Handicapper Lou Finocchiaro sees an opportunity to hit a long shot in the main event of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night on ESPN between heavyweights Walt Harris and Alistair Overeem.
Finocchiaro (@GambLou), who hit two of his three plays on Wednesday’s UFC card, is sensitive to the fact that Harris (45-18-0) is fighting for the first time since his 19-year-old stepdaughter, Aniah Blanchard, was murdered in November.
“Everyone in the MMA world is aware of what happened to Walt Harris and his family, and everyone in the MMA world is pulling for him here. No one more than me,” Finocchiaro said. “That said, based on his body of work, he only has a knockout opportunity against Overeem.
“Overeem’s skill is too much, and I think he’ll be able to keep Harris at bay. Overeem is adept on the ground, and if he can get Harris on the ground, odds are strong he can finish him. I have a strong lean to Overeem by submission at 10-1 odds. It’s a long bomb, but I think it’s likely and I’m using it.”
Overeem (13-7-0) is a +125 underdog to Harris (-145) in the fight and 10-1 on the method-of-victory prop to win by submission.
Finocchiaro has three other plays for Saturday’s card in Jacksonville, Florida:
Rodrigo Nascimento (Even) over Don’Tale Mayes
“This is the first fight on the card. I don’t often do that, but I think there’s an angle here,” he said. “Styles make this fight, because if Mayes keeps it standing, he’s going to have all the advantages.
“I believe if the fight goes to the floor, Nascimento will hold a tremendous advantage. For that reason, I like him and believe he’ll win this fight.”
Marlon Vera (+165) over Song Yadong
“Vera is 27 and 5 years older than Yadong. He has won his last five UFC fights and is on an ascent, with an advantage on the ground should the fight go there,” Finocchiaro said. “Yadong is a future top-five featherweight fighter. But at this stage of his career, he’s giving up 2 inches in reach to Vera on his arms and legs and a decent amount of experience.
“With Vera’s experience, age and maturity, and the fact he’s got a little more well-rounded game, this is a closer fight than it’s lined at.”
Dan Ige (+115) over Edson Barboza
Barboza, 34, has height and reach advantages over Ige, 28. But he’s dropping down in weight to the 145-pound class after spending most of his career at 155, where he lost four of his past five fights.
“I view an older fighter struggling in his weight class who’s been knocked out a couple times now dropping weight classes as a bit of a red flag,” Finocchiaro said. “Ige lost his debut in the UFC, but has since won five straight fights, most notably his last two wins against very capable fighters.
“These are two ships going in different directions. Barboza is a very decorated lightweight, but dropping into featherweight is a desperate move.”