Welcome to my betting breakdown for UFC Vegas 44: Font vs Aldo.
After a week off last week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, the UFC returns to its normal Saturday schedule this weekend with a strong fight night offering. Rob Font is a small favorite in what is unquestionably the biggest fight of his career to date against the King of Rio, Jose Aldo. The co-main event also figures to be a great fight, as kickboxers Rafael Fiziev and Brad Riddell face off in what should be a striker’s delight. Elsewhere on the card are a bunch of fun action fights as well. This should be an entertaining weekend. Currently, I have bets on five separate fights and figure to add at least one more bet prior to the card getting underway. You can find all my plays for free in the FTN Bets Tracker. I’ll be writing this column weekly, with extended breakdowns for up to three of my best bets, and occasionally some leans if I don’t have three plays. I will be in the FTNBets Discord for about two hours before the early preliminaries this weekend to answer any questions that readers might have. We'd love to continue building the community through Discord.
If you’re interested in DFS and betting takes for every fight on this card, you can check out The Undisputed MMA Show with Jon Kelly and me.
Kape entered the UFC with a good amount of hype behind him after winning three consecutive fights in Rizin. He dropped his first two UFC fights to Alexandre Pantoja and Matheus Nicolau, each in relatively competitive decisions. Kape picked up his first UFC win with a flying knee finish over Ode Osbourne this past August. Stylistically, Kape is a solid technical striker and has shown better takedown defense than I had expected from him prior to his UFC debut. He is an explosive athlete with fight-ending power (10 career knockouts). However, what worries me most about Kape is the pace he fights at. He dropped both his first UFC fights due to not being active enough and even though he knocked out Osbourne, he had landed less than 20 strikes in the first round prior to the knee.
Zhumagulov has been extremely underwhelming through his first three UFC fights. He lost decisions to Raulian Paiva and Amir Albazi in rather forgettable performances before securing a submission victory over Jerome Rivera this past July. Zhumagulov is a perfect example of a fighter who fights at very thin margins, meaning that he’s unlikely to ever blow out his opponents, but he is also unlikely to get blown out. Zhumagulov has been an aggressive wrestler at points in his career and attempted 11 takedowns in his UFC debut. However, he is also happy to stand and fight his opponents at a slow pace.
I think the moneyline for this fight is pretty accurate. It’s hard to ever trust Kape as a big favorite due to how low-volume his fights are, which can oftentimes lead to close decisions. Despite that, he’s a much better technical fighter than Zhumagulov. The angle I bet in this matchup is that the fight will go to decision. Both of these men have been to a decision in two of their three UFC appearances and the only finishes to materialize were Zhumagulov against a low-level opponent in Rivera, and then Kape landing the knee out of nowhere against Osbourne. This should be a slow-paced fight with not many strikes thrown. Fewer strikes mean fewer opportunities for a finish.
Manel Kape/Zhalgas Zhumagulov Fight Goes The Distance -148 1x until -160 (Placed Friday at FanDuel)
Crute was off to a 4-1 start to his UFC career with four finishes entering the biggest fight of his career this past April against Anthony Smith. Crute was thoroughly outboxed in that matchup for the majority of round one before sustaining a nerve injury in his leg and losing via doctor stoppage. Crute is a solid athlete at light heavyweight and carries some power in his hands, but his main skills come to light on the ground. Crute has been aggressive in his pursuit of the takedown, averaging nearly five takedowns per fifteen minutes over his UFC career and two wins by submission. My worries with Crute lie in his cardio, as he’s only left the first round in one of his first six UFC appearances and is somebody that fights with maximum effort from the opening bell.
Hill began his UFC career 3-0 with two knockouts and had a lot of steam behind him heading into a matchup with Paul Craig earlier this year. Hill had a lot of market respect going into that fight as a -260 favorite but was forced to submit in the first round. The good thing about Hill’s game is that he’s a great athlete with solid cardio and high-output boxing. The negatives are pretty much everything else based on what I’ve seen. Hill has poor takedown defense and his grappling IQ deserves to be called into question after he seemed clueless on the ground against Craig.
This is my favorite spot on the card. Hill has some tools that will simply always allow him to win fights in a shallow division like 205 pounds, but his skills mostly come from pure athleticism. Crute is a nightmare matchup for Hill, whom we’ve seen taken down six times against inferior wrestlers like Darko Stosic. I expect Crute to get this fight to the mat early on and have a massive advantage while on the ground. Hill can win this fight, but likely only if Crute gasses out badly. I think Crute finishes him before that even becomes a problem. This is my biggest bet of the night.
Jimmy Crute -160 1.5x until -165, 1x until -185. (Placed Friday)
Jimmy Cruite wins by Submission +380 0.5x until +250 (Placed Wednesday at FanDuel)
Rafael Fiziev vs. Brad Riddell Betting Odds
Fiziev lost his UFC debut in under 90 seconds against Magomed Mustafaev, but has since rebounded with three consecutive wins. His last two wins were against notable names in Renato Moicano and Bobby Green. Stylistically, Fiziev is a pure kickboxer. He has great body kicks that will thunder through the apex and he sees most of his success while in kicking range. His takedown defense is also solid, but he is unlikely to wrestle offensively. The main drawback on Fiziev is his cardio. We have seen him drop multiple third rounds in his UFC career, most recently to Bobby Green, where he was dominated down the stretch.
Similar to Fiziev, Riddell is a kickboxer who enters this matchup with a perfect 4-0 record inside the UFC. Despite all four wins coming by decision, Riddell is a hard-hitting kickboxer who has really solid boxing. Oftentimes, Riddell will drop the first round of his fights while making reads on his opponents and then bounce back with a very strong last ten minutes. In addition to his standup skills, Riddell has averaged two takedowns per fifteen minutes inside the UFC and is capable of mixing things up.
This is a competitive fight, but one where I have to give an advantage to Riddell. Fiziev is a great kicker, but I believe Riddell has the much cleaner traditional boxing in this matchup. Additionally, Riddell is at a massive cardio advantage in this fight as he’s somebody who builds as fights progress, whereas Fiziev fades the longer the fight persists. Lastly, I don’t expect there to be a ton of grappling in this matchup, but if anybody is going to land takedowns, it’ll be Riddell. He’s simply the more complete fighter with a big cardio advantage. We have to take that at plus-money every time.
A student at the University of Colorado and +EV bettor, Jonah will be contributing both MMA betting and DFS content at FTN. He’s studying journalism and sports media at CU, and this is his first job in the betting industry. Jonah is the MMA Dog of The Night Challenge champion amassing a 90% ROI in the contest and has been a profitable MMA bettor with tracked results. He is known for betting early lines and getting out ahead of the betting market, and looks forward to helping subscribers do the same!