UFC On ESPN 1: Ngannou vs Velasquez – Tips and Preview

The UFC heads to Arizona this Monday for it’s inaugural UFC on ESPN showcase. We’ve got a very exciting card on our hands too, headlined by the return of Cain Velasquez against Frances Ngannou. James Vick taking on Paul Felder in the Co-Main is also a very intriguing Lightweight encounter. In what is sure to be a fascinating day in Arizona, let’s preview the top 3 fights on the board.

Frances Ngannou vs Cain Velasquez, Men’s Heavyweight, Main Event, 4 pm
Ngannou by Ko $3.50

Frances Ngannou

Despite just 15 professional fights to his name, Ngannou has had a whirlwind career so far and currently enjoys a 12-3 record. His greatest highlights were definitely consecutive knockouts of both Andrei Arlovski and Alistair Overeem, both earning Performance of the Night honours. A loss in a title fight to Stipe Miocic, followed by a decision loss to Derrick Lewis, has seen Ngannou fall somewhat in the rankings. A win here in such a high-profile spot would do wonders for his career.

Cain Velasquez

Having fought only twice since 2013, Cardio Cain currently enjoys a 14-2 professional MMA record. He hasn’t been the same since a loss to Fabricio Werdum in UFC 188, battling injuries throughout. A win against Travis Browne in UFC 200 is his only fight since that day. Renowned for his excellent cardio and strong ability in the clinch, look for Cain to try and get Ngannou on the ground in this one.

Prediction: Ngannou by KO at $3.50

Whilst he is the clear underdog in this one, the value on $3.50 for a Ngannou KO is too much for me to pass up. His power is unmatched throughout the whole UFC and he has the potential to stun Cain here. Especially given Velasquez’s extended absence, give me the underdog here.

James Vick vs Paul Felder, Men’s Lightweight, Co-Main Event, 3:30 pm
Felder to Win $1.90

James Vick

Vick enters this one with a very solid professional record of 13-2. In the biggest fight of his career last time out, he lost via a first-round KO to Justin Gaethje. Renowned for his very long 6’4” frame at the Lightweight division, 8 of Vick’s 13 wins have come by submission or KO. As a slight underdog here, a win will propel him into contention for a title shot.

Paul Felder

The 34-year-old Felder enters this matchup with a solid 15-4 career record behind him. He earned 2 impressive Performance of the Night honours in 2017 for knockout victories against Alessandro Ricci and Stevie May. A split decision loss to Mike Perry at Welterweight has seen him come back to his preferred Lightweight division here. With 10 of his 15 career wins by KO, you know Felder wants to keep this on the feet.

Prediction: Felder to Win $1.90

Whilst this is a very close matchup, I think Felder’s superior striking ability gives him the matchup advantage here. If he can generate consistent pressure on Vick and keep this on the feet, he has every chance to pull off another huge win at $1.90.

Cynthia Calvillo vs Courtney Casey, Women’s Strawweight, 3 pm
Calvillo by Points

Cynthia Calvillo

Calvillo enters this matchup with an up and coming 7-1 professional record. A specialist at getting the finish, 5 of her 7 wins have come by KO or submission. Expect another clinic on the ground from her in this one as she looks to extend her submission record.

Courtney Casey

The relatively unheralded American enters this matchup at 8-6, having lost 3 of her last 5 fights. A recent decision win over Angela Hill will be great for her confidence going forward. She’ll need to be at her best here against an in-form Calvillo.

Prediction: Calvillo By Points

Whilst I think Calvillo wins this one, she may struggle to get the finish given Casey’s strong ability on the ground. Nevertheless, this represents substantial value compared to the mere head-to-head market. Especially in a 3-round fight, points is the most likely form of victory here.