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The Octagon returns to the new Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California, this Saturday night for UFC Fight Night 155. The card features a number of closely-matched fights at the betting window, with only three fights featuring a favorite of 2-to-1 or higher. The sportsbooks are offering odds on all 12 scheduled bouts, and here are my top plays in the UFC Sacramento edition of Prime Picks.
Aspen Ladd (-165)
The main event of UFC Fight Night 155 sees Ladd (8-0) get her first chance to headline an Ultimate Fighting Championship event when she takes on former UFC women’s featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie (8-3) in a five-round bantamweight bout. I have a lot of respect for de Randamie as a fighter, but this will be Ladd’s coming-out party. The promotion is giving the youngster the chance to shine and she will come through with flying colors. Just 24, Ladd already has a perfect record as a pro with three wins inside the Octagon. After finishing veterans Tonya Evinger and Lina Lansberg in her first two UFC bouts, she defeated Sijara Eubanks by unanimous decision her last time out and won “Fight of the Night” in the process. She is a student of the game and has tremendous upside considering her youth. Ladd has a strong wrestling game and if she can get her opponents down to the mat she can rain down fight-ending ground and pound. Her striking is still a work in progress, but her ground game is phenomenal. She will need it when she takes on a world-class striker here in de Randamie, who has won four-straight fights. In fact, de Randamie has only lost once inside the Octagon, and that was to Amanda Nunes back in 2013. She’s a tremendous striker, but if she does have any holes in her game it’s in the grappling department. If Ladd can get the takedown, she should have no problem controlling de Randamie and may even be able to finish her with ground and pound just like Nunes did. I like Ladd to win this fight and the -165 odds on her seem fair.
Ricky Simon (-320)
As the second-biggest favorite on the card, the oddsmakers expect Simon (15-1) to beat Urijah Faber (34-10) in a bantamweight contest. I do as well. Not only has Simon been impressive in the UFC with three straight wins, but this is also a chance to fade the 40-year-old Faber, who is returning from retirement to fight for the first time since 2016. I will always fade a fighter in those circumstances, and it’s no different here with Faber even despite the fact he’s fighting at home in Sacramento. I just can’t trust someone of his age coming back after so long away to fight a young stud like Simon, who is just 26 and gets better every time we see him fight. Simon has a very well-rounded game and is one of the many young bantamweight prospects who has taken this division by storm. This is a tremendous opportunity for Simon to get a win over a legend and emerge as a top contender. Faber is durable and has always been tough to finish, but Simon will be able to stuff his takedowns and outstrike Faber on the feet en route to a unanimous decision win. The -320 odds on Simon are about right for those looking for someone to parlay on this card.
Josh Emmett (+135)
For a dog pick, give me Emmett (14-2) to beat Mirsad Bektic (13-1) in an intriguing featherweight bout. I actually think Emmett should be favored coming into this fight, so to get him at dog money makes him worth a bet. In his last fight, Emmett became the first man to knock out Michael Johnson when he absolutely put his lights out with a massive overhand right. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Emmett’s power on display, as he also holds a notable KO win over Ricardo Lamas. Although Emmett is 34, he is a bit of a late bloomer in mixed martial arts and appears to be in the prime of his career right now. He takes on Bektic, who is the younger fighter at just 28, but Bektic has been in some serious wars in his career and I don’t trust his chin or cardio to hold up in this fight. This reminds me of the Bektic vs. Darren Elkins matchup, when Bektic got tired late and then got head kicked into oblivion. If Elkins can knock him out, so can Emmett. It’s likely Emmett connects with a big punch here and finishes the fight. At +135 underdog odds, I like Emmett to get the upset in this fight.
Benito Lopez (+125)
With so many closely-lined fights, I’m giving out a second underdog pick, and it’s Lopez (9-1) to defeat Vince Morales (9-3) in one of the many bantamweight bouts on this card. Lopez actually opened as the betting favorite, but the early action has come in on Morales and he is now the underdog. At dog money, I think you have to go with him here. Prior to his last fight, Lopez was a perfect 9-0 in MMA before running into another top prospect in Manny Bermudez. Bettors are fading Lopez after he was submitted by Bermudez, but I’m not ready to write off the 25-year-old Benitez just yet. He’s a quality young fighter with a well-rounded game and a better mixed martial artist than Morales. Credit to Morales for picking up a decision win over Aiemann Zahabi in his last fight, but it was far from an impressive performance, and prior to that he had lost two of three. Morales seems like a borderline UFC fighter, Lopez belongs. I think this is going to be a fairly competitive fight, but Lopez is going to get his hand raised and at +125 underdog odds I have to take him here.
Adam Martin is a mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the sport since 2011. He is currently the lead odds analyst for Sherdog.com as well as the lead staff writer for MMAOddsbreaker.com. Adam is also the co-host of “The Parting Shot Podcast” on iTunes. His favorite fight of all time is Dan Henderson vs. Shogun Rua and he wishes Pride never died. Adam is based out of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and he is a graduate of the University of Toronto and Centennial College. Get in touch with him on Twitter @MMAdamMartin.
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