The Octagon is heading back to the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California this Saturday for the first time since 2016. Headlining the card is a bout in the women’s bantamweight division as former featherweight champ Germaine “The Iron Lady” de Randamie collides with undefeated Aspen Ladd. The Sportsbook of this fight is likely next in line to take on the champion, Amanda Nunes, and de Randamie is a +145 underdog with Ladd coming back at -175. I have a breakdown and a pick for each fight on the main card.
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Germaine de Randamie vs Aspen Ladd
De Randamie (+145) is looking to extend her four-fight winning streak, the longest of her career. The Iron Lady earned a unanimous-decision victory over Holly Holm at UFC 208 in February 2017 to win the featherweight title. However, she refused to defend the belt against Cris Cyborg, was stripped of the strap and wasn’t back in action until she fought Raquel Pennington in November of last year.
The 35-year-old is big and tall for the bantamweight division and she bullies her opponents around the Octagon, looking to back them into a corner to let her hands fly. She doesn’t have much intention of taking the fight to the floor, having not landed a single takedown in her six-fight UFC career. Additionally, she has stuffed 88 percent of takedown attempts, only getting dragged down three times through her first two fights in the UFC back in 2013.
Ladd (-175) lays her perfect 8-0 record on the line as she eyes her fourth straight win in the Octagon. One of her victories in the UFC came against former Invicta bantamweight champion Tonya Evinger, with Ladd earning a first-round knockout. Of Ladd’s eight wins, six have been finishes, including five by knockout.
The California native is coming off her second fight ever to go to the judges’ scorecards. Both of those instances came against Sijara Eubanks – every other opponent has been finished. She is a forward-pressure fighter, but she doesn’t rush in, instead inching forward and pawing away with her jab until she finds her range when she really sits down on her strikes. Ladd does have a tendency to drop her hands and swing from the hip when she’s in close range, which has resulted in her absorbing 4.89 strikes per minute, typically on counters.
Two dangerous strikers will meet with the opportunity to fight Nunes likely on the line. Ladd is a hard-nosed, well-rounded fighter who continues to march forward no matter how much damage she has taken and she has real power in her hands. Meanwhile, de Randamie has terrific footwork and fantastic conditioning that allows her to keep putting pressure on her opponent for the duration of the bout.
Prediction: Germaine de Randamie (+140) via decision
Urijah Faber vs Ricky Simon
Faber (+250) is coming out of retirement and is entering the Octagon for the first time since December 2016. “The California Kid” dropped three of his last five fights but those defeats came against then bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz and title contenders Frankie Edgar and Jimmie Rivera, all by unanimous decision.
Although the 40-year-old hasn’t competed in the UFC in over two years, he has had two grappling matches and he did win his last fight in the Octagon over Brad Pickett. Faber is really fast and constantly bounces around on the outside, ultimately looking to time his opponent and drag him to the floor. Additionally, he has strong footwork that allows him to avoid big strikes. He has been knocked out just three times over his 44-fight professional career.
Simon (-325) looks to extend his eight-fight winning streak and earn his fourth straight win in the UFC. The 26-year-old competed in Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series in the first season in 2017 and earned a split-decision win, then went on to have two fights in LFA before making the jump to the Octagon in April of last year.
The Washington native has tremendous cardio, always storming forward to close distance and get in the face of his foe. He has landed multiple takedowns in each of his three UFC fights and he also has sneaky power, earning two knockouts in the Octagon already. He does have a tendency to drop his hands in the pocket, though, leaving him susceptible to big strikes.
I expect Simon to be the aggressor in this bout, but that could leave him open to being taken down and his only defeat came by submission back in 2016, while Faber has 17 submission victories to his name. That being said, the younger fighter should have the speed advantage and it’s uncertain how the 40-year-old Faber will look following a layoff of two-plus years.
Prediction: Ricky Simon (-325) via decision
Josh Emmett vs Mirsad Bektic
Emmett (+130) seeks his third two-fight winning streak in the UFC and is coming off a stunning third-round knockout victory over Michael Johnson in March. Overall, he is 5-2 under the UFC banner since joining the organization in 2016. The first four fights in the Octagon went to the judges’ scorecards, while his three most recent all ended in knockouts.
The 34-year-old has real one-punch power in his hands, but quite often he waits too long to let his hands fly, looking to set up the perfect punch. Emmett has good footwork and does a good job limiting damage, making his opponents miss 66 percent of their strike attempts. That being said, with his style of looking for the perfect punch, he loads up on those strikes and they tend to miss more often than not. He only lands 36 percent of his strikes.
Bektic (-160) eyes a third straight victory in his first UFC bout since UFC 225 in June of last year. The 28-year-old has a 6-1 record in the Octagon, with his only loss being a third-round knockout defeat to Darren Elkins at UFC 209 in 2017. That’s the lone defeat on his record overall.
The Bosnia native has a high fight IQ, doing a very good job at landing attacks and quickly getting out of range to avoid major damage. Additionally, he is relentless on getting fights to the floor, averaging 3.59 takedowns per 15 minutes, and has landed multiple takedowns in six of his seven bouts in the UFC.
Both fighters typically have strong game plans and stick to them well. Emmett will no doubt try to stay to the outside and batter Bektic with his leg kicks while looking for an Sportsbook to land his heavy hands. Meanwhile, Bektic will have to capitalize with his footwork, perhaps stepping back to avoid a kick and then storming forward to try to bring the fight to the floor, since Emmett has only stuffed 50 percent of takedown attempts against.
Prediction: Mirsad Bektic (-160) via knockout
Karl Roberson vs Wellington Turman
Roberson (-225) has been on a win-one, lose-one streak over his four-fight career in the UFC after earning a contract in Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series in July 2017. Despite having four fights in the Octagon, “Baby K” still hasn’t had a lot of time in the UFC cage. Three of those bouts ended by submission in the first round. He was the victor in one while ending up on the losing end of the other two.
The 27-year-old tends to fight smart in the first couple of minutes of the fight, keeping his hands high when he throws a strike and quickly moving away from danger. However, it seems that after he gets hit once or twice, he becomes a little careless in his defense and he also is a little tentative in going on the offensive. He has been taken down in two of his four UFC fights and both of those bouts ended in him losing by submission in the first round.
Turman (+175) aims to extend his four-fight winning streak as he makes his Octagon debut. The Brazil native has already amassed 17 fights at the young age of 22 and sports an impressive 15-2 record over that span. Eleven of those victories have been finishes, four by knockout and seven by submission.
Turman takes away his opponents’ space, backing them up with kicks and lunging hooks. He uses these long strikes to close the distance and get his hands on his foe. He’s just like glue when he is in grappling exchanges, he’s hard to scramble away from and he is constantly dragging his foes to the floor, working toward a submission.
It’s always tough handicapping fighters making their debut. How will they react to being on the big stage and what truly was the level of their previous opponents? Roberson has some holes in his striking where he will drop his hands when he exchanges and he seems a little timid after he eats a shot. Additionally, Baby K hasn’t shown a great ability to defend submissions off his back, while Turman is a big strong man with half of his victories ending by submission.
Prediction: Wellington Turman (+175) via submission
Marvin Vettori vs Cezar Ferreira
Vettori (-160) looks to pick up his first victory in over two years. “The Italian Dream” most recently fought middleweight interim champion Israel Adesanya in April of last year and lost via split decision. Meanwhile, at UFC 219 in December of 2017 he had a majority-decision draw against Omari Akhmedov.
The 25-year-old is an aggressive fighter who is fairly light on his feet and throws everything with bad intentions. He has no problem standing toe to toe with his opponents and getting in a brawl as he has never been knocked out. That being said, he doesn’t exactly have a ton of pop in his hands, with only two knockout victories to his name. He does most of his best work on the floor, where he has eight submission wins.
Ferreira (+130) aims to get back in the win column following his unanimous-decision loss to Ian Heinisch in November of last year. Prior to that defeat, “Mutante” had won five of six fights, including a decision win over light heavyweight contender Anthony Smith, and his only loss over that span came by unanimous decision against Elias Theodorou.
The Brazil native uses kicks to keep his opponents at bay, staying on the outside and attacking their legs. He doesn’t have much variety of strikes either, typically using leg kicks and kicks up the middle. However, his main game plan is waiting for his foes to engage so he can try to drag them to the floor. Ferreira averages 2.97 takedowns per 15 minutes and lands 59 percent of his attempts. He has secured at least one takedown in each of his last eight fights.
I anticipate The Italian Dream having a significant advantage over Mutante on the feet, but both fighters have high-level submission skills where it could be a stalemate. Additionally, as a fight progresses and Ferreira’s takedowns get stuffed, he tends to gas out a little bit. Vettori stuffs 73 percent of takedown attempts and hasn’t been taken down over his last three fights.
Prediction: Marvin Vettori (-160) via knockout
Here’s a look at the full list of odds for UFC Fight Night Sacramento: de Randamie vs Ladd: