UFC NASHVILLE PREVIEW & PREDICTIONS 3/23: Grocke’s updated odds & predictions for every fight

By Michael Grocke, MMATorch Fight Handicapper

Stephen Thompson (photo credit Adam Hunger © USA Today Sports)

The UFC returns to the States one week after UFC London where Jorge Masvidal knocked out hometown hero Darren Till in devastating fashion. UFC Fight Night 148 takes place at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. The main event takes place in the welterweight division where Stephen Thompson takes on Anthony Pettis.

After stringing seven wins in a row, Stephen Thompson is 1-2-1 over his last four fights. Two of the four fights were against then-champion Tyron Woodley. Their first fight ended in a majority draw at UFC 205. Woodley won the rematch at UFC 209 via majority decision. “Wonderboy” got back in the win column by beating Jorge Masvidal via unanimous decision at UFC 217. His most recent fight was at UFC Fight Night 130 where he got outpointed by Darren Till. Eight of Thompson’s fourteen career wins ended inside the distance. The thirty-six-year-old finds himself in a must-win situation in order to stay in title contention.

At thirty-two years of age, longtime UFC veteran Anthony Pettis makes the jump to 170 and finds himself at the crossroads of his career. He is 3-3 over his last six, alternating wins and losses. His most recent fight occurred at UFC 229 where he was stopped in the second round by Tony Ferguson. The other two losses were to Dustin Poirier and Max Holloway. The three wins came against Charles Oliveira, Jim Miller and Michael Chiesa. The former UFC Lightweight Champion boasts seventeen finishes in twenty-one career wins.

While “Wonderboy” isn’t the biggest welterweight, I worry about the size difference just being too much for Pettis. Pettis has fought at 145 so I’m curious to see how he looks in the cage come Saturday night.     

The co-main takes place in the heavyweight division where Curtis Blaydes faces off against Justin Willis. Curtis Blaydes was riding a modest four-fight win streak until Frances Ngannou finished him in forty-five seconds at UFC Fight Night 141. Prior to the Ngannou loss, Blaydes looked ready to take the next step when he stopped Alistair Overeem in the third round at UFC 225. This is a big fight for the twenty-eight-year-old. A win gets him back in the hunt in the division, but a loss here pushes him outside of the top five. Two of Blaydes’ ten career wins went the distance.

Justin Willis is 4-0 in the UFC. His most recent fight was at UFC Fight Night 142 where he decisioned Mark Hunt. Of his eight career wins, four are by stoppage to go along with four via decision. The thirty-one-year-old currently holds the #10 ranking in the division and will be looking to make a name for himself by taking out the fourth-ranked Curtis Blaydes on Saturday night.

Also on the main card, John Makdessi will look to make it three wins a row when he steps into the cage opposite Jesus Pinedo who makes the walk for the second time under the UFC banner. Longtime UFC veteran Jussier Formiga takes on Deiveson Figueiredo, Luis Pena vs. Steven Peterson, and in the women’s flyweight division newcomer Maycee Barber faces JJ Aldrich.  

Note: The predictions in this column do not necessarily mean that I will be betting them. I have changed my mind in the past and gone the other way after conducting more research. For all of my official bets follow me on Twitter @MichaelGrocke.

Main Card

Stephen Thompson (14-3-1) vs. Anthony Pettis (21-8) – Welterweight 170 lbs.

Current Odds: Thompson -400; Pettis +350

Pick: Thompson by decision, but I don’t recommend laying such a heavy price. If you’re planning on backing Thompson, a parlay would be the better way to go in my opinion.   

Curtis Blaydes (10-2) vs. Justin Willis (8-1) – Heavyweight 265 lbs.

Current Odds: Blaydes -260; Willis +220

Pick: Blaydes by Decision. While Blaydes very well might stop Willis, I went with a decision because I think Willis will be just tough enough to not get finished.   

John Makdessi (16-6) vs. Jesus Pinedo (16-4-1) – Lightweight 155 lbs.

Current Odds: Makdessi -320; Pinedo +260

Pick: Makdessi by (T)KO.

Jussier Formiga (22-5) vs. Deiveson Figueiredo (15-0) – Flyweight 125 lbs.

Current Odds: Figueiredo -140; Formiga +120

Pick: Figueiredo by (T)KO, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the veteran pull this one out. This fight is a pass for me.  

Luis Pena (5-1) vs. Steven Peterson (17-7) – Featherweight 145 lbs.

Current Odds: Pena -250; Peterson +210

Pick: Pena by decision.

Maycee Barber (6-0) vs. JJ Aldrich (7-2) – Flyweight 125 lbs.

Current Odds: Barber -245; Aldrich +205

Pick: Barber by decision, but a finish is very possible.



Bryce Mitchell (10-0) vs. Bobby Moffett (14-3) – Featherweight 145 lbs.

Current Odds: Moffett -165; Mitchell +145

Pick: Moffett by decision.   

Marlon Vera (12-5-1) vs. Frankie Saenz (13-5) – Bantamweight 135 lbs.

Current Odds: Vera -160; Saenz +140

Pick: Saenz by decision.  

Alexis Davis (19-8) vs. Jennifer Maia (15-5-1) – Flyweight 125 lbs.

Current Odds: Davis -140; Maia +120

Pick: Maia by decision.

Randa Markos (8-6-1) vs. Angela Hill (8-5) – Strawweight 115 lbs.

Current Odds: Hill -150; Markos +130

Pick: Hill by decision, with little confidence.

Ryan MacDonald (10-0) vs. Chris Gutierrez (12-4-1) – Bantamweight 135 lbs.

Current Odds: Gutierrez -240; MacDonald +200

Pick: Gutierrez by decision.

Eric Shelton (12-5) vs. Jordan Espinosa (13-5) – Flyweight 125 lbs.

Current Odds: Shelton -170; Espinosa +150

Pick: Shelton by decision, but Espinosa is a live dog here.   

Looking at these fights, I see the majority of them going the distance. Typically this doesn’t make for an exciting card, but I hope I’m wrong.  

Enjoy the fights!

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