UFC on ESPN 36: Blachowicz vs. Rakic Odds, Schedule, Predictions

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistMay 14, 2022

UFC on ESPN 36: Blachowicz vs. Rakic Odds, Schedule, Predictions

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    Former light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz will look to get back in the win column against Aleksandar Rakic in the main event of UFC on ESPN 36 Saturday night

    The UFC's APEX Facility will play host to the 205-pound matchup and a card sprinkled with some other interesting fights. 

    Blachowicz hasn't fought since losing his belt to Glover Teixeira in October 2021. He'll now begin the hard work of trying to get back to that spot, and he draws an up-and-coming contender in his first trip back to the Octagon.

    Another light heavyweight fight serves as the co-main event. Brawler Ion Cutelaba will meet Ryan Spann in a fight between two more names to keep an eye on in the division. 

    Here's a look at the complete card along with a preview of the biggest fights.   

Fight Card, Schedule and Odds—May 14

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    Main Card (ESPN2/ESPN+, 10 p.m. ET)

    • Jan Blachowicz (+170, bet $100 to win $170) vs. Aleksandar Rakic (-200, bet $200 to win $100)
    • Ion Cutelaba (-220) vs. Ryan Spann (+180)
    • Davey Grant (-280) vs. Louis Smolka (+225)
    • Katlyn Chookagian (-160) vs. Amanda Ribas (+140)
    • Frank Camacho (+110) vs. Manuel Torres (-130)
    • Jake Hadley (-210) vs. Allan Nascimento (+175)

    Prelims (ESPN2/ESPN+, 7:30 p.m. ET)

    • Viviane Araujo (+105) vs. Andrea Lee (-125)
    • Michael Johnson (-145) vs. Alan Patrick (+125)
    • Angela Hill (+170) vs. Virna Jandiroba (-200)
    • Carlos Candelario (+230) vs. Tatsuro Taira (-290)
    • Nick Maximov (-365) vs. Andre Petroski (+280)

    Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook  

Blachowicz vs. Rakic

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    There's a good case to be made that Aleksandar Rakic should be undefeated in the UFC right now. The 30-year-old Austrian has just one blemish on his record in the organization. 

    That was a split-decision loss to Volkan Oezdemir that easily could have gone the other way. Outside of that, he's put on some impressive performances, including unanimous decision wins over Anthony Smith and Thiago Santos. 

    The reason Rakic hasn't really hit the mainstream to this point is likely tied to his fighting style. He can rely heavily on controlling his opponents. Case in point, he only landed 36 significant strikes in his decision win over Thiago Santos last time out, per UFC Stats.

    That's a fairly severe contrast to Blachowicz, who has been comfortable striking with just about everyone. Even in his title defense against Israel Adesanya, he was willing to get into exchanges with The Last Stylebender despite having a major wrestling advantage. 

    This fight is going to be decided in the moments that Rakic is closing the distance with Blachowicz. If the former champion can create distance and turn this into a kickboxing match, he'll get the upset. If Rakic is able to make this a clinch fight and work his ground game, he'll pick up a big win. 

    Prediction: Rakic via decision

Cutelaba vs. Spann

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    Of the three biggest fights on the card, this one should be the most fun. 

    Ion Cutelaba is a fireball of a fighter, especially early on. He brings some wrestling to the table and has heavy hands. Regardless of whether he's going for the knockout or imposing his will with wrestling, he always does it aggressively. 

    His ability to mix that up with counters makes him a scary fighter to deal with. 

    Spann is a scary grappler in his own right. He's a threat to lock in a submission at any time when the fight is on the ground, and his gas tank is considerably better than Cutelaba's. 

    The longer this fight goes, the more it tilts in Spann's favor. However, Spann has been the victim of a first-round knockout in two of his last three fights. 

    That's not a great trend going into a fight with Cutelaba. 

    Prediction: Cutelaba via first-round TKO 

Chookagian vs. Ribas

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    Jeff Bottari/Getty Images

    In terms of the impact a fight will have on its division, the women's flyweight bout between Katlyn Chookagian and Amanda Ribas is just as important as any on the card. 

    Chookagian might not move the needle as a draw, but there's no denying that she's effective at what she does. Her ability to keep opponents at bay with her jab and fight from range is a safe and frustrating way to beat opponents. 

    Chookagian is 6-2 over her last eight fights, but her only losses have come to champion Valentina Shevchenko and Jessica Andrade. In other words, the only champion-caliber opponents she has seen. 

    The 33-year-old is ranked No. 1 in the division, but she's more of a barometer than an actual threat for the belt. She does a great job of separating out the contenders from those who aren't quite ready to contend for the belt. 

    Ribas is an interesting opponent for her. She has flashed the ability to be a powerful wrestler and brings solid athleticism to the table. Whether those things are at the kind of level necessary to beat Chookagian remains to be seen. 

    Prediction: Chookagian via decision 


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