The UFC returns to action on Saturday, March 20th, with a live event from their Apex Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, that features a Top 10 middleweight fight in the main event.
UFC on ESPN 21, also known as UFC Vegas 22, is headlined by the 7th ranked middleweight Derek Brunson taking on the rising Kevin Holland who’s ranked 10th in the division.
The main card has undergone a few changes including a new co-main event that features the 15th ranked lightweight Gregor Gillespie taking on Brad Riddell.
UFC on ESPN 21 is scheduled to have six main card fights with a start time of 10 PM ET. A six fight preliminary card is set to begin at 7PM ET on ESPN.
Let’s step inside the betting octagon to examine the latest UFC on ESPN 21 main card betting odds, identify any betting value, and finish off these predictions with a unanimous decision.
Ask and you shall receive! ?
? @DerekBrunson & @Trailblaze2top meet this Saturday on @ESPN. #UFCVegas22 pic.twitter.com/5s8lkCJo6J
— UFC (@ufc) March 15, 2021
Co-Main Event of Hill vs Craig Is Off
The co-main event was supposed to be an intriguing light heavyweight matchup between Jamahal Hill and Paul Craig. Unfortunately, Hill tested positive and is off the event.
At first, Craig said that Hill pulled out of the fight. But, Hill quickly took to social media to refute that statement and make the following comments of his own:
“The fight has been postponed, it’s not cancelled. I haven’t pulled out of anything. I specifically called and asked them to make sure they kept the same match intact. I’m having some complications from COVID. I contracted COVID a little over a week ago.”
Hill is struggling to recover from the many symptoms. The UFC plans on rescheduling this contest for a later date.
Montserrat Ruiz vs Cheyanne Buys
TeamCheyanne Buys-355-355-355Montserrat Ruiz+280+280+280
This bout was originally supposed to be Kay Hansen taking on Cheyanne Buys. However, Hansen was forced to withdraw due to undisclosed reasons and Montserrat Ruiz will fill in on roughly one week’s notice. Both women are making their UFC debuts this weekend.
Ruiz went 8-0 before joining Invicta FC in late 2018 where she lost her debut via unanimous decision. She wouldn’t fight again until July 2020, but this time the result was better as she won via 1st round submission.
Five of her nine pro wins have come via stoppage. She’s 4-1 when going the distance.
Buys appeared on DWCS last August and won via unanimous decision over Hilarie Rose. She enters this Saturday’s contest having won four in a row. Her husband JP Buys is also making his UFC debut, but he will be on the preliminary card against Bruno Silva.
Kay Hansen(@KayHansenMMA) has withdrawn from her UFC bout vs Buys. Cheyanne Buys (@CheyWarPrincess) is now set to face Montserrat Ruiz (@ConejoMad) at UFC on ESPN 21 on March 20th. pic.twitter.com/hDlJjFrOQK
— Cameron Wilson (@CameronwMMA) March 12, 2021
Cheyanne only has one stoppage win in five pro victories. She’s 4-1 when going the distance.
The safe play for this fight is to take the Over 2.5 rounds (-285) and for the fight to go the full 15 minutes (-260). These two have combined to go the distance in 10 of their 16 total fights.
Ruiz has gone to a decision in three of her last four bouts, while Buys has gone the distance in five straight fights. In fact, she hasn’t had a stoppage since her professional debut three years ago.
Once with the judges, I expect Buys to win this bout. Both women have potential, but I like more of what I’ve seen from Cheyanne than Ruiz.
As of this writing, there are a limited number of prop bets to wager on unlike the rest of the main card fights. This is largely due to the late matchmaking and the fact that both combatants are making their debuts this weekend.
I expect more props to be listed later this week. Look for the prop where Buys wins via decision as it should offer decent value.
Montserrat Ruiz vs Cheyanne Buys –Buys (-355)
Over 2.5 rounds (-285)
Fight goes the distance (-260)
Max Griffin vs Kenan Song
TeamMax Griffin-195-195-195Kenan Song+170+170+170
Song debuted with the UFC in the fall of 2017 where he won via KO in the 1st round against Bobby Nash. Since then, he’s gone 3-1 in his last four fights which brings his overall record to 4-1 inside the octagon.
Song last fought 13 months ago and beat Callan Potter via 1st round KO. 14 of his 16 pro wins have come via stoppage with eight by way of TKO/KO. He’s 2-3 when going the distance and also has 2 TKO/KO losses.
Griffin joined the UFC in the summer of 2016 and lost via 3rd round TKO to Colby Covington. He’s just 4-6 inside the octagon. Griffin last fought in November and won via 3rd round TKO over Ramiz Brahimaj. The win snapped a two fight skid and a 1-4 stretch.
10 of his 16 pro wins have come via stoppage with eight by way of TKO/KO. He’s 6-7 when going the distance.
Griffin made the following comments about his opponent for this weekend:
“This guy is okay — he’s good, but everybody is good, right? We saw him in China when Anthony (Hernandez) fought in China — dude was on the card, but I didn’t really think s*** of him. I’m not looking past this guy, but he’s a good guy to beat. He’ll stand in front of me and that’s what people don’t want to do right now.”
I’m going against the oddsmakers in this one. I don’t see this fight going Over 2.5 rounds (+170) and I don’t see it going the full 15 minutes (+145), which offers the best value for this contest.
We have two heavy hitting strikers who have combined to finish off 16 opponents via TKO/KO. Additionally, they have also combined to suffer three TKO/KO losses.
I believe that Griffin will get the TKO/KO (+550) win in this contest as he’s the more powerful striker and seems to be on the rise. Plus, he’s fought tougher competition than Song has.
Max Griffin vs Kenan Song –Griffin (-200)
Under 2.5 rounds (+170)
Fight ends inside the distance (+145)
Griffin wins inside the distance (+325)
Griffin wins via TKO/KO (+550)
Gustavo Lopez vs Adrian Yanez
TeamAdrian Yanez-210-210-210Gustavo Lopez+180+180+180
Lopez joined the UFC less than a year ago, but fell short in his debut against Merab Dvalishivili as he lost via unanimous decision last June.
However, he would bounce back in his second trip inside the octagon with a 1st round submission win over Anthony Birchak last November. He’s now 4-1 in his last five pro fights which spans the UFC and Combate.
11 of his 12 pro wins have come via stoppage with six by way of TKO/KO. He’s 1-3 when going the distance.
Yanez made an appearance on DWCS last August and won via 1st round TKO over Brady Huang. He then made his UFC debut on Halloween last year and won via 1st round KO.
Yanez enters this weekend’s contest having won five straight fights. His last loss was to Miles Johns via split decision in November 2018.
Nine of his 12 pro wins have come via stoppage with seven by way of TKO/KO. He’s 3-3 when going the distance. Adrian will also have a 3.5 inch reach advantage, which he believes is a big advantage for him.
Yanez made the following prediction about his bout against Lopez:
“I’ve fought better wrestlers, and I’ve definitely fought better strikers. I see a lot of openings I know I’ll be able to take advantage of. If he’s able to take the shots, it’s going to be three rounds of me just picking him apart. But if he can’t take the shots? First-round finish.”
I don’t see a first round finish, but I do see Yanez winning Under 2.5 rounds (-155) and the fight definitely ending inside the distance (-180). Yanez will pick up the win via TKO/KO (+150).
Five of Yanez’s last six wins have all come via TKO/KO. Four of those five TKO/KO wins came in the 1st round. Lopez also has two losses via TKO/KO with the last one coming three years ago to Andre Ewell when both fighters were competing in KOTC.
The best value for this fight is Yanez winning inside the distance at +110 odds.
Gustavo Lopez vs Adrian Yanez –Yanez (-220)
Under 2.5 rounds (-155)
Fight ends inside the distance (-180)
Yanez wins inside the distance (+110)
Yanez wins via TKO/KO (+150)
Tai Tuivasa vs Dontale Mayes
TeamTai Tuivasa-201-201-201DonTale Mayes+171+171+171
The big boys come out to play in this heavyweight matchup where both fighters are looking to crack the Top 15.
Mayes enters this contest as the sizable underdog. He’s just 1-2 inside the octagon, but is used to proving the naysayers wrong.
Mayes went 2-1 in his three DWCS appearances before the UFC gave him a contract in the fall of 2019. He debuted with a loss to Ciryl Gane then lost in his second octagon grip to Rodrigo Nascimento Ferreira.
“Kong” was able to snap the two fight losing streak with a win over Roque Martinez via unanimous decision last November.
Tai Tuivasa vs. Don’Tale Mayes added to UFC Fight Night on March 20 (via @mma_kings, @Farah_Hannoun) https://t.co/7H2EKHnDiK
— MMA Junkie (@MMAjunkie) January 20, 2021
Five of his eight pro wins have come via stoppage with four by way of TKO/KO. He’s 3-0 when going the distance. Three of his four pro losses have come via stoppage.
Tuivasa debuted in the UFC in late 2017 and won via 1st round KO. He would go 3-0 in the octagon before dropping three straight and then being released in October 2019.
However, the UFC gave him another shot one year later and Tai made the most of it. He fought Stefan Struve last October and won via 1st round KO.
Nine of his 10 pro wins have come via TKO/KO with all of those knockout wins coming in the 1st round. He’s 1-1 when going the distance.
Mayes might not be as big of name as Struve, Spivak, Ivanov or dos Santos (his last four opponents), but Tuivasa doesn’t care. He considers himself a prizefighter who’s trying to feed his family:
“But to be honest, I’m a prizefighter. I don’t care if they’re ranked or not; if they’re paying me my money, I’m going to rock up and fight. So my next goal is to win these next couple of fights and renegotiate a good contract and then go from there. I’m in this to feed my family and set my son up. So I’m definitely looking to get back in the winning category and sign a new contract, and then I’ll fight whoever the f— they want.”
Mayes will have a four inch height and a six inch reach advantage, but that will only delay the inevitable which is Tuivasa winning via TKO/KO (+115).
Tuivasa is more agile and a better overall striker than Mayes. He will stick and move before making “Kong” crumble and fall to the mat like King Kong from the Empire State Building.
I’m taking this fight to go Over 1.5 rounds (-175) but to end inside the distance (-210). I like Tai’s odds of +100 to win inside the distance as it offers great value. It’s almost the same as his TKO/KO odds, but also covers any win by submission.
Tai Tuivasa vs Dontale Mayes –Tuivasa (-210)
Over 1.5 rounds (-175)
Fight ends inside the distance (-210))
Tuivasa wins inside the distance (+100)
Tuivasa wins via TKO/KO (+115)
Gregor Gillespie vs Brad Riddell
TeamGregor Gillespie-155-155-155Brad Riddell+135+135+135
After the light heavyweight matchup between Hill and Craig was cancelled from UFC on ESPN 21, this lightweight bout was bumped up to the co-main event. And, it promises to be an entertaining fight.
Riddell enters this weekend’s contest on a six fight win streak which includes his entire UFC run. He made his octagon debut in the fall of 2019 and beat Jamie Mullarkey via unanimous decision.
Riddell followed that up with two more decision victories over Magomed Mustafaev and Alex do Silva Coelho. Five of his nine pro wins have come via TKO/KO. He’s 4-0 when going the distance.
Gillespie hasn’t fought since November 2019 when he lost to Kevin Lee via 1st round KO. That was the first pro loss of his career. It also dropped his record inside the octagon to 6-1.
11 of his 13 pro wins have come via stoppage with six by way of TKO/KO. He’s 2-0 when going the distance.
I like this matchup as I do believe that Riddell is a live dog. With that said, I am taking Gillespie to get back on track with a stoppage win (+130). I can see Gillespie winning this contest via submission (+225) as he’s a better grappler than Riddell who’s only pro loss has come via tapping out.
I think the wager for this fight to end inside the distance (-145) offers the best value since the two have gone the distance in just six of 24 pro fights.
The Over/Under 2.5 rounds is the tough one to decide as it could go either way which is why the odds are even. With that in mind, I am taking the Under.
Gregor Gillespie vs Brad Riddell –Gillespie (-245)
Under 2.5 rounds (-115)
Fight ends inside the distance (-145)
Gillespie wins inside the distance (-145)
Gillespie wins via submission (+225)
Derek Brunson vs Kevin Holland
TeamKevin Holland-163-163-163Derek Brunson+143+143+143
This middleweight contest is going to be an exciting one with two fighters that have a combined 32 finishes.
Brunson is ranked 7th, but is the slight underdog for this main event. He’s been with the UFC for over eight years and has an 11-5 record. Brunson is 5-2 in his last seven fights spanning the last four years.
He’s put together a three fight win streak with solid wins over Theodorou and Heinisch. But, he captured a big victory last August when he scored a 3rd round TKO over the fast rising Edmen Shahbazyan.
15 of his 21 pro wins have come via stoppage with 12 by way of TKO/KO. He’s 6-2 when going the distance and also has five TKO/KO losses.
Holland earned a UFC contract in the summer of 2018 after winning on DWC via unanimous decision over Will Santiago Jr. Unfortunately, he would lose via decision to Thiago Santos in his debut.
Holland would bounce back to win three in a row before losing to Brendan Allen in October 2019 via 2nd round submission. He would then go on to have a monster 2020 with five straight wins.
Fight night is slowly approaching. @SkilledViolence @hayabusacombat @travislutter pic.twitter.com/k7slng7Zg3
— Kevin Holland (@Trailblaze2top) March 14, 2021
Holland defeated Hernandez, Buckley, Stewart, Ontiveros and Jacare Souza in 2020. All of those wins except for the Stewart fight came via TKO/KO. He’s now 8-2 inside the octagon.
17 of his 21 pro wins have come via stoppage with 12 via TKO/KO. He’s 4-3 when going the distance and also has two losses via submission.
Fortunately for Holland, he won’t have to worry about Brunson’s submission skills, which are subpar. Holland is the better grappler between the two and I expect him to use some well-timed takedowns to mix up the pace of this fight, throw off Brunson and eventually score the win.
The hard decision to make for this fight is whether or not it will go Over or Under 2.5 rounds. Oddsmakers slightly favor the Over (-120), but they believe it will finish inside the distance at -190 odds.
I’m going to side with the UFC betting sites for these props. I like Holland and feel that he’s the better all-around fighter. He also has a lot of momentum from 2020 and is on track to shoot up into the Top 5.
Brunson has turned things around in his career over his last three fights, but I think this is where his run ends. I’m taking Holland to win this fight via TKO/KO (+160). Holland winning inside the distance offers the best value at +115 odds.
Derek Brunson vs Kevin Holland –Holland (-160)
Over 2.5 rounds (-120)
Fight ends inside the distance (-190)
Holland wins inside the distance (+115)
Gillespie wins via submission (+225)
Holland wins via TKO/KO (+160)
As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed “King of the Blog” in his first year with the site. …
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