Last Updated Mar 19, 2022, 7:31 PM

UFC Fight Night 204 Picks, Predictions, Odds

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to The O2 Arena of London, England, this weekend for UFC Fight Night: Volkov vs. Aspinall. Scheduled to take place on March 19, 2022, UFC Fight Night: Volkov vs. Aspinall will be the first in London since March of 2019. 

A heavyweight bout between former Alexander Volkov and Tom Aspinall is expected to serve as the main event. Russian Alexander ‘Drago’ Volkov is a former Bellator Heavyweight World Champion and Tom Aspinall is a surging prospect with a 4-0 UFC record.

Fan-favorite and rising star Paddy Pimblett is expected to take on Rodrigo Vargas in the co-main event. UFC Fight NIght: Volkov vs. Aspinall also features unbeaten UFC lightweight Arnold Allen taking on Dan Hooker, as well as undefeated prospect Jack Shore scheduled to battle with Timur Valiev on the prelims.

UFC Fight Night 204 Odds & Bouts

UFC Fight Night 204 Main Card

  • Heavyweight: Alexander Volkov (+110) vs. Tom Aspinall (-130)
  • Featherweight: Arnold Allen (-120) vs. Dan Hooker (+100)
  • Lightweight: Paddy Pimblett (-625) vs. Rodrigo Vargas (+440)
  • Welterweight: Gunnar Nelson (-525) vs. Takashi Sato (+380)
  • Women’s Flyweight: Molly McCann (-145) vs. Luana Carolina (+120)
  • Lightweight: Jai Herbert (+415) vs. Ilia Topuria (-590)

UFC Fight Night 204 Preliminary Card

  • Featherweight: Mike Grundy (-185) vs. Makwan Amirkhani (+150)
  • Heavyweight: Shamil Abdurakhimov (+260) vs. Sergei Pavlovich (-330)
  • Light Heavyweight: Nikita Krylov (-190) vs. Paul Craig (+155)
  • Bantamweight: Jack Shore (+100) vs. Timur Valiev (-120)
  • Women's Strawweight: Cory McKenna (-265) vs. Elise Reed (+215)
  • Flyweight: Muhammad Mokaev (-400) vs. Cody Durden (+305)

Alexander Volkov vs. Tom Aspinall Picks

We kick off things in the heavyweight division where Tom Aspinall gets his big test in front of a home crowd. Aspinall is pegged as the new blood in the division. He has run through all opposition inside the octagon. His most impressive win was, in my opinion, the Arlovski bout simply due to the fact that he was extended into the second round. It was not a first-round flash KO.

Guys like Aspinall are always scary to handicap. His four-fight UFC streak has been amazing, but he has only gone out of the first round once in his fight against a veteran in Andrei Arlovski. In that fight Arlovski actually managed to land more strikes than anyone Tom has ever fought.

In terms of ability Aspinall ticks every box. He is lightning fast with punching power and wrestling-oriented submission skills on the mat too. Would someone like Curtis Blaydes be able to beat him in a wrestling match? Sure, but Tom is good enough to not be deficient in any area of fighting, which is a big plus in the shallow division that heavyweight has been known to be. The only question mark is: how does he do in rounds four and five? 

Tom only has 13 pro fights and has never gone past round two as a professional. Meanwhile, Volkov has 43 pro bouts under his belt plus that aforementioned Bellator World Title - and is still only 33-years old.

Volkov is probably one of the better guys of the division though. He is fairly well-rounded, and a good technical all-around striker. The loss to Derrick Lewis has probably stained his record a little bit. He was unbeaten in the UFC prior to that fight and honestly if he had gotten his hand raised in that he might have ended up getting a shot at the title.

Alexander had a good showing against Ciryl Gane, another technical wonder at heavyweight. While he did lose most rounds, it's when they read the strike totals you realize he actually hung in there and almost outstruck Gane. That’s pretty crazy. Mind you, Gane is far more patient than Aspinall and is more adept at going the distance.

Going through Volkov’s record in the UFC, there are no round-one finishes on either side - meaning he has not been finishing guys early and he does not allow guys to finish him early. If we are looking at a certainty that Aspinall gets extended into the later rounds, I actually think the betting line should be flipped. 

Then there’s the experience. Tom only has 13 pro fights and has never gone past round two as a professional. Meanwhile Volkov has 43 pro bouts under his belt plus that aforementioned Bellator World Title - and is still only 33-years old. 

Obviously the metrics numbers look beautiful for Aspinall: 7.19 strikes landed on average and only 2.37 absorbed. 100% takedown defense, 100% takedown accuracy. However, Aspinall’s data is based on just 11 minutes and nine seconds of fight time he has spent in the octagon. Volkov’s average fighting time is over 15 minutes, and he has had 11 outings under the UFC mantle against top level competition.

I think the UFC are rushing Aspinall here. He may go out there and do his thing to make me look stupid, but I’m taking Volkov. Historically, Volkov is not a guy who gets knocked out easily. He only has two KO losses on his resume, one of which was against Derrick Lewis and the other came against some Russian guy in 2013. 

Best Bet: Alexander Volkov (+110)

Arnold Allen vs. Dan Hooker Picks

Just before the co-main event kicks off Arnold Allen takes on Dan Hooker at 145 lbs. Allen is a guy on an absolute tear in the division, unbeknownst to most fans. With an 8-0 UFC record you’d expect certain hype to follow - however I’m hearing nothing but crickets from fans of the sport. Allen is a bit similar to Leon Edwards, another Englishman, in that regard: he can be a bit uneventful in the octagon.

Arnold has actually been facing some solid competition in the octagon though. His wins include Sodiq Yusuff, touted prospect, Mads Burnell, current Bellator champ, and Nik Lentz, savvy veteran. Dan Hooker is a wrecking ball. With a tall and lanky frame mixed with a rock chin and powerful striking he is not to be disrespected. His record has had its ups and downs though. Hooker has always struggled with consistency throughout his career.

Hooker moving down to featherweight tells all for me. We’ve covered the topic of the journeyman moving up or down in weight after an inconsistent run. Edson Barboza, Cody Garbrandt, and Jose Aldo are all examples of this. Aldo has been the most successful in a new division, however he is also a hall of famer and has GOAT status at featherweight, so you kind of have to take him out of that mix. Barboza is now 2-3 at featherweight, and Garbrandt is 0-1 at flyweight. Both guys took the same path Hooker is now taking. 

If you think the weight class you are in is the reason you are not winning, history usually tells us you’re wrong. Dan has been fighting at featherweight in the UFC before, and he went 3-3. He decided to make the move up to lightweight for that reason. Now, he’s making the move down to featherweight for the same reason he left in the first place: inconsistency. It’s a sign of panic to me.

The matchup could be one that favors Hooker because Allen backs up so much, but since Allen managed to scrape past Sodiq Yusuff I don’t think Hooker will be able to shock him with anything. Honest to god, I think Sodiq Yusuff is a better fighter than Dan Hooker, which means Allen is accustomed to the high level of opposition that Dan brings.

I mentioned that Allen backs up a lot, allow me to expound: This being in a big octagon favors Allen because he can circle out and alleviate the pressure of Hooker. We’ve seen several of Allen’s opponents disrespect the power he has - he wobbled Yusuff twice. It seems like the guys he fights forget he can crack.

Arnold is also a far more well-rounded fighter compared to Hooker. Allen will shoot for takedowns here and there and rack up rounds on the cards. Hooker, as always, will be marching forward and relying on his chin as his defense, however with the extra-added weight cut I think there’s a possibility that Allen is live for an upset KO, or a club-and-sub situation. We may be seeing a very depleted Hooker on the scales on Friday after a long flight from New Zealand and a rough weight cut.

Regardless, Allen is high level. He has good wins already. This is not the step up in competition which the betting line makes it out to be. A win over someone like Yusuff means you’re ready for the big leagues.

Best Bet: Arnold Allen (-120)

Paddy Pimblett vs. Rodrigo Vargas Picks

After a chaotic debut newly-signed Paddy Pimblett is ready to prove he belongs in the top tier of the UFC. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out Paddy’s debut against Luigi Vendramini and you’ll get the gist of it. 

Pimblett is a wrecking ball in the octagon, evident by his current striking average of 10 punches landed per minute. Mind you, that data is only from his debut, however that fight still lasted almost a full round. Paddy’s output is high. The downside of having a high output is often that you leave yourself open to absorbing a lot of punches too, since you often move into striking range a lot to land so many strikes. This is true for Paddy too.

Pimblett once again displayed his insane chin against Vendramini and it held up just fine. My worry is that if he keeps relying on his chin to win he will walk into a knockout sooner rather than later. Technique must always reign supreme at this level. Toughness has to be a secondary feature. Kazula Vargas is a decent striker with solid fundamentals. He is coming off a win over Rong Zhu in a fight where he landed almost 100 strikes. Impressive.

I do worry about Vargas’ wrestling though. He was controlled for 12 minutes in his debut against Alex Da Silva. That’s 80% of a 15 minute fight, plus Da Silva went 3 for 4 takedowns in that fight. Takedown defense isn’t exactly top notch for Vargas, in fact I think it’s quite the polar opposite. UFC stats has his takedown defense listed at 25%. If Paddy wants the takedowns they are there.

I do worry a bit about Paddy’s fighting IQ. Seeing him seemingly insist on staying upright with Luigi after getting cracked hard is worrisome. Vendramini is not too shabby on the ground though so maybe that was an intentional decision made pre fight. Nonetheless I’d imagine a guy like Paddy should be able to beat someone like Luigi Vendramini on the ground.

In a fight against Kazula Vargas, a deceivingly hard hitter, Paddy needs to mind his p’s and q’s and start looking for takedowns when he has Vargas backed up. That’s another thing - Paddy will be able to easily take the center here and pressure. 

Rong Zhu - a notoriously slow starter - was able to dominate the physical space against Vargas and connect on him late. I think I’m trying to say that Paddy will win, but it will be closer than most people think. The betting line is way off, however I think the Pimblett via Submission is a decent way to go. Paddy has slick submissions on the mat, and if he fights smart he will go for takedowns here.

Best Bet: Paddy Pimblett via Submission

Gunnar Nelson vs. Takashi Sato Picks

Gunnar Nelson makes his return to the UFC octagon this weekend, effectively snapping a 30-month hiatus from MMA in doing so. Nelson is a potent grappler with strong top control. Sato is a striker with decent power. This is a striker versus grappler matchup.

We have some red flags on both sides here, which makes fights harder to predict. Gunnar Nelson has obviously had that long layoff, and Sato is taking this fight on less than 10 days’ notice. Regardless of red flags on the side of Nelson, I see this as a complete check-mate matchup in his favor.

Sato’s path to victory is a knockout -  he does not want to go the full 15 against a grappler like Nelson. Three of four losses have come by way of submission for Sato. 12 of 17 wins have been via submission for Nelson. Sato has gotten some wins in the UFC but only when matched up against highly favorable competition. Ben Saunders, now retired on four losses straight, was for some reason fed to Sato in his debut.

Jason Witt is a good wrestler, however he has no chin, and at this point nobody is really surprised when Witt is knocked out. That was Sato’s second UFC win. Before taking a break from the sport Nelson was on a bit of a rocky road in terms of wins and losses. However he was fighting a murderer’s row: Leon Edwards, Gilbert Burns, and Santiago Ponzinibbio. All top-tier opposition of the welterweight division, and Nelson was able to get the better of Edwards and Burns on the mat.

Sato has a puncher’s chance, but Nelson is not one known for getting knocked out. If he shows up extremely rusty and out of shape Sato might be live, but if that doesn’t happen Nelson will simply go for takedowns and submit Takashi who will be a fish out of water on the mat.

Best Bet: Gunnar Nelson via Submission

Molly McCann vs. Luana Carolina Picks

'Meatball' Molly McCann takes on experienced striker Luana Carolina at UFC London this weekend.

McCann is a pretty decent well-rounded fighter with a grappling base and high-volume striking on the feet.

Carolina is a striker of the plotting and cautious variety. She picks her shots well and has done fairly good against people that want to take her down in the past. The reason why I'm mentioning that is because I think Molly will try to wrestle on Saturday to win.

Carolina's biggest win was her most recent one over Lupita Godinez, a good grappler in her own right with decent hands. The fight was on short notice for Godinez though, and a move up in weight caused the size discrepancy to be too much. Godinez couldn't get Carolina down because of it.

On the feet Carolina is at her best when she has space to push forward and land. However when she's on the back foot, her footwork goes out the window. The win over Godinez was a sweat in some ways. It wasn't exactly a clean win for Luana who did get taken down on multiple occasions in spite of having an eight-inch reach advantage and a four-inch height advantage.

Carolina does have a major reach advantage against Molly too, although not as extreme. Moreover, McCann is all about pressure which will result in her taking the center early and keeping Luana on the retreat for three rounds.

This fight is a tale of two styles. Luana is all about technique: she wants a slow-paced striking contest where she can have room to pick her shots and move away from danger. That's exactly the opposite of the usual kind of fight McCann is in. Molly always pushes forward and brings out the fight of her opponents. There will be no room for gauging range for Luana which she needs to do. Her reach advantage and her jab is her path to victory.

On the fence McCann will have plenty of opportunities to go for takedowns and land shots in the clinch.

The more aggressive fighter wins here.

Best Bet: Molly McCann via Decision

Jai Herbert vs. Ilia Topuria Picks

UFC London kicks off the main card in the lightweight division where unbeaten prospect, Ilia Topuria, takes on Jai Herbert.

This is Topuria's first outing at 155 lbs as the cut down to featherweight had its issues for him.

Jai Herbert is a tall and lanky striker with good power. He had a tough time out in his debut against a savvy veteran in Francisco Trinaldo, however he got his redemption recently with a knockout over Devonte Smith. His path to victory is a KO here.

Ilia Topuria is well-rounded, but his main abilities lies in the grappling department where he averages over three takedowns per 15 minutes. In spite of his highly touted grappling credentials he has won two of his three UFC fights via knockout. He can do it all.

Herbert is tall for the division, and the size discrepancy is the biggest thing he has going for him against Ilia. However, the takedown defense for Herbert has historically been shoddy. In the UFC both Trinaldo and Moicano where able to get him down and take some minutes off of the clock. Now imagine what Topuria will do to you.

At the end of the day it's quite simple: Topuria needs a takedown and he most likely wins via submission. The grappling level is not high enough for Herbert to make me believe he can defend against submissions for 15 minutes without getting trapped in something. Herbert has great finishing ability, but it hasn't really transitioned into the UFC - only against the chinny Devonte Smith was he able to get a KO.

I don't mind the juice, winning this is close to impossible for Herbert. I'm close to saying that Topuria is even better on the feet too.

Best Bet: Ilia Topuria via Submission

Mike Grundy vs. Makwan Amirkhani Picks

Two grapplers face off in the featured preliminary bout of UFC London.

In matchups like these the question is always who the better striker is, because the grappling of both will cancel each other out.

I'm pretty confident when I say that I think Amirkhani is the better striker. Mike Grundy had a decent time out in his debut against Nad Narimani, coming back after getting rocked to score a second-round knockout. Still, in that fight you clearly see that striking is not Grundy's preferred realm, yet he's forced to fight there because he can't secure any takedowns. It is a good win though.

After that Grundy faces Movsar Evloev and comes up short via unanimous decision. Of course we all know who Evloev is now and it's certainly a win that has aged well given the fact that he almost catches Movsar in a submission in round one. Now, in his debut we learned that he isn't the best striker, and in this bout we learned that he doesn't have good cardio. My, oh, my did he gas out bad in that fight against Evloev. In the first round of that fight, which is his best round by far, he lands three meaningful strikes. In rounds two and three he lands 17 total. The volume is non-existant for Mike.

Now, looking at Amirkhani, we see a, in my opinion, far more composed fighter with a better all-around game. Amirkhani is also the more experienced fighter with 11 fights under the UFC mantle compared to Grundy's three.

Look, I'm not saying Makwan is a particularly good striker, but he picks his spots well and he finally meets and opponent with worse cardio than himself. This means he can coast and throw out that jab in the later rounds when he usually tires. Grundy is not that dangerous in spite of that Narimani knockout.

As far as stats go I'll say that Makwan is the better striker too. He actually holds an advantage in every statistical category on UFC stats which is pretty interesting. Stats don't always tell the whole story, but when that advantage lies with the underdog it makes for a solid case of betting value.

The betting line may be a case of Grundy having that hometown advantage or it may simply be a case of people writing Amirkhani off. After all he has lost three fights in a row coming into this weekend's bout, however I think he's too young to be completely washed like a Sam Alvey or a BJ Penn. He can definitely still win, and this matchup is favorable.

Grappler versus grappler - I'll side with the better stats, more experience, and younger age which just happens to be advantages all on the side of the underdog.

Best Bet: Makwan Amirkhani +162

Shamil Abdurakhimov vs. Sergey Pavlovich Picks

Moving on down the card we’ve got Shamil Abdurakhimov taking on Sergey Pavlovich in the heavyweight division. Abdurakhimov still being ranked no. 10 in the heavyweight division shows how shallow the division truly is. The guy is on a two-fight skid and has only fought three times since 2019.

Pavlovich has been out of the cage for quite some time too, however it's not due to any injuries - more a case of bad luck. Since KO’ing Maurice Greene in 2019 he has had three fights scheduled which all fell out. On the feet this fight is a non-event. Shamil is slow and plotting with his punches, and he doesn’t tend to move away from his opponents power side. This is a huge problem going up against a guy with the reach Pavlovich has, (84”), and the power he throws with. 

Sergey throws with crisp form and his speed can be blinding for some of the older and slower heavyweights. We’ve already seen him steamroll two opponents in the octagon who couldn’t hang with his power. Abdurakhimov’s shot at winning this is by getting takedowns. However, since he hasn’t gotten a takedown in four years, I find it hard to believe he will be able to implement a grappling heavy game plan to win. 

Then there’s the age. Sergey is 29 years old, effectively making him the younger man by a whopping 11 years in this matchup. That’s huge. Of course Shamil has a puncher’s chance. Almost everyone does at heavyweight. But due to his historically low volume I don’t see him having a big window of opportunity to close the show. 

Sergey is going to come out hot, as he always does, and he will control the center immediately. It’s just a matter of time before he connects. When he does, I don’t see the older veteran surviving. Short breakdown, however I feel the writing is on the wall here.

Best Bet: Sergey Pavlovich via Knockout

Nikita Krylov vs. Paul Craig Picks

Two potent grapplers lock horns at 205 lbs. This is an interesting one. Nikita Krylov has had a rocky road as of late, however I’m not surprised to see Paul Craig in the underdog role once again. The betting market just doesn’t seem to be sold on him.

Krylov’s days of being a legit contender seem long gone. He is young enough to make a turnaround, however going 2-4 in his last six is not a good look. While Krylov has been struggling to remain in the win column, Paul Craig has been on a bit of a roll, winning four of his last five, and three in a row.

I honestly think this fight is a toss up. Both men like to grapple, but they’re also comfortable giving up control time to fish for submissions. Craig drew with Mauricio Rua due to this tendency, and Krylov lost to Teixeira for the same reason. Because both fighters possess abilities to control their opponents on the ground, but also lack the ability to scramble and get back to their feet, the first person to get a takedown most likely wins.

Mind you, this is perhaps a bit of a simplification of how the fight will play out on Saturday, but it’s how I think the fight will go. Going with this narrative, Craig is the better grappler as he naturally secures takedowns more frequently than Krylov while also going for submission more often. Of the two, Craig is the better grappler, meaning I don’t think we will see Krylov submitting Craig. 

In a boxing ring Krylov smokes Paul Craig, but this is MMA and Paul Craig is so rarely involved in fights that play out on the feet. He gets the fight to the ground sooner or later. On the rare occasion that Craig faces a guy with power, he is usually overwhelmed early. However Krylov is not a sprinter. He only has two first-round KOs in the UFC. In a toss-up we go with the ‘dog.

Best Bet: Paul Craig (+155)

Jack Shore vs. Timur Valiev Picks

One of the, in my opinion, best fights on the card takes place on the prelims where Jack Shore meets Timur Valiev in a battle of two prospects.

Right off the bat Jack Shore being the underdog kind of boggles my mind. After all he's the guy with an 'o' on his record and four wins in the UFC. He also has the hometown advantage which has proven to be a legitimate thing you have to consider when handicapping UFC events.

Valiev is a good prospect in his own right so I don't mind a close betting line. That said, I get the feeling that people are overhyping Timur just a bit. The guy has good wins on the regional scene over guys such as Chris Gutierrez, a highly praised striker at bantamweight. The results in the UFC just haven't fitted the whole 'prospect' narrative though. In his debut he faces Trevin Jones, a relatively decent striker with a base in wrestling - but still a guy with, at the time, 12 wins and six losses. That's a must-win fight for someone like Trevin. He starts the fight off well but gasses himself out with excessive footwork and volume. He ends up running into a big punch and gets himself knocked out in round two. Where was the touted prospect everyone talked about?

After the fight Jones tests positive for marijuana so the bout is ruled a no contest, but come on, that fight is still a loss. In fact, if the fight had taken place just five months later the fight is a clear win. The UFC changed its marijuana doping policy in January of 2021.

UFC stats have Valiev's striking defense listed at 50% - that's not particularly indicative of some godly-gifted striking prospect. At least not in my book.

After the Trevin Jones fight you can give him a pass though. After all, upsets happen all the time in MMA, and even for prospects in layup fights orchestrated by the UFC this stuff can happen. Tough luck. Subsequently after facing Trevin Jones, Valiev is fed Martin Day fresh off a four-fight losing streak. The fight goes as you'd expect: Valiev dominates the striking Martin Day with his background in Sambo and wins a clear unanimous decision. We don't really learn anything about Valiev in that fight though.

In his most recent time out he runs into trouble again against Raoni Barcelos, who is a good prospect in his own right on a five-fight win streak. Just as in the Jones fight he does well by keeping a high pace and throwing lots of volume to overwhelm his opponent in round one. However, once again in round two once the lactic acid starts building and the adrenaline dumps a bit, Valiev runs into two big punches and ends up on his butt twice in the round. How that round is not scored 10-8 is beyond me, but he, impressively enough, dusts himself off and comes back to win round three, essentially making him the winner of the fight 29-28.

In my mind we are looking at a fighter with a fraudulent UFC record. Valiev is not 2-0 with one no contest. He is 1-1-1, with a loss to Trevin Jones, a win over Martin Day, and a draw against Barcelos. Just for a second imagine what the betting line looks like if Valiev's UFC run officially is 1-1-1? I can guarantee you he isn't the favorite against Jack Shore.

Gosh, this whole breakdown has been about Valiev, let me get to Shore now. Jack is an unbeaten fighter with four wins in the UFC. He is undefeated.

Shore's main area of expertise is grappling, however his hands have improved significantly since his time on the regional scene. He just outstruck debutant Liudvik Shoilinian 92 to 19 over 15 minutes, winning all rounds unanimously. Cardio checks out, defense holds up, and he picks his takedown spots very well. He is extremely good at putting himself in positions where he is not in danger. I don't think we've seen him hit hard yet.

The only 'stain' on his record is a split-decision win over Hunter Azure back in April of 2021. As always, the devil's in the details though, and that is the case here too. Two judges score the fight 30-27 in Jack's favor, one, for some odd reason, scores it 29-28 the other way. Mind you, not a single media member scores the fight for Azure, and 85% of all fans score the fight for 'Tank' too.

How does Jack win? I honestly see the fight playing out much like his fight against Azure: he starts out with some good moments on the feet before he finds his takedowns. I don't think Valiev will be the better man on the mat, considering he has been taken down by Trevin Jones. Shore will be able to do good stuff on the mat and rack up control time.

On the feet Shore is totally underrated. I don't care if the UFC matches you up against some bum off the street, landing 92 strikes and only absorbing 12 over the course of 15 minutes is impressive. Shore's game has also held up as he has taken steps up in competition - the same can't be said for Valiev.

UFC stats have Valiev's striking defense listed at 50% - that's not particularly indicative of some godly-gifted striking prospect. At least not in my book.

Shore will impress some people with his striking and land good combination on the feet. Once Valiev starts slowing down from all that overly excessive movement, Shore will look to clinch up and take minutes off the clock.

Might end up being a sweaty decision, however the plus money on Shore makes him an obvious value play for me.

Long breakdown, let's move on.

Best Bet: Jack Shore (+100)

Cory McKenna vs. Elise Reed Picks

Moving on down the card we've got Cory McKenna taking on Elise Reed in the women's strawweight division.

McKenna is starting to come into her own at just 22 years of age. She does have an extensive amateur background and has been gradually increasing her level of opposition during her career. In her most recent time out she beat Kay Hansen via unanimous decision. Granted, the fight against Hansen was voted no. 5 for top 10 most disputed decisions that year, but McKenna still put on a good performance.

Cory is a strong grappler with a low center of gravity at only 5'3" tall. On the regional scene her takedowns have won her many outings and I have no doubt in my mind that she will take that route on Saturday to defeat Elise Reed too.

Reed does have some grappling in her back pocket, however her heel has always been a good grappler.

In some ways this fight is much like Gunnar Nelson vs. Takashi Sato - a grappler versus a striker. Mind you, striker vs. grappler matchups can favor the striker in to varying extends, but in this case I don't see what stops McKenna from shooting a takedown right away and riding her way to a victory from top control for 15 minutes straight.

Going back and watching Reed's debut against Sijara Eubanks is quite telling of how this fight will go. In that fight Eubanks looks like a UFC fighter and Elise Reed looks like someone who does not belong anywhere near the top of women's MMA, be it in Bellator or the UFC.

Now I know there was a size discrepancy in that fight, Eubanks being a former bantamweight and Reed being a former atomweight, but I'd at least expect myself to be able to survive one round if I'm Elise Reed.

Reed was shockinly outclassed against Eubanks, to such an extent that I wonder if she even has what it takes to beat any half-decent contender from 115-125 pounds. Remember that Eubanks is not at all a top-tier competitor at either flyweight or bantamweight.

On the feet I don't think Reed's advantage is all that big. McKenna had good pressure and will most likely dominate the clinch. Size-wise McKenna has always been smaller than her competition, but this time out she isn't facing any major discrepancy.

Cory is still young though, and you gotta wonder if that youth will cause her to run into problems against some of the older and more mature fighters on the roster at some point. Every fighter will face his/her learning obstacles at some stage. I just don't think it will be Elise Reed that hands McKenna that devastating blow.

The grappler gets it done.

Best Bet: Cory McKenna (-265)

Muhammad Mokaev vs. Cody Durden Picks

Kicking off UFC London touted prospect Muhammad Mokaev makes his UFC debut against Cody Durden.

Mokaev is currently unbeaten in MMA with a polished 6-0 record. At first glance I thought Durden could be a potential live underdog, however then I realized he Muhammad has an extensive 24-fight amateur background. Want to guess how many of those fights he's lost? Zero. The guy is essentially 30-0 in MMA. That's big.

Mokaev is a grappler with roots in Dagestan, Russia. We all know the premium you usually pay for betting fighters with roots in that region. When betting these guys it becomes a matter of negating the chalk and finding value on the underdogs. This once, I think the value might lie with the chalk though.

Durden is mainly a grappler too, meaning there's little danger for him on the feet. Durden does have knockouts on his record but his finishing ability has not transitioned into the UFC. He has been a decision grappler thus far under the UFC mantle. This is great for Mokaev as he can take some chances on the feet without falling into something sharp that can end the fight. At the same time he will have plenty of opportunities to implement his grappling, seeing as Durden has been taken down in all of his three UFC bouts. Even Chris Gutierrez, a striker, was able to take him down when he faced Durden.

For that reason alone the chalk is warranted on Mokaev. The striking threat is not really there for Durden which can allow Mokaev to take the center and operate freely without any concerns.

Strikers have to force grapplers to respect their striking. I doubt Durden will be able to do that to Mokaev, which means he will get taken down sooner or later.

Good layup for Mokaev to start making a name for himself in the UFC. The youth isn't really a concern for me seeing as he has had that extensive amateur record. He is ready for this.

Best Bet: Muhammad Mokaev -400

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