Saturday UFC Fight Night Odds, Projections, Best Bets: Our Picks for Chookagian vs. Ribas, Hadley vs. Nascimento (May 14)
Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: A general view of the Octagon at UFC APEX.
- The UFC heads to back to the APEX for Saturday's action-packed 11-fight event and our MMA experts are spotting value in two bouts.
- Sean Zerillo and Billy Ward are eyeing two bets — one moneyline and one method of victory prop — on Saturday’s card.
- Check out their picks below, plus Zerillo's model projections for every fight.
The UFC takes top billing on Saturday night with an 11-bout card at the APEX. The action begins at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN with five prelim fights before moving to ESPN 2 for the remaining six main card fights, which includes a main event matchup between top-five light heavyweight contenders Jan Blachowicz and Aleksandar Rakic.
So where should you be looking to place your bets? Our crew has pinpointed two fights and picks on Saturday’s stacked card that present betting value.
You can find their analysis and picks on those matches plus Sean Zerillo’s projections below using odds from BetMGM.
Contributor at The Action Network
Ribas is stepping up to flyweight to take on Katlyn “Blonde Fighter” Chookagian in main card action on Saturday. Unlike many fighters who change weight classes, she didn’t do so following a bad run at her former class. She was 4-1 as a UFC strawweight, with a win in her last showing.
I’m generally a fan of fighters stepping up, not down, in weight, particularly as they age. There’s rare exceptions for fighters who are clearly too small for the class, but that doesn’t describe Ribas. There’s some concern over her chin at the heavier weight, since she’s been hurt in previous fights and her lone UFC loss is by knockout.
However, Chookagian isn’t the fighter to test that chin. She’s finished precisely 0 of her UFC wins, while recording only one knockdown – back in 2016. That gives Ribas all the finishing upside here, thanks to her aggressive submission grappling.
The real challenge will be getting the fight to the ground, with some people seeing the size advantage for Chookagian preventing that. While Ribas is 6 inches shorter, she’s only giving up 2 inches in reach. She could also be the stronger fighter, as cutting down to 125 pounds at 5-foot-9 (as Chookagian does) doesn’t leave room for much muscle mass.
I also think being the shorter fighter could help Ribas with takedowns. Ribas has a Judo background, and one of the principles of Judo is getting your hips beneath your opponents’ to off balance them. I also have a Judo background, and preferred grappling taller fighters to short, stocky, wrestler types.
Finally, Ribas throws a lot more strikes per round than her opponent, which could play a big role in a fight where neither woman is likely to hurt the other standing. While damage is the first criteria, judges usually give the round to the more active striker in the absence of any big moments.
With more ways to win and +160 odds at Caesars, Ribas is a solid play on Saturday’s card.
The Pick: Amanda Ribas ML (+160)
Sean Zerillo: Jake Hadley vs. Allan Nascimento
Staff Writer at The Action Network
Saturday’s bout between undefeated English debutant Jake Hadley and Chute Box product Allan Nascimento is an exciting scrap. I suspect that the fight could play out similarly to the prelim bout last week at UFC 274 between Tracy Cortez and Melissa Gatto.
Nascimento is a dangerous and aggressive submission artist who tends to play guard after he’s taken down. That tendency costs him minutes towards winning a decision, and if he’s unable to secure a submission, he jeopardizes losing on the scorecards.
Typically, I look to bet against British grapplers. Still, Hadley may be an exceptional prospect — he’s the first fighter signed from Contender Series after missing weight.
I tend to lead towards the underdog in this matchup – I expect to see a grappling affair, and Nascimento appears the more dangerous submission grappler on the mat.
Moreover, I think he may be the superior technical striker if this fight stays on the feet. Still, I expect Hadley to win minutes with top control if he decides to grapple. He should win a decision at a high percentage if Nascimento is willing to accept position and search for submissions from guard.
I don’t have a bet on either side of this moneyline or any winning method props for this fight, although you can find value on Hadley by decision (projected +129, listed +150 at Caesars) depending upon the book.
However, I project this bout to reach a decision 60% of the time (-150), and I bet that prop is at -115 (53.5%) at Caesars. You can play that line up to -133 (57% implied) at a three percent edge.
The Pick: Fight Goes to Decision (-115)