Once Upon A Time In Mexico
Sorry Believers, but there will be no second episode this week. So instead of writing some long drawn out convoluted opening to my betting picks post, I will just be posting the piece of my show notes that applied to this card. Enjoy a taste of what Bisping and Luis have to deal with from me multiple times a week.
Stephens vs Rodriguez
Stephens is now on a two fight losing streak after falling to Jose Aldo by a brutal body punch KO and a dominant decision by Zabit. Before that he had won 3 in a row against Josh Emmet, Do Ho Choi and Gilbert Milendez KOing the former 2.
Rodriguez bounced back from his first UFC loss to Frankie Edgar in 2017, taking off 18 months before fighting TKZ at UFC 25 in the latest KO in UFC history. Rodriguez has now taken nearly another year off before taking this fight with Stephens. This is now Rodriguez 5th fight at Altitude in the UFC having previously fought Alex Cacares to a split decision in Salt Lake City and the aforementioned TKZ KO in Denver plus 2 wins over (at the time) prospects Charles Rosa and Dan Hooker in Mexico City. Rodriguez is of course a native of Mexico and has gone 3-0 in his pro career in the capital city.
Rodriguez is 6 years younger and 2 inches taller, both men clock in at over 12 minutes of average cage times in their fights. Rodriguez lands about a strike more per minute, but absorbs nearly a third of a strike more than Stephens. Neither man relies too heavily on their grappling, as they typically attempt one take down a fight or so, Stephens lands his at a slightly higher rate but Rodriguez defends slightly better.
Whats at stake
The 2 men at 7 and 8 in the official rankings. Stephens recently fought Aldo ranked at #4 and Rodriguez sole loss in the UFC came against the last title challenger Frankie Edgar. It seems as tho Valkonvski is cemented as next in line for Holloway, however there are expected fights between Ortega and either Aldo or TKZ in the works, it would line up that the winner of this fight would be in line for a title eliminator aganst another top FW.
Jeremy Stephens says he spent 30K on this camp in Mexico City. He spent 6 weeks at altitude adjusting to what it's going to take to win against Rodriguez .
Co Main Event
Alexa Grasso vs Carla Esparza
Esparza is one of 5 women to hold the UFC Straweight title and she currently finds herself at number #8 in the rankings, following an April win over Virna Jandiroba. Before that she was on a 2 fight skid losing to Tatiana Suarez and Claudia Gadhella. In total she has gone 5-4 in the promotion with wins over Rose, Calvillo, Lima among others and losses to Joanna and the previously mentioned championship caliber fighters.
Grasso has gone 3-2 over her 5 fight run, facing ranked fighters in all but one of her fights. She holds wins over former title challenger Karolina Kowalkiewicz, Randa Markos and Heather Jo Clark and losses to Saurez and Felice Herrig. She was one of the hottest prospects coming from Invicta with back to back POTN bonuses against UFC caliber fighters.
Whats at stake
Grasso is huge for the UFC's expansion into Mexico, a country with deep roots in combat sports history by way of boxing. Dana White has made it clear he is planning on further expansion into latin territories with PI's being built in Mexico and Puerto Rico. You have to assume Grasso, much like Zhang will always be in the title picture with one or two big wins.
For Esparza, the former TUF winner and champion is just one spot in the rankings below Michelle Waterson who according to everything I read, could be the #1 contender for the title with a win next month against Joanna. With fighters like Nina Anseroff and Rose currently without fights, it would make sense for Esparza to take on a top 5 fighter before making her own claim for gold.
Both ladies are in for the long haul with a total fight time of over 26 of a possible 30 minutes combined. Grasso is 5inches taller with a 3 inch reach advantage. Grasso has a much higher output on the feet and displays greatly superior striking. Esparza tends to rely on her wrestling, attempting over a takedown per round over the course of a 3 round fight, but she only succeeds at a 40% clip. Grasso has adequate takedown D, stuffing nearly 2 out of every 3 shots while barely every attempting to take the fight to the ground herself. Grasso is 6 years younger and has never been knocked out whereas Esparza has been stopped by strikes twice over her UFC career. Esparza has not had a KO/TKO victory since 2012 and she hasn't finished a fight since submitting Rose in her UFC debut in 2014. Grasso similarly fights to the decision with only one finish in 9 higher level fights (Invicta and UFC)
Other fights on the card
Paul Craig looks to run his UFC record back to .500 with a fight against the struggling DWTNCS alum Vinicius Moreira Castro.
Bethe Corriea and Sijah Eubanks are likely fighitng for their jobs with a 1-4-1 record for Corriea since and Eubanks missing weight once at flyweight and going 0-1 so far at bantamweight.
Bisping: (Starting Salary 83.33 BYM Coins)
Parlay: Stephens, grasso, Aldana 73.33 TW 198.24
Luis: (Starting Salary 50 BYM Coins)
Parlay: Rodriguez, Aldana, Askarov 45 TW 140.04
Harrington: (Starting Salary 1,632.2 BYM Coins)
Paul Craig To Win (+100) 200 TW 200
Paul Craig by KO/TKO (+800) 100 TW 800
Paul Craig by Submission (+350) 100 TW 350
Stephens vs Rodriguez Draw (+8,000) 50 TW 4,000
Stephens (+105) 400 TW 420
Stephens by Submission (+1,600) 50 TW 800
Stephens by decision (+550) 25 TW 137.5
Stephens in Rd 4 (+1400) 20 TW 280
Stephens in Rd 5 (+2100) 20 TW 420
Rodriguez in Rd 5 (+2000) 35 TW 700
Parlay: Puelles, Pettis, Pettis vs Nam Over 2.5, Grasso vs Esparza Over 2.5
632.2 TW 1,090.16