UFC 291, Bellator MMA vs. RIZIN 2, Spence Jr vs. Crawford

Rami’s Recommendations: UFC 291, Bellator MMA vs. RIZIN 2, Spence Jr vs. Crawford

Welcome to the third edition of Rami’s Recommendations. It’s the final weekend of July, and we have three exciting fights to bet on from UFC 291 and Bellator MMA vs. RIZIN 2. Additionally, we have the fight of the century between Errol Spence Jr. and Terence Crawford, where they will be battling for the undisputed welterweight titles. Let’s take a closer look.

MAIN EVENT: Errol Spence Jr. vs. Terence Crawford – Undisputed Welterweight Championships.

On Saturday, one of the most significant prize fights in modern boxing history will occur – the Welterweight Championships. Undefeated champions Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr. will finally meet in a long-awaited unification bout. The main event, a 12-round match, will anchor the SHOWTIME pay-per-view main Crawford vs. Spence fight card, beginning at 8 p.m. ET from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The victor will become the inaugural unified welterweight champion.

Terence and Errol are set to face off in a highly anticipated boxing match. The winner will go down in history as a champion of the four-major-belt era. Crawford holds the WBO title, while Spence will be defending the WBA, IBF, and WBC belts. Despite years of anticipation, negotiations for the fight were repeatedly stalled. However, the competition is now set to take place.

Terence Crawford is preparing for the seventh defence of his WBO welterweight title reign and finally getting the significant fight he has long been after. Known as “Bud,” he has been a prominent figure on the boxing pound-for-pound lists ever since he won his first world title at lightweight. This undisputed title fight is the final hurdle that will cement his place as an all-time great.

Crawford is an exceptional fighter who has shown versatility in his approach. He is equally effective at stalking and countering and can switch effortlessly between Southpaw and Orthodox. He is also known for his ability to finish fights with force. In December 2022, “Bud” scored a knockout against David Avenesyan, marking his 10th consecutive victory by way of stoppage.

Errol Spence Jr. is a skilled and accomplished welterweight boxer, holding titles as the WBC, WBA, and IBF champion. He is considered one of the best fighters in his category, alongside Crawford. Spence has achieved impressive victories against boxers such as Kell Brook, Mikey Garcia, Shawn Porter, and Yordenis Ugas.

He is known for his smooth and strategic fighting style, utilizing angles, footwork, and a strong jab to mask his offensive manoeuvres. Spence is a well-rounded fighter, demonstrating proficiency in multiple areas, much like Crawford. Few boxers have shown such dominance in welterweight boxing in recent years.

These two fighters are closely linked based on their intangible qualities. Spence is larger, but Crawford possesses superior tactical skills. Although both fighters defeated common opponents, Spence did it better, yet Crawford won more convincingly. So, what separates these two warriors to the extent that I can make a comfortable choice? The answer lies in their killer instinct, and Crawford has the edge in this aspect. Spence tends to outbox his opponents even when he is superior to them, as we saw in his fight against Garcia.

Additionally, he did not show a sense of urgency until Porter and Ugas hurt him. On the other hand, Crawford is one of the best finishers in boxing and rarely allows his opponents to recover. The first four rounds will be critical in determining the outcome of this fight. Crawford is a slow starter and forfeits the early rounds to make adjustments, which means that Spence may be ahead by the midpoint of the fight.

It’s going to be a closely contested bout until the end, but my prediction is that Crawford will come out on top in a fantastic fight against Spence. These two fighters are evenly matched, but I believe Crawford has what it takes to win.

BELLATOR MMA VS. RIZIN 2: Danny Sabatello vs. Magomed Magomedov.

At the Bellator MMA vs. RIZIN 2 event in Japan, the Italian Gangster will finally get his chance to compete against the Tiger, aka Magomed Magomedov. Both fighters suffered a loss to Raufeon Stots, the former interim Bellator Bantamweight champion. However, Sabatello bounced back and secured a win against Marcos Breno at Bellator 294 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Prior to his loss to Stots, Sabatello had a string of victories over Leandro Higo, and Brett Johns and even won the Titan FC Bantamweight championship. He also won by a decision on Dana White’s Contender Series. Sabatello’s overall experience positions him to be the strong favourite coming into this.

Before his first loss in MMA, Magomed Magomedov had an impressive record of 13-0. His defeat came at the hands of former UFC Bantamweight champion Petr Yan in the Absolute Championship Akhmat for the Bantamweight championship of that promotion in 2017. Despite this setback, Magomedov bounced back and earned himself a shot at Bellator MMA in 2020. Since then, he has won three out of his last five bouts and is determined to make up for his recent loss in the semi-final Bantamweight World Grand Prix held by Bellator last year. His opponent in the upcoming match is #5 ranked Sabatello, who will be looking to claim the #4 ranking from Magomedov. Despite the uncomfortable situation, Magomedov is ready to take on the challenge and emerge victorious.

Sabatello comes into this as the favourite (-185) against the first-time underdog Magomedov (+155). Sabatello has been on the underdog’s side before, but Magomedov has faced adversities in his career without being labelled the underdog on the betting odds. I will go with Magomedov to finish it in three rounds, bet on the underdog!

BELLATOR MMA VS. RIZIN 2: Makoto Shinryu vs. Kyoji Horiguchi for inaugural Bellator Flyweight title.

Kyoji Horiguchi returned to the Flyweight division after a five-year hiatus and achieved the desired result of winning against Hiromasa Ougikubo in a rematch at the first Bellator MMA vs. RIZIN event of the year. Previously performing well in the Flyweight category, Horiguchi’s loss to Demetrious Johnson in the UFC led him to join RIZIN in 2017. He won nine consecutive fights, including the 2017 Rizin Bantamweight Grand-Prix and the inaugural RIZIN Bantamweight championship before moving on to win the Bellator Bantamweight world championship a year later, which he later vacated due to injuries. In his last five fights, Horiguchi has won three and lost two, with his most recent three fights resulting in two wins and one loss. Horiguchi aims to establish himself as the leading figure in RIZIN’s Flyweight division.

The person who will face off against Horiguchi is Makoto Takahashi, a 23-year-old fighter who has been on a ten-fight winning streak since 2018. He has accumulated wins in DEEP, CFFC, and RIZIN. Takahashi is ten years younger than the legendary Horiguchi, who made his debut six years before Takahashi. In his first ten bouts, Takahashi went the distance and achieved a record of 10-1-1 before obtaining his first finish in his RIZIN debut against Seiichiro Ito in 2020, where he won by guillotine choke in the second round. In the last three years, Takahashi has either won by the judge’s scorecards or by submitting his opponents in his last five fights. He has never won by knockout and has never been knocked out. A win against Horiguchi to become the first Flyweight champion would elevate their status and make them only the sixth person to defeat Horiguchi, who has lost only twice in RIZIN and won twelve of his bouts in the promotion.

Horiguchi comes into this as the favourite (-500) for his sixth fight in a row with Takahashi being the underdog for the first time in his career (+315) as both men look to take the other out and become the inaugural RIZIN Flyweight champion this weekend. I’ll be going with the favourite Horiguchi to win and become the holder of gold once again in his career.

MAIN EVENT: BELLATOR MMA VS. RIZIN 2: Patricky Pitbull vs. Roberto de Souza.

The upcoming Bellator Lightweight World Grand Prix quarterfinal match was set to feature A.J. McKee, a former Bellator Featherweight Champion, against former Bellator Lightweight Champion Patricky Pitbull. Unfortunately, McKee had to withdraw from the fight due to an injury, and it was announced on July 26. As a result, Roberto de Souza, the RIZIN lightweight champion, will now face Freire instead.

Over the last four years, Pitbull has faced some challenges in the ring. He has only won 2 out of his last 5 bouts from 2019 to the present, with four of them being cancelled. In some fights, he struggled to gain an advantage. In his recent match defending his Lightweight championship for Bellator MMA, he lost to Usman Nurmagomedov during Bellator 288 in November. The last time he participated in RIZIN, Pitbull made it to the finals for the Grand Prix in the Lightweight division but lost to Tofiq Musayev by decision. Pitbull is renowned for his knockout abilities, having secured 16 wins through brutal finishes. Winning his next fight could give him the boost he needs to once again compete for a title while also continuing his run in quarter-finals for the Lightweight World Grand Prix, this time for RIZIN, where he has never had the chance to vie for gold.

The RIZIN Lightweight champion, Roberto de Souza, has a reputation for his impressive triangle choke move that he can execute at any given opportunity. He has proven his skill time and time again, having won 4 out of his last 5 matches, with most of his victories coming from amazing submissions. Although he hasn’t defended his title since last April, he still holds the championship title securely around his waist. In his latest fight against Spike Carlyle at Rizin 42, he won by unanimous decision, which was his first victory by judge’s scorecards. A win for either fighter in their upcoming match will send them to the semi-finals against Alexandr Shabliy. The winner of that match will have the chance to fight in the finals against either Brent Primus or the current Bellator Lightweight champion, Usman Nurmagomedov who are both determined to win.

Pitbull was the underdog against Nurmagomedov and he will once again be pitted as that as he enters this main event bout (+170) against the RIZIN Lightweight king de Souza who is the favourite for his second fight in a row (-200). The best option is to go with the favorite de Souza who could very well take this by way of a submission victory.

UFC 291: Tony Ferguson vs. Bobby Green:

Tony Ferguson, also known as El Cucuy, is returning to the lightweight division and aiming to secure a victory after a string of five consecutive losses. It has been four years since his last win, which was against Donald Cerrone, who has since retired. Since then, Ferguson lost an interim championship fight to Justin Gaethje and suffered defeats against Charles Oliveira, Beneil Dariush, Michael Chandler, and Nate Diaz (which was a welterweight bout taken on short notice due to issues at UFC 279).

Bobby Green will be the one greeting Ferguson upon his return to the lightweight division and his last three fights have not gone well, resulting in two losses and a recent no-contest against Jared Gordon in April. Green’s last victory in the octagon was in February of last year when he defeated Nasrat Haqparast by a unanimous decision. However, since then, he has been defeated by the current UFC Lightweight champion, Islam Makhachev, and Drew Dober. Green will look to add his name to the men that have defeated Ferguson in the last couple of years.

Green is the favourite heading into this one at -350, and Ferguson walks into this as the underdog at +285 after being the favourite against Diaz last year where he looked like he was going to take the win if he made it to the scorecards. I have a very strong feeling that Ferguson will shock the crowd and land a shot that’ll change the fight in his favour. Go with the upset if you’re feeling like the party has just begun and El Cucuy is ready to get back to his winning ways.

UFC 291: Jan Blachowicz vs. Alex Pereira

A former Light Heavyweight champion is preparing to face another former Middleweight king who is moving up to his division in an attempt to stake their claim at championship contention. In his last match, Jan Blachowicz went the distance against Magomed Ankalaev at UFC 282 for the vacant title at 205lbs, but the judges deemed it a draw. A month later, Glover Teixeira faced Jamahal Hill for the gold and won, only to vacate it a few months later due to a ruptured Achilles he suffered from a basketball game. Now, Blachowicz has the opportunity to stop the hype train of his unranked opponent, who is also moving up to face him with hopes of landing a spot in the top three and fighting for the vacant gold next.

Alex Pereira aims to add another championship to his collection if he’s able to get by Blachowicz. He had defeated his rival Israel Adesanya to win the Middleweight title at UFC 281, only to lose it in their rematch at UFC 287. However, it won’t be easy moving up a weight class to fight the Polish fighter as Jan was also the first fighter to defeat Adesanya in the octagon. Pereira will need to use the training and advice he’s received from his friend Glover Teixeira, who became the oldest UFC fighter to wear gold after submitting Jan at UFC 267 in 2021. Blachowicz has stopped fighters like Luke Rockhold, Ronaldo Souza, and Adesanya from winning against him, making it a challenging task for Pereira to defeat him.

Blachowicz is the favourite at -120 heading into this co-main event that should lead to the winner fighting for the vacant Light Heavyweight championship. Pereira is the underdog for a fourth time in a row, he comes into this at a +100 where he will look to once again cause another upset to happen to a contender at the top of the division. I’ll be going with the favourite Blachowicz to find a way to control the fight both standing and, on the ground, just like he has with previous champions of the Middleweight division.

UFC 291 MAIN EVENT: Dustin Poirier vs. Justin Gaethje – BMF Championship.

This weekend, two legendary UFC fighters, Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje, will have a rematch with a championship title at stake. The main event of UFC 291 will determine who the BMF of the UFC is.

In 2018, these two fighters faced each other in a gruelling fight that lasted four rounds. Despite the victory going to Poirier, both men sustained significant injuries and struggled to leave the cage. Now, they will have to face the challenge of the high elevation in Salt Lake City, Utah which most likely will not be a problem for Gaethje. They will both be looking to prove their superiority or even the score for a potential trilogy going down in the future.

After defeating Gaethje, Poirier achieved impressive victories over Alvarez, Holloway, Hooker, McGregor twice, and Chandler. Unfortunately, his attempts to become an undisputed champion were thwarted by Khabib Nurmagomedov and Charles Oliveira, both of whom defeated him with a rear-naked choke. In his most recent fight, Poirier defeated Chandler by overcoming the wrestler’s attacks and using his own power to secure a third-round chokehold victory at UFC 281. Now, Poirier has the opportunity to compete for the newly crowned BMF title.

Gaethje has come a long way since experiencing consecutive losses from Eddie Alvarez and Poirier. He had a successful run from 2018-2020, defeating James Vick, Edson Barboza, and Donald Cerrone. In addition, he became the first fighter in eight years to defeat Tony Ferguson in the octagon and was crowned the interim Lightweight champion. However, he later lost to Nurmagomedov at UFC 254, resulting in Nurmagomedov becoming the undisputed champion of the lightweight division. Over the past three years, Gaethje has had quite the journey.

He made a comeback into the title picture after an intense fight against Chandler at UFC 268, although he eventually lost to Oliveira at UFC 274 in the main event for the gold. Nonetheless, he bounced back by earning a majority decision against Rafael Fiziev at UFC 286 and securing a rematch against the last fighter who knocked him out. A victory for either fighter could potentially lead them to their final shot at the UFC Lightweight Championship, a title they have both worked tirelessly to earn.

Gaethje comes into this as the underdog for a third fight in a row at +133, the last time he fought Poirier he was the underdog at +110. Poirier came into that first fight as the favourite at -120 and will continue to be the favourite at -153 when they face off once again, this time for the right to be called the BMF of the UFC. I’ll be going with the Diamond who I see dishing out the same damage he did in their first bout. Poirier by TKO in the fourth round.

Thank you for reading the latest edition of Rami’s Recommendations. If you decide to use these bets, please gamble responsibly and avoid spending all your money in one weekend. I will return in August for the fourth edition. Meanwhile, stay safe and enjoy the thrilling events this weekend.– Rami Hanna Jr.

Also, read UFC 291 – Gaethje vs. Poirier: War Ready