Best bets for UFC Fight Night: Ciryl Gane vs. Alexander VolkovESPN PLUS ($ MATERIAL)
It's the last UFC fight card before things get wild. And by wild, I mean the return of Conor McGregor for a blockbuster summer card in Vegas. We'll get to that in detail next time. But first, we'll head into the holiday pause with a clash of top-five ranked heavyweights that could identify a new title contender.
Ciryl Gane (No. 3) and Alexander Volkov (No. 5) are already main event material, and each has put together a winning streak. A win here immediately puts one of them in the title picture.
It's a lighter card than usual from a data perspective, so we'll have to acknowledge that not all cards are equal from a betting unit perspective.
Prelims start at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN+. and the main card begins at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN+.
Odds are courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill.
Heavyweight main event: No. 3 Ciryl Gane (-170) vs. No. 5 Alexander Volkov (+145)
Tale Of The Tape
|ALEXANDER VOLKOV||CIRYL GANE|
|Last fight weight class||Heavyweight||Heavyweight|
|Stand-up striking offense|
|Total knockdown ratio (scored:received)||3:2||2:0|
|Distance knockdown rate||1.5%||1.6%|
|Head jab accuracy||47%||37%|
|Head power accuracy||51%||36%|
|Total stand-up strike ratio||1.6||1.4|
|Total head strike defense||73%||84%|
|Distance knockdown defense ("Chin")||99%||100%|
|Wrestling and grappling|
|TD attempts per min standing/clinch||0.11||0.30|
|Advances per takedown/top control||0.6||0.4|
|Opponent takedown attempts||56||3|
|Share of total ground time in control||13%||97%|
|Submission attempts per trip to ground||0.00||0.40|
The heavyweight division is not a place where you can make even a fleeting mistake, so the fact that Volkov and Gane have piled up wins against top talent means that they know how to play to their strengths while avoiding those of their opponents. And their strengths in this matchup appear to be on opposite levels.
While on the feet, Volkov has emerged as one of the best heavyweight strikers in the game, with a power head strike accuracy that only Alistair Overeem has ever matched. With Overeem moving on from the UFC, Volkov now carries the mantle of best technical striking. He's not as much a one-hitter quitter, but being able to push a pace with such superlative accuracy presents problems for anyone standing in front of him.
And yet, Gane may not choose to stand and trade. The Frenchman started his professional career in Muay Thai, but his transition to MMA has led to as many submission victories as those from strikes. When going to the mat, he has been in control almost the entire time, though his takedown accuracy hasn't been stellar. He went 2-for-14 on takedowns in his last appearance against Jairzinho Rozenstruik but outstruck his opponent by such a margin that Gane cruised to a five-round victory. That plan may not be available to him here.
Volkov is no stranger to an opponent who wants to change levels, and his takedown defense sits slightly above average. If he stuffs the early attempts, he'll have the upper hand when fighting at long range.
Volkov with the edge on the feet, and Gane with the ground advantage makes for a fittingly close betting line. But with Volkov hovering as high as +145, with no significant early trend in line movement, we'll take the plus money in a fight that could go either way.
E+ recommends: Money-line lean on Volkov at plus money.
Best bets elsewhere on the card
Deep on the prelims is a fight that few expect to see the scores. Light heavyweights Marcin Prachnio (-195) and Ike Villanueva (+165) are both fully capable of ending a fight by knockout, but both have been susceptible to being finished themselves. Both fighters began their UFC careers on the wrong end of multiple knockout losses, but both rebounded in their last outing.
This fight is unlikely to hit the mat, so the more aggressive pace of stand-up striking combined with significantly better strike defense should give Prachnio a leg up. Speaking of which, expect leg kicks from Prachnio -- lots of them. He uses the highest mix of leg kicks in his stand-up arsenal of any fighter on the card, while Villanueva has yet to throw a single one.
E+ recommends: Money-line play on Prachnio.
Lightweights Yancy Medeiros (+125) and Damir Hadzovic (-150) offer more than the usual amount of finishing potential, which would offer plus money if the fight does not go the distance. Medeiros has racked up nine knockdowns scored in his UFC career, but he has also suffered seven knockdowns absorbed. And when he's not finishing or going out on his shield via strikes, he's on the mat getting submissions.
Hadzovic has better strike accuracy and defense on paper, so he might get to test Medeiros' chin. While there's a slight lean to the better durability of Hadzovic, he's also a mild favorite and may not be worth the risk.
The value play here could be taking the under 2.5 or inside the distance prop for a clear plus money return, as the usual finish rate of around 50% seems elevated whenever Medeiros is in the cage.
E+ recommends: Under 2.5 rounds or fight does not go the distance.