UFC Fight Night 135 Odds & Expert Picks: Gaethje vs Vick
- When: August 25, 2018
- Where: Pinnacle Bank Arena, Lincoln, Nebraska
- Live Stream: UFC Fight Pass
James Vick (13-1) vs Justin Gaethje (18-2)Vick is -160 at Mybookie.ag with Gaethje at +135. This wasn’t originally the headliner of this card. Al Iaquinta was to fight Gaethje but pulled out in late June for undisclosed reasons. “I can’t question Al’s heart,” Gaethje’s manager Ali Abdelaziz said. “but at the end of the day, when you fight Justin, people have to think about it. I got nothing against Al, but it’s a tall order to fight Justin. When you go in there, you leave a piece of yourself in the cage. Some people don’t want to do that. If I’m a fighter I don’t want to fight that guy. I don’t know if this is a negotiation tactic from Al, but he is out. UFC offered the fight to Kevin Lee but Lee declined the opportunity because he wanted more time to train for his next fight. Vick, of Texas, has been calling for a highly ranked opponent. He comes off a unanimous decision win over Francisco Trinaldo in February. Vick, who is on a four-fight win streak, has ridiculed Gaethje for his low fight IQ, calling the 29-year-old brawler “the Homer Simpson of MMA.” “I was keeping it to the fight, and then he started mouthing off,” Vick said. “So that’s when I called him the Homer Simpson of MMA because it’s true. Look at the episode where Homer was boxing and kept taking a beating and still kept saying stupid things. That’s Justin Gaethje.” Gaethje (18-2) is a former WSOF champion coming off back-to-back losses in the UFC to Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier. He has built a reputation as one of the most entertaining fighters in the world. The NCAA Division I wrestler has several highlight reel knockouts to his name, hence the nickname “the Highlight.” “He just doesn’t get it. He doesn’t get it,” Gaethje said of Vick’s trash talk. “I don’t know, man. I don’t know, I don’t really care. I just can’t wait to put him to sleep, really, honestly. He doesn’t understand how I’ve earned what I’ve gotten, how I earned three top-five opponents, how I earned three out of four main events, how I earned four Fight Night bonuses. He’s only fought one top-15 guy — he went to sleep.” Gaethje is referring to Vick’s first-round KO loss to Beneil Dariush at UFC 199.
Michael Johnson (17-13) vs Andre Fili (18-5)Johnson is -145 for this featherweight bout with Fili at +125. A pro fighter since 2008, Johnson mostly competed in regional circuits to start. He is a former Midwest Fight League and Xtreme Cage Fighting Champion who won those titles in July 2008 and October 2009, respectively. Johnson eventually signed with the UFC to appear on The Ultimate Fighter: Team GSP vs. Team Koscheck. Johnson’s record doesn’t look great but he has fought some of the biggest names in the sport. He faced Dustin Poirier on September 17, 2016, at UFC Fight Night 94 and won the fight via knockout early in the first round with a sharp two-punch combination followed by ground and pound. Johnson next faced current lightweight king Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 205. Johnson lost by submission in the third round. Johnson then faced Gaethje in the main event at The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale. Despite rocking Gaethje twice with punches, Johnson was unable to capitalize and lost the fight via TKO due to a combination of punches and knees in the second round. Last time out, Johnson lost to Darren Elkins in January by second-round submission. “Menace” made his move down to featherweight earlier this year but is still on the lookout for his first Octagon victory since knocking out Poirier. Nonetheless, Johnson still carries a bevy of notable wins on his résumé, highlighted by victories over Tony Ferguson and Edson Barboza. Fili, 28, is coming off the biggest victory of his career with a split-decision win over Dennis Bermudez at UFC on Fox 27. The Team Alpha Male fighter has compiled a 6-4 record since entering the UFC’s featherweight division back in 2013. Fili’s last loss happened in July 2017, when Calvin Kattar defeated him by way of decision.
Expert PredictionsGaethje by KO in a mild upset and Johnson by submission.
Rest of the UFC Fight Night 135 Card
- Cortney Casey vs Angela Hill
- Jake Ellenberger vs Bryan Barberena
- John Moraga vs Deiveson Figueiredo
- Eryk Anders vs Tim Williams
- James Krause vs Warlley Alves
- Iuri Alcântara vs Cory Sandhagen
- Andrew Sanchez vs Markus Perez
- Mickey Gall vs George Sullivan
- Joanne Calderwood vs Kalindra Faria
- Drew Dober vs Jon Tuck
- Rani Yahya vs Luke Sanders