UFC 295 odds, predictions: Why Jiri Prochazka vs. Alex Pereira should be a competitive title bout

UFC 295 odds, predictions: Why Jiri Prochazka vs. Alex Pereira should be a competitive title bout
UFC 295 odds, predictions: Why Jiri Prochazka vs. Alex Pereira should be a competitive title bout

We’ve seen a dramatic shift in the fight matchups for this UFC 295 slate in recent weeks, but the final slate of matchups is nothing short of awesome. I’m excited to talk about a few of them.

The most notable, of course, are the vacant light heavyweight title fight between Jiří Procházka and Alex Pereira, and the interim heavyweight title fight between Sergei Pavlovich and Tom Aspinall.

If you’re looking for breakdowns of every fight on every slate, you can find that on my site DailyFanMMA, or follow me on Twitter at BrettAppley for more information.

Jiří Procházka vs. Alex Pereira

With the former champion Jamahal Hill forced to vacate the light heavyweight title due to injury, the UFC has called upon Procházka and Pereira to take center stage and square off for the open belt on Saturday.

Jiri Prochazka Alex Pereira










Striking Defense



Takedowns/15 min.



Takedown Defense



Procházka was in a similar situation when he injured his shoulder in 2022 and was forced to vacate the belt. That came after he defeated Glover Teixeira by submission to earn the title, in what was one of the best fights of the year.

Procházka is a wild man, and his up-pace, hands-down style has already led to some extremely entertaining fights that have left multiple opponents unconscious on the canvas. His impressive knockouts over Volkan Oezdemir and Dominick Reyes are what catapulted him into title contention the first time. Procházka has the ability to damage and finish most opponents in this division.

The downside to his style comes in the form of defense, or lack thereof. Procházka is absorbing 5.40 significant strikes per minute, and he’s only defending strikes at a really poor 40 percent rate. Not only that, but he’s been rocked multiple times. Clearly he is a tough guy and can fight through adversity, but fighting with your hands down is never an ideal tactical maneuver. I suspect we’ll continue to see Procházka in hairy situations defensively.

That makes for a scary thought when his next opponent is an elite kickboxer whose style has translated very well to mixed martial arts. It has already led Pereira to a world championship victory over Israel Adesanya in 2022.

Pereira is one of the most dangerous, technical and damaging strikers in the sport today. Whenever he’s faced with an opponent who will stand and trade with him, Pereira has a great chance to win.

I did end up taking Adesanya to beat him in the rematch though, in part because of the concerns I’ve had with Pereira’s volume and durability. That durability is a really tough thing to decipher, as there’s so much variance involved with winning or losing by knockout.

My argument was essentially that Adesanya had hurt Pereira badly in every fight, including in his kickboxing bouts, yet Pereira had survived. Eventually, just due to variance, Pereira would at some point succumb to the damage.

And despite a very strong start in that rematch, Adesanya knocked Pereira unconscious to take the title back. Additionally, despite betting on him to win, I didn’t love the performance that I saw from Pereira when he faced Jan Błachowicz in his only light heavyweight fight in July. Błachowicz outgrappled him early, but appeared to tire out and take damage in the second round.

Błachowicz then came back to fight very competitively with Pereira in Round 3, outlanding him 20 to 12 in strikes to the head. While Pereira got his hand raised, I think it’s notable that inferior strikers can still have success against him.

Heading into this main event, I don’t have a very strong opinion. I think a competitive betting line makes sense. BetMGM has Pereira as the favorite with a -125 price, while Procházka is the underdog at +105.

Pereira is clearly the safer choice, just given his technical and defensive advantages. He is the superior striker here and, in theory, should beat Procházka while the fight takes place standing. The walk has been hurt several times and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Pereira find his chin and score another knockout.

However, Procházka is very aggressive, and if he can force a high-paced brawl, I think that’s a style that may favor him. Pushing Pereira backwards and creating havoc is a far better recipe than a technical distance match.

While I do trust Pereira’s durability more, Procházka clearly has knockout upside as well. I also think I favor Procházka in a more extended fight, where I’m less sure Pereira has the pace to fight a hard five rounds.

Plus, of the two, Procházka has to be considered the superior grappler. He has only landed one takedown in three fights in the UFC, but he submitted Glover Teixeira and Pereira is simply not strong on the mat.

I don’t project Procházka to wrestle at a high pace, but even 1-2 takedowns could lead to multiple round wins or a submission opportunity.

I think Procházka is a very live and potentially sneaky underdog option this week. I feel somewhat obliged to favor Pereira due to his technique, and especially his defense, but if Procházka can simply avoid the big knockout shot, his offensive style may prove too much for Pereira over the duration.

Sergei Pavlovich vs. Tom Aspinall

Another fight cancellation has opened up yet another championship belt on Saturday, this time in the heavyweight division as Pavlovich takes on Aspinall for the interim belt. This should be an incredible fight for as long as it lasts, and honestly, I don’t expect it to last long.

Sergei Pavlovich Tom Aspinall










Striking Defense



Takedowns/15 min.



Takedown Defense



Pavlovich is a dangerous kickboxer who has destroyed the vast majority of his UFC competition, which includes six consecutive first-round knockout victories.

Aspinall is a well-rounded, super-athlete who has finished six opponents inside the Octagon as well, five of which came in the first round.

I expect an early clash and an early finish, with Pavlovich swinging for the fences on the feet, and Aspinall aiming to drag Pavlovich down to the mat and into deep waters.

Despite there being obvious variance in this type of matchup, and no one particular reason to be confident, I find myself drawn heavily towards Aspinall in this fight. Mostly, I consider Pavlovich to be an early knockout or bust fighter. He has not fought past the first round since 2017, and I don’t think his style lends itself to success over an extended period.

Essentially, if Pavlovich doesn’t win by early knockout, I’m not sure that he wins at all.

The same can be said for Aspinall in the sense that we do not have a large sample of him fighting past the first round. He did win by second-round rear-naked choke against Andrei Arlovski in 2021, but his style uses a ton of energy and it’s fair to question whether he can sustain it late into the fight.

The difference is that Aspinall is a competent boxer, whereas Pavlovich may be a fish out of water on the mat.

Aspinall already has a few standing knockouts in the UFC, and although I wouldn’t favor him to beat Pavlovich in striking exchanges, I don’t think it’s a crazy assumption to believe he could compete or survive there for a little while. He’s a great athlete, can move well and might be perfectly fine for a few minutes on the feet.

Pavlovich, however, was brutalized on the mat by Alistair Overeem in his UFC debut, which is the only time any of his recent fights have hit the mat. Overeem took him down late in the first round, and Pavlovich couldn’t get back up. Overeem landed a few ground-and-pound shots and the fight was stopped for a TKO.

Aspinall is a very strong wrestler and grappler, and it makes me believe that if he gets on top of Pavlovich, this fight could end quickly. He hasn’t always forced wrestling exchanges, but I have to imagine that Aspinall should know that his best chance to win is getting Pavlovich on the canvas.

BetMGM currently has this fight lined up close to a pick’em, with Aspinall favored at -115, and Pavlovich sitting at -105.

Pavlovich is extremely dangerous and the fight starts standing, so he’ll have his opportunities here. I personally just trust the grappler far more, and, while I have some concerns about Aspinall fighting over an extended period, I probably trust his cardio more in this matchup, too. I’ll be taking a chance on Aspinall’s moneyline this week.

Jamall Emmers vs. Dennis Buzukja

I always enjoy a Jamall Emmers fight and I am looking forward to seeing if he can rebound from his last defeat against Dennis Buzukja this weekend.

Jamall Emmers Dennis Buzukja










Striking Defense



Takedowns/15 min.



Takedown Defense



Emmers is a high-quality fighter, but the results haven’t been fully there. He very arguably beat Giga Chikadze in his UFC debut but lost a split decision. He nearly knocked out Pat Sabatini but ended up tapping to a heel hook when he chased him down to the mat. Most recently, Emmers lost another split decision to Jack Jenkins, which was another win he probably deserved.

Emmers has fought too closely with some opponents he should be beating, and he’s made some mistakes that have cost him wins. Against Jenkins, the mistake was not wrestling early enough, despite it being a clear path to victory.

I just can’t help but get back on the bandwagon though, because I like the skills Emmers brings to the Octagon. He is a very good striker and a very good wrestler. His metrics are strong overall on the feet, landing 4.95 significant strikes per minute while absorbing 3.79 per minute. He even outstruck Chikadze at a distance of 48 to 37.

Emmers also lands 1.98 takedowns per 15 minutes, and comes from a wrestling background. He is defending takedowns at 90 percent. The guy is good in all areas and difficult for opponents to beat decisively anywhere.

Meanwhile, Buzukja put on a fun showing in a short-notice debut against Sean Woodson in August.

Unfortunately, I still consider Buzukja to be a high-level regional talent, and I’m unsure whether he can really make a statement at this UFC level.

You don’t have to look much further than that UFC debut, in which the boxing-based Woodson was able to outwrestle Buzukja, landing four takedowns on five attempts, and controlling Buzukja for nearly six minutes.

Buzukja is tough, has good cardio and his aggression will still lead to fun exchanges in which he can occasionally land big shots. But even on the regional scene, Buzukja was not a finisher. He only has four wins by KO and one win by submission in 14 pro fights.

Now he’s facing a bigger, longer, stronger opponent in Emmers who is probably better than Buzukja in every area.

If Woodson, who had failed to land even one single takedown in his previous six tracked bouts, can dominate Buzukja on the mat, I have to project Emmers to have success there as well. That could easily lead to multiple round wins, and a potential submission opportunity. Of course, Emmers’ questionable IQ may mean that he won’t engage in wrestling early enough, but I have hope nonetheless.

And even if the fight stays standing, Buzukja probably needs a random KO, or an ultra-competitive decision to get his hand raised.

On BetMGM, Emmers is a -250 favorite, although that line has come down significantly from earlier in the week. It’s likely a value at this number, and I feel somewhat comfortable using Emmers in parlays.

I also think Emmers is most likely to win by decision, which is a prop you can find at -120 or better, and an alternative route to playing Emmers this week.

(Photo of Alex Pereira: Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

The article is in Czech

Tags: UFC odds predictions Jiri Prochazka Alex Pereira competitive title bout


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