- The event this week is UFC Fight Night: Edwards vs Muhammad with two free main card bets coming in hot!
- Our first breakdown is on the 125-pound matchup between Manel Kape, and Brazilian Matheus Nicolau
- We follow that up with analysis of the co-main event, Ryan Spann vs Misha Cirkunov
- Early Prelims get underway at 5pm ET, and the main card starts at 8 pm ET!
We’re coming off another win with our free UFC picks from last week, scoring a win at +210 odds as Amanda Nunes submitted Megan Anderson in the first round. We’re going to try to stay hot this week, with two more free picks on what should be an action-packed card.
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Manel Kape (-115) vs Matheus Nicolau (-105)
This will be the second stint in UFC for Matheus Nicolau (15-2), after an impressive 3-1 record in his first run with the promotion. Originally purged when UFC briefly cut its flyweight division, Nicolau now returns to face a very strong field of contenders at 125 pounds.
Nicolau’s strength is his ground game, and he’ll look to exploit that if he gets the fight to the floor, however he also possesses solid striking ability.
Across the ring will be Manel Kape (15-5), a very skilled fighter who made a name for himself in Japan.
Kape is known for his smooth striking skills and knockout power, with nine of his 15 wins coming by KO. If he can get into a rhythm on his feet, there aren’t many 125-pounders in the world who are better.
How it plays
Both fighters are on the lower end in terms of volume, with neither fighter landing more than four strikes per minute.
The lack of volume will put focus on skill in the striking game, and that is where Kape has a significant edge. Not only is Kape the better striker, but Nicolau has a habit of letting his opponent push him backwards.
Constantly being on the back foot will make it difficult for Nicolau to get any consistent striking offense going against a guy like Kape.
With this fight likely to play on the feet where I favor Kape, that leaves Nicolau reliant on getting a takedown where he’ll have a path to victory as the superior grappler. That will be a tall order for the Brazilian, as the athleticism of Kape will be enough to fight off Nicolau’s Jiu Jitsu takedowns, keeping the fight upright.
Eventually the constant feints, pressure, and slick counter-striking of Kape will overwhelm Nicolau, leading to a finish.
PREDICTION: Kape wins by knockout late in round 2.
Risk 1.5 units on Manel Kape @ -155
Ryan Spann (+105) vs Misha Cirkunov (-125)
Misha Cirkunov (15-5) has not competed professionally since 2019, where he was just 1-3 over his previous four bouts before scoring a victory over Jimmy Crute.
Though the 34-year old won his last fight, Cirkunov was very close to being finished himself before turning the tables and finding a submission on Crute with a Peruvian necktie.
Technically speaking, Cirkunov is a very solid fighter, and can be tough to deal with if allowed to build any momentum. However, if he is the nail and not the hammer early on, things will usually go downhill for him fast.
Up until his last bout, Ryan Spann (18-6) was on a roll with an eight-fight win streak including a 4-0 mark in the UFC.
Much like Cirkunov, Spann’s last fight also saw a reversal of fortune, however the 29-year-old was on the wrong end of it. Spann had put Johnnie Walker on skates twice with his striking before ultimately taking some heavy shots and losing by knockout.
I like Spann for his physical tools; he’s a strong, fast, athletic fighter who has consistently shown growth fight to fight, with a good coach in his corner.
How it plays
With two finishers in a small cage this fight should be entertaining while it lasts.
Cirkunov may initially try playing from the outside, but one or two strikes from Spann should convince him to quit striking and immediately look for the takedown.
It will be key for Spann to force Cirkunov to at the very least work for those takedowns. The younger Spann has shown in the past he is capable of getting up from a takedown before his opponent establishes control, and he’ll need to do that here to keep the fight on his terms
Spann is well-schooled in grappling, and his ability to bounce back to his feet after a takedown gives him an edge in this fight.
When on their feet, Spann’s length, speed, & power are going to be a real problem for Cirkunov who needs to crash the distance to have a chance.
I see Spann clipping Cirkunov with a power shot early as he tries crashing space for a takedown.
PREDICTION: Spann knocks Cirkunov out in Round 1.
Risk 1 unit on Ryan Spann @ +120
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