On Saturday, January 16th, the UFC will return to Abu Dhabi for UFC on ABC 1, which also marks their exciting debut on broadcast television as this event will air on ABC.
However, before we examine the main card for this event, we must dive into the preliminary card which features some intriguing matchups.
As of this writing, the preliminary card is still in flux. There have been a few fights either cancelled or rescheduled due to covid issues. Currently, there are seven prelim bouts tentatively scheduled for UFC on ABC 1 with a start time of 12PM ET on ESPN+.
UFC betting sites have released their odds for most of the UFC on ABC 1 preliminary card. Let’s step inside the betting octagon to examine these odds, identify and potential value, and TKO our predictions.
— MMA Form Guide (@MMAFormGuide) January 13, 2021
Cancelled UFC on ABC 1 Fights
The following fights have been cancelled or rescheduled:
Ricky Simon vs Brian Kelleher
Ricky Simon was scheduled to return to the octagon in January to take on veteran Brian Kelleher. However, Kelleher was forced out of the show due to a positive covid test.
The UFC has removed Simon (16-3) from this weekend’s event and rescheduled him for UFC on Fight Island 8 which takes place on January 20th. He will face newcomer Gaetano Pirrello (15-5-1) in a bantamweight contest.
The Belgian Pirrello makes his octagon debut after a solid career in the European MMA scene. He’s won five of his last six bouts including two in a row. However, Pirrello hasn’t competed since October 2019.
14 of his 15 pro wins have come via stoppage with 11 by way of TKO/KO. He has an impressive 93% finishing rate when he wins. Pirrello has a record of 1-1-1 when going the distance.
Ricky Simon last fought in May 2020 and was seen picking up a split decision win over Ray Borg. Simon is 4-2 inside the octagon.
Bethe Correia Out Due to Surgery
Former bantamweight title contender Bethe Correia was supposed to have her retirement bout at UFC on ABC 1, but she was forced out of a potential fight against Yanan Wu due to an emergency surgery for appendicitis. Correia made the following comments via social media:
“I was training so hard for this fight. However, in the middle of the night I started to feel an unbearable pain. I was admitted to the hospital and I was diagnosed with appendicitis. The doctors advised me and my family that it was a severe case and that I would require an emergency surgery. I want to thank the UFC and Dana White for all the support over the years. My last dance and my retirement fight will have to be postponed for a little while.”
Yanan Wu (11-3) is now set to face Joselyne Edwards Laboriel (9-2) on Saturday, January 16th.
Breese vs Akhmedov Rescheduled
The 13th ranked middleweight Akhmedov (20-5-1) was set to take on Tom Breese (12-2) at this event, but the fight was postponed to January 20th for UFC Fight Island 8 due to covid issues.
Akhmedov is 8-4-1 in the UFC, while Breese has put together a 5-2 record inside the octagon and is looking to crack the Top 15 in the middleweight division.
Mike Grundy vs Nik Lentz is Cancelled
Mike Grundy was forced out of his fight against Nik Lentz on Saturday due to an injury. For Lentz, he will still get to compete on Fight Island, only it’s a more difficult contest than against Grundy.
Lentz (30-11-2) will now take on the undefeated featherweight prospect Movsar Evloev (13-0) at UFC 257. Lentz has gone 14-8-1 with 1 NC in the octagon and is on a two fight losing streak. Evloev has gone 3-0 in the UFC since joining the promotion in 2019.
Austin Lingo vs Jacob Kilburn
- Austin Lingo (-225)
- Jacob Kilburn (+185)
- Over (-120)/Under (+100) 2.5 rounds
Kilburn enters the octagon for the second time in his career after losing in his debut to Billy Quarantillo via 2nd round submission 13 months ago. He’s now 2-2 in his last four fights and is a large underdog in this weekend’s bout.
Six of his eight pro wins have come via stoppage with four by way of TKO/KO. He’s 2-0 when going the distance.
— Austin Lingo (@austinlingo) January 12, 2021
Despite the long layoff between fights, Kilburn made the most of it as he worked on improving inside the octagon:
“It just gave me more time to train down here at American Top Team, to keep improving and getting better. We fought in December [of 2019] – like the first week of December. Thiago Alves fought on that card, so Mike Brown was backstage,” “I walked up to him and said ‘hey, coach, I’d like to come get some work with you guys.”
Lingo made his octagon debut 11 months ago after creating a buzz in LFA. He was 7-0 entering the UFC, but dropped his promotional debut to Youssef Zalal via unanimous decision.
Five of his seven pro wins have come via stoppage with three by way of TKO/KO. He’s 0-1 when going the distance.
The good thing for Kilburn in that he won’t have to worry about getting taken down to the mat where he’s lost three fights via submission. However, the bad thing is that Lingo has the power to knock him out.
This should be a straight forward contest where the harder hitter wins. In that case, the winner will be Lingo. The only question is if the lights go out in round 1 or round 2.
Take the Under 2.5 rounds (+100) and for the fight to end inside the distance (-105). Lingo will get the stoppage (+170) and most likely via TKO/KO (+487).
The best value for this fight is taking the prop bet for the bout to end inside the distance (-105). The two men have combined to score 11 stoppages in 15 pro wins.
Austin Lingo vs Jacob Kilburn –Lingo (-225)
Under 2.5 rounds (+100)
Fight ends inside the distance (-105)
Lingo wins inside the distance (+170)
Lingo wins via TKO/KO (+487)
Sarah Moras vs Vanessa Melo
- Sarah Moras (-230)
- Vanessa Melo (+190)
- Over (-355)/Under (+295) 2.5 rounds
Vanessa Melo joined the UFC in the fall of 2019 and has gone 0-3 since then. She last fought in July 2020 and lost via unanimous decision to Karol Rosa. Prior to her losing streak, Melo won five in a row which put her on the UFC’s radar.
Eight of her 10 pro wins have come via decision. Seven of her eight pro losses have come via decision. Melo has been stopped just once in her career.
Despite going 0-3 in the UFC, Melo isn’t worried that she could be bounced from the promotion with another loss:
“I think every fight is a fight. Of course, in this situation you are also thinking about it. But I always try to keep thinking that it’s one more fight I’m going to do, regardless of whether it’s coming from three defeats, the contract, regardless of everything. It is a fight that I will do and do my best there, and I will do my best all the time.”
Moras was a semifinalist on TUF and started off 2-1 inside the octagon. Unfortunately, she’s gone 1-4 since then. Her last fight was in May 2020 where she lost to Sijara Eubanks via unanimous decision.
Five of her six pro wins have come via stoppage. She’s 1-5 when going the distance and has only been stopped once.
Although she’s been with the UFC for several years now, Moras is still trying to figure out how to put everything together inside the octagon:
“I’ve always worked hard, but I’m still trying to figure it all out. I’ve been doing this for so long, but it’s still like I’m new at it in a lot of aspects. I’m just trying to figure out how to put it all together and I’m hoping that I get it.”
This fight will clearly go over 2.5 rounds (-355) and to a decision (-315). These two fighters have combined to go the distance in 22 of their 30 total fights.
Once with the judges, I expect Moras to get the win as she has a better ground game and enough of a striking arsenal to hang with Melo. Moras winning via decision (-110) offers the best value for this bout.
Sarah Moras vs Vanessa Melo –Moras (-230)
Over 2.5 rounds (-355)
Fight goes the distance (-315)
Moras wins via decision (-110)
David Zawada vs Ramazan Emeev
- David Zawada (+215)
- Ramazan Emeev (-255)
- Over (-200)/Under (+170) 2.5 rounds
Zawada enters as a sizable underdog with a 1-2 record inside the octagon. The German snapped a two fight skid by defeating Abubakar Nurmagomedov via 1st round submission in November 2019. He hasn’t fought since then after two different bouts were cancelled last year due to covid.
15 of his 17 pro wins have come via stoppage with 11 by way of TKO/KO. He’s 2-2 when going the full distance in a fight.
— David Zawada (@DavidZawada) January 11, 2021
Zawada expects this weekend’s bout to be a war:
“That we will see in the cage, what I can say now I will be stronger, faster and smarter as in my fights before. Dangerous in the stand-up and dangerous on the ground. Emeev is a strong opponent and I think it’s gonna be a war.”
Emeev joined the UFC in the fall of 2017 and went 3-0 to start off his career inside the octagon. He would drop his first UFC bout to Anthony Roccon Martin via unanimous decision in November 2019.
Emeev successfully bounced back from that loss to pick up a unanimous decision win over Niklas Stolze in July 2020. 10 of his 19 pro wins have come via stoppage with seven by way of submission. He’s 9-2 when going the distance.
This fight will come down to Zawada’s takedown defense as we all know the Emeev is going to go for the takedown and grind out a win. Unfortunately for Zawada, I don’t see the German being able to defend the takedown nor successfully fighting off his back.
This bout will go Over 2.5 rounds (-200), the full distance (-170), and Emeev will win via decision (-115). A decision victory for Emeev offers the best value for this fight.
Emeev has gone the distance in six straight fights, which includes his entire octagon career.
David Zawada vs Ramazan Emeev –Emeev (-255)
Over 2.5 rounds (-200)
Fight goes the distance (-170)
Emeev wins via decision (-115)
Carlos Felipe vs Justin Tafa
- Carlos Felipe (-185)
- Justin Tafa (+160)
- Over (-185)/Under (+160) 1.5 rounds
In this heavyweight bout, Justin Tafa enters as a sizable underdog. He’s currently 1-1 inside the octagon having lost his debut fight in October 2019 via 1st round KO to Yorgan De Castro. Tafa bounced back from that loss 11 months ago with a 1st round KO win over Juan Adams.
All four of Tafa’s wins have come via TKO/KO. He’s never gone into the 3rd round in a professional fight. Tafa had the following assessment of this weekend’s bout:
“He [Felipe] likes to throw with volume, so I just need to manage that pitter-patter that he does and that should be the rest of the fight sorted. It’s a really important fight. I want to get  off to a good start and hopefully get a top-15 opponent next year.”
Like his foe, Felipe also lost in his UFC debut where he suffered a majority decision defeat to Sergey Spivak. Yet, where Tafa failed, Felipe succeeded by defeating Yorgan De Castro three months ago via unanimous decision.
Six of his nine pro wins have come via TKO/KO. Felipe is 3-1 when going the distance. The Brazilian made the following prediction for this heavyweight showdown:
“I think it will be a second round technical knockout. I will pressure him a lot and hurt him a lot. Sometime in the second round, he will break. He will break.”
Although neither man is ranked in the heavyweight division, they both are prospects that could potentially crack the Top 15 if they put together a few more wins.
For Tafa to win this bout, he will need to try and catch Felipe with something jaw shattering in the early portions of the fight. Unfortunately for Tafa, I don’t see that happening. Instead, I see Felipe surviving an early storm then taking Tafa in the latter portions of the fight where he will score a late round TKO/KO.
Go with the Over 1.5 rounds (-185) and for the fight to end inside the distance (-155). Also, take Felipe to win inside the distance at (+177), which offers the best value.
Carlos Felipe vs Justin Tafa –Felipe (-185)
Over 1.5 rounds (-185)
Fight to end inside the distance (-155)
Felipe wins inside the distance (+177)
Felipe wins via TKO/KO (+185)
Wu Yanan vs Jocelyn Edwards
- Wu Yanan (-110)
- Jocelyn Edwards (-110)
- Over (-265)/Under (+225) 2.5 rounds
This women’s bantamweight bout has the closest odds for the entire UFC on ABC 1 event.
Yanan made her UFC debut in November 2017 and lost via unanimous decision to Gina Mazany. She scored a win in her second fight via 1st round submission against Lauren Mueller, but ended up dropping a split decision to Mizuki Inoue in August 2019.
— Women’s MMA Rankings (@WMMARankings) January 7, 2021
Yanan hasn’t fought in 17 months. She was supposed to face Bethe Correia in this fight. But, as mentioned, Correia had an emergency surgery. Nine of Yanan’s 11 pro wins have come via stoppage with seven by way of TKO/KO. She’s 2-2 when going the distance.
Yanan is confident in winning this bout despite facing a new opponent on one week’s notice:
“I am looking for a real good fight to give her. Just one of the many opponents that I will be fighting in the future and I expect that I will win. I am determined to win this fight.”
Edwards will make her UFC debut this weekend. She was a former LFA championship contender, but lost in her title bid via split decision back in November 2018. Edwards didn’t fight again until July 2020 where she defeated her opponent via 1st round KO in the UWC promotion.
Eight of her nine pro wins have come via stoppage with five by way of TKO/KO. She’s 1-1 when going the distance.
This has the potential to be a sleeper fight on the preliminary card. Both women are strikers who look to throw punches and aren’t afraid of what comes back their way. Combined, they have 14 TKO/KO victories, which is pretty impressive for two female combatants outside of the Top 5.
I see this bout going Over 2.5 rounds (-265) and the full distance (-240). In the end, I believe Yanan will pick up the win via decision (+120). Whichever way you go with this fight, both combatants offer betting value with their moneylines.
Wu appears to be the more polished and experienced fighter between the two. Her overall fight game should be enough to score the decision victory.
Wu Yanan vs Jocelyn Edwards –Yanan (-110)
Over 2.5 rounds (-265)
Fight goes the distance (-240)
Yanan wins via decision (+120)
Phil Hawes vs Nassourdine Imavov
- Phil Hawes (-135)
- Nassourdine Imavov (+115)
- Over (-140)/Under (+120) 1.5 rounds
Imavov enters this weekend’s bout riding a six fight win streak including a decision victory in his UFC debut three months ago against Jordan Williams. Imavov showed a surprising amount of striking which makes him a slight underdog in this bout against Hawes.
Seven of his nine pro wins have come via stoppage with four by way of submission. He’s 2-1 when going the distance. Imavov will have a two inch height and five inch reach advantage.
Hawes started off his career going 4-2 before finding his groove. Since then, he’s on a five fight win streak which includes Bellator, a second bout on DWCS, and his UFC debut three months ago.
Hawes won his DWCS fight last September via 1st round TKO in 78 seconds. He bettered that mark in his octagon debut with an 18 second KO over Jacob Malkoun.
All nine of Hawes pro wins have come via stoppage with seven by way of TKO/KO. He’s never gone the distance in a pro fight.
This fight could end up as a contender for knockout of the night as both men like to KO their opponents. I believe Hawes is the better fighter between the two and should pick up the victory this weekend.
This fight will end inside the distance (-215), but I’m not sure if it will go Over or Under 1.5 rounds. None of Hawes pro fights have gone Over 1.5 rounds, so it’s probably best to take the Under 1.5 rounds (+120) in this contest.
As for the winner, Hawes will score a TKO/KO win. He’s got the power advantage and wrestling advantage if Imavov tries to escape the punches by going for a takedown. Hawes winning inside the distance (+125) and via TKO/KO (+135) offer the best value.
Phil Hawes vs Nassourdine Imavov –Hawes (-135)
Under 1.5 rounds (+120)
Fight ends inside the distance (-215)
Hawes wins inside the distance (+125)
Hawes wins via TKO/KO (+135)
As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed “King of the Blog” in his first year with the site. …