UFC 256 Recap

UFC 256 went down on December the 12th from the organization’s Apex Facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event was a major success culminating in the main event being tagged the greatest Flyweight fight of all time by UFC President Dana White.

Deiveson Figueredo had been finishing everyone that challenged him for the world title, but he had a very hard time with the first Mexican born fighter to fight for a UFC World Title, Brandon Moreno.

Figueredo started strong, but offense is many times more tiring than defense, so eventually, Brandon Moreno began to get after him in the mid-rounds.

I thought Figgy took control again late in the fight, but a point deduction for one accidental low blow was taken from the champ by referee Jason Herzog, and the fight was declared a majority draw.

In the co-main event, the fighting world finally got to see the return of Tony Ferguson, but it was Charles Oliveira, the fighter in his prime, who stole the show from El Cucuy with a dominant unanimous decision victory.

Kevin, The Trailblazer Holland, made a massive splash when he got his first big step up in competition fighting the legendary Jacare Souza. This fight didn’t take long and I don’t think anyone saw the finish coming as early as it did.

Holland stunned Jacare with a punch from his butt then rocked him from his knees and that’s when Kev stood up and finished the job.

Young guns Gavin Tucker and Cyril Gane each took care of business with the latter finishing off the former UFC Heavyweight World Champion, Junior Dos Santos off fairly easily. When your chin is done, it’s done.

Let’s look at every fight, give the results, look at our odds from Betonline.AG, and then choose what would have been the best bet for that particular matchup and why.

Chase Hooper (-305) vs Peter Barrett (+245)

It is arguable that neither fighter should be in the UFC but it is what it is. Chase is marketable, kind of, because he is such a skinny dorky looking guy who can compete with monsters in the UFC.

The only problem is that he hasn’t been able to prove that he is on that level. The UFC threw him a bone with Peter Barrett. The dog actually defended a couple of submissions and was easily winning on the feet throughout the fight.

Anyone who laid (-305) or used Chase as an anchor to their parlay of the week was sweating majorly and likely given up but you have to give it to the kid. He never gave up on himself and after an Iminari roll to a 50/50 leg lock position, Chase took hold of the heel and gave her his best crank.

That forced the tap from Peter Barrett and the Celine Dion-thin Chase Hooper made some more fans on Saturday night as he played hero to those who bet on him. Hey, I’m allowed to make fun of skinny people because I myself am a tall skinny, curly headed dorky looking guy who has fought at 145.

I know how difficult it is to have such a massive gap in strength and in the case of Chase, he doesn’t have near the level of striking it takes to keep UFC Featherweights off of you.

So, what was the best bet here? I want to say Peter Barrett even though he lost. Hooper snagging a hail mary heel hook in the third round is not (-305) material. Barrett almost winning as a (+245) favorite seems like the better play to me.

Hooper by submission was (+110) but I’m still going to say that Peter Barrett was the play to make. You only need to win 1 out of 3 of those bets at his odds of (+245) to make money and even then, your ROI would be 17% if you’re betting 100 bucks on each play.

You need Hooper to win by sub at the very least 50% of the time and even then, your ROI is less than 5% which is negligible at best. From what we saw, the play on Barrett was the most valuable to make for this matchup.

Pick: Barrett

Tecia Torres (-600) vs Sam Hughes (+425)

Sam was a very late replacement for Angela Hill and making her UFC debut as a considerable underdog against the gatekeeping Tecia Torres.

Tecia has been nothing short of a decision machine in her career whether she is winning or losing. If you can count on anything, it is a Tecia Torres fight going the distance.

In 23 combined amateur and professional fights, Tecia has one rear naked choke victory and every single win or loss otherwise was a fight that went the distance. Sam Hughes, though, has had all but one of her pro fights end inside the distance.

You could get Torres by TKO for (+550) but Sampage had been submitted before so the possibility of a tap out victory was there for TT as well at very similar betting odds.

You could get the Tiny Tornado to win inside the distance for (+240). I think that’s pretty good considering she was a (-600) favorite by fight time. Sure, Tecia hasn’t been finishing her opponents but Weili Zhang, Joanna former Champion, Jessica Andrade, Rose Namajunas…

That is every champion ever besides the one-time Carla Esparza. How have these two women never fought? Anyways, I think the inside the distance line was the only thing that was playable here.

Pick: Torres inside the distance (+240)

Billy Quarantillo (-225) vs Gavin Tucker (+175)

Wow, the sharp bettors really like Billy. This betting line opened with Billy as a slight favorite at (-130). I thought the line should have been flipped. Gavin had one bad fight against Rick Glenn and people continue to write him off.

That is his only loss, though, and he didn’t make the same mistake as Billy Q’s past opponents did gassing themselves out trying to finish him. Tucker has looked good late in fights recently and I thought that would help carry him past Billy.

Gavin actually was the one pushing the pace for most of the fight and his strength and wrestling ability was enough to get Quarantillo down and Tucker’s Brown Belt in BJJ was enough to fend off Black Belt Billy’s submissions and escapes.

We got him at (+145) which was still a great price. I suppose you could have got greedy and took him to win a decision because of how resilient Billy is but the line was just up at (+275) so not really worth the risk.

There is nothing worse than picking a fight correctly and losing so Tucker straight up at (+145) or (+175) was a great bet. I would have taken him at even money.

Pick: Tucker

Rafael Fisiev (-140) vs Renato Moicano (+120)

This was a matchup where we didn’t have a great read either way. We didn’t know too much about Fisiev’s takedown defense or Renato Moicano’s ability to get the fight to the mat as well as take a punch at 155 pounds.

The 5’11” Brazilian had fought at Featherweight for his entire UFC career. I thought cutting less weight would help his suspect chin but Fisiev found it early and often. Moicano shot in for one takedown but it seemed like a frustration shot because he didn’t set it up with any strikes nor did he try to time his opponent coming forward.

Had Moicano set up his takedown attempt effectively, he could have gotten the untested Muay Thai coach to the mat and that may have significantly changed the outcome or Fiz could have stood right back up and still knocked him out.

It is hard to tell but at just (-140), Fiziev was a good bet. You could have had him at (+245) to win by TKO but I think the (-140), in hindsight, was a very good price for this surging superstar.

Pick: Fiziev

Daniel Pineda (-165) vs Cub Swanson (+135)

Wow, so Daniel Pineda has no gas tank. We knew it was kinda sus as the kids say but I had no idea he was literally a minute man-one of the best female collab hip hop songs ever, in my opinion.

Pineda looked good early scoring a takedown as well as landing some heavy heavy calf kicks. At that point, though, Cub switched to a southpaw stance in order to protect his leg and the tide of the fight shifted.

A big part of it was just Daniel gassing out but Cub began to land with his straight left hand. It appeared as if Daniel Pineda had never fought a southpaw before and he surely didn’t have anything for Swanson’s left handed fighting.

Before the end of the second round, Daniel Pineda was put away by exhaustion as well as the crafty Cub Swanson.

I would say that Cub straight up as the underdog here would have been the best bet but Pineda never makes it to the judges’ scorecards and apparently never does any cardio either so Swanson inside the distance may have been your best bet.

(+550)…not bad at all.

That was the play.

Pick: Swanson inside the distance

Ciryl Gane (-405) vs Junior Dos Santos (+305)

This is where the betting line closed. I think most of us had a pretty good idea of what was going to happen. Some kept their fingers over their eyes and/or thought hey, I’m getting a former world champ at 3 to 1 at heavyweight?

Sounds pretty good but his CHIN IS GONE. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Remember Chuck Liddell and Anderson Silva? They used to be able to take anyone’s best shot. Now, forget about it.

Time catches up with us all and it was Junior’s time to pass the torch. Were we going to bet Gane as a 4 to 1 favorite, though? No way.

He was (-140) to win inside the distance and even though the fight started slowly and many sharps were on the decision line, I knew it would only take one small shot to stun him, another easy one to rock him and the rest would be historic.

That’s what happened to Jacare as well. Stunned, rocked, asleep.

Pick: Gane inside the distance

Kevin Holland (-124) vs Jacare Souza (+104)

Raise your hand if you had first round KO of 10x world champion top control Jiu Jitsu athlete, Jacare Souza, by way of a skinny guy at a smaller weight class sitting on his butt.

I don’t think anybody saw this coming! I didn’t know too many people who were on Holland here. Jacare was a very popular pick throughout the week. Some very late and very smart money came back in on Holland just before the fight bumping him back up to (-124) and even (-140) at Bovada.

Souza’s odds had moved him to a favorite and usually when you see an underdog’s odds moved to a favorite, that is a line move you want to follow. This was a bad idea, though, this past Saturday.

Souza took him down with ease and most of us thought that from there, he would have a walk in the park. Nope. Holland was beating him up from every position possible until stunned, rocked, and asleep the Brazilian went.

Holland by TKO was the play to make here because it looked as if it wasn’t a matter of if but when he was going to finish Ronaldo Souza by strikes.

(+450) is pretty solid too!

Pick: Holland inside the distance

Mackenzie Dern (-155) vs Virna Jandiroba (+135)

This was an incredibly intriguing matchup that was being overshadowed by the Flyweight title fight that ended up stealing the show completely as well as the return of El Cucuy Tony Ferguson.

Mackenzie is a multiple time world champion BJJ player and Virna is a well respected black belt herself who has used her grappling to her advantage in most every pro fight.

Your next question should be…

Who is the better wrestler?

The answer to that based on history inside the Octagon is Virna. If Mackenzie had Jandiroba’s takedowns, she would be a much scarier fighter.

Is Virna a good enough BJJ girl to defend submissions and sweeps coming from Dern on the bottom? It turns out that she was.

Mackenzie, we thought, was the better striker but she got her nose busted with a big knee.

So, there was some success found by Jandiroba in the striking realm as well as Mackenzie on the wrestling side of things.

The fight goes to a decision betting line was (-135). As much as I liked that, I didn’t like the fact that it wasn’t plus money. The best bet here was on the favorite to win a decision in a women’s fight.

You would think the betting odds would be (+150) or (+200) but Mackenzie Dern was 3 to 1 to get the decision win. That was your best play.

Pick: Dern by decision

Tony Ferguson (-186) vs Charles Oliveira (+161)

It looks like late money came in on Tony here. That wasn’t smart.

I had to hear it all week, not only from my colleagues but from Tony himself. The persuasion was on! I just wasn’t buying it. Even if Tony Ferguson was the same fighter who stepped foot inside the Octagon against Justin Gaethje back in May, I still thought Charles was better.

The mental side was my only worry and this just being a 3-round fight pointed to the fact that there was only a small chance Oli was going to gas and succumb to Tony’s pressure in just 15 minutes.

Oli is a VET! He has as many wins inside the Octagon as Tony has UFC fights. Charles is also very technical and Tony gets away with just flowing together all his stuff.

When the flow is a go, good luck slowing him down but when Ferg is forced to fight without all that momentum, he has a hard time. Most of us didn’t see Charles taking him down but if you go back to Oli’s recent fights, he has been using the takedown more and more.

I’ll shut up. The best pick here was Charles straight up. He almost had the finish with an armbar but Tony toughed it out and was saved by the bell.

Pick: Oliveira

Deiveson Figueiredo (-335) vs Brandon Moreno (+275)

This was a fun one, no doubt! What a way to end the night!

Well, kind of. I think the fans were happy with such an entertaining Flyweight World Title fight but seeing a winner crowned would have been cool also.

When I first looked at the betting odds, the over 2.5 rounds at (-110) stood out to me. I tipped it on Monday of last week and it actually moved in the opposite direction and was (+120) by fight time.

Even though Moreno took a solid beating for the first couple of rounds, he came on strong in the 3rd after the champ was penalized a point for one errant foot that made its way to the cup of Moreno.

No warning or anything, just took the point. That made the fight a draw. We also tipped Fig by decision which would have paid (+550) but que sera, sera.

No doubt, it was an incredible performance by both men and the fight goes to a decision line was pretty sexy but the even money on the over 2.5 was the best play to make.

Pick: over 2.5 rounds

In Conclusion

This was a very fun and quite surprising final pay per view of the year for the UFC.

Most people didn’t see Brandon Moreno lasting the full 25 minutes against Deiveson Figueredo and even fewer predicted a draw.

Jacare Souza was KO’ed by a man sitting on his butt.

Most people didn’t think Tony Ferguson was going to get dominated by Charles Oliveria but many of those same people thought El Cucuy was going to beat Gaethje. Now, is there anyone else who thinks Tony would have beat Khabib?

Okay, good. That one can be laid to rest. Mackenzie Dern and Virna Jandiroba had a great fight that both women needed to grow into more well rounded mixed martial artists. Junior Dos Santos was clipped and put away so easily by a future title challenger in Ciryl Gane.

Rafael Fisiev and Gavin Tucker both won their fights and kept their respective losses at just 1. Cub Swanson was the only old guy at 37 to get the win. He needed the 35 year old Daniel Pineda to gas out in the first round and he got just that.

This was a changing of the guard event. I think that was the theme.

  • Jacare-gone.
  • Cigano-gone.
  • El Cucuy-not top 10 anymore.

This happened while Kevin Holland, Charles Oliveira, and Ciryl Gane showed that they are future contenders to be world champions one day.