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A much-needed week off came for the Ultimate Fighting Championship at the beginning
of April, just in time for the promotion’s second jaunt on the ABC
network. This fight card, which brought a recent change in opponent
for the headliner, sees several lopsided betting lines as only four
of the 14 matches currently show favorites below -150. Take a
chance with us as we break down four betting underdogs on this
event, and why each has a real chance at victory on this
UFC on ABC 2
edition of Prime Picks!

Kevin
Holland
(+285)

Less than three weeks ago, we
prognosticated
that Holland’s headliner against Derek
Brunson
could be a trap fight. Although Holland still seemed
the more comfortable option against a questionable Brunson, the
Strikeforce vet blanketed the upstart to win a
frustrating decision. His performance showed glaring weaknesses, as
he proved far too comfortable to remain on his back for extended
periods of time. Could the powerful Marvin
Vettori
replicate Brunson’s success, especially with Holland
taking this fight on short notice? Certainly. If you think he can,
Vettori Wins by Decision is a safe +173 at the moment. However,
Vettori is not Brunson, and even though he can hit takedowns like
the best of them, there is clear value in the line for
“Trailblazer.”

Holland did have moments throughout his 25-minute affair with
Brunson, however fleeting. Hurting Brunson in the second round and
cutting him open in the final frame, Holland’s performance was the
kind that Sherdog Senior Editor Ben Duffy would shout at his
television while watching, as missed opportunities and
overaggressive strikes led to Holland’s undoing. His Italian foe is
composed, has deceptively heavy hands and can force a clinch and
land a takedown like the best of them, but the wrestling chops for
Brunson are far superior to that of the Italian. Although it fell
thanks to his last outing, Holland still remains in the top 10 as one of
the most accurate strikers in company history, landing just under
60 percent of his strikes. His shots gave Brunson pause when they
landed, and they can do against an otherwise iron-chinned Vettori.
Additionally, his ability to counter and land effectively even when
retreating is a skill that he may find himself relying on as
Vettori pushes the pace.

While “The Italian Dream” might be able to take advantage of the
same missteps Holland makes — three weeks is not long to elicit
major corrections in striking approaches or distance control — he
would need to rack up more ground control time than ever if he
hopes to win. Ground control time has never been an area where
Vettori has particularly excelled, and he passed the
five-minute mark for the first time
against Jack
Hermansson
thanks to a knockdown in the opening round. It is
one thing to take your adversary down, but it is another entirely
to keep them there for more than a few seconds. Spamming the
takedowns, discouraging the chatty Holland and forcing him to fight
off his back foot or against the fence would all be in Vettori’s
best interest. He has the style to do just that and spoil this
play.

Sheer volume can fluster counterstrikers should they get bum rushed
and overwhelmed to break up their replies. Chaining striking into
grappling can also do that, and the one charging forward needs to
keep their head on their shoulders on the way in. Vettori has faced
heavier-handed strikers than Holland in the past, and none have yet
rattled his cage. On the other hand, Vettori’s presents a
volume-first approach and infrequently presents the kind of power
that can ring bells, but this may be a new wrinkle of his game as
evidenced by him dropping Hermansson early. This is a risky fight
for Holland, and he is a rightful underdog. However, his in-cage
style will almost certainly irritate the hot-headed Italian, and he
may lure Vettori out of his game plan and get on his nerves as he
would have against a younger, less mature Brunson. It is the errors
he forces Vettori to make that “Trailblazer” can capitalize, and
why the largest underdog on the card deserves a second look.

Mackenzie
Dern
(+120)

After having a child, Dern seems to have turned a corner when it
comes to fight preparation. The Arizonan trained in Brazil
struggled to reach the strawweight limit repeatedly, even passing
the 116-pound mark by a whopping seven pounds less than three years
ago. Whether a result of age, leaving the
MMA Lab
and
Black House
for greener pastures, or finding her own as a
competitor, Dern appears more of a contender every time she
competes. A disappointing loss to Amanda
Ribas
when she could not implement her grappling firmly in the
rearview, Dern as a slight underdog is one to watch against fellow
new mom Nina Nunes,
née Ansaroff.

Wife of two-division champ Amanda
Nunes
, Nina has excelled in her division as being one that keep
a high volume as long as she can stay on her feet. Tatiana
Suarez
landed multiple takedowns en route to victory, but she
faded when she discerned that Nunes was ready to keep pressing
forward. Similarly overwhelmed by Nunes’ unflappable nature was
Claudia
Gadelha
, who found herself at a nearly two-to-one
significant strike disadvantage
when Nunes turned up the heat
as the bout progressed. “The Strina” is vulnerable to being
controlled on the ground, especially in the center of the age when
she cannot walk up the fence, and this is where Dern almost
certainly holds a sizeable advantage.

Even as she has developed over the years, Dern’s striking has nary
more been than a simple means to an end. Winging telegraphed right
hooks allows her to close the distance and grab hold of who she is
facing, because those punches do have a surprising amount of pop on
them should they connect. When the grappling gets involved —
Dern’s takedown game is typical of a submission-first artist, as
she has only officially
landed one across 18 attempts
— the tone of the fight shifts
dramatically. The accolades do not need to be listed as to what
Dern has accomplished in the grappling world, but they are vast and
comprehensive and have been comfortably on display in any of her
impressive MMA submissions. Coupled with the level of activity –
Nunes has understandably been absent for coming up on two years,
while Dern has competed four times in that same span – there is
ample room in the line for Dern to pull off the minor upset.

Jim
Miller
(+200)

On Saturday, Miller will have as many UFC bouts as he has years on
this earth: 37. Against relative newcomer Joe
Solecki
, Miller will have had as many fights inside the Octagon
as Solecki in the latter’s pro career, and in the same time frame
as well. Even in his rapidly advancing age, Miller is still a
dangerous threat, especially from his grappling, and each of his
last four wins have come by first-round submission. Other foes have
overpowered Miller, surviving his submission threats and doing
enough on the feet to keep him honest. Solecki will be facing the
toughest test of his career, and he does so as a substantial -240
favorite. Like the other options presented on this card, there is
money to be made on the upset.

Miller has suffered submission losses in the past, although there
is a very distinct caveat to each one. Charles
Oliveira
tapped Miller in 75 seconds, but he is the promotion’s
all-time submission leader. Michael
Chiesa
too made Miller surrender with a rear-naked choke, and
all of Chiesa’s career finishes have come by submission. Likewise,
a fresh Nate Diaz had
Miller tap back in 2012 with a guillotine choke, and the Stockton,
Calif., native holds more submission wins than any other method of
victory. Time will tell if Solecki is on that level, but the smart
money is that he will not become the fourth man to submit “A-10.” A
decision victory for Solecki could come should you think the
prospect passes the test, and that line is a feasible +145
currently.

The most common question of this current preliminary headliner is
“What does Miller have left in the tank?” What Solecki did to
Matt
Wiman
in his promotional debut in 2019 could be replicated
against Miller, in that Solecki overwhelmed his aging foe with
wrestling and kept Wiman flat on his back. Should he not be able to
secure the submission, he might find himself gassing out faster
than when he was younger, and Vinc Pichel
handled Miller on the ground with size and strength. Miller will
threaten you until you put him away, and he is especially hazardous
in the first five minutes. Should the man ten years Miller’s junior
try to tangle with a savvy grappler like Miller in the early going,
he might find himself staring down the barrel of his first
submission defeat. Father time is yet undefeated, but Miller has
not reached that threshold yet; he should still be proficient in
pushing back a promising prospect in this potentially profitable
play.

Jarjis
Danho
(+255)

To say the sport has been unkind to the goliath heavyweight known
as “Man Mountain” would be a severe understatement. Many fans of
the promotion today may not have heard his name uttered before, as
his last appearance came in late 2016. Two UFC outings have seen
the Syrian fouled on both occasions, although the fouls came in
bouts he was losing. In his debut, a groin shot in the third frame
prematurely forced the fight to the hands of the judges, and
Daniel
Omielanczuk
captured a majority technical decision verdict. A
few months later, Danho fought to a draw after Christian
Colombo
landed an illegal knee to lose a point. It has been
over four and a half years since Danho competed, and ring rust
fears no man. There is still value in his betting line, even after
his lengthy absence, simply because of what he brings to the
table.

Yorgan De
Castro
burst on to the scene with knockouts in three of four
wins early in his career, with his most impressive likely over
current Bellator MMA roster member Ras Hylton.
A destruction of Sanford
Alton Meeks
on the third season of Dana White’s Contender Series showed that his
leg kicks can be effective at the higher level, and Justin Tafa
paid dearly for coming in carelessly in De Castro’s shocking
promotional debut. Subsequent outings have demonstrated a serious
ceiling in his ability; namely, De Castro seems to almost shut
himself down when challenged. A solid first round against Greg Hardy
dwindled in Rounds 2 and 3 when he practically stopped fighting
altogether; his output plummeted in his next pairing against
Carlos
Felipe
as the rounds progressed as well. Whether an adverse
reaction to getting struck, or the disabling surprise when he
cannot knock a foe out with a single strike, this mental struggle
leaves vast openings for opponents.

All five of Danho’s career wins have come by knockout, and unlike
the Cape Verde native, he has shown some glimpses of fight should
he leave the first period. Strength and power are the name of the
game for Danho, who will almost certainly come out looking to make
a fresh impression in front of the UFC brass. This heavyweight
contest, which should likely serve as a proverbial “pink slip”
bout, is undoubtedly make or break for both men. It cannot be
understated that Danho last competed before De Castro made his
professional debut, so there are far more questions than answers.
Based on what has been on display lately, there is not a great deal
to be excited about De Castro aside from his effective leg kicks.
“Man Mountain” moving forward looking to get his hands on De Castro
should break up one of his opponent’s best weapons, and he can
score the upset if he has improved to any noticeable degree in his
time off. No matter the victor, should you need a prop bet to tie
into a parlay, Fight Goes Over 1.5 Rounds at +100 or Fight Goes to
Decision at +250 are both reasonable choices.

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