On Saturday, December 12th, the UFC will be live on PPV from Las Vegas for UFC 256: Figueiredo vs Moreno. However, before we get to the main card action, we must first examine the six fight preliminary card lineup.
The UFC 256 card lost a few matchups due to fighters testing positive for corona. The UFC scrapped one outright, moved back a second one to next week’s event, and found a new fighter for the third bout.
The main fight for the prelims was supposed to be Andrea Lee vs Gillian Robertson, but Lee suffered an injury in training last week and Robertson was moved to the December 19th UFC event.
Despite this card suffering from numerous last minute shuffling, the prelims are still packed with notable names like Cub Swanson vs Daniel Pineda, Chase Hooper, Billy Quarantillo, and Gavin Tucker.
There’s also a Top 13 women’s strawweight battle as #11 Mackenzie Dern takes on #13 Virna Jandiroba. The 10th ranked strawweight Tecia Torres is still on the card, but faces an unranked opponent now that Angela Hill tested positive. The preliminary card begins at 6:30PM ET on ESPN+.
UFC betting sites have released their odds for the latest set of UFC 256 prelim fights. Let’s step inside the betting octagon to examine these odds, identify any betting value and leg kick these predictions.
Peter Barrett made his UFC debut in August after earning an opportunity by winning on DWCS in August 2019. Unfortunately, Barrett came up short against Youssef Zalal in his octagon debut as he lost via unanimous decision. Barrett is 3-3 in his last six fights.
Nine of his 11 pro wins have come via stoppage with seven by way of TKO/KO. He’s 2-1 when going the distance.
Despite being a massive underdog, Barrett is predicting that he will knockout Hooper at UFC 256:
“If I didn’t have a medical suspension I would have been back much sooner. They [UFC] are scheduling people left and right. The UFC has invested in Chase Hooper, they are building him up. Thankfully I’ll be on the other side of the cage, when I knock this kid out everyone will remember my name. You love someone until someone beats them and then you jump on their hype train.”
Chase Hooper suffered his first defeat in June via decision to Alex Caceres. It was his second UFC fight after Hooper successfully won his debut 12 months ago via 1st round TKO over Daniel Teymur.
Hooper earned a shot in the UFC with a DWCS win in July 2018, but fought on the regional scene before his debut a year ago. Seven of his nine pro wins have come via stoppage with four by way of submission. He’s 2-1-1 when going the distance.
Both of these fighters have yet to reach their full potential, but I see Hooper getting the win here. I believe his ceiling is higher than Barrett’s and I see Chase taking Barrett down to the mat and finding a stoppage win most likely via submission. Barrett has two submission losses.
Take the Under 2.5 rounds (-150), the fight to end inside the distance (-195), and for Hooper to win inside the distance which offers the best betting value at -130 odds.
Chase Hooper vs Peter Barrett –Hooper (-380)
Under 2.5 rounds (-150)
Fight ends inside the distance (-195)
Hooper wins inside the distance (-130)
Hooper wins via submission (-110)
Sergey Spivak vs Jared Vanderaa
Sergey Spivak (-235)
Jared Vanderaa (+195)
Over (-185)/Under (+145) 1.5 rounds
These two fighters were supposed to compete against each other in the past, but it never worked out. However, after Vanderaa earned a UFC contract by winning on DWCS via 1st round TKO, he called out Spivak and the UFC quickly obliged:
“I really didn’t say anything negative about him as a person, I still haven’t yet, because as a person, I still don’t know. We were scheduled to fight, I think 2018. Maybe 2017. Around that time. I was scheduled to fight him, I wanted to fight him. He pulled out. I don’t know if it was him, his coaches. Or his manager. I don’t know if they’re like ‘hey, if you take this fight, it’s a tougher fight, but if you take these fights, it’s easier, and there’s a higher chance of you getting into the UFC.”
He’s won five of his last six bouts and was a champion in a regional promotion. 10 of his 11 pro wins have come via stoppage with seven by way of TKO/KO. He’s 1-2 when going the distance.
Spivak has been with the UFC for 19 months and has gone 2-2 inside the octagon. He last fought in July and won via majority decision over Carlos Felipe. 10 of his 11 pro wins have come via stoppage with six by way of submission. He’s 1-1 when going to a decision.
Let’s start with the easy wagers first. This fight will end inside the distance and probably go Over 1.5 rounds (-185) at UFC betting sites.
As for the winner, I believe this fight is a lot closer than what the odds indicate. Vanderaa is a real threat to win. With that said, I am going with Spivak to pull out the victory via submission.
Both men are willing to go to the mat, but it’s Spivak who has the better grappling arsenal. Vanderaa is more of a ground and pound mauler than a submission artist. Spivak has six submission wins and Vanderaa has two submission losses.
Sergey Spivak vs Jared Vanderaa –Spivak (-235)
Billy Quarantillo vs Gavin Tucker
Billy Quarantillo (-155)
Gavin Tucker (+135)
Over (-190)/Under (+165) 2.5 rounds
This fight has a bit of a backstory to it just like the previous one, as both men have called out each other over the last year or so. They were supposed to fight in April, but the contest was cancelled due to the pandemic.
Gavin Tucker enters this contest as a small underdog having won two straight fights and going 3-1 inside the octagon since joining the UFC nearly four years ago. He last competed in August and won via 3rd round submission.
10 of his 12 pro wins have come via stoppage with six by way of submissions. He’s 2-1 when going the distance and has never been stopped in a fight.
After multiple callouts, #UFC256‘s Billy Quarantillo (@BillyQMMA) happy to finally face Gavin Tucker (via @mma_kings) https://t.co/5WMQBGdacN
Quarantillo enters this weekend’s contest having won eight straight fights including going 3-0 inside the octagon. This will by his third fight of 2020 where he’s already scored two wins. His last bout came in September and he won via 3rd round KO over Kyle Nelson.
Quarantillo discussed the call outs between both fighters and that Barrett has never been stopped before:
“What’s really intriguing is that he’s never been finished before, so I look at that as a huge opportunity for me to go out and finish him. But not only was I intrigued to fight him before April, but after he won his fight – we didn’t have a contract – I was scheduled to fight Kyle (Nelson) and he actually called me out after, so that was really motivating to me and then right away I was like, ‘Oh yeah. Of course! We gotta fight now!’
11 of his 15 pro wins have come via stoppage with six by way of TKO/KO. He’s 4-1 when going the distance.
I like this matchup. I believe it’s definitely being overlooked as the two guys should put on a solid performance.
I see this bout going Over 2.5 rounds (-190) and going the full distance (-175). Combined, these combatants have been stopped one time in 30 pro fights.
Once at the scorecards, I see Quarantillo winning via decision (+175), which offers the best value for this bout. Billy is an aggressive fighter who pushes the pace and has a high output. These are things that typically wins with the judges.
Even if Tucker can get the fight to the mat, it will be difficult for Gavin to keep Quarantillo there as he is great at scrambling.
Billy Quarantillo vs Gavin Tucker –Quarantillo (-155)
Over 2.5 rounds (-190)
Fight goes the distance (-175)
Quarantillo wins via decision (+175)
Tecia Torres vs Sam Hughes
Tecia Torres (-450)
Sam Hughes (+350)
This fight was originally scheduled for Tecia Torres to take on Angela Hill, but Hill tested positive for the corona virus. So, the UFC replaced Hill with newcomer Sam Hughes.
Because of this late replacement, there are no prop bets for this bout. Additionally, there’s no Over/Under available as of this writing.
For Sam Hughes, this will be her 4th fight of the year. She went 2-1 with LFA this year and last competed in October where she won via 1st round submission. Four of her five pro wins have come via stoppage with three by way of submission. She’s 1-0 when going the distance.
Tecia Torres is ranked 10th in the strawweight division and last fought in June where she defeated Brianna Van Buren via unanimous decision. The win snapped a four fight losing streak against some of the division’s top fighters like Andrade, Jedrzejczyk, and Whang.
Overall, Torres is 7-5 inside the octagon. 10 of her 11 pro wins have come via decision. All five of her losses have come via decision. That’s 15 of 16 pro fights that have gone the distance for Torres.
I think it’s safe to say that this fight will go the full 15 minutes. I would imagine the O/U gets listed at 2.5 rounds, which means you should take the Over as well.
As for the winner, the safe play is on Torres. She’s fought the elite competition in the UFC and went the distance in all of those encounters. I think Hughes has potential, but she’s been thrown into the deep end in her debut. The UFC did her no favors.
Torres will need to show perseverance as she went from a Top 13 battle against a named opponent to a newcomer. The risk far outweighs the reward here.
Tecia Torres vs Sam Hughes –Torres (-450)
Mackenzie Dern vs Virna Jandiroba
Mackenzie Dern (-185)
Virna Jandiroba (+160)
Over (-135)/Under (+115) 1.5 rounds
I’m a bit surprised that this Top 13 strawweight battle isn’t the main bout of the prelims. It features two promising fighters in the division in what should be an entertaining fight. It could’ve easily replaced the Lee vs Robertson fight that was the main prelim bout.
The 13th ranked Jandiroba has won two straight fights after dropping her UFC debut to Carl Esparza in April 2019 via unanimous decision. It was the first loss of her career as the former Invicta FC strawweight champ came into the octagon with a lot of hype.
Virna bounced back from the defeat to win two straight contests via submission over Martin and Herrig. 13 of her 16 pro wins have come via submission. She’s 3-1 when going the distance.
For Jindroba, she knows that a win over Dern will be a big boost to her UFC career:
“This fight, it’ll bring me visibility, no doubt. It’s a game changer. Every fight matters, my last one was against Felice (Herrig), and it brought me some pretty good attention, Now, against Mackenzie, who comes from jiu-jitsu, I think it’ll be a pretty good fight for me to showcase my jiu-jitsu. Mackenzie is famous, so that’s the way for me to make myself known. Little by little.”
Dern started out 2-0 in the UFC, but dropped her fight against Amanda Ribas via unanimous decision 14 months ago. It was the first loss of her career.
Since then, Dern has also won two straight fights with both victories coming via 1st round submission over Hanna Cifers and Randa Markos. It’s as if the loss woke up Dern to become more aggressive inside the cage. It’s a change that Dern acknowledged herself:
“It sucks to have the zero taken away from the record. But something has changed. I feel like I’m a totally different fighter now. I have so much momentum and my training and mindset is so much more focused than I ever was. I hope everyone that follows me has noticed that because it feels great to get back on a winning streak.”
Six of her nine pro wins have come via submission. She’s 3-1 when going the distance.
We could end up with a world class jiu-jitsu battle between these two combatants. Dern was a former world champ and Jindroba has excellent jiu-jitsu skills as well. It’s one big reason why Dern is on upset alert because she won’t be able to solely rely on her strength.
One has to ask if the Ribas loss was a blueprint for beating Dern or not. If it was then Jindroba has what it takes to execute this plan.
I see these fighters nullifying each other’s ground game to force this contest to go the full 15 minutes (-120). That also means that it will go Over 2.5 rounds (-135). Both of these wagers offer solid betting value.
As for the winner, I believe it’s a tossup despite what the odds are listed at. With that said, I am leaning towards Dern winning via decision (+285) because she has more pop in her punches and the advantage in a kickboxing matchup. Either way, this is going to be a solid fight.
Mackenzie Dern vs Virna Jandiroba –Dern (-185)
Over 2.5 rounds (-135)
Fight goes the distance (-120)
Dern wins via decision (+285)
Cub Swanson vs Daniel Pineda
Cub Swanson (+135)
Daniel Pineda (-155)
Over (-120)/Under (+100) 2.5 rounds
Longtime UFC veteran Cub Swanson returns to action after 14 months since his last fight where he defeated Kron Gracie via unanimous decision. The win snapped a four fight losing streak. Swanson is 11-7 in the octagon and has fought all of the top names in the featherweight division.
However, Swanson is open to moving up or down in weight to find matchups that interest him provided that he can win on Saturday:
“I think the biggest thing at this point is, for one, I got this fight ahead of me. I’m trying to get some momentum, and I’ve made a lot of changes in my style, brought some things back, introducing new things, so I’m just trying to get on rhythm of Cub 5.0 and then whatever happens after that, just fun fights at 55 or 45 or 35. I think that’s the biggest thing. I just want fights that are interesting to me.”
15 of his 26 pro wins have come via stoppage with 11 by way of TKO/KO. He’s 11-3 when going the distance.
Pineda returned to the UFC four months ago after being gone from the promotion since 2014. Pineda went 3-4 in the octagon before his August fight that saw Daniel win via 2nd round TKO over Herbert Burns. That was the first loss for Burns in the UFC.
Prior to his UFC return, Pineda had a six fight win streak. However, the two most recent bouts in the PFL were overturned to a No Contest due to a failed test.
Nevertheless, Pineda is very confident heading into this weekend’s fight with Swanson and predicts someone is getting finished:
“I like this fight I got against Cub. He’s been in the game, he’s an OG, I’m an OG, we’ve both done it for so long, and he likes to scrap and I like to scrap. I love this fight. Either I’m getting knocked out or I’m gonna finish him quick. One of us is going out quick.”
All 27 of Pineda’s wins have come via stoppage with 18 by way of submission. He’s 0-5 when going the distance.
This will be an exciting matchup as both fighters will be looking for the stoppage victory. With that in mind, take the Under 2.5 rounds (+100) and for the fight to end inside the distance (-130). Both of these betting options offer the best value.
As for the winner, I like what I’ve seen from Daniel Pineda over the last few years. I believe he will get the submission win in this contest and probably earn another fight night bonus. Swanson has seven submission losses in his career including in two of his last four defeats.
Cub Swanson vs Daniel Pineda –Pineda (-155)
Under 2.5 rounds (+100)
Fight ends inside the distance (-130)
Pineda wins inside the distance (+145)
Pineda wins via submission (+260)
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. …