In the UFC’s return to Las Vegas, an action-packed main event between bantamweight contenders Rob Font (18-4-0) and former champion Cody “No Love” Garbrandt (12-3-0) take center stage. Based on the UFC betting lines, don’t expect this one to reach the judges as did the Oliveira-Chandler fight.
Font and Garbrandt meet in the main event. Prior to that, there are a few other fights worth the attention.
- Date: Saturday, May 22, 4 p.m. ET (Prelims); 7 p.m. ET (Main Card)
- Venue: UFC Apex, Las Vegas, NA, United States
- Watch on: ESPN+
UFC Fight Night: Fights To Watch and Bet
Font and Garbrandt Go Far
Odds: Cody Garbrandt -115, Rob Font -115
Weight Class (Rounds): Bantamweight (135) (5 Rounds)
Rob Font and Cody Garbrandt are two of the division’s best knockout artists. The two have combined for ten KO’s in the UFC. You’ll find the “Fight Does Not Go To Decision” online betting line juiced to -300 as five rounds is a lot of time for either to land that knockout punch.
But despite their high knockout rate, Garbrandt and Font are more technical strikers than sluggers. Garbrandt can get goaded into brawls, but at his finest he’s a surgical boxer with the fastest hands in the division.
Font, on the other hand, is patient and methodical. He utilizes his 71.5” reach to keep opponents at bay. He’s deadly in his counter-attacks and can end fights on his feet or in the clinch.
Still, this fight can have a bit of a feeling out process and Font won’t recklessly engage Garbrandt in a firefight. There’s a good chance this fight hits the third round.
Pick: Over 2½ (-110)
But the fight should still end in some form of a finish even if it takes a while. Garbrandt’s losses have all come via KO as he got too reckless and his chin isn’t the most durable. Font has a solid chin, but he’s also been rocked in several of his fights.
— The MMA Dude™ (@philthemmadude) May 18, 2021
The deciding factor here will be how well Garbrandt can stay patient and how effectively he can close the distance on Font, who has a six-inch reach advantage. Font’s strategy would be to continue frustrating Garbrandt from afar and time him when he closes the distance.
Between Font’s smart counter-striking and Garbrandt’s speedy striking, lean on Garbrandt and his speed. Sometimes it just takes being faster to the punch and there’s no one quicker than No Love.
Pick: Cody Garbrandt -115
Xiaonan and Esparza Duel For The Next Shot
Odds: Carla Esparza +105, Xiaonan Yan -135
Weight Class (Rounds): Strawweight (115) (3 Rounds)
With a potential title shot on the line, expect both Carla Esparza (18-6-0) and Xiaonan Yan (13-1-0, 1 NC) to go for it. Esparza is having a career renaissance and has knocked off every high-end prospect the UFC has thrown at her thanks to her prolific wrestling: 3.44 takedowns per 15 minutes.
But that’s nothing new for Yan who has a stellar 75% takedown defense and has fended off the likes of Claudia Gadelha and Karolina Kowalkiewicz by using wrestling both defensively and offensively.
Yan will stuff most of Esparza’s attempts and get back up if she is taken down. She gets stronger as the fight lasts and should take over late to get the judges’ nod here.
Pick: Xiaonan Yan -135 and/or X Yan To Win By Decision or Tec. Decision +150
Vanderaa Looks To Keep Tafa Down
Odds: Jared Vanderaa +160, Justin Tafa -200
Weight Class (Rounds): Heavyweight (265) (3 Rounds)
Jared Vanderaa (11-5-0) will look to take this fight to the ground or to grind out Justin Tafa (4-2-0), who will try to keep the bigger Vanderaa (6’4”, 80” reach) off of him where he can light him up on his feet.
In this grappler versus striker fight, Vanderaa has decent value as the bigger guy who can use his size to neutralize Tafa. Just don’t lead with your chin.