Best bets for UFC Fight Night: Curtis Blaydes vs. Alexander Volkov


It's Week 4 in the UFC APEX micro-season from Las Vegas, and unlike last week's fight card with mostly relative newcomers, this week features a roster with deeper UFC experience. Ten of 12 matchups feature fighters who both have at least three Octagon appearances. Although the relative bodyweight of the fighters competing is again below average, the card will be capped by a heavyweight matchup between top-10 contenders, a rarity in the small UFC cage.

The odds for the main event are steep, so we'll examine the factors and look for value elsewhere on the card.

Prelims begin at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN/ESPN+, and the main card starts at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN/ESPN+.

Odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook.

Heavyweight main event: No. 3 Curtis Blaydes (-390) vs. No. 7 Alexander Volkov (+320)

Tale Of The Tape

Last fight weight class Heavyweight Heavyweight
Age 31 29
Height 79 76
Reach 81 82.5
Stance Orthodox Orthodox
Analyzed minutes 90 102
Standup striking offense
Total knockdown ratio (scored:received) 2:2 1:2
Distance knockdown rate 1.4% 2.2
Head jab accuracy 47% 27%
Head power accuracy 51% 23%
Total standup strike ratio 1.6 1.2
Striking defense
Total head strike defense 74% 67%
Distance knockdown defense ("Chin") 98% 97%
Wrestling and grappling
TD attempts per min standing/clinch 0.11 1.39
Takedown accuracy 75% 56%
Advances per takedown/top control 0.7 0.6
Opponent takedown attempts 29 4
Takedown defense 83% 25%
Share of total ground time in control 26% 99%
Submission attempts per trip to ground 0.00 0.00
It's a classic striker versus grappler matchup. Initial odds opened Blaydes at -240 and Volkov at +180, but the market has been entirely on Blaydes since then. The action has driven these odds to dangerous levels in the heavyweight division, where every striker is usually given a chance.

But let's talk about that. Heavyweights are known for their striking power, and Volkov comes in as the clearly better striker. His precision with jabs and power strikes ranks him highly in the division and against the entire promotion. But he does not combine that precision with power. He has only two knockdowns scored in the UFC, and they came with a per punch rate that is below average -- even the average for much smaller divisions. Yes, his technical striking is superior on paper to that of Blaydes, and that should hold true as long as the two are at range. But Volkov is less likely to land a one-punch knockout than many of Blaydes' prior opponents.

Blaydes has no reason to keep the fight on the feet to allow for that chance. He has dominated opponents on the ground and will try early and often to do the same to Volkov, who has spent the majority of his ground time on his back. Once on the ground, Volkov will have few outs, and time underneath Blaydes could sap any remaining zip on Volkov's punches once things get reset.

Blaydes' only losses are to Francis Ngannou, one of the most feared power strikers in the sport, and he has readily handled -- and even finished -- superior technical strikers. Meanwhile, Volkov has yet to face a wrestling threat such as Blaydes and will have to constantly worry about level changes.

E+ recommends: Money-line play on Blaydes, and use him as a parlay anchor.

Other fight card values

Clay Guida (+200) joins Jim Miller (+240 vs. Roosevelt Roberts -240) to add a throwback element to the event. The two lightweights have each been active in the UFC for more than a decade, combining for almost 11 hours of Octagon time. But Father Time is unforgiving in this sport, and both will likely be underdogs on Saturday. Bobby Green (-240) is favored over Guida. Assuming Green can use his natural evasiveness to keep Guida at distance, Green should get the better of the standup exchanges, as long as he doesn't allow Guida's endless gas tank to distract the judges.

E+ recommends: Money-line lean on Green

For plus money, consider Frank Camacho (-105) over the mildly favored Matt Frevola (-115). Camacho is comfortable both standing and on the ground, and he should have the necessary edge in both spots to score an upset.

E+ recommends: Money-line lean on Camacho