UFC on ESPN+ 18 Picks & Betting Predictions

UFC on ESPN+ 18 Picks & Betting Predictions

Starting with the main event, Hermansson has been on a roll as of late with four straight victories after suffering a TKO loss to former light heavyweight title contender Thiago Santos. The Swedish fighter has proven to be allergic to decisions with seven of his last eight fights ending inside of the distance. The one that actually saw the judges was a one sided drubbing of perennial contender Jacare Souza back in April that saw Hermansson break the record for most significant strikes landed in a 5-round middleweight bout with 148.

His opponent is a man who had middling success in the higher weight classes but has seemingly found his stride as a middleweight. Jared Cannonier went 2-3 as a light heavyweight before deciding to drop down to the 185 pound division and scored a resounding stoppage victory over David Branch and leg kicked Anderson Silva into oblivion in his last outing. The latter didn’t give us much to go off of as the leg kick finish was seemingly more of a fluke than something that had to do with technique. Nevertheless, Cannonier finds himself in the mix at middleweight and a victory would put him in the mix for a title opportunity.

Oddsmakers see Hermansson as the favorite in the bout at around -230 (Heritage) and, truthfully, he’s worth every dime.

As good as Cannonier has looked as a middleweight while carrying that exceptional power along with him, Hermansson’s grappling is on a totally different stratosphere and will likely prove to be the difference in this fight. Unless Cannonier can catch Hermansson early, expect the Swede to swallow up his opponent and either sink in that lauded guillotine or fish for a rear naked choke.

He’s been overlooked for too long and this will be a statement for the 31-year-old.

Free Pick: Jack Hermansson

Best Odds: -250 (Heritage)

Elsewhere on the card is Iceland’s Gunnar Nelson returning to the Octagon after suffering a split decision loss to Leon Edwards to face the streaking Gilbert Burns.

Nelson may be best known as teammate of former “champ-champ’ Conor McGregor, but has remained a fixture in the top 15 welterweights. Although he is 4-4 in his last eight fights, those losses have come to the upper echelon of the division in Santiago Ponzinibbio, Demian Maia, Rick Story and the aforementioned Leon Edwards. He’s a stellar grappler and has demonstrated improved striking.

Meanwhile, Burns hasn’t quite faced the level of competition that Nelson has, but he’s proven to be a force with victories in five of his past six bouts. His only loss was a knockout at the hands of Dan Hooker. Otherwise, Burns has been very good.

Oddsmakers are making Burns the favorite at around -140 while Nelson sits at +120. The logical thinking is that Burns is an exceptional jiujitsu practitioner who won the 2011 World BJJ Championships and can neutralize Nelson while also possessing the striking to keep Nelson honest.

But Nelson has faced better opposition and is more than a handful on the ground. If the fight remains standing, he may be able to outpoint Burns with his karate.

Things may get dicey in there as there is certain to be a nip and tuck round that the judges won’t agree on. But Nelson’s resume is just too good to overlook and he’ll find a way to outpoint Burns by decision.

Free Pick: Gunnar Nelson

Best Odds: +120 (5Dimes)

Perhaps the most intriguing fight on the show is the lightweight bout between Lando Vannata and Marc Diakiese. Both have had peaks and valleys throughout their respective tenures in the UFC. Vannata exploded on the scene and nearly pulled off a remarkable upset of Tony Ferguson on short notice back in 2016 while Diakiese is a spectacular striker who appeared to be on the cusp of lightweight contention before dropping three straight fights.

Despite the hardships, both are coming off of wins in their previous fights. Vannata submitted Marcos Rosa Mariano back in February while Diakese snapped his three-fight losing streak with a unanimous decision over Joe Duffy.

In what should be an even money fight finds Diakese getting the nod as the favorite at -155 while Vannata current sits around +130. Expect fireworks between the two creative strikers but Vannata has a more diverse game between grappling and striking that could spell the difference between the two. Not to mention that Vannata has his most trouble with wrestlers and Diakese is far from someone who will drag the fight to the canvas.

Take the man with the plus side and enjoy the fight.

Free Pick: Lando Vannata

Best Odds: +135 (5Dimes)