The UFC closes the door on February this weekend with UFC Vegas 70: Nikita Krylov vs. Ryan Spann. It's the second consecutive event at the Apex facility before next weekend's massive pay-per-view. The 13-fight card should provide plenty of fireworks, with finishing potential throughout the entire card. I could easily see all five fights on the main card ending early. It's going to be that type of night.
As bettors, we want that action. I will take decisive finishes over judges' decisions every single time. Nothing is worse than helplessly sweating scorecards in an MMA fight because of the unpredictable range of outcomes that come with the scoring criteria. And there are unexplainable times when the judges get it wrong, and your pocket pays the price.
I'd be shocked if we had to worry about the judges for Saturday night's main event, as the five-round fight is currently +400 to go the distance at BetMGM, which still might be short. Of Spann and Krylov's 50 career victories, 45 (90%) have come from stoppages. The volatility of pitting two finishers against each other makes the handicap tough as well. Whether Krylov or Spann gets his hand raised, the result will come down to which fighter can capitalize on his opponent's mistake first and land the big shot or flurry. I'm not in love with Krylov or Spann at the current moneyline odds, so let's look at a few ways to approach this fight.
Nikita Krylov (-165) vs. Ryan Spann (+140)
Krylov is riding a two-fight winning streak after winning a decision over Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 280. Krylov has no problem marching forward with an arsenal of strikes and bringing the fight to his opponents. Once he forces them back into the cage, he can soften them up in the clinch before unloading a barrage of kicks. He is a tornado once the cage door locks, but his reckless approach leaves him very open defensively, and Spann is a fighter who can end the fight with one tiny opening.
Spann is coming off consecutive first-round finishes, with Dominic Reyes being his latest victim last November. Spann has massive size, physicality and power for the division. Krylov has been extremely durable, but taking clean shots from Spann will have him looking up at the lights and asking his cornerman what happened.
The fight comes down to whether Krylov can demonstrate a little discipline early and avoid danger while hammering Spann with leg kicks from range. He can't get sucked into the pocket or tied up in the clinch. Anything in close quarters is where Spann is most dangerous and attempting to survive those exchanges won't end well. Despite Spann's power, Krylov has the tools to offset Spann's offense by mixing up distance management, grappling and keeping a high motor to drain Spann's cardio. Krylov should be able to drag Spann past the first round, where the odds will shift further in his favor.
I like Krylov to win the fight, but I'm not running to the window to lay -165. There is probably more value on the Spann side at +140 because of his fights' coin-flip nature. However, it already feels like bettors caught lightning in a bottle with Spann as a dog against Reyes, and playing him to win again feels like going to the well too many times. That's how I landed on Krylov inside the distance at -110. We know one isn't likely to make it all five rounds, so this bet allows us to back Krylov at your standard -110 price.
The bet: Nikita Krylov via KO/TKO/DQ/Submission -110
Two additional betting options for the main event
Under 1.5 rounds -135
The under is always worth a look in a true "who gets who first" scenario. Spann hasn't been outside of the first round in his last five fights, which speaks to how his defense falls apart when he isn't able to get the early KO. Even if Krylov goes right to his grappling, Spann locking in a guillotine or Krylov finishing him on the ground is both more realistic than these two scrambling or stalling. If you are undecided on which fighter gets the early massive shot, targeting the total might be your play.
Nikita Krylov ITD -110 & Ryan Spann by KO in Round 1 +600
It only takes one big hook for Spann to close the show, and Krylov's history of choosing violence over employing sound strategy in the cage is enough to make any bettor nervous. One way to alleviate the risk of him throwing caution to the wind and getting clipped is a partial hedge with your Krylov bet with Spann by KO in the first round. It's not complete protection, but it will guard you against Spann's most likely path to victory.
A .2 unit bet at +600 odds will cover the full 1.1 unit on Krylov. If you want to include a Spann submission in your hedge, apply the same strategy but use Spann to win in Round 1 at +400 and increase your bet to .275 units.