UFC on ESPN 35: Vera vs Font Best Bets, Sleepers, and Predictions

UFC on ESPN 35: Vera vs Font Best Bets, Sleepers, and Predictions
Image © Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
Frank Weber
Frank Weber
December 23rd 2022

It’s already been a fantastic year for the UFC–and it’s not even May. We’ve already had a few fight of the year candidates, we’ve seen belts change hands, and we’ve had incredible knockouts galore–and we’ll be looking for more marquee outcomes this weekend at UFC on ESPN 35.

The main event pits Bantamweight contenders Marlon Vera and Rob Font against each other, in a fight that probably holds serious championship implications. Font is currently ranked 5th and Vera is currently ranked 8th, so the winner of this fight is likely just one more victory away from a title shot.

However, true UFC fans know that a good fight card's worth can’t be reliant solely on its main event. A good fight card needs drama, close fights, and prospects throughout–and this card? Well, it tried.

Nevertheless, MMA is like pizza–there’s no such thing as bad pizza, and anything that’s bad enough to BE bad pizza simply was never pizza to begin with. That’s why I’m still here to give out my three best bets for this weekends fight card, using odds provided by BetMGM Sportsbook.

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Grant Dawson vs Jared Gordon

On paper, this is an incredibly close fight. Both fighters have similar size and experience (Dawson slightly larger, Gordon slightly more experienced) and they both share similar styles that could end the fight in the blink of an eye. Dawson however has been able to finish 89% of all professional wins inside the distance, so if you’re looking for a finisher–then he’s your guy.

This is bad news for Gordon, whose four professional MMA losses have all come via KO. Dawson has four TKO/KO wins under his belt and 11 submission wins, so Gordon–who has won a majority of his fights via decision–will first and foremost be looking to survive.

However, this is not to say that Dawson has nothing to worry about. Gordon has 6 TKO/KO wins on his professional record–yet his last win via TKO/KO came in 2017.

At the end of the day, I think the longer this fight goes on, the more of an advantage will be gifted to Gordon. However, keeping this fight past two rounds will prove to be difficult for “The Flash.”

Prediction: Grant Dawson (-165), UNDER 2.5 Rounds (+165)

Andrei Arlovski vs Jake Collier

Talk about a second wind; Andrei Arlovski may very well not be human. Arlovski made his UFC debut at UFC 28 in 2000. He won the Heavyweight belt in 2005, defended it twice, and has wins over Tim Sylvia, Fabricio Werdum, Ben Rothwell, Roy Nelson, Bigfoot Silva, Frank Mir, and Stefan Struve.

Fast forward to today, and Arlovski is on a three-fight win streak and has won five of his last six bouts (his one loss coming at the hands of star prospect Tom Aspinall). The power seems to have gone from his hands–his last win via KO/TKO was in 2015–but the skill and technique are still there.

He’ll be taking on Jake Collier in his fight on Saturday, who has flip-flopped wins and losses since his UFC debut in 2014. He is 5-5 in his UFC career, and has never won more than one fight in a row–and seeing as how he won his last fight, Arlovski will look to continue the trend.

I think Collier will simply be overwhelmed by Arlovski’s presence–but this fight will almost definitely go to a decision, regardless of who wins.

Predictions: Andrei Arlovski (-145), OVER 2.5 Rounds (-200)

Marlon Vera vs Rob Font

This is going to be an absolute banger of a fight. Font is fresh off of his unanimous decision loss to Jose Aldo back in December, while Vera is riding high on a two-fight win streak. His last win, a KO/TKO victory over legend Frankie Edgar, set the internet on fire and is definitely worth a watch.

Both fighters are strikers, so don’t even think about this ending in submission. Vera has a heavy advantage in experience, having first fought in the UFC back in 2014. Marlon Vera has the most finishes in UFC Bantamweight history, and will look to continue to pad the stats against Font this weekend. Font is a bit of a clinical striker in his own right, winning 8 of his total 19 wins by TKO/KO.

At the end of the day, I think this is going to be a war–but I love Font’s chances.

Prediction: Marlon Vera (+115)

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