UFC Main Card: Saturday’s main card is scheduled to get underway from 8 p.m. ET, with five fights on the slate as we build towards the much-anticipated main event. Read on for a breakdown of each bout, including moneyline odds from legal, respected sportsbooks in the United States.
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Main Card UFC Predictions January 16 2021
Odds & Previews:
Carlos Condit (-170) vs. Matt Brown (+145)
Either Carlos Condit or Matt Brown could face their final fight as a mixed martial artist on Saturday, with the opponents boasting a combined 83 bouts and 33 years of experience between them.
‘The Natural Born Killer’ boasts a certain elusiveness that should serve him well against Brown’s bullish, heavy-handed approach, entering as the -170 moneyline favorite according to William Hill. Condit was eager to fight his fellow UFC veteran when the prospect of a bout was raised following his unanimous-decision win over Court McGee in October:
That victory ended a five-loss streak for Condit, who has only three wins from his last 11 fights. Prior to that run, the 36-year-old had never lost more than twice in a row, and it’s worth noting he maintained a high level of opposition throughout, evidence of the respect he holds among the UFC brass.
Brown holds a similar record of three wins in his last nine; he most recently suffered a TKO defeat to unbeaten prospect Miguel Baeza in May 2020, having won two in a row prior to that. ‘The Immortal has now been on the receiving end of finishes in his last four defeats, which will be music to the ears of a crisp striker like Condit.
Perhaps the most important stat for this fight is that in 44 fights, Condit is yet to be knocked out. Brown may have six submission wins from his 39 bouts, but his routes to victory look limited against a foe who appears well-prepared to evade his Plan A.
Prediction: Condit to win (-170)
Santiago Ponzinibbio (-300) vs. Li Jingliang (+240)
After more than two years outside the cage, former UFC welterweight title contender Santiago Ponzinibbio will make his long-awaited MMA return Saturday when he takes on Li Jingliang.
Despite such a prolonged absence from the Octagon, Ponzinibbio (27-3) will pick up where he left off as a -300 moneyline frontrunner to beat Li (17-6), according to William Hill NJ. The Argentinian had won seven straight before bacterial infections led to him being sidelined for all of 2019 and 2020, and one can’t help but pity his first opponent after back after that enforced hiatus.
Oddly enough, both these combatants fought Neil Magny in their last outings, though to very different outcomes. While +240 underdog Li was severely outclassed in a unanimous-decision defeat, Ponzinibbio eventually got the fourth-round finish over ‘The Haitian Sensation’ when they clashed in November 2018:
‘Gente Boa’ is now 34 and looking to make up for lost time, but Li is in trouble if his opponent comes back even close to the same strength he was at prior to his illness. Ponzinibbio was an undoubted contender-in-waiting for the welterweight title two years ago, having knocked out 15 of his 30 opponents to date and hoping to hand Li the first KO defeat of his career.
That may prove one ask too far for the South American who is bound to show some ring rust; all the more reason to take a liking to a Ponzinibbio decision win at +250 odds.
Prediction: Ponzinibbio via decision (+250)
Joaquin Buckley (-270) vs. Alessio Di Chirico (+220)
After fighting four times in 2020, Joaquin Buckley will take little time in opening his account for 2021 when he faces Alessio Di Chirico on Fight Island.
This bout seems built for Buckley’s specifications as ‘New Mansa’ goes in search of a third straight knockout victory against an opponent who has lost his last three. Buckley (12-3)—a -270 favorite to beat Di Chirico—made light work of Jordan Wright at UFC 255 in November, his second successive second-round KO after devastating Impa Kasanganay in a now-famous finish one month prior:
Di Chirico (12-5) presents a challenge in that he’s yet to be knocked out in 17 bouts, which is the obvious path to victory for Buckley given his closing performances of 2020. What’s more, ‘Manzo’ managed to take Kevin Holland to a decision defeat when they met in June 2019, while Buckley suffered a TKO loss against the same fighter.
Nevertheless, a three-loss streak doesn’t build confidence for any combatant, and Pointsbet‘s +100 odds on Buckley collecting another knockout hold value considering the quick work made of his last opponent(s).
New Mansa boasts a two-inch reach advantage despite being the shorter of the pair, one attribute you don’t want running against you encountering a power puncher like Buckley.
Prediction: Buckley via KO/TKO (+100)
Punahele Soriano (+135) vs. Dusko Todorovic (-160)
Unbeaten records will be put on the line as Punahele Soriano and Dusko Todorovic go to war in a middleweight matchup that promises to open Saturday’s main card in some style.
Both fighters gained entry to the UFC via Dana White’s Contender Series and won by knockout in their promotional debuts, but someone’s “0” has to go on Fight Island.
Bet365 NJ has cast Soriano (7-0) as the +135 moneyline underdog, and understandably so given the 28-year-old is the less experienced of the pair and is at a two-inch height deficit. Todorovic (10-0) is the younger of the duo by two years, but the Serb fights beyond his age and looks the more elusive fighter based on what’s been seen of the two early in their careers. “Thunder” showcased some superb countering in his UFC debut against Dequan Townsend in October, while Soriano didn’t face nearly the same pressure in his own debut victory over Oskar Piechota in December 2019.
That extended break from the Octagon (lasting more than a year) could well work against Soriano facing an up-front pressure fighter like Todorovic, who is well-rounded and boasts a win over highly regarded Michel Pereira.
Both fighters would count themselves as knockout specialists, though it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the pair test out one another’s grappling ability when few holes appear in the stand-up early on. Todorovic to triumph on points at +333 looks hugely appealing given the narrow margins separating the two on paper.
Prediction: Todorovic via decision (+333)