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UFC Fight Night 169

26 February 2020

Last updated: 22 March 2020 at 8:29 am

UFC Predictions with TJ Calkins

UFC Norfolk ON ESPN+ 27

This streaming fight night card features a title fight, which is fairly rare for these occasions. In fairness, it is the least prestigious title the promotion has and that is in the men’s flyweight (125 lbs) division. Joseph Benavidez takes on Deiveson Figuerdo for the championship vacated by Henry Cejudo.

Benavidez is the epitome of a grizzled veteran and has 18 previous fights in the promotion, going 15-3 with the losses coming to longtime champ Demetrious Johnson twice and a tough split decision call against Sergio Pettis, which is a full outlier. This will be his third crack at the flyweight championship as both losses to Johnson were title fights. He has also beaten previous champion Henry Cejudo. His opponent Figuerdo brings a different power element than most flyweights are accustomed to.

Figuerdo is 6-1 in the promotion and is the correct opponent for Benavidez. There are two common opponents as both fighters have beaten John Moraga but the matchups with Jussier Formiga paint a picture of an advantage for Benavidez. Formiga beat Figuerdo in March of 2019 with a vanilla controlling game plan, but it worked and got him the easy decision win.

Benavidez on the other hand has fought and knocked out Formiga twice. The first was a first round KO in 2013 while the second was a second round KO just this past June. The early betting line has Benavidez as just a small -125 favorite and this is an attractive line to get on Benavidez. He will have a technical striking advantage on the feet and will be the more apt BJJ fighter on the floor. While Figuerdo does bring power, Benavidez will be able to neutralize him and finally get his hands on the gold he’s chased for so many years. 

UFC Norfolk Betting Overview

We discussed the main event flyweight title fight in our look ahead for this card, and there hasn’t been any changes for that particular fight despite there being a number of changes to the card with some late notice fight changes and cancellations.

This is a card that offers much more from an entertainment and viewing perspective than it does on a plethora of strong value plays. There are some, but part of what brings the intrigue of this card are tight fights that go either way along with a couple of strong favorites who have lines that are likely too wide to realistically play.

As always, even for the fights without a betting play I’ll offer a prediction at the conclusion of the piece in case you’re itching for a little more action than what is prudent to put out there.

Joe Benavidez -140 vs Deiveson Figuerdo

Fight is five rounds at 125 lbs and is +135 to end inside the distance.

For the vacant flyweight championship.

Deiveson Figuerdo has quite a bright future in the flyweight division, and he will be the champ one day, but that day will not be this Saturday. Benavidez is still a level or two above him, even nearing the twilight of his career. Figuerdo will have the power advantage as he will in all or most of his fights, but he was unable to make that power felt in his fight with Jussier Formiga and we will get a repeat of that against “Joe Jitsu.” For reference, Benavidez has fought and finished Formiga twice. Figuerdo is a sound enough grappler, but on the floor is where the difference in this fight will be had. Figuerdo has been taken down in each of his last three fights and this one will not be an outlier. The more time spent on the floor will be a huge advantage for Benavidez as he drains the power of Figuerdo as the fight progresses and potentially secures a late submission or a decision win.

This will be Benavidez third crack at UFC gold and the third time will be the charm as the first two times he was tasked with beating prime Demetrius Johnson. Figuerdo has a bright future but he is no Johnson.

Aaand new champ, Joe Benavidez

Betting Play: Benavidez -140

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Tom Breese -135 vs Brendan Allen

Fight is at 185 lbs and is -145 to end inside the distance

There is an element to this fight that is flying a bit under the radar and I will get to that in just a second. Breese is 4-1 in the UFCm but has fought just once since 2016 due to various issues, including something upstairs which is always alarming for a fighter. His first two fights in the promotion were KO wins against low level fighters, one of which never winning a fight in the promotion. Of his next three fights, the southpaw only fought one orthodox fighter, and yes that was the fight he lost. This is the element of the fight that is flying under the radar. His best weapon is his boxing, namely his jab, and it is much more difficult to establish it to control range in a southpaw vs orthodox matchup. He is the better boxer and striker but I do not believe the majority of this fight will take place on the feet. Allen is a high end grappler and a true submission threat. While Breese has made strides in this department, he is outclassed on the floor in this one and Allen should control his way to a decision or find a submission. I do believe the wrong fighter is favored and there is big value in the underdog Allen.

Betting Play: Brendan Allen +105

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We don’t have a heaping helping of strong bets this week, but here’s the picks on the rest of the card in case you want more action.

  • Felicia Spencer via first round submission
  • Ion Cuteloba via first round KO
  • Megan Anderson via second round KO
  • Grant Dawson via second round submission
  • Gabriel Silva via second round submission
  • Marcin Tybura via third round KO
  • Luis Pena via decision
  • TJ Brown via decision
  • Aalon Cruz via second round KO
  • Sean Brady via decision 
NBA Betting with TJ Calkins


TJ Calkins – UFC Expert

TJ Calkins was raised in a gambling loving household. He knew how to handicap horse races and follow line movements well before his tenth birthday. TJ writes weekly UFC picks and predictions at USsportsbonus.com

UFC Predictions at USsportsbonus.com

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