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The first mid-pandemic UFC event has come and gone, and by all measurable accounts, it was a success. With just one fighter (and two of his cornermen) testing positive before the event, the spread appeared to be contained, with no one else fighting or involved in production catching the disease.
The UFC will host a second event at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida, tonight. Originally planned to be in Lincoln, Nebraska, on April 25, both the prelim and main card will be streamed entirely on ESPN+ and free for subscribers. The night will feature 11 fights in total, capped off by a pair of light heavyweights in Anthony Smith and Glover Teixeira.
Before we get to the true main event, however, the co-main event is where I see the most betting value. And find odds across all US sportsbooks via our consensus UFC odds.
These odds came from FanDuel Sportsbook on May 12, 2020.
Ben Rothwell (37-12-0) vs. Ovince Saint Preux (24-13-0)
Ben Rothwell and Ovince Saint Preux, both veterans of the fight game, have a combined 86 fights under their belts, steadily bouncing around the top 20 of their weight classes since entering the UFC. For both of them, that was now over a decade ago. Saint Preux has spent almost his entire career in the light heavyweight division, and this is his first venture into the heavyweight division.
After two fights fell through in his own weight class, Saint Preux jumped at the opportunity to get back in the octagon, taking his first shot at a fighter perceived to be on his way out. A change may have been in order for Saint Preux, as his last time in the octagon (September) ended a two-fight losing streak. Having lost three of five going back to the start of 2018, the submission-happy Saint Preux will need to adjust to the striking power he’ll face in this one.
For Rothwell, his recent fight history isn’t great, either. Over his last four fights, dating back to 2016, he’s lost three, all by unanimous decision. The losses, combined with a three-year layoff from 2016 to 2019, have seen Rothwell tumble out of the rankings in what’s becoming a very competitive heavyweight division. The last time we saw him in the octagon was in December when he earned a second-round TKO of Stefan Struve, his first since 2014.
Since he desperately needs this win against Saint Preux to get back on track, I expect Rothwell to push for a knockout — he won’t want to leave this up to the judges. Like we saw Saturday night in the Ferguson-Gaethje fight, Rothwell has endured a long camp for this delayed fight, and for the majority of it, he planned for a different fighter in Gian Villante.
Unlike Villante, Saint Preux is known primarily for (50% of his wins) his submission game, and I expect him to bring that into this one and cause a lot of disruption by shooting at Rothwell’s legs instead of standing to strike. If Saint Preux can get Rothwell to the ground with the ease I expect him to, it could be a long night for the heavier Rothwell.