UFC action returns to the APEX where rising lightweight Islam Makhachev will try to earn a title shot against replacement opponent Bobby Green in the main event. Makhachev was originally scheduled to face no. 3 ranked Beneil Dariush in what looked to be a sure title eliminator. But with Dariush suffering an injury, Green stepped in on short notice to take the February 26th bout.

Makhachev is a massive betting favorite to beat Green however, with only four out of the total 11 fights for the event having a clear betting favorite ( with odds better than 2/1), there’s plenty of betting value to be found elsewhere, plus a pair of pick’em fights.

Let’s take a look at the UFC Vegas 49 main card and make our predictions.

“Fighting" Islam Makhachev vs Bobby Green

Islam Makhachev is the UFC’s no. 4 ranked lightweight. The 30-year old from Dagestan is a former Combat Sambo World Champion at 74 kilos. He started his career fighting at the Tsumada Fighting Championship promotion, ProFC, and M-1 Global. A teammate of former lightweight king Khabib Nurmagomedov, Makhachev joined the UFC in 2015. After going 1-1 in his first two bouts, Makhachev has won 9 consecutive bouts including five stoppages in his last seven outings.

He has a record of 21-1 with three knockouts and 10 submission wins. Makhachev is a southpaw who stands 5-10 tall with a reach of 70 inches.

Bobby Green is a former lightweight and light welterweight champion from King of Cage. He also fought for promotions like Tachi Palace Fights, Strikeforce, and Affliction. The 35-year old from San Bernardino, California joined the UFC in 2013 after four consecutive wins at Strikeforce. Green lost four of six bouts from November 2014 to November 2019 but has recovered to win four out of his last six bouts including his last two. In his last bout, Green beat Nasrat Haqparast via unanimous decision at UFC 271 just last February 12th.

He owns a record of 29-12 with 10 knockouts and 8 submission wins. Green is 5-10 tall with a reach of 71 inches and fights out of the orthodox stance.

What are the Moneyline Odds?






Odds from BetOnline as of 02/25/2022

The odds for this bout are the most lopsided in the entire event but are justifiable. Give props to Green for taking this fight on short notice when not many fighters want to fight Makhachev even on a full camp. That said, Makhachev is the opponent that needs plenty of preparation before facing. Although Green has a very good wrestling base, Makhachev’s grappling is in a different stratosphere.

If Green had knockout power, his odds would have had value. Makhachev prepared for Dariush and while he’s that good, it’s possible that he can get hit. But while Green is an excellent volume striker, he doesn’t land too many big shots. On his record, he only has 1 KO in his last 16 bouts.

Without the stopping power, Makhachev is just going to apply his relentless wrestling to wear Green down on the way to victory. This will likely be a one-sided bout but given his very high odds, it might be better to bet on the other fights. As for the winner, no question it’s going to be Makhachev.

Prediction: Islam Makhachev

“Fighting" Misha Cirkunov vs Wellington Turman

Misha Cirkunov is a former Hard Knocks light heavyweight champion in Canada. He also fought for Ultimate Generation Combat, Armageddon FC, and King of the Ring among others before joining the UFC in 2015. After winning his first four UFC fights, Cirkunov has lost five of his last seven outings and is coming off back-to-back losses to Ryan Spann and Krzysztof Jotko.

Cirkunov has a record of 5-7 with five knockouts and eight submission wins. The 34-year old from Toronto, Canada is 6-3 tall with a 77-inch reach and fights out of the orthodox stance.

Wellington Turman fought under Curitiba Fight Pro, Gladiator Combat Fight, Brave FC, and Immortal FC in his native Brazil. The 25-year old from Curitiba joined the UFC and is just 2-3 in five UFC appearances. In his last bout, Turman walked away with a split decision win over Sam Alvey on August 28, 2021.

The Brazilian has a record of 17-5 with four knockouts and seven submission wins. He is six feet tall with a reach of 72 inches and is an orthodox fighter.

What are the Moneyline Odds?






Odds from BetOnline as of 02/25/2022

Although Turman is the scrappier fighter and holds the advantage in speed and quickness on the feet, Cirkunov has the skills to take advantage of Turman’s aggressiveness and inexperience in the UFC. Turman is aggressive on the feet and he would like to dictate the pace of the fight right from the opening horn.

However, Cirkunov will not try to match his output and instead try to take this fight to the ground where he has a clear advantage. I like to see Cirkunov take advantage of Turman’s forward attack by baiting him to takedowns. With the better wrestling, he is going to work his way to a submission win here.

Prediction: Misha Cirkunov

“Fighting" Ji Yeon Kim vs Priscila Cachoeira

Ji Yeon Kim is a former Jewels and Gladiator women’s bantamweight champion. The 32-year old from Inchon, South Korea joined the UFC in 2017 and has posted an Octagon record of 3-4 with back-to-back losses to Alexa Grasso and Molly McCann in her last two bouts. Kim was supposed to fight Poliana Botelho at UFC 270 but the fight was scrapped.

Kim is 9-4 with two knockouts and three submission victories. She is 5-7 tall with a reach of 72 inches and is an orthodox fighter.

Priscila Cachoeira started her career in Brazil where she fought under Hipnose Fight Night and Curitiba Top Fight among others. She joined the UFC in 2018 and lost her first three Octagon assignments. She has won two out of her last three bouts although she heads to this bout coming off a submission loss to Gillian Anderson at UFC 269 last December.

Cachoeira is 5-7 tall with a reach of 65 inches and is an orthodox fighter. Her record stands at 10-4 with six knockouts.

What are the Moneyline Odds?






Odds from BetOnline as of 02/25/2022

These two are primarily strikers and I expect this bout to be fought on the feet. Kim has a nice 1-2 combination that she likes to throw with consistency. She likes to use her advantage in reach to strike from range and keep her opponents at the end of her punches and kicks. Meanwhile, Cachoeira isn’t as technical as a striker but what sets her apart is her power which is uncommon in the division. If she can land clean her, there’s a good chance she beats Kim.

However, betting on Cachoeira would be betting on a knockout, which may not happen here given the fact that Kim has never been stopped before. Given her reach advantage, Kim will more likely use her skills to strike from a distance and avoid Cachoeira’s big punches. I think Kim eats some punches here but her style should keep her out of harm’s way and win this fight while striking from range.

Prediction: Ji Yeon Kim

“Fighting" Arman Tsarukyan vs Joel Alvarez

Arman Tsarukyan is the no. 13 ranked lightweight in the UFC. The 25-year old from the Republic of Georgia began his career fighting at the MFP Promotion in Russia and Road FC in South Korea among others. Tsarukyan became the MFP lightweight champion in 2017 and joined the UFC after one successful title defense. After losing to Islam Makhachev in his UFC debut, Tsarukyan has won four straight bouts and is coming off a Performance of the Night TKO win over Christos Giagos last September 18th.

Tsarukyan is 17-2 with six knockouts and five submission wins. He is 5-7 tall with a reach of 72 inches and is an orthodox fighter.

Joel Alvarez is a former AFL lightweight champion in Spain. The 28-year old from Asturias also fought for Spanish promotions like MMA Espana and MMA Casino Fights. Alvarez joined the UFC in 2019 and lost to Damir Ismagulov in his debut. He has however gone 4-0 since that defeat and is coming off a TKO win over Thiago Moises at UFC Vegas 42 last November 13, 2021.

Alvarez is 19-2 with three knockouts and 16 submission wins. He is 6-3 tall with a reach of 77 inches and fights out of the orthodox stance.

What are the Moneyline Odds?






Odds from BetOnline as of 02/25/2022

Tsarukyan has the makings of a champion. He is an incredibly good wrestler who also happens to have one of the best kicking games in the business. His recent four wins have come via KO which is a testament to his kicking-submission game. Alvarez meanwhile is the more technical and powerful striker between the two. If this bout is ending in a finish, it’s likely going to be Alvarez emerging victorious.

However, given Tsarukyan’s physical gifts and his elite wrestling skills, Alvarez won’t have the opportunity to showcase his striking prowess here. Tsarukyan takes this fight down, dominates with his wrestling. Alvarez will end up spending most of the fight looking for the submission that will never come. With most of his time spent on his back, Tsarukyan wins.

Prediction: Arman Tsarukyan

“Fighting" Armen Petrosyan vs Gregory Rodrigues

Armen Petrosyan is a former champion at AMC-Fight Nights. The 31-year old from Armenia also fought under WCSA and Colosseum MMA before entering the Contender Series last year where he knocked out Kaloyan Kolev to earn a UFC contract.

Petrosyan is 6-1 with six knockouts. He is 6-3 tall with a reach of 71 inches and fights out of the orthodox stance.

Gregory Rodrigues is a veteran of Fight to Face and Jungle Fights. The 30-year old from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil also fought under LFA and Smash Global. He appeared at the Contender Series but lost to Jordan Williams by KO in 2020. After picking up a pair of wins at LFA, he was signed by the UFC and is 2-0 inside the Octagon.

Rodrigues has a record of 11-3 with five knockouts and four submission wins. He is 6-3 tall with a reach of 75 inches and fights as an orthodox fighter.

What are the Moneyline Odds?






Odds from BetOnline as of 02/25/2022

Petrosyan showed solid stand-up technique during his appearance at the Contender Series before capping off his first bout at the APEX with a head kick KO. Although the performance was far from flawless, it was impressive. Rodrigues is strong and powerful although not very mobile. The former LFA champion is a solid wrestler who likes to exchange punches in the pocket.

If this was a straight kickboxing bout, I would take Petrosyan anytime. But it’s not and with Rodrigues proving he can score takedowns in the UFC, he can always turn the tide by taking the fight to the mat if things aren’t going his way. I think Rodrigues utilizes his dirty boxing while applying constant pressure to pick up the points while occasionally taking the fight to the ground where he dominates from top control.

Prediction: Gregory Rodrigues

“Fighting" Ignacio Bahamondes vs Zhu Rong

Ignacio Bahamondes is a veteran of Square Ring Promotions, Titan FC, LFA, Combate Americas, and Lux Fight League. The 24-year old from Santiago, Chile joined the UFC via the Contender Series where he scored a knockout win over Edson Gomez in 2020. Bahamondes lost to John Makdessi in his UFC debut but knocked out Roosevelt Roberts in his most recent UFC appearance.

Bahamondes is 12-4 with 9 knockouts. He is an orthodox fighter who is 6-3 tall and has a reach of 75 inches.

Zhu Rong spent most of his early MMA career fighting at the WLF promotion in China where he was a former champion. Zhu was signed by the UFC last year and he lost to Rodrigo Vargas in his UFC debut at UFC 261 last April 24, 2021. He bounced back by defeating Brandon Jenkins via 3rd round TKO at UFC Fight Night 192 last September 18th.

Zhu Rong has a record of 18-4 with 12 knockouts and four submission wins. He is 5-9 tall with a reach of 71 inches and fights out of the orthodox stance.

What are the Moneyline Odds?






Odds from BetOnline as of 02/25/2022

Zhu prefers to slug it out and has won most of his bouts via knockout. The Tibetan slugger has true punching power and given the number of punches that he throws, Bahamondes is going to get hit here. However, Bahamondes has never been stopped before and has shown that he can take a punch in the UFC. Meanwhile, Zhu’s tendency to wait too long before unloading will enable Bahamondes’ high-volume attack to pick up points and likely steal rounds.

Bahamondes has the height and reach advantages. He also is the more busy fighter between the two. While the chance of Zhu ending the fight with a KO will always be there, the consistency of Bahamondes’ output is going to carry him to victory in this fight. Bahamondes wins this by point-fighting.

Prediction: Ignacio Bahamondes

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