Aspen Ladd a sharp betting play at UFC Vegas 40

aspen ladd, mma

While this may be getting out to you a bit late, there is still plenty of time for you to get to the window and make some money on this fine Saturday evening.

Despite many (including myself) labeling this UFC Vegas 40 card at the APEX in Las Vegas the weakest card in UFC history, that doesn’t make women’s UFC top-10 pound-for-pound fighter Aspen Ladd (9-1, 4-1 UFC) any less worthy of earning your respect when it comes to wagering your hard-earned money on her tonight.

The 26-year-old (former?) phenom has made plenty of waves recently for all the wrong reasons, as the (definitely former) UFC bantamweight missed weight yet again ahead of a canceled bout with Macy Chiasson just a couple of weeks ago. Yet tonight, she has a real chance to make up for all of that and put some much-needed sizzle into the women’s featherweight division.

Interestingly enough, Ladd’s opponent has had her fair share of struggles while attempting to make the 135-pound limit at bantamweight. Norma Dumont (6-1, 2-1 UFC) is likely not psyched to be fighting the super-dangerous Ladd on short notice after former champion Holly Holm had to back out of this fight last minute.

According to Fanduel Sportsbook, Ladd heads into this matchup as just a -135 favorite as of fight night, which likely has much to do with her struggles on the scale. To be fair, she also is coming off an almost two-year layoff after a torn ACL threw an unwanted wrench into her young career.

That is a lot to overcome, but I firmly believe we’re getting terrific value on Aspen Ladd here do to a lukewarm (to be nice) public narrative on her at the moment. If you know me, you know I love to take advantage of a narrative affecting a line any time I can.

We’ll sprinkle in Ladd by KO/TKO at +270, as well, as the California native has finished a dynamite 77% of her career fights professionally and 75% of her amateur bouts (which gives us a solid sample size).

With Nate ‘The Train’ Landwehr already cashing for us tonight as a bonus play, tonight could be our first step back toward respectability on this site on what is shaping up to be an electric end of the year schedule in the UFC world.

Official plays:

Aspen Ladd -135 for 3.5U

Aspen Ladd by KO/TKO +270 for 1U

ADDING: Brent Primus +106 for 2.8U

YTD: 1-3, -5.9U (if you remember my debut giving out picks on this site, which I hope you don’t)

Let’s get it people.

UFC Vegas 40 Preview: Aspen Ladd – Norma Dumont

Tomorrow in the main event of UFC Vegas 40, we are going to see a rare headliner in the women’s featherweight division. One of the brightest prospects in the promotion Aspen Ladd (9-1) makes her return as she takes on Norma Dumont (6-1).

Ladd was supposed to fight last weekend at 135 pounds. However, she failed to make weight and ultimately the fight was called off. When Holly Holm fell out of this weekend’s main event, the UFC called Ladd and asked if she’d take this headlining spot at 145 pounds.

Without hesitation, Ladd accepted the opportunity. This will be Ladd’s first fight in just under two years. The last time we saw her was back in 2019 when she stopped Yana Kunitskaya. Ladd is one of the best prospects in the UFC‘s bantamweight division, but she’s always had trouble with weight.

Fighting at 145 pounds should be refreshing for the young star. Standing across from her tomorrow is going to be Norma Dumont. Dumont is 2-1 since joining the UFC and her lone loss came against Megan Anderson in her promotional debut.

Since that loss, she’s put together two consecutive wins. Her last win came against former title challenger Felicia Spencer by split decision. If Dumont is able to defeat Ladd tomorrow, she could have an argument as a deserving challenger in the UFC‘s shallow featherweight division.

UFC Vegas 40 Prediction

This main event at UFC Vegas 40 is going to come down to takedowns. It’s no secret what Aspen Ladd’s game plan is going to be tomorrow night. Ladd is going to try and close the distance in order to get Dumont to the mat.

If she’s able to do that, she can easily finish this fight. Ladd has some of the nastiest ground and pound out of any fighter on the roster male or female. If she gets on top of you, she will throw everything including the kitchen sink at you.

That said, if she can’t get it to the ground, she could be in for a rough night. I really like the striking especially at range of Dumont in this matchup. If she can defend the takedowns, I can easily see her picking apart Ladd from the outside.

I keep going back-and-forth on my prediction for this matchup at UFC Vegas 40. In a vacuum if both fighters were at their best and trained for this, I would pick Aspen Ladd. However, given the short-notice nature and the weight cut from last week, I like Dumont by decision.

Prediction: Norma Dumont by Unanimous Decision

Fighters lining up to face Sean Strickland at UFC 268

This week we learned that Luke Rockhold was out of UFC 268. The former middleweight champion was set to face Sean Strickland (24-3) in his return to the middleweight division. Strickland is currently ranked seventh in the division.

With Rockhold out of the fight, the UFC is starting the process of looking for replacements. At the moment, it doesn’t appear like they are going to have a lack of options in getting someone to take a fight against Strickland.

Strickland is someone who is not liked by many on the UFC roster. In fact, some would say he’s one of the more hated fighters on the roster. When Rockhold fell out of the fight, multiple big names started speaking up.

One of the biggest names is top welterweight contender and former title challenger Gilbert Burns (20-4). Burns is coming off of a victory over Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson. He’s been trying to get a fight against someone near the top of the welterweight division.

However, most of the top guys are booked and he’s needing a fight. With that, he tweeted yesterday that he is definitely willing to move up to 185 pounds to face Strickland at UFC 268.

Will Strickland get a new fight at UFC 268?

Another top welterweight who’s been a little more vocal about getting the fight with Strickland is Belal Muhammad (19-3, 1 NC). Muhammad took to Twitter yesterday voicing his hatred for Strickland and his desire to fight him.

However, Strickland has shot down all of the potential callouts from the UFC welterweights and other middleweight fighters. Strickland took to Instagram last night to tell Muhammad that he would backhand him if he ever saw him and said he won’t be fighting unless it’s meaningful to his spot at 185.

He went on to talk about the fact that beating Luke Rockhold would mean something and put him in a great spot. None of the callouts thus far move the needle for the UFC’s seventh ranked middleweight contender.

Strickland has made it clear that he will wait it out until he gets a contender worth fighting. At this point, I would say the odds are in favor of Strickland not fighting at UFC 268.

After falling short at UFC Vegas 39, what’s next for Mackenzie Dern?

This past Saturday in the main event of UFC Vegas 39, we saw a pivotal matchup in the strawweight division. Top contenders battled it out as Mackenzie Dern (11-2) took on Marina Rodriguez (15-1-2).

Heading into the matchup, the path to victory seemed relatively clear for both ladies. For Dern, she was going to need to get the fight to the ground. She arguably has the best jiu-jitsu out of any female fighter in the UFC.

She has improved striking, but Rodriguez is so much more seasoned on the feet. Rodriguez needed to keep the fight standing where she was going to have a massive advantage, especially from range.

One of the things that concerned me about Dern going into the fight was her takedowns. Despite all of her submission wins, Dern is not effective at all with her takedowns. Coming into UFC Vegas 39, she was only succeeding at a 10% clip.

While the fight did touch the mat a few times on Saturday, Dern’s inability to take the fight down ended up being her downfall. Rodriguez controlled most of the fight on the feet and survived the grappling exchanges to win a decision.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 39?

For Dern, this fight is a reset. The surging contender had won four fights in a row and she was looking to become the star that the UFC believes she can be. As mentioned, she’s becoming more well-rounded, but she’s still a little too one-dimensional.

With the loss, Dern falls to 6-2 in eight fights in the UFC. She’s still one of the better strawweights in the world, but she has to continue to improve her striking and she definitely needs to improve her offensive wrestling.

If Dern can become a fighter who’s dangerous with takedowns, she can easily become a world champion. Now that her winning streak is snapped, who should be next for Mackenzie Dern?

Well, one fighter I like for Dern is a little down the rankings in Tecia Torres (13-5). Torres is just inside the top ten and she’s won three fights in a row. She’s been begging the UFC for a top contender and I think Dern fits the bill.

She showed great striking in her last fight, but she’s been known throughout her career for her wrestling. It would be an interesting stylistic matchup and it would be fun to see how both ladies would approach it. For Dern, it would be the slight step back she needs while still taking on a tough customer.

UFC booking Geoff Neal – Santiago Ponzinibbio

The UFC has added another banger for the December PPV. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto was the first to report last night that the promotion had finalized a matchup between top 12 welterweights as Geoff Neal (13-4) takes on Santiago Ponzinibbio (28-4).

The matchup will take place at UFC 269 which is shaping up to be one of the most stacked cards of the year. This matchup is likely going to be featured on the prelims which is remarkable when you think about it.

Ponzinibbio is going to be looking to pickup his second consecutive win which could get him back in the top ten. A few years ago, Ponzinibbio was looked at as a future UFC champion after the way he started with the promotion.

Before a series of injuries delayed his progression, Ponzinibbio went on a seven-fight win streak in the UFC. During that stretch he had wins over Gunnar Nelson and Mike Perry. The highlight win was a knockout over the tough Neil Magny.

However, injuries kept him out for over two years after that Magny win. He returned in January where he was knocked out by Jingliang Li. After that, he did bounce back with a sensational win over Miguel Baeza where he handed the UFC top prospect his first career loss.

UFC bounce back for Handz of Steel?

Geoff Neal was on a very similar path as Ponzinibbio inside the octagon. After earning a contract on Dana White’s Contender Series, Neal went on a tear in the UFC. He started out a perfect 5-0.

During that start he had wins over guys like Belal Muhammad, Niko Price, and Mike Perry. However, he then had a year layoff after some health concerns. Upon his return, he fought Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson in a main event last December.

Neal was outclassed and suffered his first UFC loss. Then, he was defeated by Neil Magny back in May to suffer his second straight loss. Now, he has the tough task of taking on Ponzinibbio in December.

Both of these men need this win. For Ponzinibbio, he needs to show that he can beat top UFC welterweights again. For Neal, he needs to show the same thing and get back on track. This should be an incredible matchup once it rolls around in December.

Luke Rockhold injured and out of UFC 268 bout against Sean Strickland

Luke Rockhold

The return of Luke Rockhold (16-5) is once again going to be delayed. The former UFC middleweight champion took to Instagram last night and posted to his story that he has a herniated disk in his back and is out of his upcoming fight.

Rockhold was scheduled to fight Sean Strickland (24-3) at UFC 268 next month at Madison Square Garden. The two men have had a lot of heat leading up to this fight and many were looking forward to this intriguing middleweight contest.

Rockhold said on his Instagram Story, “There’s no really easy way it but the fight is off in New York. I ended up herniating a disk in my back, L4 L5. The doctors say it’s nothing I can play with. I need to do some treatment and have some recovery time. Some things just aren’t meant to be.”

The UFC former champion went on to tell Ariel Helwani that there’s no surgery needed for his back. He has to get treatment and have about six weeks of physical training before they think he’ll be ready to resume fight preparations.

The UFC’s Plans

The good news for the UFC is that the card next month in New York is absolutely stacked. They are not going to miss this middleweight contest too bad, but it’s still a good fight that is no longer on the card.

This was a very important fight for the middleweight division. Rockhold was returning to the middleweight division for the first time since 2018. If he could’ve won impressively, he would provide an interesting new wrinkle to the picture at 185.

However, if Strickland was able to win, it would’ve been huge for his progression. A win over a former UFC champion that would’ve made it six in a row overall for the seventh ranked middleweight in the division.

A win over Rockhold could’ve put Strickland only a win or two away from UFC title contention. Given the timeline, I’m not sure the promotion will try to book this fight again. There’s no word at this time whether or not they’ll keep Strickland on the card just with a different opponent. This will be a story to watch.

Jorge Masvidal – Leon Edwards close to being finalized for UFC 269

The welterweight grudge match that UFC fans have wanted to see is close to being finalized. Ariel Helwani reported today that the fight between Leon Edwards (19-3, 1 NC) and Jorge Masvidal (35-15) is all but finalized and it will go down this year.

Helwani reported that the fight is being targeted for UFC 269 on December 11th. That card currently has three title fights (headlined by Charles Oliveira – Dustin Poirier), but reports are that the flyweight title fight between Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno might move.

With that, Masvidal and Edwards will be the third main card fight for UFC 269. Edwards is going to be looking for his tenth win in his last eleven UFC appearances. The only non-win was a No Contest which came earlier this year in a fight with Belal Muhammad.

Worth noting that Edwards was dominating that fight. Given the current state of the UFC‘s welterweight division, this could very well be a title eliminator. With Colby Covington and Kamaru Usman fighting in November, Edwards could get his UFC title shot with a win over Gamebred.

UFC 269 – Three Piece and a Soda

Jorge Masvidal will be looking to snap a two-fight losing streak in his next fight. His last two fights came against Kamaru Usman for the UFC welterweight title and Gamebred fell short both times.

Now, he’s looking to get back on track and he’s still desiring another crack at UFC gold. A clear way to get there is with a win over Leon Edwards. These two have bad blood that dates back to 2019 when Gamebred knocked out Darren Till.

Masvidal was conducting his post-fight interview with ESPN when Edwards walked by. The two exchanged words which caused Masvidal to approach Edwards. Upon approaching him, Masvidal bloodied Edwards with a combination.

Now, the two men will finally meet in the UFC. Who do you think will ultimately win this matchup at UFC 269?

After impressive win at UFC Vegas 39, what’s next for Marina Rodriguez?

This past Saturday in the main event of UFC Vegas 39, we saw a battle between two of the best strawweights in the world. Top ranked contenders Marina Rodriguez (15-1-2) took on Mackenzie Dern (11-2).

Heading into the fight, I kept thinking that the path to victory was pretty clear for both fighters. For Dern, it was going to be vital getting Rodriguez to the mat. Dern is not someone you want to go to the mat with and if you do, you’re likely going to tap.

For Rodriguez, she needed to keep the fight standing. While Dern had made significant improvements in her striking, she doesn’t have the distance control and preciseness that Rodriguez had. I figured a striking battle would show some holes in her stand up game.

Well, at UFC Vegas 39, we saw a lot of striking. While the two ladies were on the feet, it went exactly how I thought. It was fairly one-sided with Rodriguez landing the much better shots and controlling the range well.

Where I was wrong is how the fight went on the ground. I figured if it touched the grown, Dern would pick up the win. However, despite getting on top a few times, Dern couldn’t find the submission at UFC Vegas 39 and Rodriguez went on to win a decision.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 39?

This was a massive win for Rodriguez and perhaps puts her only a fight or two away from getting a crack at the UFC strawweight title. With that in mind, who should the promotion pair her with next.

In terms of rankings and winning streaks, the one opponent that makes sense is a rematch with Carla Esparza (18-6). Esparza is a former UFC champion and is the only woman to have defeated Rodriguez in her professional career.

However, I don’t see the former UFC champion taking that fight. I think she’s set on waiting for the winner of the rematch between Zhang Weili and Rose Namajunas. That’s a shot Esparza deserves and I think she’ll get it.

The fight the UFC should make is between Rodriguez and Joanna Jedrzejczyk (16-4). The former champion is hoping to return early next year and who wouldn’t want to see this battle between these two technical strikers.

Not sure that Jedrzejczyk would take it if the UFC offers, but that’s definitely the fight that I’d try to make next.

UFC Vegas 39 Preview: Mackenzie Dern – Marina Rodriguez

Tonight in the main event of UFC Vegas 39, we are going to see a pivotal showdown in the strawweight division. Top contenders will battle it out as Mackenzie Dern (11-1) takes on Marina Rodriguez (14-1-2).

Rodriguez will be making the walk for the eighth time in her UFC career. After entering the octagon for the first time a perfect 10-0, Rodriguez has gone 4-1-2 through her first seven fights.

Heading into UFC Vegas 39, she’s on a two-fight win streak. In her last fight, she fought Michelle Waterson, but the two fought at 125 pounds. It was an entertaining fight that Rodriguez pulled off by decision.

Standing across from Rodriguez tonight will be Mackenzie Dern. Dern has everything the UFC is looking for a in a potential star and she’s really coming into her own. Known for her tremendous jiu jitsu, it’s been her striking that has impressed in her last few fights.

After losing her first career fight to Amanda Ribas, Dern has gone on a four-fight win streak. She continues to look better and better and at UFC Vegas 39, she’s going to look to put herself in title contention.

UFC Vegas 39 Prediction

To me, this is a really tough main event to predict. On one hand, you know that if the fight touches the mat at UFC Vegas 39, Dern becomes a massive favorite. Marina Rodriguez doesn’t want to come close to touching the mat against Dern.

That said, will the fight ever get there is the question. Dern is not the best when it comes to landing takedowns. Despite her impressive wins by submissions in the UFC, she’s only succeeding on a little over 10% of her offensive takedowns.

Her submissions have come when others have shockingly taken her down or followed her to the ground. Rodriguez is not going to do this. In her last few fights, Rodriguez has looked like a sniper at range and I expect her to strike from the outside.

You should expect a lot of pressure fighting from Dern at UFC Vegas 39. She doesn’t want this to be a technical striking match because she will lose. She wants this fight in close and best case scenario it touches the mat.

I really thought I’d pick Dern in this spot, but I have a suspicion that Rodriguez pulls this off tonight. I think she’ll be able to land some nice counters and big shots from distance which will be just enough to score a decision. However, don’t be shocked at all to see a Dern submission if the fight goes to the ground.

Prediction: Marina Rodriguez by Decision

UFC books headliner between Calvin Kattar and Giga Chikadze

UFC

The UFC has finalized a big time matchup for their first main event of 2022. MMA Junkie was the first to report this afternoon that the promotion had finalized a featherweight headliner between Calvin Kattar (22-5) and Giga Chikadze (14-2).

The fight will headline a UFC Fight Night that is currently scheduled for January 15th. This headliner is almost a year exactly to the date from the last time that we saw Calvin Kattar inside the octagon.

On January 16th of this year, Kattar took on Max Holloway in the UFC‘s first headliner of 2021. Kattar was destroyed by Holloway who set virtually every significant striking record there is to set for a single fight in that matchup.

That loss snapped a two-fight winning streak for Kattar. Kattar is 4-2 in his last six with his only two losses coming against Holloway and Zabit Magomedsharipov. After his loss in January, Kattar has taken the rest of the year off to recover and improve for his run starting in 2022.

Will Chikadze become UFC champion in 2022?

Getting the first headlining fight of 2022 is big news for Giga Chikadze. In all likelihood, he will be either be next in line for a title shot if he wins or he will be next in line for a title eliminator given the rest of the featherweight division.

Whoever wins the Max Holloway – Yair Rodriguez fight in November is going to get the next shot at UFC gold. That title fight will likely in happen in the spring of 2022. If Chikadze wins in January, he would line up nicely with the winner of that title fight.

Chikadze has been a perfect 7-0 in the UFC. In his last fight, he stopped Edson Barboza in the third round. That was by far the most impressive performance of Chikadze’s career and it came against his toughest opponent.

I’m expecting to see the best of both Chikadze and Kattar in January. This is a helluva main event that fight fans should be excited for.