Last Updated Dec 23, 2021, 18:49 PM
UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs. Rodriguez Predictions, Picks, Odds
VI Combat Sports Expert
After two consecutive weekends of high-profile UFC pay-per-view events, the UFC is back on Saturday with a great card headlined by former UFC Featherweight champion Max Holloway, as he will take on divisional prospect Yair Rodriguez. What a striking battle we will witness. Just before that, Heavyweights will lock horns in a three-round co-main event between UFC veteran Ben Rothwell, who takes on Marcos Rogerio de Lima.
UFC Fight Night Holloway vs. Rodriguez Betting Predictions
The last time we saw Holloway he produced one of the best performances of all-time, and that recency bias reflected in this betting line. I won’t lie, Rodriguez shouldn’t be anywhere near this big of an underdog, but the public remembers what they saw last bout. That was an incredible display of dominance from Holloway, and a lackluster performance against Jeremy Stephens for Rodriguez.
Holloway is going to snowball you unless you stifle his offense early -- Poirier was able to do it but only because he has some solid power in his hands. Volkanovski was also able to do it in both of his bouts with Max, using skilled footwork and switching up his attacks to target Holloway’s legs, taking away his momentum.
Rodriguez is a young guy who has been out for a few years. The last time we saw him fight was against Stephens, whom he beat unanimously on the scorecards. People will say that his fight with Stephens should’ve been a cakewalk for the youngster, but Stephens is a tough cookie in there. There’s a reason he still resides around the top 10 of his division after all these years.
Matchup wise, Rodriguez has the more sharp angles and techniques in his toolbox. Holloway has the overall cardio and volume. Rodriguez could easily win the opening rounds, but as always, Max will come on strong in the later rounds. Cardio has been a slight chink in Rodriguez’ armor in the past. The unfortunate thing about Holloway is the fact that you know exactly what he will do, and it all takes place on the feet. This means that Rodriguez can, and most likely has, spent his entire training camp working on perfecting his bread and butter - striking, to give Holloway some problems.
UFC Fight Night Holloway vs. Rodriguez Best Bet
I get that Holloway beat Kattar from pillar to post, but this betting line is a little bit ridiculous. -650 (bet $650 to win $100) implies that Holloway beats Yair easily, and I don’t think that’s right. Kattar had a history of getting outstruck by opponents, whereas Rodriguez is a more technical striker often being on the right side of the strike totals once the final bell rings.
I think he has a fair chance in this fight. I’d at the very least give him a 30% chance of winning, which already makes him a solid bet at +450. I like to go with the valued side here.
Best Bet: Yair Rodriguez ML (+450)
UFC Fight Night Holloway vs. Rodriguez Betting Resources
- Date: Saturday, November 13, 2021
- Venue: UFC Apex
- Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
- Network: ESPN+
- Prelims Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
- Main Card Time: 4:00 p.m. ET
- Betting Odds
UFC Fight Night Holloway vs. Rodriguez Card Picks
Ben Rothwell vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima
Rothwell has been around longer than I’ve been a fan of MMA. His legendary clashes with big names such as Alistair Overeem, Matt Mitrione and Josh Barnett easily made him a great addition to the heavyweight roster back in the day. That said, Rothwell’s glory days are well behind him at this point. I’m saying that despite the fact that the guy is 3-2 in his last five, and even though he just won his last fight by way of submission.
The heavyweight division is quite frankly one of the weakest the UFC has once you get outside of the top 10. In this no-man’s land, old legends such as Stefan Struve (he’s retired now) who at the time of fighting Rothwell had exactly one win in four years and four bouts. That’s the level of opposition Rothwell has been able to beat as of late.
On the other side we have Marcos who has one of the most inconsistent track records the UFC has ever seen. He has been unable to chain wins together since 2014 -- that’s seven years the guy has been jumping from win to loss now. Incredible. On top of this, if you take a closer look at Lima’s losses, red flags should be jumping right at you. Throughout his entire UFC career, Lima has only lost by way of submission (five losses).
Watching his last loss against prospect Romanov, it’s clear that Lima might have a gaping submission deficiency in his MMA game, despite being a black belt in jiu-jitsu. This hole in his game is so easily exploited, that Rothwell might just need one takedown to win this fight. Rogerio de Lima won’t be able to do much under the bigger man on the ground.
On the feet, Rothwell is stiff and slow, but I think he’ll be able to survive long enough to get this to the mat where Marcos will lose by way of submission, in typical fashion. After all, Rothwell hasn’t been KO’ed since 2009 at the hands of Cain Velasquez.
Best Bet: Ben Rothwell via Submission
Ben Rothwell has won three of his last four fights. (Getty)
Felicia Spencer vs. Leah Letson
One of the bigger names in the very shallow 145-pound women’s division is Felicia Spencer. Primarily well-known due to bouts against Amanda Nunes and Cris Cyborg, two fights where she went the distance, Spencer’s name recognition usually means that she is the favorite in fights against lesser known opponents at 145-pounds.
Is that also the case here? Leah Letson graduated from TUF academy with one win and one loss. In the final, her UFC debut, she got the better of Stoliarenko over three rounds, winning the bout via split-decision. Letson is a striking fighter, but does have grappling prowess to fall back on. Is she a submission wiz? No, but she knows how to get back to her feet if she gets taken down, and that is big against Felicia Spencer, whose submission skills have handed her the majority of her pro MMA wins.
Spencer is a decent striker in my book, and while she might be sharp from top position, that doesn’t really matter if she isn’t taking opponents down -- which she isn’t. Averaging 0.48 takedowns per 15 minutes, wrestling isn’t exactly something Spencer uses. In her last bout against Norma Dumont, a striker, Spencer didn’t even attempt to get the fight to the ground once. It’s hard to fathom the low level of fighting IQ you must possess to neglect your easiest path to victory, and willingly go for the hardest, but Spencer has completely fallen in love with her hands at this point in her career.
This is great news for Letson, who usually takes the center of the octagon and works well behind a functioning jab and straight left. So going back to the initial question: is Spencer the rightful favorite here? Definitely not. At the very least this should be a pick ‘em fight. Give me Letson, the more decorated striker, on the moneyline. On second thought, Spencer has never been finished, and Letson isn’t a finisher. Whether you go for the props or not, Letson is the side to back in my opinion.
Best Bet: Leah Letson via Decision
Song Yadong vs. Julio Arce
Song Yadong, a 135-pound prospect, gets another tough test this weekend against Julio Arce. Both guys are coming off impressive wins, however Yadong’s recent win over fellow prospect Casey Kenney takes the cake for me.
Both guys are strikers, but Song has the power advantage, as he always does. If you read my prediction on Song’s last fight, you know that I made a big deal out of his power advantage over Kenney, a volume striker. I made the point that said power advantage would end up handing him a win, should the fight end up going to the judges. That prediction wound up being true.
I think the same thing is a factor in this fight. Song isn’t the most technically sound guy, but when he lands he does so with murderous intent. Arce is the volume fighter in this matchup, and given the fact that Song actually lands more strikes on average, he should have a good probability of winning on the cards here. To top everything off, Song is unbeaten against fighters who’ve taken him down less than three times -- and Julio averages 0.52 takedowns every three rounds.
Song is younger, and more established in the 135-pound division than Arce. Both fighters have competed at 145-pounds, so I won’t attribute a size advantage to either man, but Song still has the power on his side. All in all, Yadong keeps it on the feet and wins this with his power.
Best Bet: Song Yadong ML -135
Song Yadong has seen five of his last six fights go the distance. (Getty)
Thiago Moises vs. Joel Alvarez
Thiago Moises is back after a tough-fought loss against Islam Makhachev. He takes on striker Joel Álvarez who is a tough fighter and is very coachable. Rewatching his win over Michael Johnson, a fight he was losing, just tells me that he can turn any fight on its head with his submission skills. His corner practically led him to that win, but that’s not a knock on the guy, being coachable is a big plus in my book.
Despite Moisés' fighting spirit, his Achilles heel is the fact that he almost always finds a way to get oustruck on the strike totals -- even in fights he ends up winning. You can choose to focus solely on the fight that he has won four of his seven bouts under the UFC mantle, and conclude that he’s a good fighter based on that. I prefer diving a bit deeper, and looking for potential red flags. His inability to keep up with strikes is a red flag to me.
Ironically, this also happens to be the case for his opponent, the 6’ 3’’ Alvarez. However, Moisés surrenders 7-inches in reach to Joel which means he will want to take this fight to the ground. Unfortunately for Moises, Alvarez might be sharp enough on the ground to cancel out his submissions, perhaps even threatening with some of his own.
If this fight plays out on the feet, I can’t favor Moisés as he has that aforementioned reach disadvantage. Seven inches is a lot in this weight class. To add the cherry on top, Alvarez’ three-fight win streak gives him wind in his sails, whereas Moises recent loss to Makhachev means he could be less motivated. All things considered the ‘dog shot is appropriate here. Alvarez has too many advantages to be the ‘dog.
Best Bet: Joel Alvarez ML +210
Cynthia Calvillo vs. Andrea Lee
While it hasn’t been going Cynthia Calvillo’s way as of late, it hasn’t been due to lack of trying. Taking on 5’ 9’’ Katlyn Chookagian when you’re a 5’ 4’’ wrestler can’t be fun. Additionally, the Andrade fight is what it is. There’s levels to MMA. Remember, this comes from a guy who actually took a stab at Calvillo in her last bout, but whatever, that stuff is in the past.
This is an even matchup on paper, with both girls being fairly well-rounded in the octagon. I give the edge in this bout to Andrea Lee however, as she has the size advantage on top of an overall more evolved game. Calvillo was a fighter I predicted would be a solid addition to the 125-pound division after she made the move up from 115-pounds, and bested Jessica Eye in her debut at Flyweight.
My prediction was based on the assumption that her striking would get better after she made the move to train at AKA, a very renowned gym in the MMA world. However, it seems like Calvillo’s striking has stagnated. She doesn’t have much to offer on the feet. Despite not being as tall as Chookagian, Andrea Lee actually has a bigger reach advantage over Calvillo than Katlyn did, in this fight, and that’s huge.
Cynthia Calvillo has failed to win three of her last four fights. (Getty)
Casual fans will claim that Calvillo has the strength of schedule on her side in this matchup, but I disagree. If not for a recent three-fight skid snapped this year by Lee, she would easily be the favorite in this fight. If you outstrike and outgrapple your opponents in your losses, you are a consistent fighter, and that is exactly what Lee is.
Calvillo finds success against strikers who can’t stop her takedowns, but what happens when she faces someone who can match her, if not outperform her in that area? Check out her loss to Carla Esparza if you’re looking for the answer to that question.
Lee is coming into this fight off some newly-found momentum, as she submitted the lesser of the Shevchenko sisters in May of this year -- a very solid win. Calvillo, on the other hand, has lost two straight, and was most recently finished for the first time. This is Lee’s fight to lose, which is great considering she is the underdog for some unknown reason.
Best Bet: Andrea Lee ML +110
Miguel Baeza vs. Khaos Williams
It pains me that most fans are unbeknownst to the fact that this gem of a fight takes place this weekend. Rarely do we get two prospects matched up this early in their respective careers. Both are in their twenties, both are 3-1 in the UFC, both are fighting in the Orthodox stance and both are 170-pounders.
However, one is coming off a win, and one is coming off a loss. Khaos Williams. 27, wasn’t supposed to be here. That’s right, sportsbooks had him a +340 underdog in his debut, which he won in 27 seconds. His next outing saw him priced at a more conservative +170, but the bookies got burned once again, as The Ox Fighter closed the show against Abdul Razzak Alhassan, just 30 seconds in this time.
Despite losing his next outing, in a close decision against Michel Pereira, Williams proved that he was meant to be here by beating Semelsberger over three rounds in his most recent bout. Now, he’s scheduled to take on Baeza. Miguel Baeza started off his UFC run with a three-fight win streak, snatching up two performance bonuses in two of them.
A run in with divisional veteran Santiago Ponzinibbio would bring him back down to earth for a minute however, and now he is scheduled to fight this weekend. Both fighters prefer getting their work done on the feet, but Williams has been the one getting it done more impressively, putting his critically acclaimed punching power on full display in all of his outings. While he hasn’t knocked out his last two opponents, you could tell in both fights that his punches do a lot of damage.
I personally had the Pereira fight scored in his favor. Baeza’s win streak meant a jump in competition level was inevitable, but it proved to be a bit too much too soon. That loss brought him back to reality for a minute. The striking could be 50/50, but I will say that I find it interesting that Williams has never been outstruck in a round under the UFC mantle, despite carrying that famed power. The guys with the power he possesses tend to be the ones that gas out, yet he seems to be an abnormality in that regard. He is very consistent.
Baeza is actually the one with the cardio issue here if you ask me, as his last fight saw his output severely decrease in rounds two and three. Granted, he was fighting Ponzinibbio, but the point still stands when you factor in that he was outstruck badly in round three of his fight on DWCS, a fight which he won.
I don’t like guys that always give up the last round of a fight, especially when they don’t have exceptional punching power. It speaks to a larger issue with a fighter's training habits if you ask me. Baeza might have a slight grappling advantage, but we haven’t seen him chain wrestle, and even if he decides to do that, I think cardio will be his Achilles heel in that scenario, even more so.
At underdog odds I think the value is on Williams. His hands have looked phenomenal, and that power should deter Baeza from engaging recklessly, giving Williams the center of the octagon.
Best Bet: Khaos Williams ML +120
Sean Woodson vs. Collin Anglin
Sean Woodson is insanely tall for 145-pounds. Standing 6-feet and 2-inches tall, with a 77-inch reach, he measures miles above the divisional average for height and reach, adding an increased threat to his already dangerous striking. His reach makes him a sniper on the feet. I guess that’s where the nickname comes from.
Collin Anglin needs to utilize his wrestling to win here, but unfortunately for him, Woodson is extremely adept at controlling and defending wrestlers. His polished takedown defense holds up 81% of the time. In his last four bouts, Woodson’s opponent has attempted a mind-boggling total of 54 takedowns on the guy, and they’ve only been successful eight times. All of Woodson’s opponents seem to agree -- you don’t want to strike with this guy.
Collin showcased some good wrestling in his DWCS fight, winning by unanimous decision and scoring three takedowns, but he came up short in his UFC debut against striking wiz Melsik Baghdasaryan, only getting off one takedown before succumbing to the power. Despite Woodson’s high center of gravity, he is well-versed enough in wrestling to stop guys from taking him down, and his power turns almost everyone he fights into panic wrestlers.
At this point, I can only assume that he is anticipating the takedown attempts more than he did before. Despite the fact that Anglin is a decent grappler, he isn’t stubborn enough with his takedowns - meaning he doesn’t keep pouring it on even if he doesn’t secure that first takedown. Now I know we haven’t seen much of Anglin on the big stage yet, and it is tough predicting these undercard fights where one side only has one UFC bout. From what I’ve seen, Woodson mops the floor with Anglin this weekend. He will not be able to stand in front of The Sniper for a minute without running into something sharp.
I like the favorite here. The betting public seems to be in unison with us about the winner in this one, so why not spice things up with a prop bet to make that return a bit more juicy.
Best Bet: Sean Woodson Wins Inside Distance
Sean Woodson has won eight of his last nine fights. (AP)
Cortney Casey vs. Liana Jojua
“Cast Iron” versus “She Wolf”. Battle of the badass nicknames. Cortney Casey is a UFC veteran at this point. Her 13 UFC bouts, of which she has won only five, have handed her three performance bonuses in a multitude of weight divisions. Casey is a striker, but can submit opponents on the mat. Her last win came by way of submission last year.
Cortney’s biggest problem is her inability to put her stamp on rounds. She has lost five close decisions in the UFC if you ask me. Three of those were split, two were unanimous and fight of the night winners. Going the distance Casey rarely gets her hand raised. Liana Jojua should be the more experienced grappler in this matchup, but she struggles badly on the feet.
At this level, physical attributes tend to dictate whether grapplers can get their takedowns going or not -- and this is great news for Casey because she has a quite significant size advantage over Jojua. Liana surrenders five inches in reach and 3 inches in height to Casey. The biggest red flag for Cortney is her age disadvantage, but that gap in years is mostly due to Jojua being on the younger side, 26, while Casey is only 34.
As long as Casey can nullify the grappling of Jojua, she will win handily. That reach advantage on the feet means she picks Liana apart from a distance.
Best Bet: Cortney Casey Wins Inside Distance
Marc Diakiese vs. Rafael Alves
England’s Marc Diakiese has been out of the octagon for a minute, and ends a one-year hiatus this weekend when he takes on newly-signed Rafael Alves. Alves is a super experienced guy to say the least, the guy has had almost 30 pro fights and only now is he getting signed to the UFC.
Experience is a variable I usually don’t put too much stock into -- since you never know what to make of it. Yes, Alves has had 30 fights, but losing 10 of them doesn’t tell me he learns a whole lot from from his consistent shortcomings. Alves fights like an old school guy, meaning he doesn’t look to win rounds, he only cares about getting the finish.
This means that we almost always see him falling behind on the strike totals, and rarely does he see the judges' scorecards, as he finishes his opponent before the final bell, or ends up finished himself. Alves has lost nine fights inside the distance, three by knockout and six via submission.
Diakiese’s days of being considered a prospect are long gone, but he might be a guy who can exploit that striking deficiency of Alves’ game. It’s not that Alves has bad striking, but it’s the fact that he seems unbeknownst to the fact that fights are judged by three officials when they go the distance. You can’t get struck and win going the distance at this level.
Even in Alves’ wins, he gets oustruck. He landed 19 strikes and in turn absorbed 29 in his fight on DWCS, which he won. Not a good look. Diakiese is coming off a loss to Fiziev, where he didn’t do that badly. I think Marc has the better overall game here to put the nail in the coffin of Alves’ UFC run, before it even begins.
Best Bet: Marc Diakiese ML -185
Kennedy Nzechukwu vs. Da Un Jung
Kicking off the UFC Vegas 42 card this weekend, we’ve got an intriguing 205-pound on our hands. Kennedy Nzechukwu is no stranger to being matched up with wrestlers at this point. He has faced four grapplers so far on the big stage, only falling short once against Paul Craig in a fight he was winning.
Nzechukwu’s power is the biggest thing going for him. He has won three straight coming into Saturday’s fight, two of which he earned a performance bonus from. On the other side we have Da Un Jung, a guy who has yet to lose in the UFC, despite having a close bout against veteran Sam Alvey which was scored as a draw.
Most recently, Jung outwrestled William Knight for 15 minutes straight to win a dominant unanimous decision. Outside of that fight, where he landed eight takedowns, Jung has not secured any takedowns. This stat is worrisome as the size advantage he had over Wililam Knight could’ve been the only reason he was able to get takedowns. I don’t like him in this fight if he can’t get the fight to the ground.
Being 6 feet and 4-inches tall, Jung rarely faces opponents that can outsize him in the octagon, however Kennedy is able to do this, standing 6 feet and 5-inches tall, with a whopping 5-inch reach advantage over Jung. Kennedy has the power and the reach to catch Jung, who isn’t used to fighting bigger guys. I think that’s an x-factor here.
Best Bet: Kennedy Nzechukwu via KO/TKO/DQ