Best bets for UFC Las Vegas: Petr Yan vs. Merab Dvalishvili

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Last week’s UFC 285 produced a fight card where thirteen of the fourteen listed favorites earned victory. The sole underdog of the night was Alexa Grasso +600 earning the strawweight title from Valentina Shevchenko.

 

This year, favorites are marching to a 71.2% success rate. Meanwhile, our JBJ/Gamrot 135 parlay release last week won, pushing Insight the Octagon profitability to in 2023 to 4-2 +2.10u.

This week, the organization returns to Las Vegas, but rather than the APEX, UFC Las Vegas will be held at the Virgin Hotel Theatre where they’ll employ the smaller 25-foot octagon.

Petr Yan -235 vs. Merab Dvalishvili +210 

Bantamweight (135 pounds) main event

Second-ranked Yan and third-ranked Dvalishvil vie for the opportunity to stand with ‘Suga’ Sean O’Malley as the next legitimate challengers to the Bantamweight title.

Yan has competed in main events in four of his last five bouts. A Master of Sport in Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts, Yan’s also complemented by a BJJ blue belt. He’s versatile, experienced, savvy, and he’s a very fluent boxer. His ability to increase pressure and intensity and create momentum as the bout goes on has been a trademark of his performances.

Though a loser of his last two on the record, a closer look into those bouts shows that after defeating current fifth-ranked bantamweight Cory Sandhagen, Yan lost two split decisions. One to current Champion Aljamain Sterling and the most recent to Sean O’Malley in a fight that many, including myself, awarded to Yan.

Dvalishvili is the athlete no one wants to compete against. As opposed to his foe Saturday, Merab races out in bouts like a ‘bat out of hell’ with smothering forward wrestling pressure. He’s unrelenting with his will to force opponents back into the corner of the cage, then onto the canvas for a clobbering.

Dvalishvili will have the advantage on the mat, and he must compete on the feet only long enough to clasp onto Yan. Should he be unable to drag Yan to the canvas, Dvalishvili will get painted by Yan, who will do everything in his power to keep this bout on the feet.

Each man’s tactics for victory are clear. Yan’s plan is to vie against the more inexperienced athlete on the feet and at distance while deciphering Dvalishvili’s awkward/unorthodox movement. Few in the sport are able to adjust to opponents in-fight as effectively as Yan. He’ll work diligently to time his foe’s entries and rain combinations on him to keep him away.

However, this madman Dvalishvili is nicknamed ‘machine’ for a reason. He’ll be grinding toward Yan from the sound of the first bell. It’s plausible, and possibly the plan of attack, that Dvalishvili front runs into the lead early in this fight, leaving Yan with plenty of pressure as he attempts to capture the late rounds against a buzzsaw in Dvalishvili that truthfully does not tire.

This fight is going to be a tremendous clash of styles. Yan must find a way to maintain space and strike from distance, while Dvalishvili’s single point of focus will be to spend the entirety of this competition groveling on the ground. This main event is fascinating, both in how the combatants match up as well how this bout has been bet up to now.

I’ll take in fighter interviews and weigh-ins before committing to this main event.

Nikita Krylov -170 vs. Ryan Spann +145 

Catchweight* (215 pounds)

*Rescheduled from two weeks ago because of a Krylov sickness, this bout is now at 215 pounds.

Eighth-ranked Spann is massive for this weight class both in physical size and in fighting fury. Standing 6’5”, he towers over most opponents, and in this bout, he’ll have two inches of height and reach advantages which translates to a substantial statistical edge provided Spann can keep this fight on the feet.

Spann, 4-2 since 2020, has struggled when he competes with ranked competition, but he enters this tilt having won his last two—one against a washed Dom Reyes and the other over an unranked Ion Cutelaba.

Spann is aggressive, and forward pressing, and provided he experiences early success, he is a formidable front-runner. Spann’s length can provide him the ability to wrap opponents up and utilize a guillotine choke he’s had success with for he’s decorated with a blue belt in BJJ.

Spann tosses power shots from the opening bell, and he fires immediately. That said, if the tactic is ineffective, he can be overwhelmed early as evidenced by the fact that his last five fights (3-2) have all ended in round one.

Of Spann’s 21 victories, 18 have come via finish, and of those 18 wins, 16 were first-round finishes which display his propensity to be a bully and overwhelm opponents in the first few minutes.

This will be Ukrainian Krylov’s nineteenth UFC bout in this, his second stint in the organization. Krylov enters with a good deal of momentum himself after finishing eighth-ranked Volkan Oezdemir in his last bout. 

Krylov holds a black belt in BJJ to supplement his Ukrainian Master of Sports in Kyokushin Karate, Hand-to-Hand combat and Submission fighting.

While Spann is the more dynamic athlete, it’s Krylov who is the more complete mixed martial artist that institutes his attack in a more deliberate, planned, premeditated manner.

He’ll employ striking to grapple and attempt to force the larger athlete against the cage. Pressure forward grappling mutes striking power. Then, from the clinch, a transition to the ground follows, where his ability to gain and then maintain top position may present him the opportunity to finish this fight via ferocious ground and pound.

Krylov must weather the early Spann onslaught and meet the oncoming force with his own violent pressure-based fighting, as Krylov’s no stranger to finishing fights either. Of Krylov’s 28 wins, 26 have come via finish, and of those 26 wins, 21 occurred in round 1!

Krylov must meet Spann in the center of the cage and back him up to systematically usurp the confidence from Spann, something that has proven very effective. In essence, Krylov must bully the bully.

Taxing Spann’s mettle by employing his own high volume, forward pressure striking is foundational for Krylov. Pressuring him early will let Spann know he’s going to be in for an ugly, grinding, dirty bout which is more effective against this fighter than anything he can do. It’s Spann’s mentality that I question should this fight get messy, and Krylov must make it grimy.

The total on this bout is lined 1.5 Rds. Under -160, which is not at all surprising based on the above-mentioned first-round statistics. It closed -160 at the time this bout was canceled.

The more complete fighting arsenal belongs to Krylov, who besides being able to finish opponents, can also compete for a full fifteen with them too as he’s displayed his durability throughout his career.

While this bout has the potential to be short and violent, I believe it is in Krylov’s best interest to force this bout into round two, where the dynamics will swing drastically to the Ukrainian Krylov and his more premeditated grinding style.

Krylov opened -150 for their fight two weeks ago and closed -170 where he is priced currently.

Pick: Krylov -170 leg 1 parlay

Said Nurmagomedov -200 vs. Jonathan Martinez  +170

Bantamweight (135 pounds)

For the second leg of the parlay, I’ll venture into this Bantamweight clash where the grappling/wrestling of Russia’s Nurmagomedov will be pitted against the Muay Thai striking and BJJ of Martinez.

Physically very similar, each fighter in this battle has a different way to apply their dominance.

Martinez will look to keep the pressing wrestler at range where his striking/kicking is most effective. He’ll attempt to time the Russian upon his attempted entry with forceful knees and straight punches.

Nurmagomedov, no relation to Khabib, fights differently, as he’s more well-rounded in approach and is still improving rapidly, as witnessed by his last two victories over talented competition with opposite fighting fortes.

It’s Martinez’s lack of wrestling chops that will expose him in this fight. They’ll begin on the feet, but it’s my estimation that Nurmagomedov will earn the victory in this bout based on the level of competition he has faced, coupled with his ability to take this bout to the floor.

Pick: Krylov -170/Nurmagomedov -240 +125

My ‘Bout Business Podcast drops this Friday at midday right after the weigh-ins have been completed. Tune up then tune in!

Enjoy this week’s fight card and thank you for reading!