UFC 248 has arrived and I can say with confidence that this card is looking stacked. To keep it real, 2020 has been so-so in terms of top to bottom cards. It has certainly delivered in the way of big fights, but outside the Auckland fight night, there has been a lack of stacked top to bottom cards. That isn’t to say there haven’t been some great down card PPV fights in 2020 (Greene vs. Oleinik, Krause vs. Giles, Ige vs. Bektic), but missed weight and other cancellations caused 246 and 247 to suffer.
The same cannot be said about this card. Even with the cancellations of Brunson vs. Shahbazyan and Whitaker vs. Cannonier, UFC 248 is looking like a very entertaining card. Both title fights project to be bangers while there are also several entertaining down-ticket fights. Leech vs. Magny and Dariush vs. Klose are two very relevant fights that will alter the career trajectory of the winner.
UFC 248 also features several prospects hoping to secure victories and advance their future. It is here where I will be making most of my plays, but there’s an angle for plenty of bouts this weekend. Jedrzejczyk is nearly impossible to get inside on and she is one of the most prolific volume strikers on the roster. Weili Zhang’s best path to victory is to land some heavy shots inside the pocket while getting out quickly. Easier said than done, but ultimately this fight is one where the winner will be the fighter who successfully executed their game-plan. It’s not a straight play for me, but Joanna with plus odds is certainly a bet worth taking.
The same can also be said for Yoel. Izzy should dominate this fight on paper, but have we not learned our lesson about counting Yoel out? Romero is able to keep his power deep into the fight thanks to his explosive but calculated style. Again, no play for me, but +210 on Yoel Romero is worth a bet.
Now on to the plays for UFC 248.
Giga Chikadze (+150) vs. Jamall Emmers (-175)
Jamall Emmers will be making his UFC debut this evening just a little over a month after headlining an LFA event. Emmers was able to secure a third round submission against Rafael Barbosa in a fight he largely controlled start to finish.
While UFC 248 will mark the promotional debut for Emmers, he is responsible for the only loss on Cory Sandhagen’s record. Emmers secured a unanimous decision win over Sandhagen at LFA 5 in February, 2017. Emmers also defeated Alexander Hernandez back in 2013. While both these victories should be taken with a grain of salt, Emmers has plenty of big time MMA experience against some elite fighters.
The same cannot be said for Chikadze. Though 1-0 outright in the UFC (he was submitted by Austin Springer on the Contender’s Series), Giga Chikadze has yet to face formidable MMA competition. A longtime kick-boxer, Chikadze’s current three fight winning streak is against fighters with a combined record of 12-39.
Giga Chikadze has excellent kicks and switches stances very well, but this may be negated against a seasoned MMA veteran like Emmers. Emmers demonstrated excellent movement just over a month ago against Barbosa and he is no slouch on the feet. That said, Emmers has the clear advantage on the ground. Chikadze has been taken down at will thus far in his MMA career and Emmers should be able to do the same. If Emmers implements his ground game properly, this should be an easy decision win.
If you’re looking for a method of victory prop, Emmers by points hovers around +230. I think this is a great value.
Pick: Jamall Emmers
Austin Hubbard (+200) vs. Mark O. Madsen (-240)
Mark O. Madsen’s 9-0 record isn’t all that surprising when watching tape. Madsen has so far been able to overwhelm and maul his opponents with insanely heavy pressure. He has secured wins via decision, KO and submission with just 9 pro fights in the bag. In every fight, Madsen has dominated control and has been unsolvable thus far.
Whether Madsen is a one trick pony remains to be seen. The question is, does Austin Hubbard have what it takes to stop this train? No disrespect to Hubbard, but I see him getting mauled here.
There isn’t much value on this pick straight up, nor is the next one, but it is potentially very useful for parlays.
Pick: Mark O. Madsen
Jose Quinones (+300) vs. Sean O’Malley (-350)
There is no such thing as a “tune up fight” in MMA, but many are expecting Sean O’Malley to get back on track with a win here. O’Malley’s movement has thus far proven to be overwhelming for opposition. O’Malley throws a McGregor style mystery bag of strikes while mixing in powerful kicks.
Quinones is no slouch, but he has been rocked before and shouldn’t be much trouble for O’Malley. The biggest thing to watch here is ring rust for “the sugar show”.
Pick: Sean O’Malley
Gerald Meerschaert (+115) vs. Deron Winn (-135)
This bout should be fun to watch due to the animosity between the fighters. Meerschaert has said that he felt disrespected by the way Daniel Cormier protege Deron Winn went about securing a fight with him in the past. “GM3” says he’s more motivated than ever before for this fight and says that he wants to “punch a hole in his face”, which led to a testy face-off yesterday afternoon.
Winn opened as a favorite but the line has only slid in favor of Meerschaert and the fight is now a pick em’.
Size advantage is a big factor here. Winn – the shortest UFC middleweight of all time – has a significant disadvantage in reach. He may be able to land take-downs, but Winn was unable to do much damage with the multiple he landed in his split decision loss to Darren Stewart last go around. Winn looked gassed by the end of that fight, just like he did at the end of his fight with Eric Spicely. Spicely is a common opponent between the two, with Winn securing a decision and GM3 landing a body shot TKO.
As stated before, Winn may be able to take GM3 down as he pleases in this fight. However, GM3 is more than comfortable off his back and his sizable length advantage will aide him in submissions. While GM3’s gas tank isn’t elite, Winn’s gas tank has been sub-par thus far in his UFC career.
I see Winn being vulnerable on the ground, which means his best path to victory is to overwhelm Meerschaert with volume and score a 10-8 in the first round. If Meerschaert can hold his own, a submission becomes more likely as the fight goes on. I’m tempted to go with the submission pick, but at plus odds, I’ll stick with the moneyline.
Pick: Gerald Meerschaert
All odds are courtesy of FanDuel.
Emmers moneyline + O’Malley moneyline + Madsen moneyline + Meerschaert moneyline yields (+508)
Emmers by points + Meerschaert moneyline yields (+570)
Meerschaert submission + Madsen moneyline + O’Malley moneyline yields (+730)
Emmers moneyline + Madsen moneyline + Joanna Jedrzejczyk moneyline yields (+478)
Emmers by points + Madsen by points + Yoel Romero moneyline yields (+1966)
O’Malley moneyline + Madsen moneyline + Emmers moneyline + Zhang – Jedrzejczyk to end in KO/TKO + Yoel Romero moneyline yields (+1646)