Identifying one pivotal matchup in fighters’ pasts can be the key to handicapping their next bouts.
Lou Finocchiaro (@GambLou) is targeting two underdogs and one favorite for Wednesday’s UFC on ESPN 13 card at Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, with one previous fight pointing the way to each selection.
In the main event, Calvin Kattar is a sizable -290 favorite against Dan Ige (+245) in a matchup of top-1o featherweights.
Finocchiaro makes the case for Ige, especially at the generous price, based on his split-decision victory over Edson Barboza on May 16.
Barboza was a top-five lightweight for years who came down in weight to fight Ige. That has given Ige a feel for fighting a bigger man, like Kattar, who has a height and reach advantage, Finocchiaro said.
“Kattar does not have the diversity in striking that Barboza does,” Finocchiaro said. “That fight prepared Ige for a bigger, stronger opponent.”
Kattar is rightly favored, but the price is too high, Finocchiaro said. He is backing Ige for a half-unit at +245.
Taila Santos is 15-1, but that one loss has Finocchiaro running away from her and toward opponent Molly McCann in a women’s flyweight bout.
Santos last fought in February 2019, falling to Mara Romero Borella by split decision. Romero Borella has subsequently lost her next three fights, and Finocchiaro takes that as a bad sign for Santos’ chances against the rugged “Meatball” Molly.
“Molly is short, compact, extremely busy, always pressing the fight,” Finocchiaro said. “She’s really a dynamo.”
Santos has a six-inch reach advantage, but Finocchiaro can’t get past the fact that she lost to a fighter that “shouldn’t be in the UFC.”
“Santos is biting off all she can chew with McCann,” he said.
Finocchiaro will lay the short price with McCann for a full unit.
Lerone Murphy doesn’t want to get into a wrestling match with Ricardo Ramos in their featherweight bout, Finocchiaro said.
But Murphy showed in his most recent fight, a draw with Russian grappler Zubaira Tukhugov last September, that he can deal with a ground fighter, Finocchiaro said. Murphy also is taller than Ramos and has a two-inch reach advantage.
“In an ideal world, Ramos wants to get Murphy on the floor and submit him,” Finocchiaro said. “But Murphy showed great confidence (against Tukhugov), and he should show even better against the Brazilian.”
Finocchiaro is backing Murphy for a full unit at +140.