July 8, 2020

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UFC Vegas 4: Poirier vs. Hooker – Betting Preview (6/27/20)

By: Nick Stavas

UFC is following up a very entertaining Fight Night last week with another intriguing card this Saturday. This will be the final event stateside before the UFC packs up shop and ships off to Abu Dhabi for a wild lineup of events on self-proclaimed “Fight Island,” starting with UFC 251 on July 11. While all of that is exciting, this Saturday’s card need not be overlooked. The headliner features the Return of the Diamond, as former interim lightweight champion Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier steps inside the octagon for the first time in nearly a year. He squares off against a young gun knockout artist in New Zealand’s Dan Hooker, who is looking for a signature top-5 win after tearing through the lightweight division thus far. Previews of that fight and more bouts are included below as we give you our best betting angles for Saturday night’s UFC Vegas 4 fight card. 

Main Card (8 P.M. ET on ESPN)

Main event: #3 Dustin Poirier vs. #5 Dan Hooker – Lightweight

Co-main event: Mike Perry vs. Mickey Gall – Welterweight

– #13 Brendan Allen vs. Kyle Daukaus – Middleweight

– Gian Villante vs. Maurice Green – Heavyweight

Prelims (6 P.M. ET on ESPN)

– Luis Pena vs. Khama Worthy – Lightweight

– Mara Romero Borella vs. Miranda Maverick – Women’s Flyweight

– Philipe Lins vs. Tanner Boser – Heavyweight

– Sean Woodson vs. Kyle Nelson – Catchweight 

– Takashi Sato vs. Ramiz Brahimaj – Welterweight

– Kay Hansen vs. Jinh Yu Frey – Women’s Strawweight

– Jordan Griffin vs. Youssef Zalal – Featherweight

Dustin Poirier (-215) vs. Dan Hooker (+175)

As a whole, this card is somewhat lackluster in terms of lopsided matchups, but this headliner is guaranteed to entertain. Ever since this fight was announced I haven’t been able to contain my excitement. Why? The Diamond is back. It wasn’t long ago when there was an argument to be made that Poirier was one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. I mean, just take a look at some of his wins: Max Holloway, Eddie Alvarez, Justin Gaethje, Anthony Pettis, Joe Duffy, Diego Ferreira… the list goes on. Poirier has fought and finished some of the biggest names in UFC history, but it seems as if Khabib Nurmagomedov wiped that from everyone’s memory last September when he choked Poirier unconscious. If it weren’t for Nurmagomedov terrorizing the entire lightweight division, there’s no doubt in my mind Poirier would have won the belt a long time ago. The former interim lightweight champ possesses a skillset that is as well rounded as any UFC fighter ever, except for maybe Georges St. Pierre.  Poirier is the definition of a true mixed martial artist. He has world class boxing ability, footwork, striking power and wrestling defense. Oh, and he’s a black belt in Brazillian jiu-jitsu. Trying to find a hole in Poirier’s game is like trying to find Waldo at a striped shirt convention. Typically, when top-tier fighters return from a sizable layoff, they like to ease themselves back into competition with a lower-tier opponent. Instead, Poirier signed on to fight a surging Dan Hooker who is on an absolute tear right now. 

Since losing to Edson Barboza in December 2018, Hooker has three straight wins over James Vick, Al Iaquinta and Paul Felder. Hooker is a high-flying kickboxer with phenomenal striking ability. Predominantly a Muy-Thai fighter, Hooker comes at his opponents with an onslaught of knees and kicks. His dirty boxing tactics can also be very dangerous in the clinch. Hooker’s ground game is solid, but it’s nowhere near Poirier’s level, so expect him to try everything he can to keep this fight on the feet. 

This bout really just comes down to the amount of outs each fighter has. While Poirier is a boxer at heart, he has so many different methods he can use to win fights. For Hooker, I believe his only way to beat Poirier is with precise counter striking and a high volume of leg/body kicks to keep Poirier from applying the relentless forward pressure that he usually displays. However, I think Poirier’s clean, technical boxing, coupled with his dangerous power will get the best of Hooker. Ultimately this is going to be a great fight, and in the ever-changing lightweight division, this could have major title implications down the road. Assuming we get the same Dustin Poirier we grew to love before Khabib finished him, I think the Diamond makes a triumphant return to the Octagon on Saturday. 

Best Bet: Poirier ML (-215)

Value Bets: Poirier by stoppage (-110), Poirier by KO/TKO (+140)

– Nick Stavas (@nickstavas)

Mike Perry (-300) vs. Mickey Gall (+230)

The lead up to this fight has been nothing short of a circus, with the vast majority of the clowning being done by Mike Perry. The trash talk has been constant, the antics hilarious, and the cherry on top came Tuesday when Perry announced that his girlfriend will be cornering for him in this fight. All of that aside, “Platinum Mike” is still a force to be reckoned with in the welterweight division. Experience is certainly not an issue for Perry, as he’s stepped into the octagon with UFC stalwarts such as Donald Cerrone, Paul Felder, and Alex Oliveira. His performances have been inconsistent, but he’s had decent success against young fighters such as Mickey Gall. Gall has had a relatively underwhelming career in the UFC. He has some really bad losses and has only beaten one fighter who is still on the roster. Gall is still young and has a lot of room for improvement, but the fact of the matter is that he’s a below average striker and a mediocre wrestler with some decent jiu-jisu skills. Frankly there just isn’t a whole lot to love about Gall at the moment. You probably see where I’m going with this pick, so I’ll get to the point. Perry has unrivaled power as a welterweight and is a solid wrestler, especially defensively. This essentially neutralizes the only shot Gall has to win this fight, which is taking Perry down and submitting him from top position. The chances of that happening are pretty slim, so this fight screams Perry by knockout. Unfortunately for gamblers, Vegas is ahead one step ahead with these odds, so even the props aren’t all too appealing. However, Perry getting a highlight finish is almost surefire in this one, so I’m going with Platinum Mike to sleep Gall. 

Best Bet: Perry by KO/TKO (-150)

– Nick Stavas (@nickstavas)

Luis Pena (-240) vs. Khama Worthy (+195)

The opening odds for this bout blew my mind, and while they’re still a little more lopsided than I expected them to be, I was happy to see them drop quite a bit. Seeing a fighter open as a -300 favorite against an opponent who has six straight victories shocked me, but that’s Luis Pena. Pena is similar to Sean O’Malley or Sage Northcutt: a hot and promising prospect whom the UFC was dying to get to the forefront of popularity. The difference between O’Malley compared to Northcutt and Pena is that O’Malley kept winning, and the other two really didn’t. Granted, Pena faced some tough competition as a UFC novice, but a few head-scratching losses to Matt Frevola and Mike Trizano sidetracked him early on. Many fight fans thought he won both of those fights considering they were split decisions, and I’d have to agree that a few strikes here and there could’ve easily made Pena 10-0. However, the past is the past, and Pena bounced right back with a convincing win over Steve Garcia back in February. Pena is a blueprint Muy-Thai kickboxer with some very good jiu-jitsu skills mixed into his arsenal. He has a history of struggling with wrestlers throughout his young pro career, but he shouldn’t have to worry about that Saturday. Khama Worthy is a powerful boxer with an overhand right that can turn about anyone’s lights out. In his UFC debut, Worthy defied Vegas and knocked out Devonte Smith as a massive underdog. The issue with Worthy, at least from what he’s shown so far in his career, is that aside from his solid boxing and fight-ending power, he doesn’t really bring anything else to the table. This is good for Pena, who is most comfortable and most dangerous when standing and trading. His leg kicks are nasty and have the ability to significantly limit his opponent’s power, which will be vital against Worthy. All in all, I think Pena will bring a steady, methodical approach to this fight and stay out of striking range with a high volume of kicks to every part of Worthy’s body, leading to a decision victory for Pena. 

Best Bet: Pena ML (-240)

Value Bet: Pena by decision (+185)

– Nick Stavas (@nickstavas)