UFC on ESPN 28: Hall vs. Strickland Odds, Schedule, Predictions

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistJuly 31, 2021

UFC on ESPN 28: Hall vs. Strickland Odds, Schedule, Predictions

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    Chris Unger/Getty Images

    Surging middleweights Uriah Hall and Sean Strickland headline a UFC on ESPN card that is light on established names but has plenty of prospects looking to prove something.

    The main event is a bout that was moved from its original date at UFC 265. It would have served as an ancillary attraction on that card but takes top billing here.

    Strickland has been on a tear since returning from a motorcycle accident that kept him out of the cage for two years. He has reeled off three straight wins and appears to have found a home at middleweight.

    Across the cage from him, Hall is on the best run of his lengthy UFC career. He has disposed of aged versions of Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman during his four-fight winning streak.

    Here's a look at the complete card along with the latest odds and previews of the biggest fights on the card.

Fight Card, Schedule and Odds—July 31

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    Main Card (9 p.m. ET on ESPN/ESPN+)

    • Uriah Hall (+170) vs. Sean Strickland (-200)
    • Kyung Ho Kang (-120) vs. Rani Yahya (+100)
    • Cheyanne Buys (-165) vs. Gloria de Paula (+145)
    • Jared Gooden (+160) vs. Niklas Stolze (-190)
    • Zarrukh Adashev (+115) vs. Ryan Benoit (-135)
    • Bryan Barberena (-275) vs. Jason Witt (+220)

                           

    Prelims (6 p.m. ET on ESPN/ESPN+)

    • Collin Anglin (+125) vs. Melsik Baghdasaryan (-145)
    • Rafa Garcia (-320) vs. Chris Gruetzemacher (+250)
    • Danny Chavez (+100) vs. Kai Kamaka (-120)
    • Jinh Yu Frey (+130) vs. Ashley Yoder (-150)
    • Orion Cosce (-155) vs. Phil Rowe (+135)

    Odds via DraftKings Sportbook.

Strickland vs. Hall

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    There was a time, long ago, when Uriah Hall was creating buzz as a potentially elite striker. He had some cold knockouts during his time on The Ultimate Fighter that showed glimpses of a fighter who could be what Israel Adesanya has become.

    That potential has never been realized, though. He's on a good winning streak, but his career has been marred by inconsistency and the inability to break through. His losses have come against quality competition. Paulo Costa, Gegard Mousasi, Derek Brunson and Robert Whittaker are among those who have bested him.

    They are also the ones who have not been afraid to swarm him, get in his face and keep up the pressure. Hall is still that explosive striker who can put someone on a highlight reel when given room to operate.

    The question then becomes whether Strickland is the kind of fighter who can apply enough pressure to get his way in the fight. It certainly aligns with his style. He averages 5.14 significant strikes per minute, which makes him a little less busy than Costa but slightly more than Whittaker.

    That should do the trick as Strickland has looked good and confident at middleweight.

    Prediction: Strickland via second-round TKO.

Kang vs. Yahya

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    If you're not a fan of grappling, you might want to warm up a snack while this fight is going on. The co-main event is a grappler's delight as both Kyung-ho Kang and Rani Yahya are jiu-jitsu practitioners who are comfortable with the fight on the ground.

    Kang hasn't fought since December 2019, giving him a long layoff to contend with. That can always add an element of unpredictability to a fight as different fighters handle time off better than others.

    When healthy, the 33-year-old is an aggressive grappler who is always looking for better position or a submission attempt.

    Yahya is a more traditional submission specialist. He isn't particularly effective with his takedowns, only landing 33 percent. Kang is a much more proficient 59 percent on his.

    That could be the difference in this one. Yahya is a bad combination of easier to take down and willing to fight off his back. If he doesn't get a submission, that likely means spending more time on his back in each round, which isn't a good recipe for winning fights on the scorecards.

    Prediction: Kang via decision.

Buys vs. De Paula

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    The fact that this matchup is so high up on the main card is an indication of where this card is depth-wise. It mostly comprises fighters on losing streaks looking for some redemption.

    That's exactly the case with this pairing of women's strawweights. Cheyanne Buys made her UFC debut on the heels of a strong appearance on Dana White's Contender Series, during which she beat Hilarie Rose via unanimous decision.

    Her kickboxing made her an exciting prospect in a division that could use them.

    We didn't see much of that in her UFC debut against Montserrat Conejo, though. Her opponent utilized a wrestling-heavy approach and essentially held her down on her way to the unanimous decision.

    Gloria de Paula has a nearly identical story in the UFC. After an exciting win on White's show, she was grappled to defeat in her debut against Jinh Yu Frey.

    With little to go off, this is a tough one to call. Both fighters appear to be early in their development, but De Paula has had more finishes in her early career, which could be important as they both let their hands fly.

    Prediction: De Paula via third-round TKO.

                          

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