UFC 263 was a groundbreaker as the UFC awarded VSiN press access, which allowed unusually intimate access to the athletes throughout the week. That access proved to be worth the time and effort.
The fights themselves were outstanding. To witness young Bryan Moreno win that title was a full-circle experience for me. While attending the University of Arizona in the late 1970s, I was able to attend several nationally broadcast ABC boxing events. A couple featured the amazing Mexican boxer Salvatore Sanchez, who lost his life at 23 but not before compiling a 44-1 record and beating every possible elite featherweight challenger along the way.
Moreno’s epic victory in front of the passionate Mexican fan base in Phoenix took me back to the roots of my fight commitment. To have been able to witness that event just as I did so many years ago was especially pleasing.
Moreno at +200 (though he closed well lower), coupled with Israel Adesanya’s painting of Marvin Vettori (Hermannson/Adesanya +133 parlay), pushes Insight the Octagon profitability in 2021 to 18-9 +11.78 units.
So we turn the page to UFC Vegas 29 for a 14-fight card featuring athletes from 13 countries who will converge on Las Vegas to compete in the APEX facility. Remember that last week Adesanya had the spacious 30-foot octagon work in. Saturday’s fighters will battle in the 25-foot cage. A substantial difference.
CHAN SUNG JUNG -120 VS. DAN IGE +100
Featherweight (145 pounds) Main Event
Ige hails from Hawaii, so he has that innate toughness about him that Island fighters possess. Ranked eighth in the division, the 29-year-old is a complete fighter with an NCAA Division III wrestling base supplemented by a black belt in BJJ and a brown belt in Judo. He’s also made impressive improvements in his striking. Ige is well-rounded, has great feet, superior cardio and ill will.
Jung, aka “The Korean Zombie,” is on a similar plane to the fighters from Russia who are born, bred and assembled to become fighting machines. He’s decorated in Judo, Hapkido, BJJ and Taekwondo. As well, Jung is a mature, centered individual who interrupted his career for two years in 2014 to serve in Korea’s military. Jung’s primarily a stand-up striker, and while he is colorful and aggressive offensively, he can also be a little wild with his strikes. This can and often does expose him (see his loss to Yair Rodriguez) to counterstrikes.
Jung has faced an elite level of competition, and his wealth of experience surely put him in position to compete effectively with Ige. He also spent his camp in Phoenix visiting the MMA Lab as well as Fight Ready, where he put in time with striking coach Eddie Cha.
Training in Phoenix allows the Zombie great coaching in a gym with multiple sparring partners equipped with various styles. The close proximity to Las Vegas also means that he’ll not have to endure an overseas flight.
In this fight, I see a couple of specialized striking savants competing in a highly skilled yet perhaps not overly physical battle of finesse, precision and speed.
Over time I believe Ige will separate himself from the Zombie by using his wrestling to drain the Zombie then take advantage of him late on the feet when the 34-year-old Jung begins to slow.
These men are physically similar, but Ige’s the younger man by five years.
Ige’s price is acceptable, so play him now as I expect no trouble on the scales for these professionals.
Total for this fight: 4.5 rounds, Over -125
SERGEY SPIVAK -210 VS. ALEKSEI OLEINIK +180
Heavyweight (265 pounds) Co-Main Event
Fifteenth-ranked Oleinik will turn 44 in a couple of weeks and although he’s got the heart of a lion and a mastery of BJJ like few others in the organization, he also has a balsa-wood beak.
Competing against larger, younger, more powerful and explosive men at heavyweight when he typically hits the octagon at roughly 238 pounds sporting that glass jaw is bold to say the least. Oleinik must clasp onto opponents to have any chance at winning, which comes via the submission. His advanced age, his smaller frame and singularly dimensioned fighting approach make Oleinik almost obsolete in today’s MMA environment.
Spivak is similar in size to Oleinik but is 18 years younger. He’s much more well versed in fighting weaponry than Oleinik, though Spivak is not as specialized in any one area of combat as Oleinik is with BJJ.
Spivak is a Moldavian-Ukrainian and Oleinik was born in Ukraine. That the UFC chose one Ukrainian in Spivak to be the one to terminate another Ukrainian’s illustrious career only displays just how cold sport can sometimes be.
I expect Spivak to keep his distance and eventually catch the older, more deliberate yet beguiling fighter as he tries to press forward to engage.
Lean Spivak via KO/TKO -125
Total for this fight: 1.5 rounds, Under -145
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