On Saturday, the UFC roars back into action with a jam-packed 15-fight event after last week’s hiatus. UFC Vegas 37 features a battle between No. 6 ranked light heavyweight Anthony Smith and No. 11 ranked Ryan Spann in the headlining spot. The fight is a good litmus test for Spann, who is coming off an impressive TKO win over Misha Cirkunov. Smith, after a few hiccups in 2020, is back on track with a pair of wins, over Devin Clark last November and Jimmy Crute this past April. Smith is the favorite, but Clark certainly has the wherewithal to get his arm raised when it’s all said and done and the fat lady has sung.
The co-main event will see the return of the Moldovan “Hulk” when Ion Cutelaba takes on Devin Clark. Cutelaba’s brand of excitement revolves around raw aggression and power, while Devin Clark is a bit more technical and composed. Both men have had rough spots over the last few years, so the interest here might also be tinged with the nagging question of whether the loser will still be on the roster next week.
Ahead of UFC Fight Night, we’ve put together what we feel are some sizzling bets to make on DraftKings Sportsbook.
Anthony Smith vs. Ryan Spann – Light Heavyweight
Anthony Smith might only be 33, but he’s got a wealth of experience, and there’s no two ways about it, his grappling is top notch. He’s got 13 submission wins and 19 more by knockout. As a matter of fact, just two of his victories have gone the distance. In total (wins and losses), he’s only gone to decision five times out of a whopping 51 fights. On the flip side, he’s been finished 13 times, nine of those by knockout, so it’s almost a foregone conclusion to expect this fight to end early. Smith is an old war horse at this point and has a lot of mileage, but I don’t think Spann will be the guy to derail his current two-fight win streak. He might be younger and faster, he might possess the physical advantages of height and reach, but the experience factor is key and Anthony has that in spades. Spann has a low-volume, almost tentative approach. Smith is much more active, and extremely durable. That point is also a key factor, as Spann is untested in a five-rounder. “Lionheart” is keen on exploiting any opportunity presented and this, once again, goes back to the experience edge, and is precisely why he’s the better bet.
Ion Cutelaba vs. Devin Clark – Light Heavyweight
The “Hulk” is back, and even though he’s had a terrible run over the last couple years, he’s still must-see TV. The Moldovan juggernaut is all violence and aggression, charging forward pell-mell either swinging giant haymakers or diving for a blast double. And make no mistake, he is relentless until he inevitably gasses out. The powerhouse has a solid wrestling base, but he has the defensive savvy of a honey badger, making him the easiest puzzle to figure out. Devin Clark also has a suspect gas tank, but it’s likely better than Ion’s. So, why am I picking the guy with such glaring deficiencies? Because Clark doesn’t respond well to overwhelming pressure, and if there’s one thing that Ion excels at, it’s overwhelming pressure. And because he’s on a bad run, the Hulk is likely going to be fighting for his roster spot. That tends to make some men extra cautious, but I just can’t use any iteration of the word “caution” in conjunction with Cutelaba. For him, it will likely be the reverse, and he’ll go for broke. Clark can certainly prove us all wrong, and his cautious, measured approach might be what gets his arm raised, but I’m banking on a Hulk-Smash early.
Arman Tsarukyan vs. Christos Giagos – Lightweight
This is a certified banger, full stop. Both men have grappling chops, but Tsarukyan’s outstanding wrestling is what got him to the dance, and while Giagos might have decent takedowns, he’ll be facing a monster in Arman—one that has also improved his striking tremendously since making his octagon debut a couple years back against Islam Makhachev. That loss to Islam marks one of just two blemishes on his record, and to his credit, he fared better than most. Giagos has big power in those haymakers he launches, but he’s easily bullied, and the Armenian is an excellent cage general, dictating range and pace with ease. Giagos is also a little light when it comes to takedown defense, so I don’t think the fight stays upright if Tsarukyan catches a little warmth off one of those bombs Christos throws. As soon as it hits the canvas, it’s all but over for Giagos, who has been beaten by submission four times. I was tempted to log this a win for Tsarukyan via decision, but I’m feeling bold, and he’s due for a submission win and Giagos is ripe for the taking.
Pannie Kianzad vs. Raquel Pennington – Women’s Bantamweight
Pannie Kianzad has quietly put together a solid, four-fight win streak over the last 22 months, making her a formidable opponent for anyone. She’s been making progress in her striking and she hits hard. She’s also got a durable chin, as was on display in her ultra-close fight with Alexis Davis. She has solid kicks (an area Pennington is woefully lacking) and is much more flexible than Pennington. Raquel is not going to be bullied, though, as she is equal in size to Pannie, who typically enjoys the size advantage over her opponents. Kianzad will have to really work on being slick in the pocket since she relies so heavily on her boxing, and she’ll need to mix up her strikes more, throw more combos and stick-and-move more, since Davis was able to get her timing down fairly easily. Pennington likes to pressure, and she has slightly better grappling, but she hasn’t looked herself thanks to injuries and long recovery times. Her last fight was a win over a faded Marion Reneau, 15 months ago. Pennington is the favorite, but just slightly, and Kianzad seems to evolve a little with every outing. It’s not a great stretch to think she takes the score cards in this one to make it a five-fight run.
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