Written by Winning Willie
UFC 249 went off without a hitch and was very entertaining. Now, UFC is back with UFC Fight Night 171: Smith vs. Teixeira, otherwise known as UFC on ESPN: Smith vs. Teixeira or UFC on ESPN 9. This event will take place Wednesday, May 13th, 2020 in Jacksonville, Florida. There are some good fights on both the prelims and the main card, although it isn't quite as stacked of a lineup as UFC 249 featured.
*All odds can be found at Bovada*
Isaac (.otherwise known as Ike) Villanueva will make his UFC debut against "The Vanilla Gorilla" Chase Sherman. Villanueva is riding a winning streak at the amateur level. Meanwhile, Sherman is on a three fight losing streak in the UFC, although he's taken on some tough competition. I don't have faith in Sherman given how he's been fightly lately, so I'm taking a stab with the underdog in this fight.
Hunter Azure will battle with Brian "Boom" Kelleher in the second bout of the Prelims card. Azure is new to UFC and professional MMA fighting in general, although he is undefeated with an 8-0 professional record. Kelleher has many bouts under his belt with mixed results throughout his career. Azure has a four and a half inch reach advantage, and I expect him to use it to his advantage in his second career UFC fight.
*Side note - Azure has been solid, but he hasn't been the best at finishing fights early. If you're looking for some value, then "Hunter Azure Wins By Decision Or Technical Decision" at +125 is the play.*
Omar Morales is going into his second fight under the UFC brand, and he will face a UFC veteran in Gabriel Benitez. Morales is 9-0 in his professional career, and leans more to submissions. Benitez is 21-7 in his professional career with ten submission wins and seven KO/TKO wins. This fight should be more ground-oriented, and I don't have a feel either way on a winner. Instead, I am looking to the "Yes/Fight Goes The Distance" prop over at Bovada as I believe this fight will go to decision.
Sijara "Sarj" Eubanks will fight with Sarah "Cheesecake" Moras in a bout that was originally scheduled for UFC 249 before the event was originally postponed. Both of these ladies have been subpar, and both could find themselves on the chopping block with a loss. I predict this one will end early as Eubanks is the much better striker in this fight. There's a ton of juice involved with Eubanks, so I'm looking to a prop for victory instead.
The Prelims continue with Michael "The Menace" Johnson taking on Thiago Moises. Johnson is a good all-around fighter, but he's currently on a two fight losing streak. Moises has been spotty since joining the UFC and he lost his last fight in decision. In order for Moises to win this fight, he's going to have to be able to get Johnson on the ground as Johnson is the much better striker. I expect Johnson to get back in the win column in this fight as he is a versatile fighter and I don't see Moises having much success with his takedowns.
Philipe Lins will make his UFC debut to close out the Prelims card against veteran Andrei Arlovski. Lins carries a 14-3 professional record outside of the UFC. Not only does he have the power to finish fights early, but he has four submission wins under his belt as well. Arlovski is a tough opponent for anyone, but especially someone making their UFC debut. I like Arlovski to bounce back with a win here after his disappointing KO/TKO loss to Jair Rosenstruik only 29 seconds into the fight.