UFC on ESPN 38: Quick picks and prognostications

MMA Junkie analyst Dan Tom breaks down the UFC’s top bouts. Today, we look at the main card for UFC on ESPN 38.

UFC on ESPN 38 takes place Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The main card airs on ESPN following prelims on ESPN2/ESPN+.

Last event’s results: 1-4

Overall picks for UFC main cards in 2022: 57-32

Welcome to MMAJunkie’s Quick Picks and Prognostications, where I’ll be giving brief, fight-day breakdowns for UFC main cards.

With that in mind, I hope these write-ups don’t come off as curt or dismissive, as my goal here is to offer quick picks and analysis in a digestible format. All odds listed are provided by Tipico Sportsbook.

If you’d like more detailed analysis from me, then feel free to check out my weekly show, The Protect Ya’ Neck Podcast.

So, without further ado…

Matchup: Chris Curtis (-125) vs. Rodolfo Vieira (-105)

Summary: Continuing the UFC matchmaker’s recent theme of kicking off main cards in the middleweight division is a fairly straightforward fight between [autotag]Chris Curtis[/autotag] and [autotag]Rodolfo Vieira[/autotag].

Although part of me was surprised to see Curtis open as the favorite, I was happy to see “The Action Man” get some deserved respect. That said, the American southpaw is likely in for a difficult first round given the style and sensibilities of Vieira inside of the smaller cage.

I’ll pick Curtis to survive the initial submission storms with his underrated counter wrestling and scrambling in order to secure the knockout in the second round.

Matchup: Nate Maness (+600) vs. Umar Nurmagomedov (-1100)

Summary: In what should be another solid offering at 135 pounds, [autotag]Nate Maness[/autotag] takes on the highly touted [autotag]Umar Nurmagomedov[/autotag].

Although the betting line is too wide for my liking, I can’t say that I’m surprised to see this much support come in for a combat sambo world champion who is related to Khabib Nurmagomedov.

In Nurmagomedov’s defense, the young bantamweight looks to be even more well-rounded than his cousin, demonstrating devastating kicks from both stances. Nevertheless, I’m not sure how much Nurmagomedov will be wanting to stand with a dangerous boxer like Maness, who carries both power and size parity.

For that reason, I suspect that Nurmagomedov plays it smart and sticks to “father’s plan,” scoring a first-round submission win in the process.

Matchup: Thiago Moises (-270) vs. Christos Giagos (+200)

Summary: Serving as a lightweight offering that would’ve slotted perfectly as the opener is an intriguing matchup between [autotag]Thiago Moises[/autotag] and [autotag]Christos Giagos[/autotag].

I initially came in wanting to pick Giagos after hearing how confident he is due to his camp change, but ended up going the other way after watching the tape and seeing how much the American tends to get stung in fights.

I’ve never been sold on the hype that Moises seems to garner, but suspect that Giagos’ aggressive style only brings out the best in the Brazilian.

I’ll pick Moises to hurt Giagos with a counter shot by the second round, finishing him with a submission shortly after.

Matchup: Josh Parisian (-120) vs. Alan Baudot (-105)

Summary: In a bout that undoubtedly would’ve been a dark match to start the prelims if we were still in the Joe Silva era, [autotag]Josh Parisian[/autotag] and [autotag]Alan Baudot[/autotag] find themselves in a main card attraction.

Despite coming off as the big, lovable party animal that you probably knew in college, Parisian moves quite well for a man of his size and offers a solid variety of strikes. That said, Baudot seems to be the bigger hitter who has been slowly cleaning up his boxing.

I hope I’m wrong here as I’m actually a fan of Parisian, but I’ll reluctantly side with Baudot to take a close decision in a sloppy contest.

Matchup: Neil Magny (+310) vs. Shavkat Rakhmonov (-450)

Summary: The co-main event in Las Vegas is a worthy welterweight matchup between UFC veteran [autotag]Neil Magny[/autotag] and the fast-rising [autotag]Shavkat Rakhmonov[/autotag].

Even though Magny making this fight ugly inside of the clinch is a real reality this Saturday, I suspect that Rakhmonov is too potent of a finisher to play around with.

Magny’s wrestling and overall aggression have taken a notable step up in recent fights, but the 34-year-old still has a tendency to get stung in the early going. For that reason, I’ll side with the sambo specialist in Rakhmonov to score a surprisingly quick club-n-sub in the first round.

Matchup: Arman Tsarukyan (-280) vs. Mateusz Gamrot (+210)

Summary: As stated in my in-depth breakdown, the main event on ESPN features a fantastic lightweight showcase between [autotag]Arman Tsarukyan[/autotag] and [autotag]Mateusz Gamrot[/autotag].

Despite part of me hating it when the UFC pairs up two foreign/fringe contenders to take one another out, I’m incredibly happy that they gave these two fighters five rounds to operate in.

Gamrot definitely has more experience in five-round affairs and his style is arguably better suited for long fights. However, I still find myself siding with Tsarukyan to deny Gamrot his winning conditions in the wrestling realm.

It’s a dog or pass spot from a betting perspective, but I’ll pick Tsarukyan to win a tight decision by dictating positions and landing the more impactful strikes down the stretch.

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