The UFC is headed to Lincoln, Nebraska next Saturday after a couple weeks with no shows following UFC 227. Justin Gaethje vs James Vick is the main event and anytime Gaethje gets in the octagon you know it’s going to be a fire fight, win or lose.
UFC Lincoln starts at 6:30pm EST on Fight Pass before moving to Fight Network at 8pm EST. The main card can then be seen here in Canada on TSN 5 at 10pm EST.
I have three plays for this card below. I’ve used the best odds available at any of our recommended betting sites for Canadians.
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Justin Gaethje vs James Vick
I think James Vick is the real deal. He’s on a four fight win streak in the UFC and his last two wins have been especially impressive victories over Joe Duffy and Francisco Trinaldo, two high level lightweights. If he can keep the range against Gaethje and inflict his own damage when Gaethje goes for leg kicks I think he has a great chance of getting a knockout.
Gaethje is the opposite of an easy out though. The guy comes forward and doesn’t mind taking punches to land his own. He doesn’t really have knockout power though, instead relying on his toughness and non-stop output to overwhelm opponents. I think he will get this fight into deep waters, but I believe Vick’s footwork and length to be a big factor which will allow Vick to get the better of the exchanges and to inflict more damage than he takes.
Vick is a smart fighter who uses his height to his advantage, while still throwing knockout strikes. I believe he will be able to go into the deep waters with Gaethje and keep his composure to come out on top.
Play: Vick 1.65 @ SportsInteraction.com
Andre Fili vs Michael Johnson
I’m surprised Michael Johnson is the favourite in this fight. He’s 1-5 in his last 6 fights and 0-1 after dropping down to featherweight to rekindle his career. Yes, he has a nice win over Dustin Poirier in that span, and he’s fought pretty much all top guys, but I still think he’s a shot fighter. He lost his last two fights in the second round and took a ton of damage in the Gaethje and Khabib fights. The drop down to 145 will not help his chin either because the cut has to be difficult.
Andre Fili is not an easy fight for Johnson to get a W either. Fili is a guy with the skill to become a contender in the featherweight division and everything seems to be coming together for him. He’s coming off wins over Artem Lobov and Dennis Bermudez, and he’s added some high level wrestling to his arsenal as well. Just looking at his record Fili looks like a .500 record fighter, but his losses have aged quite well with the fighters he’s lost to having risen to the top of the division. He lost to Max Holloway, Yair Rodriguez and Calvin Kattar, three big names in the division. The only bad loss was really to Godofredo Pepey when he got caught in a triangle choke in the first round.
Fili has improved his grappling tremendously and I actually give him the edge in every aspect of this fight. Add in the fact that Johnson cannot have much confidence at the moment and could quit if he gets behind, I think Fili is a great bet at plus money.
Play: Fili 2.30 @ Bet365.com ***These odds are correct at the time of this article, but they will likely change as the fight approaches.
Andrew Sanchez vs Markus Perez
Andrew Sanchez has the talent to be one of the better fighters in the middleweight division. He’s on a two loss streak, but the loss to Janes in his last fight was a ridiculous loss. Sanchez threw everything he had, plus the kitchen sink, at Janes through the first two rounds of that fight, but Janes took the damage and kept coming forward. Sanchez punched himself out and was absolutely dead in the third round, eventually losing via TKO. The fight before that Sanchez lost to Anthony Smith in the third round after also dominating the first couple of rounds. We now see just how good Anthony Smith can be, so dominating him and then losing via knockout isn’t quite as bad of a look.
Basically, we know that Sanchez has all the skills to be an elite middleweight. The problem is he gasses in the third round and gets caught. I expect Sanchez to come into this fight with Perez in better shape, and to have a better gameplan to preserve some energy for the third round. Before that loss to Anthony Smith, Perez looked like a world beater having won TUF season 23 and looking good to start his UFC career. He was a -330 favourite against Smith and a -525 favourite against Janes. To get him at + money is a great value play in my books.
Perez is 1-1 in the UFC. He was absolutely dominated by Eryk Anders (30-26 on most media scorecards) and then followed it up with a first round submission win over James Bochnovic, who I think could be one of the worst middleweights in the UFC. Perez was a +250 dog going into that Bochnovic fight, which shows how bad the UFC bettors thought he was at that time. All that has changed is a quick submission over a bad fighter and now Perez is the favourite against a guy in Sanchez who was one of the hottest prospects in the UFC coming out of TUF 23.
This looks like a perfect spot to buy low on Sanchez and sell high on Perez. This is a great underdog play.
Play: Sanchez 2.10 @ SportsInteraction.com
Check out our UFC betting page for a breakdown of the various bets you can make on each fight.