Best bets for UFC 295: Prochazka vs. Pereira
Five UFC fight cards remain in 2023, starting with this week’s UFC 295 from New York City. As is often the case in the volatile UFC, some athletes have been replaced, but competitive viable betting opportunities surely remain.
Last week, amid a slew of fight cancellations, my release of the Danish Viking Nicolas Dalby to provide a stern test for the talented Brazilian Gabriel Bonfim did result in a successful win bet on the Over. However, I wish I’d given Dalby more consideration, as he knocked Bonfim out in the second round as a +380/+400 underdog.
This year, Digital releases stand: 19-18 +1.15u
Jiri Prochazka +110 vs. Alex Pereira +130
Light Heavyweight Championship (205 pounds) Main Event
This title fight features Prochazka, the former title holder before his devastating shoulder injury, competing against Pereira for the title, which is currently vacated after most recent champion Jamahal Hill suffered an injury a few months ago.
Pereira is ranked third in the division after but one bout against elite talent Jan Blachowicz. He has much to gain with a win here and plenty to prove, namely that his power and striking effectiveness can carry into this heavier, larger light-heavyweight division.
Working in Pereira’s favor are his rapid evolution into MMA, his mentor, former light heavyweight champion Glover Teixeira, a former foe of Prochazka, and his zeal to earn UFC belts in two different divisions.
For the Brazilian Pereira decorated with a black belt in kickboxing and a brown belt in BJJ, there is much to gain from a victory here.
In Prochazka, we must rely on the fact that his shoulder, which was damn near torn off like a cooked chicken wing, has fully recovered and that he is not only cleared to compete but is 110% prepared for war physically and mentally.
Both men sport shallow UFC history; therefore, the significant striking data is somewhat skewed. Each athlete delivers effective, powerful, damaging shots at high rates. Pereira lands 5.11 significant strikes per minute and allows 3.70, so he is accruing damage while mindful of defense.
Prochazka delivers his strikes with similar frequency and much more power, but his defense is less sound. He lands 5.7 significant strikes per minute, but he absorbs 5.40 per minute, which makes for a fighter ‘willing to eat one to give one.’
Pereira is the more diligent, refined, precise striker, while Prochazka is the more telegraphing but devastating one.
Each man maims opponents with bludgeoning leg kicks in conjunction with those long, damaging strikes, but with Prochazka, the power and devastating effects are clear as he’s finished all three of his UFC opponents.
Pereira has not displayed the finishing traits or ferocity in the cage we have seen from Prochazka, especially in his sole light heavyweight tussle against Jan Blachowicz.
Makers have made the total in this bout 1.5 Rds Over -130
I can’t envision something that looks like an early finish in this fight.
Pat Sabatini -135 vs. Diego Lopes +115
Featherweight (145 pounds) co-main event
Sabatini, from the Philadelphia area, brings a well-rounded fight arsenal to his bouts. Solid wrestling complimented by black belts in BJJ and a Korean Karate fight form called ‘Tang Soo Do’ are Sabatini’s credentials. When he has it going well, Sabatini employs aggressive forward pressure to clasp, clinch and control opponents. He’s dominant in the clinch, against the fence or on the floor with opponents, for on the feet, he is unsure of himself offensively and somewhat ineffective defensively.
Lopes hits the ‘Big Apple’ with revenge on his mind for his UFC debut was in New Jersey against Movsar Evloev this past May. In that bout, Lopes looked like anything but a debuting athlete. He gave eighth-ranked Evloev all he could handle in that decision loss, and it was that night that I recognized a future opportunity on this young Brazilian gamer.
In this fight, Lopes will be the younger man by three years. He’s two inches taller and will sport a two-inch reach advantage with his arms and legs.
As importantly, Lopes’ BJJ grappling is on par with Sabatini’s BJJ wrestling. However, I credit Lopes with far more fluidity and natural striking ability. His ability to take a shot to the schnoz is a strength.
Achilles heel to Sabatini, unfortunately, is his balsa wood beak, for if flushed on the face, Sabatini can fold up as we witnessed against a long, tall, gangly Damon Jackson.
Once this bout begins, I look for Lopes to be fresher, faster, stronger and able to keep this fight standing and at distance. From there, his striking will have maximum effect on Sabatini as he tries to work his way inside to engage.
Pick: Lopes +115
Total in this fight: 2.5 Rds. Under -180
Benoit St. Denis -230 vs. Matt Frevola +190
Lightweight (155 pounds)
I’m warning everyone now that this fight is pure violence.
Matt ‘the Steamrolla’ Frevola, a lieutenant in the US Army reserve, fights out of Long Island with the Longo Weidman team. He holds a brown belt in BJJ, but his game revolves around striking …with power. Frevola’s ideal scenario is to engage anyone, anywhere, in a closed-quarter, flat-footed throwdown.
Frevola’s power is fight ending as witnessed by the cocky Drew Dober, who Frevola iced in his last outing. However, in this fight, Frevola steps up in class against an athlete who I believe is on his way straight to the top five of the lightweight division.
In St. Denis, we have an ex-military green beret in the French Army. He’s taller, longer and younger than the local New Yorker and gifted with a more complete fight arsenal. St. Denis thrives in the firestorm of fury and can dominate anywhere the fight occurs.
His foe, Frevola, needs fights to remain on the feet to have his best chance to win, while St. Denis can shake, rattle or roll from anywhere in the cage.
Frevola will take this fight directly to St. Denis. St. Denis will walk down Frevola with urgency and ill intent. The result will be some outstanding watching!
Total in this fight: 1.5 Rds. Under -150
GambLou’s ‘Bout Business Podcast drops Friday mid-day PT. Look for it across all platforms.
Enjoy the bouts, and thank you for reading!