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UFC Vegas 5 At The Apex – Shahbazyan vs Brunson Betting Picks and Predictions

July 29, 2020


Thanks for stopping back for this week’s picks and bets on this 11 fight card. It’s not exactly a card for household names but it is one I’m excited for, and one in which the main event could produce a legitimate title contender in the middleweight division.

This card perhaps offers too much from a betting perspective, as I could easily rationalize a play on every single fight on the card. These are the types of cards where I historically get carried away with dedicated plays, and those have had mixed results. Instead I’m going to keep it dialed into my absolute favorites for dedicated plays, but additionally add some notes in the remaining fights picks section.

Before diving into the plays for this week, let’s review last week to see how we did.

❌ Loss – Darren Till via KO +225 – I thought this one was getting home in the very first round when Till dropped Whittaker with an elbow, but it was not meant to be. Whittaker recovered quickly enough and while he didn’t run away with the fight, he was in the driver’s seat for the last four rounds and took an easy enough decision call.

Win – Carla Esparza +145 – I remain a fan of Marina Rodriguez, but this matchup was just not one for her, as the wrestling of Esparza was always going to be a mountain of a challenge, given her past issues on the floor. This proved to be true, but Esparza made the fight more difficult than it had to be, attacking ankle locks at the end of both the first and second rounds, taking damage and not coming close to a submission. She essentially tried to give away rounds she had locked up both times. Even still, she walked away with a split decision win that she made much closer than it had to be.

Win – Tom Aspinall ITD +100 – This line soared closer to fight time, and for good reason. This was an absolute cake walk for Aspinall as he put out Jake Collier with punches in just 45 seconds. Sometimes these lines are just too good to be true.

Let’s get to this week’s plays.

Betting Plays

Joanne Calderwood -155 vs Jennifer Maia

Fight is at 125 lbs and is +250 to end inside the distance.

This fight is perhaps ill advised for Calderwood to take, as she owns the next crack at champ Valentina Shevchenko, but I can’t be mad at a fighter wanting to stay active. Calderwood has won three of four fights and the loss has a massive asterisk on it, as that was the Katlyn Chookagian fight, which Calderwood obviously won in the eyes of everyone watching, save for the judges. Calderwood remains a fun, high volume fighter that has brought legitimacy to her game since shoring up her grappling deficiencies. She will be busy throwing and putting it on counter striker Jennifer Maia. Maia will not e able to keep up from a volume perspective, but may be able to keep up with power if she is able to rock Calderwood. Even if that is the case, Calderwood is superior grappler here as not all Maia’s are created equal. Maia has shown real difficulty returning to her feet when taken down and is simply not a threat on the floor. Given that Maia won’t be able to keep up on striking volume nor does she have the ability to out grapple Calderwood, I’d day it’s somewhat simple to surmise her path to victory is via KO, and that is a wildly low percentage outcome. The fact that money has rolled in on Maia on Tuesday and Wednesday is maddening to me as this line *should* be getting wider, not shorter. The value on Calderwood at -155 is immense and one to attack!

Betting Play: Calderwood -155

Lando Vannata -150 vs Bobby Green

Fight is at 155 lbs and is +175 to end inside the distance.

This rematch is a chance for Bobby Green to right one of the wrongs that judges have put on him recently. Like many others, I scored the first fight for Green while the outcome on the scorecards was a split draw. This is still a strong matchup for the promotion to make, but I do believe the oddsmakers have the minus symbol in front of the incorrect fighter. Vannata will continue to come out with pace in the first round and could even take that round or find a finish, but when he inevitably slows, the very steady Green will take over the fight. Vannata landed four takedowns in the first matchup, which is the most he’s scored in any of his nine UFC fights, and if Green’s last win over Clay Guida is any indicator, he will be far more ready to stuff Vannata entries in the second go around. I also believe Vannata has completely plateaued, if not regressed, as an overall fighter while Green seems more motivated, if not improved late in his career. I believe we will see Green survive the initial storm, own the striking for the majority of the fight and if necessary, own the grappling exchanges too. Green at a plus figure is just a fantastic value and a great one to attack.

Betting Play: Green +120

Chris Gutierrez -340 vs Cody Durden

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

This line, by my view, is one of the worst put out by oddsmakers in recent memory. I suppose there is the perfect storm of the favorite securing a leg kick KO in his last fight and being matched up with a debutant that wasn’t on the radar of most. That debutant is Cody Durden, and he is actually a stylistic nightmare for Gutierrez. The grain of salt to be taken with Durden is that his level of competition leading up to this fight has been quite low, and he will be facing a jump there. The other negative that comes with Durden is that he’s not going to be on the level of Gutierrez as a technical striker, but he does throw some nice overhand bombs in spots that can keep Gutierrez honest, but he won’t be looking to strike a whole lot in any event. I mentioned Gutierrez last fight, and that was one where Vince Morales just sort of let Gutierrez do whatever he wanted, leading to a leg kick KO. With Durden, it will be quite the opposite. He’s quite a solid wrestler, and what’s even better, he’s one that will go to the well as many times as is necessary to get the fight where he wants it. In Gutierrez four UFC fights, two of his opponents have attempted takedowns, and both secured two. He was able to survive for a split decision loss in one of those fights, but lost via rear naked choke in the other. Durden will be more relentless than any opponent Gutierrez has faced in taking the fight down and that is truly the weakness that can be exploited, along with Gutierrez giving his back. Durden will be happy to take the back if it’s offered, but if not, will settle for control and ground and pound. Durden at +260 is about as attractive an underdog as we will find, with the only worry being the level of competition he’s faced is at such a low level that it’s created a mirage in terms of his skill set. I don’t believe that to be the case and will be attacking this underdog at +260.

Betting Play: Durden +260

Other Fight Predictions

👊 Timur Valiev via KO over Jamall Emmers
Valiev via KO currently sits at +610, and he will push the pressure and he can crack. It’s a fun dart throw.

👊 Markus Perez via KO over Eric Spicely

👊 Ray Borg via decision over Nathan Maness
Borg’s relentless grappling pressure will be too much for the newcomer, and Borg via decision sits at a comfortable -120. The worry is the grappling overwhelms to the level that Borg finds a submission.

👊 Ed Herman via KO over Gerald Meerschart

👊 Frankie Saenz via decision over Jonathan Martinez

👊 Kevin Holland via submission over Trevin Giles

👊 Vincente Luque via submission over Randy Brown

👊 Edmen Shahbazyan via KO over Derek Brunson

TJ Calkins
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. While sports betting remained a passion into adulthood, poker and Daily Fantasy Sports also became passions and remain as such today.