Boy, this was a tough card to choose a fight to predict! Many of the fights on this card are very well matched up – for example, Eryk Anders vs. Darren Stewart, Dan Ige vs. Gavin Tucker, and more. However, there are still fights that contain value if you look deep enough. Let me share with you my top picks for UFC Fight Night: Leon Edwards vs. Belal Muhammad this Saturday.
Manel Kape vs. Matheus Nicolau
UFC Flyweight Bout – Main Card
Saturday, March 13, 2021 – 06:00 PM EST at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas
Manel Kape is an Angolan mixed martial artist fighting out of Oporto, Portugal. He has been fighting professionally in MMA since 2012, starting in Cage Fighters to Knock Out Championship, Invictus, and Rizin Fighting Federation. He went 6-4 in Rizin FF, and made his UFC debut in February 2021 – at UFC Fight Night 184: Overeem vs. Volkov – against Alexandre Pantoja.
Matheus Nicolau Pereira is a Brazilian mixed martial artist. He has been interested in martial arts his entire life, starting at a very young age. Nicolau made his first professional debut in 2010 at the age of 17, where he held a tremendous record of 10-1-1. Nicolau fought in the UFC from 2015 to 2018, and went 3-1. He was then cut from the UFC as they were looking to scrap the flyweight division. He then continued his fighting career with Future FC and Brave CF.
Manel Kape (15-5-0) made his UFC debut recently in February 2021 against Alexandre Pantoja and lost via decision. Throughout that fight, Kape was not as aggressive as he normally would have been. With the way he fought against Pantoja, he was still accurate with his strikes but not as active. Pantoja landed 74 significant strikes, while Kape landed 49; he did manage two takedowns against the Brazilian as well.
Matheus Nicolau (15-2-1) had his last professional fight in August 2019 – at Brave CF 25: Santiago vs. Silva – against Felipe Efrain and won via decision. He is 4-1 in his last 5 fights; of those 4 wins, he won 3 by decision and 1 by submission. The one loss – and also his most recent loss – was by KO in 2018 against Dustin Ortiz. He has another loss on his record also by TKO, but that was back in 2012. This could prove that Matheus has a breakable chin, it is just a matter of ‘if’ Manel is more active and aggressive in this fight.
You can’t underestimate the power behind Kape because of his loss at his UFC debut – or at least I can’t. He made his debut against a #3 ranked UFC Flyweight and most likely had the “big lights” jitters. He now has seen and felt what it feels like to be in UFC Apex Octagon and has fought against one of the top mixed martial artists in the division – something Nicolau is lacking. So, with that said, I’m backing the power behind Manel Kape.
Misha Cirkunov vs. Ryan Spann
UFC Light Heavyweight Bout – Co-Main
Saturday, March 13, 2021 - 10:05 PM EST at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas
Misha Cirkunov is a Latvian-Canadian mixed martial artist currently ranked #11 in the UFC Light Heavyweight division. Cirkunov began his professional career in 2010 and held a record of 9-2. In 2015, he made his UFC debut against Daniel Jolly -- at UFC Fight Night 74 – and won via KO in the first round. Of his accomplishments in the UFC, he has won “Performance of the Night” once against Jimmy Crute in 2019 – at UFC Fight Night 158: Cowboy vs. Gaethje.
Ryan “Superman” Spann is an American mixed martial artist, and was the Light Heavyweight Champion for the Legacy Fighting Alliance where he went 13-5. He made two appearances on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2017 and 2018, and went 1-1. Spann made his UFC debut in 2018 against Luis Henrique and won via unanimous decision, and is now currently ranked #13 in the UFC Light Heavyweight Division.
So, when you look at these two fighters' records, you would notice the majority of their wins have been by submission. Ryan Spann (18-6-0) holds 11 wins by submission, 4 wins by T/KO, and 3 by decision. Of his 6 losses, he has been knocked out 3 times, submitted once, and lost twice by decision.
Misha Cirkunov (15-5-0) has 8 submission wins, 5 T/KO wins, and 2 decisions. This is what I find interesting; yes, Cirkunov is 2-3 in his last 5 bouts, but his losses were against mighty fighters in Volkan Oezdemir, Glover Teixeira, and Johnny Walker -- all by T/KO. However, when you take a look at his last 5 wins, all have been by submission. Misha aims to finish a fight; of his entire professional career – consisting of 20 fights – only two have gone to the scorecards!
I am expecting this fight to be all over the ground with Cirkunov in control. It is hard for me to see Spann succeeding against this BJJ black belt. Currently, Misha Cirkunov is the favorite with UFC odds at -128, and Ryan Spann the underdog at +108 via BetOnline. If you want to find more value, then take the value in the MMA Props.