UFC Fight Night 122 Betting Picks & Preview
By Adam Burke
While most people think of football on Thanksgiving weekend, we’ve got some UFC going on this weekend. UFC Fight Night 122 in Shanghai, China features a main event of Michael Bisping vs. Kelvin Gastelum for a big battle in the middleweight division. This is the promotion’s first event on the mainland of China, so this is a pretty unique fighting atmosphere that the combatants won’t have any experience with.
The main card for this fight would not be happening in the United States. Michael Bisping just fought three weeks ago and lost to Georges St-Pierre. Because this fight is taking place in China, where there is a different governing body for fighting, Bisping’s medical suspension by the New York State Athletic Commission does not apply. Therefore, Bisping can take the place of Anderson Silva, who was originally in the fight.
There are 12 fights on this card, which can only be seen on UFC Fight Pass. Eight of them make up the preliminary card. Per usual, our focus will be on the main card, but we’ll give the matchups for the prelims plus the odds from our friends at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
We’ve got a lot of unknown fighters on this card, with a lot of Chinese competitors making their promotion debuts. Cyril Asker fights one in Yaozong Hu to open up the card. Asker is a -260 favorite for this heavyweight bout. Wuliji Buren makes his UFC debut in a featherweight fight against Rolando Dy. Dy is 0-2 in his two UFC fights against Alex Cacares and Teruto Ishihara. With a more comparable opponent here, he is -160.
In the women’s bantamweight division, Wu Yanan makes her UFC debut against American Gina Mazany. Mazany only has five pro fights under her belt and had long layoffs from 2009 to 2013 and 2013 to 2016. She lost via first-round submission to Sara McMann in her debut in February. Mazany is a -145 favorite.
We finally get a couple of UFC vets with the heavyweight fight between Chase Sherman and Shamil Abdurakhimov. Sherman is 2-2 in his four fights, including back-to-back wins. Abdurakhimov is also 2-2 and is coming off of a main event loss to Derrick Lewis just about a year ago. Abdurakhimov is a slight favorite at -135.
Newcomers Bharat Khandare and Yadong Song fight at the 145-pound weight limit, with Song as a -135 favorite. Khandare, an India native, has been fighting on the SFL circuit, while Song has been in RUFF. This looks like a dice roll any way you slice it.
Women’s strawweight action features UFC vet Kailin Curran up against Yan Xiaonan. Curran is actually a +120 dog in this fight, despite her UFC experience. Xiaonan is 7-1 in her pro career with five knockout wins. Another promotional newcomer, Kenan Song, is a +260 underdog to Bobby Nash, who is -320 as a favorite. Nash has lost both of his UFC fights by second-round knockout, but is expected to get the win here.
Zabit Magomedsharipov, who won his UFC debut fight against Mike Santiago a couple months ago, is a huge favorite over promotional newcomer Sheymon Moraes. Moraes, once a top contender in WSOF, is giving up a significant height advantage in this bout. Magomedsharipov is a -500 favorite.
Alex Garcia (+180) vs. Muslim Salikhov (-220); Total: 1.5 (100/-120)
Alex Garcia is a pretty sizable dog here against a promotional newcomer in Muslim Salikhov. Garcia has been in UFC since 2013 and has had mixed results, with wins over guys like Mike Pyle and Sean Spencer, but losses to Tim Means and Neil Magny. The 30-year-old lost his only previous fight in 2017 to Tim Means, who was bested by Belal Muhammad last weekend. Garcia does have a couple of first-round knockout wins to his name in the UFC, so maybe that explains the low total here.
Or maybe it’s just because Muslim Salikhov isn’t interested in fighting long. Salikhov is 12-1 in his career with 10 knockout wins, one submission win, and a submission loss. Twelve of Salikhov’s 13 fights have ended in the first round with knockouts, although a few have come in the second half of the round. His decision win was in M-1 a long time ago. Salikhov has been fighting on the Kunlun circuit and just scored a first-round knockout win over a very experienced Bellator fighter in Melvin Guillard.
Pick: Muslim Salikhov (-220)
That Guillard win is probably better than any win that Garcia has in his career and it came just 93 seconds into the fight. Garcia has been knocked out twice, so he has been a little bit susceptible to big shots and it certainly seems like Salikhov throws a lot of those.
Wang Guan (+135) vs. Alex Cacares (-155); Total: 2.5 (-165/145)
Wang Guan is 16-1 in his pro career. Alex Cacares is just 13-10. Yet, Cacares is a favorite here and that speaks to the level of competition that Guan has fought in his career. The 31-year-old has spent time in a few different promotions, including AOW, LFC, and RUFF. He did beat Shane Young, who made his UFC debut last weekend, by unanimous decision back in 2015. Outside of that, there aren’t many names on Guan’s fight record. He has never been knocked out or forced to submit, but he also hasn’t fought many guys with Cacares’s background.
Alex Cacares has been a bit of a bust in UFC. He made his debut in 2011 and was billed as more of a prospect than he has turned out to be. Cacares has lost five of his last eight fights. This one is set up for a bit of a bounce back, much like his last fight against Rolando Dy. Cacares is a little bit fortunate in that Guan doesn’t have much of a ground game. Guan wants to stand and throw. Cacares’s major weakness is takedown defense, with six submission losses in his career.
Pick: Alex Cacares (-155)
This isn’t a real exciting fight, but Cacares has fought a much higher level of competition than Guan. Cacares does have a pretty good chin and is really long for a 5-foot-9 fighter, so he should be able to keep Guan to the outside and dictate the pace of the fight. Scoring could be kind of strange in China with closer fights, so keep that in mind as you look at these fights where clear-cut wins seem unlikely.
Zak Ottow (+160) vs. Li Jiangling (-185); Total: 2.5 (-185/160)
Zak Ottow and Li Jiangling meet at the 170-pound limit in this one, as Jiangling fights for the first time in UFC in his native China. That means that Ottow faces a pretty tall task with a very biased crowd in support of one of the sport’s top Chinese fighters. It doesn’t help that Ottow’s three UFC fights could have gone either way. All three UFC decisions for Ottow have been of the split variety, with two wins and one loss. Ottow was dominant in smaller circuits, including 10 submission victories, but he hasn’t had the same success at the highest level.
Li Jiangling has to relish this opportunity. The UFC vet is coming off of a Fight of the Night bout against Frank Camacho, which he won by unanimous decision. Jiangling is on a nice little run with two knockout wins and that decision win over Camacho. He’s trending in the right direction after his setback against Keita Nakamura back in 2015. This is the third fight for Jiangling in 2017, which is something he has not done at any point in his career. He wasn’t going to miss a chance to fight in China, but it’s fair to wonder about him making a third appearance in a year.
Pick: Li Jiangling (-185)
Don’t think about it that much, though. Jiangling is the better fighter here, as the line correctly indicates, and he’ll be fighting in his backyard. Ottow hasn’t shown the ability to live up to the higher level of competition and there’s no reason to believe that he can until he proves otherwise.
Michael Bisping (+245) vs. Kelvin Gastelum (-290); Total: 2.5 (-105/-115)
The unique circumstances surrounding this fight have a lot to do with the betting odds. Michael Bisping is fighting just three weeks after losing to Georges St-Pierre. He’s also fighting one of the top pound-for-pound middleweights in Kelvin Gastelum. The late change is weird for both fighters, since Gastelum had been planning for Anderson Silva and now gets Bisping. Bisping is 38 years old. He needed a full 25 minutes to beat Dan Henderson and never really had control of the fight against GSP. He’s at long odds here for a reason.
Kelvin Gastelum has had a rough road lately. He lost via submission to Chris Weidman earlier this year and that came after his win over Vitor Belfort was overturned because of a positive marijuana test. He has talked of a return to welterweight because he has had a lot of problems with weight throughout his career. This seems like the type of fight that he needs to get back on track against a recent titleholder in a subpar spot. Bisping’s age coupled with the quick turnaround means that Gastelum, an athletic fighter, should jump early.
Pick: Michael Bisping (+245)
While Gastelum is the obvious pick and the safe pick as the favorite, Bisping seems like the type to surprise here. He’s taking a fight just three weeks after losing his title belt, so he’s eager to wash out the taste of that loss. Gastelum has failed to live up to his potential because of missed weights, positive tests, and just outright uninspired performances. We know that he has a ton of upside, but we also know that Bisping is going to bring a max effort here. If Gastelum can’t match it, he’ll set himself up for a bad loss.
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Fights to Avoid Betting for UFC Fight Night 122
The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is heading to Shanghai, China for the first time in promotional history with UFC Fight Night 122: Bisping vs. Gastelum. The 12-fight card is scheduled to get going at 3:45 a.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass, with the main card rolling along at 7 a.m., also on Fight Pass. If interested in wagering on any bouts for these fight cards, all betting lines are made available at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
My Fights to AVOID betting are:
Welterweight bout: Li Jingliang (-185) vs. Zak Ottow (+160)
Gabe's Thoughts: I think Jingliang should be a -160 betting favorite in this 170 pound contest, so I see no betting value in him at his current offering price of -185. I think he is the better fighter of the two, however that is in the first round. In the third round, I think Ottow will be looking like the better fighter, as I expect him to have the superior cardio of the pair. I think this fight will hit the judges’ scorecards for a decision more often than not, and I feel things will come down to the second round. I feel Jingliang will have enough left in the tank to get the better of Ottow in the second, and I will side with him for my pick, though the weigh-ins could end up changing my mind. In any case, at the current odds, I think this is a fight best left alone at the sportsbook this weekend.
Gabe's Call: Jingliang by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Gabe's Recommended Play: AVOID
Heavyweight bout: Cyril Asker (-260) vs. Hu Yaozong (+220)
Gabe's Thoughts: I’m gonna be straight with you. I don’t know a damn thing about Yaozong, but I do know there is no way I could bet Asker at -260, regardless of who he is fighting. The way I see it, this is a “dog or pass” type of scrap, and I don’t feel like gambling. I don’t like to think of most wagers as gambles, as I believe I generally have an edge, however I feel this instance would be purely a gamble. I’m gonna have to pass on this one come Saturday morning, and you’d be wise to do the same.
Gabe's Call: Asker by Submission (rear naked choke, 2:45 round 2)
Gabe's Recommended Play: AVOID
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