The UFC returns on Saturday, 2nd March with a stacked PPV card headlined by the return of Jon Jones vs Anthony Smith for the light heavyweight title, and co-headlined by Tyron Woodley vs Kamaru Usman for the welterweight title.
The last UFC event was another huge win for me and my clients, with a big bet on Gillian Robertson @ -133 cashing easily with a submission in the second around.
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UFC 235 Free Bet and Breakdown
Diego Sanchez (+250) vs Mickey Gall (-300)
Diego Sanchez Breakdown
We all know what we’re getting with Diego Sanchez at this point. He’s still the same insanely tough madman he always was, but he’s clearly slowed down. His strikes are much slower and he’s much stiffer overall now. His chin is also finally compromised after years of taking damage, with him suffering three KO losses since 2016 – albeit with two of those coming to the hands of Al Iaquinta’s powerful hands and a brutal elbow from Matt Brown. It’s worth noting that he took some big shots in the Craig White fight, including a flush knee and up kick, but it’s still clear that his chin isn’t like it once was – which isn’t helped by his already poor striking defence.
However, as the Craig White, Marcin Held and Jim Miller fights showed us, he’s still an excellent grappler. Despite slowing down, he can still scramble exceptionally well, has a smothering top game and great grappling instincts. Held and Miller are very high level grapplers and Sanchez still managed to grind them out with relative ease.
If you don’t have power, are low level or mostly a grappler, Sanchez is still a very tough out even at this stage in his career due to his high level grappling, ridiculous pace and cardio. That’s IF Sanchez continues to grapple though, I wouldn’t be surprised if he chooses to bang it out for the fans again and gets hurt, but I’m assuming he does what he has been doing for a while against these types of opponents recently, and comes in with a grappling heavy gameplan.
Mickey Gall Breakdown
Mickey Gall is still a very raw prospect. Despite being 27 years old, he’s only had six professional fights, and three of those were against complete amateurs including CM Punk and Mike Jackson. He’s mostly a grappler, and a clearly talented one, but we’ve only seen him win by rear naked choke within two rounds. When we’ve seen extended periods of his grappling with half-decent opponents, he hasn’t looked good at all. Despite a successful sweep and some success on top, over the course of 15 minutes Gall was easily outwrestled by a striker in Randy Brown, who had no trouble dealing with Gall’s guard game.
On the feet Gall is still extremely green. In the Randy Brown and Sage Northcutt fights he looked terrified of every striking exchange, immediately backing up and covering up against the cage, overbiting on feints and sometimes even turning his back and running. I will give him credit for the punch he landed on Northcutt that hurt him, but it was a wild overhand after looking very uncomfortable on the feet for extended periods so I can’t put too much stock into it.
How They Match Up Stylistically
All in all we’ve not seen much of Gall to get a good read on him besides the ability to take down and submit very low level fighters, and Sanchez has proved that he still has the ability to outgrapple high level grapplers. So why is Gall such a huge favourite?
Yes, Sanchez’s chin is compromised. But does Gall have the striking skill and power to put him away? Maybe, but how likely is that occurrence? If he doesn’t immediately KO Sanchez, what will happen? Gall has shown he struggles with pressure and isn’t great off his back. In his fights against grapplers or low level fighters, Sanchez has immediately forced them on the backfoot and shot for a takedown. Sanchez is certainly a better offensive wrestler than Randy Brown, who forced Gall to the cage and got easy takedowns. If that happens here, Sanchez has shown he still has a great top game against higher level grapplers so Gall is likely ending up on his back and being smothered.
Can Gall outgrapple or submit Sanchez? Based on what we see and know, that’s extremely unlikely. Sanchez has not been submitted in a 39 fight career, where he has faced several grapplers that are a way higher level and more dangerous than the prospect Gall on the ground.
So for me, from what we can see on tape, Gall is pretty much KO or bust in this fight – and the only way he’s managed to win against amateurs and low level fighters is via a back-take and submission.
The odds imply that Gall has a MASSIVE 75% chance to win, which I think is absurd when the only realistic path to victory I see for him is to land something big on the feet.
Yes, Sanchez is old and very shopworn. He could easily just walk into something early and make this prediction look silly. But no matter what happens, a very raw submission specialist with no striking who hasn’t beat anybody and can likely only win by KO shouldn’t be such a huge favourite against a veteran with superior grappling, pace and cardio. The risk is worth it at these odds and I believe this bet wins in the long run.
I cap this line around a pickem, with Sanchez being a slight favourite at -120. Hopefully Sanchez doesn’t mess around on the feet and takes the path of least resistance with his grappling.
Diego Sanchez wins via unanimous decision.
Risk 2 units on Diego Sanchez @ +250 / 3.50 (minimum odds: +150 / 2.50)