On Saturday, March 13th, the UFC returns to action with UFC Fight Night 187 also known as UFC Las Vegas 21. Before we dive into the main card action, we’ll be examining the seven fight preliminary card which begins at 5PM ET on ESPN+.
This card has undergone several changes with fights being added or adjusted due to various issues. There’s a chance that at least one more fight could be added to the prelims at some point this week.
UFC betting sites have released their odds for the entire UFC Fight Night 187 preliminary card. Let’s step inside the betting octagon to examine these odds, identify any betting value, and TKO our predictions with a legal knee strike.
— MMA Form Guide (@MMAFormGuide) March 7, 2021
Madge vs Haqparast Is Off
Originally, Don Madge was going to fight Guram Kutateladze, but the latter had to pull out due to a knee injury. So, Nate Haqparast agreed to fill in on a few weeks’ notice.
Unfortunately, now Don Madge had to pull out of the event due to visa issues. Madge hasn’t competed since UFC 242 in September 2019. It remains unclear when he will be able to get a visa and travel from South Africa to the United States.
Furthermore, it doesn’t look like Nate Haqparast will fight on this weekend’s card. Although the UFC hasn’t officially ruled out the idea of finding him another opponent.
Jason Witt vs Matt Semelsberger
- Jason Witt (+105)
- Matt Semelsberger (-125)
- Over (-180)/Under (+150) 2.5 rounds
Witt comes into this fight as the underdog. He’s 5-1 in his last six fights, but dropped his UFC debut last July via 1st round TKO to Takashi Sato. However, he bounced back in October to defeat Cole Williams via 2nd round submission.
11 of his 18 pro wins have come via stoppage with eight by way of submission. He’s 6-0 when going the distance. All six of his losses have come via stoppage.
Witt shared his thoughts about what he thinks will take place in this weekend’s prelim fight:
“Putting pressure on him. Keeping him against the cage and just grinding him out. I know that I’ll be able to hold him down and just keep grinding him down. It’ll be first-round grind him out, second round I’m going to hurt him.”
Matt Semelsberger has won four straight fights which includes his octagon debut last August when he defeated Carlton Minus via unanimous decision.
Five of his seven pro wins have come via stoppage with four by way of TKO/KO. He’s 2-0 when going the distance. Both of his pro losses have come via stoppage.
Semelsberger made the following comments about what he thinks will play a part in this upcoming fight:
“My striking is more dynamic. I think my athleticism, my explosion, and my speed and everything man! I think that’s going to play a big part.”
This fight will come down to Matt Semelsberger’s aggressiveness, pace and ability to keep the fight upright. Although he has a decent takedown defense, Witt is the better grappler between the two.
However, Semelsberger is by far the better striker and has the power to end this fight. I believe his pace and aggressiveness will be too much for Witt to handle. I like Semelsberger to win this bout via TKO and Under 2.5 rounds.
If we are looking at this from a strategic standpoint, the best bet is with each fighter’s moneyline.
Jason Witt vs Matt Semelsberger –Semelsberger (-125)
Under 2.5 rounds (+150)
Fight ends inside the distance (+120)
Semelsberger wins inside distance (+275)
Jinh Yu Frey vs Gloria de Paula
- Jinh Yu Frey (+160)
- Gloria de Paula (-185)
- Over (-365)/Under (+275) 2.5 rounds
Frey enters this contest going 3-3 in her last six fights. However, she’s just 1-3 in her last four bouts and has lost two in a row.
Frey joined the UFC last summer and lost in her debut via 3rd round submission to Kay Hansen. Her second trip inside the octagon resulted in a unanimous decision defat to Konklak Suphisara last October.
Three of her nine pro wins have come via stoppage with two by way of submission. She’s 6-3 when going the distance.
Glorida de Paula has won two in a row and four of her last five fights. However, she took off 14 months and returned to fighting last November when she won on DWCS via unanimous decision over Pauline Macias.
Three of her five pro wins have come via TKO/KO and she’s 2-2 when going the distance. Macias has never been stopped in a fight and I don’t see it happening this weekend either.
More than likely, this bout is going Over 2.5 rounds (-365) and the full distance (-310). Gloria de Paula has gone to a decision in three of her last four bouts while Frey has gone the distance in five of her last six contests.
Frey seems outmatched in this contest as de Paula is the better striker and has decent enough grappling skills to handle and mat exchanges. I see this being a lopsided decision win for de Paula as she overwhelms Frey with three rounds of punching.
The best value is with de Paula winning via decision at +110 odds.
Jinh Yu Frey vs Gloria de Paula –Paula (-185)
Over 2.5 rounds (-365)
Fight goes the distance (-310)
de Paula wins via decision (+110)
Davey Grant vs Jonathon Martinez
- Davey Grant (+265)
- Jonathon Martinez (-325)
- Over (-185)/Under (+155) 2.5 rounds
Grant joined the UFC in the fall of 2013 and has racked up a 3-3 record inside the octagon since then. However, he has won two in a row including a 3rd round KO against Martin Day last July at UFC 251.
10 of his 12 pro wins have come via stoppage with eight by way of submission. He’s 2-0 when going the distance. All four of his pro losses have come via submission.
— Pub Sports Radio ™ (@PubSportsRadio) March 2, 2021
Martinez debuted with the UFC in the fall of 2018 and lost via unanimous decision. He has gone 4-1 since then with two wins in a row. He also went 2-1 last year with victories over Frankie Saenz and Thomas Almeida.
Nine of his 13 pro wins have come via stoppage with seven by way of TKO/KO. He’s 4-2 when going the distance and has never been stopped in a fight.
Martinez has the firepower to end this fight upright, but Grant has never been knocked out. He’s still very tough at 35 years old and I expect him to compete for the full 15 minutes.
Both men will try to keep this fight in their comfort zones, which means that Martinez will need to defend the takedown while Grant will need to avoid prolonged firefights.
In the end, I see this bout going Over 2.5 rounds (-185) and the full three rounds (-160). I think that Martinez’s striking advantage will be the difference in this fight where he wins via decision (+115), which offers the best betting value for this contest.
Davey Grant vs Jonathon Martinez –Martinez (-325)
Over 2.5 rounds (-185)
Fight goes the distance (-160)
Martinez wins via decision (+115)
Charles Jourdain vs Marcelo Rojo
- Charles Jourdain (-260)
- Marcelo Rojo (+220)
- Over (-120)/Under (-110) 2.5 rounds
This fight was originally scheduled for Charles Jourdain to take on Steven Garcia, but the latter was replaced with newcomer Marcelo Rojo after suffering an injury.
Rojo comes into this contest as the large underdog as he makes his UFC debut. He’s 3-1 in his last four fights, but hasn’t competed since September 2019 when he won via 1st round KO.
14 of his 16 pro wins have come via stoppage with eight by way of TKO/KO. He’s 1-2 when going the distance.
The 25 year old Jourdain earned his UFC shot two years ago after going 9-1 in Canada’s top promotion TKO. Unfortunately, he’s just 1-2-1 inside the octagon. His last fight was in October and it ended in a draw against Joshua Culibao.
All 10 of his wins have come via stoppage with seven by way of TKO/KO. He’s 0-3-1 when going the distance. He’s never been stopped.
Jourdain believes that this fight will have plenty of action and the winner will be the one with the most heart:
“I’m tired of finishing a fight knowing that I could have done more and that I still have gas in the tank, wondering ‘Why don’t I use that gas?’ As for the fight, it won’t lack any action and I think it will be who has the most heart, who can stand and bang, and I’ve never lost a fight like that.”
Neither man is known for their grappling skills, so I expect this bout to be a striking battle for however long it lasts. I think because of all the firepower, this bout will come in Under 2.5 rounds (-110) and definitely inside the distance.
Jourdain and Rojo combine to have just seven fights go the distance in 36 total bouts. So, it’s a safe bet that this contest will end inside the distance as well.
As for the winner, I like Jourdain to win via TKO/KO as he should have the size and power advantages along with being the more pure striker. The best value is Jourdain winning inside the distance at +115 odds.
Charles Jourdain vs Marcelo Rojo –Martinez (-325)
Under 2.5 rounds (-110)
Fight ends inside the distance (-140)
Jourdain wins inside the distance (+115)
Rani Yahya vs Ray Rodriguez
- Rani Yahya (-290)
- Ray Rodriguez (+245)
- Over (-150)/Under (+120) 1.5 rounds
Rodriguez is 1-2 in his last three pro fights and 3-3 in his last six. He lost on DWCS in August 2019 via 3rd round TKO, but still earned a UFC shot a year later. Unfortunately, he lost his debut against Brian Kelleher via 1st round submission.
11 of his 16 pro wins have come via stoppage with eight by way of submission. He’s 5-3 when going the distance.
UIW graduate and UFC fighter, Ray “The Judge” Rodriguez (@raythejudge), is making a difference while teaching MMA in San Antonio.
— UIW Alumni (@UIWAlumni) March 9, 2021
Rodriguez believes that his reach advantage will help him keep the fight standing until he knocks out Yahya:
“Rani Yahya is very similar to Jimmy Flick who I fought on the regional scene. I was able to stuff his takedowns and hurt him on the feet. I’ve fought a lot of high-level grapplers before. The gameplan is to keep this standing, but if we get in a position where we hit the ground, I’ll be comfortable. I’ll keep it standing though and give him as much damage as possible until I know him out.”
Yahya has been with the UFC for 10 years and has an 11-4-1 record inside the octagon. He last fought one year ago against Enrique Barzola and that bout ended in a draw. He’s 3-2-1 in his last five bouts which span the last four years.
20 of his 26 pro wins have come via submission. He’s 6-7-1 when going the distance.
The last time Rodriguez stepped inside the octagon with someone who has a strong grappling game, he ended up losing in 39 seconds to Kelleher. Yahya is probably even better on the mat than Kelleher and I expect him to end this fight quickly via submission.
For Rodriguez, three of his seven pro losses have come via submission. The best value for this fight is with Yahya winning inside the distance (-115).
Rani Yahya vs Ray Rodriguez –Yahya (-290)
Under 1.5 rounds (+120)
Fight ends inside the distance (-190)
Yahya wins inside the distance (-115)
Cortney Casey vs J.J. Aldrich
- Cortney Casey (+130)
- J. Aldrich (-150)
- Over (-470)/Under (+345) 2.5 rounds
Casey has been with the UFC for nearly six years, but has a losing record as she’s 5-7 overall in the octagon. She’s also just 2-4 in her last six bouts. Casey last competed in June 2020 and lost via 3rd round submission to Gillian Robertson.
Casey made the following comments about her upcoming fight against Aldrich:
“She’s a gamer, she likes to move forward, and she likes to bring the fight, which I’m excited about. Her striking’s good, she’s a southpaw so it’s always interesting going against a southpaw. I haven’t gone against a southpaw in a while, let alone a true southpaw as in JJ. I’m really excited for it. I definitely think it’s going to be one of those Fight of the Night contender fights.”
Seven of her nine pro wins have come via stoppage with four by way of submission. She’s 2-6 when going the distance.
Aldrich has been with the UFC for over four years and has a 4-3 record inside the octagon. Her last fight was one year ago and she lost via split decision to Sabina Mazo. Only two of her eight pro wins have come via stoppage. She’s 6-2 when going the distance.
Let’s start with the easy wagers first, this bout will go Over 2.5 rounds (-470) and the full distance (-400). These two women have gone the distance in 16 total fights.
As for the winner, I am going to side with the online sportsbooks and take Aldrich to win via unanimous decision (-130) which has the best value. I think she will outwork Casey and land more significant strikes in what should be an action packed fight.
Cortney Casey vs J.J. Aldrich –Aldrich (-150)
Over 2.5 rounds (-470)
Fight goes the distance (-400)
Aldrich wins via decision (-130)
Eryk Anders vs Darren Stewart
- Eryk Anders (+155)
- Darren Stewart (-175)
- Over (-215)/Under (+170) 2.5 rounds
Anders started off his UFC tenure going 2-0, but the wheels fell off after that. He would go on to lose four of his next five bouts. Finally, two years ago, Anders snapped that losing skid by winning two in a row. He last fought 10 months ago and lost via unanimous decision to Krzysztof Jotko.
Anders has spent the last several months training and is fully prepared for this bout against Stewart:
“From May to September, I couldn’t train hardly at all and then I came back to train and came out to Fight Island and watched everybody else go through the emotional rollercoaster of fight week and all that other good stuff. So I’m actually kinda glad this fight came up when it did because I want to get back in there and fight again, fight often and get back to being me and doing what I do.”
Nine of his 13 pro wins have come via stoppage with eight by way of TKO/KO. He’s 4-4 when going the distance.
Stewart has gone 3-2 in his last five fights with his most recent outing resulting in a split decision loss to Kevin Holland last September. Stewart is 5-6 overall inside octagon.
Eight of his 12 pro wins have come via stoppage with seven by way of TKO/KO. He’s 4-4 when going the distance.
Under 10 days!
— UFC Europe (@UFCEurope) March 4, 2021
This bout has potential to earn a fight night bonus as both men are heavy hitters. With that said, Anders has the power advantage and since he doesn’t have to worry about being taken to the mat, I expect Eryk to unleash upon Stewart.
I’m taking this fight to end Under 2.5 rounds (+170) and to finish inside the distance (+145). I see Anders coming away with a big TKO/KO win (+500) as he and Stewart have an explosive outing.
The best value for this bout is with Anders’ moneyline of +155. I believe he will pull off the upset whether it’s via TKO/KO or decision.
Eryk Anders vs Darren Stewart –Anders (+155)
Under 2.5 rounds (+170)
Fight ends inside the distance (+145)
Anders wins inside the distance (+430)
Anders wins via TKO/KO (+500)
As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed “King of the Blog” in his first year with the site. …