Welcome to my betting breakdown for UFC Vegas 46: Chikadze vs Kattar. 

After a nice hiatus to start the new year, the UFC returns this Saturday for its first card of 2020. We currently have a ten-fight card scheduled to go down at the Apex tomorrow, headlined by a featherweight matchup between two top-10 contenders in Giga Chikadze and Calvin Kattar. Both men will be in their second consecutive main event. Chikadze is looking to build on his knockout of Edson Barboza and turn a win this weekend into a potential title. Currently, I only have one bet finalized for this weekend but will surely be adding at least another play or two prior to the card. 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. 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.

 

 

Ramiz Brahimaj vs. Court McGee Betting Odds

Odds: Brahimaj -120 vs. McGee +100, DraftKings Sportsbook

Brahimaj had an extremely tough (and gruesome) UFC debut in November of 2020 against Max Griffin. The Bronx native had previously shown strong grappling skills prior to making it into the UFC, yet he seemed to freeze under the bright lights and got stuck in a kickboxing match that ultimately ended via TKO. Brahimaj was able to rebound and secured a first-round submission in his last fight against Sasha Palatnikov. Stylistically, Brahimaj is a hyper-aggressive grappler who outside of his debut has made an effort to grapple in each of his fights. On the ground, Brahimaj has solid submission skills but does lose positions often. One major concern for Brahimaj is his cardio, which has failed him previously. Brahimaj is 9-0 in fights that have ended inside the first round but is 0-3 in fights that reach a third round, as he seemingly struggles to keep his pace throughout the later stages of fights. 

McGee turned 37 last month and has been competing in the UFC for over a decade. McGee has been a journeyman of sorts inside the promotion and has lost five of his last seven fights despite picking up a victory over Claudio Silva in May of 2021. Stylistically, McGee is at his best when he is able to land takedowns and grind his opponents out in close fights that allow him to use his durability and cardio as weapons. McGee has landed nearly two takedowns per fifteen minutes over the course of his UFC career and has never been submitted. The obvious drawback here is that we are looking at an aging fighter, though McGee looked to be in strong physical shape his last time out. 

It’s a little difficult at this time to place where Brahimaj belongs at 170 pounds. He was a strong fighter on the regional scene but had some clear flaws. His two UFC performances fall into two extremes: he was awful against Griffin and looked great against Palatnikov. I think it’s fair to dismiss the Griffin fight to some extent due to debut jitters and a tough overall matchup, but it’s also fair to dismiss some of the success he had against Palatnikov, who is a terrible grappler. Overall, Brahimaj is somebody who has the ability to finish fights early but isn’t a great striker and has problematic cardio. I think there’s a chance he hurts the aging McGee early in this fight but I’d be surprised if Brahimaj had sustained success in this fight. I expect McGee to win the majority of the minutes, specifically in the second and third rounds. The best way to approach this fight is in the Decision-Only market, where we can avoid the potential for a Brahimaj finish and capitalize on the fact that he’s never won a decision. I think the veteran takes over late and gets a decision win here. 

Bet

  • Court McGee DECISION ONLY MONEYLINE (IF FINISH NO ACTION) -135 1.5x until -145, 1x until -160.

Brandon Royval vs. Rogerio Bontorin Betting Odds

Odds: Royval -165 vs. Bontorin +145, DraftKings Sportsbook

Royval burst onto the UFC scene with consecutive submission wins in 2020, but has lost consecutive fights against top-level flyweights in Brandon Moreno and Alexandre Pantoja his last two fights. Royval is a forward-moving madman who embodies the definition of a “kill-or-be-killed” type of fighter. He spams strikes from unorthodox angles at his opponents and is quite happy to get into grappling positions. Royval’s aggressiveness is both his best weapon and biggest flaw because his unpredictable style can both overwhelm opponents and put him in disadvantageous positions. Overall, Royval is a great athlete with strong cardio and the ability to push a rampant pace. But in order to become a real contender, he likely needs to become more technically sound in both his striking and grappling. 

Bontorin has had a weird run in the UFC through four fights. He got a stoppage victory against Raulian Paiva in 2019 after a fluke cut was opened up. He then lost consecutive fights prior to picking up a win over Matt Schnell this past May. Bontorin is a skilled fighter in most aspects of MMA. He’s a decent boxer with solid pop on his punches for a flyweight and is a capable submission grappler. One place he has struggled is off his back, as we’ve seen both Ray Borg and Magomed Bibulatov land takedowns in bunches against Bontorin and hold him down for a bit. Another flaw in Bontorin’s game is his cardio, as evidenced by his knockout loss against Kai-Kara France where Bontorin was seemingly dominating the fight early on but gassed out badly and was knocked out. 

I’m picking Royval to win this fight on the basis of his pressure and pace being too much for somebody like Bontorin to keep up with. If this was a pure grappling match in a gi or a boxing match you could make the case that Bontorin has the skills to beat Royva. However, Royval carries massive advantages here in terms of output and cardio. Instead of laying -165 on the moneyline with somebody as volatile as Royval involved, I’ve opted to play the under 2.5 rounds. Royval has not seen a third round through four UFC fights and that’s a trend I expect to continue. We know that Royval will press the issue and potentially get finished himself early in the fight, but the under can also cash here if Bontorin gasses out and Royval takes advantage of that and finds his 12th career finish. 

Bet

  • Brandon Royval/Rogerio Bontorin Under 2.5 Rounds -160 1x until -167.