to take on vet Matt Wiman. Wiman is an interesting case as he took five years off from the MMA grind, only to return in 2019 with two resounding losses to a pair of up and coming prospects.
Leavitt is a matchup nightmare for Wiman, the debutant has five wins by submission in seven pro fights. While youthful, he has a ton of talent with a wide array of finishes.
Wiman has never been submitted, and in the first half of his career he showed some talent on the ground — but that was years ago. If he tries to keep this fight standing, Leavitt’s aggressive pace will eventually get this one down. The new face will be the one controlling the pace, and it will be too much for Wiman to handle.
Once this hits the mat, Leavitt is going to be able to get whatever he wants. I think he is going to be able to secure a swift finish in this one. While Wiman has shown to be capable on the ground, and has never been finished by submission, I don’t think he has the ability at his advanced age to hang with the “Monkey King” given his two fights since returning to the promotion.
The Pick: Leavitt Inside the Distance (+100) — Use as a parlay piece at -455.
Sean Zerillo: Damon Jackson vs. Ilia Topuria
Betting Analyst, The Action Network
Topuria was one of the more impressive UFC debutants so far in 2020, recording a clean 29-28 decision over Youssef Zalal on Oct. 10, spoiling the Moroccan’s four-fight UFC winning streak in the process.
Topuria faded late in the Zalal fight, but he also took the bout on short notice, and I’ll shelve any potential cardio concerns for the Georgian, coming in off of a full camp for this fight – training with UFC competitors at MMA Masters.
He loads up for big power shots on the feet, but Topuria is also an incredibly slick grappler who chains his submission attempts.
Jackson is an opportunistic grappler in his own right (14-of-18 wins by submission) and recorded a late stoppage in his UFC debut against Misrad Bektic, but Topuria is the better athlete, the far superior wrestler, and a much more powerful man.
Jackson doesn’t have the tools to take advantage of the height (+4 inches) and reach (+2 inches) advantages he possesses in this matchup, and I see his only true path to victory via submission.
The 23-year-old Topuria looks like a special prospect, and based solely upon the nine year-age gap against Jackson, Topuria has a 63% win expectancy as the younger man in the fight.
My projections have him at 77% (implied -334), and I would bet Topuria’s moneyline up to -285 (implied 74%).
The Pick: Ilia Topuria (-250)