UFC Fight Night 217 preview: Umar Nurmagomedov favored to stay unbeaten

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Umar Nurmagomedov will seek to extend his unbeaten streak at UFC Fight Night 217 against Brazilian grappler Raoni Barcelos on Saturday night at UFC Apex in Enterprise, Nev.

Nurmagomedov (15-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) enters as the No. 11-ranked bantamweight and is a massive -1000 favorite against Barcelos (+625), who has lost two of his past three fights. The line opened at Nurmagomedov -550 at BetMGM, but it has shifted dramatically as he has been backed by 93 percent of the money to win.

Nurmagomedov, 26, has a two-inch reach advantage on the 35-year-old Barcelos, who did win his most recent fight with a unanimous decision over Trevin Jones in October. Barcelos (17-3, 6-2) was a five-time Brazilian national wrestling champion before moving into MMA.

This will be the first fight since last June for Nurmagomedov, when the Russian earned a unanimous decision over Nate Maness.

There are four other fights on the 7 p.m. main card.

Nassourdine Imavov (12-3 MMA, 4-1 UFC) vs. Sean Strickland (25-5, 12-5)
Strickland is a short-notice main event replacement for injured Kelvin Gastelum, which forced the fight to take place at 205 pounds instead of middleweight.

Strickland has lost his past two fights, including to Jared Cannonier in the main event of UFC Fight Night 216 last month. Imavov will be in his first main event fight, and the strong grappler is on a three-fight win streak and has won nine of his past 10 fights dating back to 2017.

Imavov is the -140 favorite after the fight opened with both fighters offered at -110 by BetMGM. Imavov has been backed by 63 percent of the bets and 87 percent of the money.

Dan Ige (15-6, 7-5) vs. Damon Jackson (22-4-1, 5-2-1)
Ige enters the co-main event on a three-fight losing streak and has dropped four of his past five fights following a six-fight winning streak. Jackson is 5-1 since he returned for a second UFC stint in 2020.

The action has been split, with underdog Jackson (+105) backed by 59 percent of the bets while Ige (-125) has been supported by 52 percent of the money.

Punahele Soriano (9-2, 3-2) vs. Roman Kopylov (9-2, 1-2)
Eight of Soriano’s victories have come by stoppage, while all three UFC wins have come by knockout. After losing consecutive fights, Soriano scored a second-round TKO of Dalcha Lungiambula last July.

Kopylov also ended a two-fight losing streak with a victory over Kopylov in September.

Kopylov opened as the +135 underdog, but his odds have shortened slightly to +130 as he has been backed by 61 percent of the money. Soriano (-160) has drawn 55 percent of the total bets.

Raquel Pennington (14-9, 11-5) vs. Ketlen Vieira (13-2, 7-2)
Vieira is tied for fourth in bantamweight history with seven UFC victories, although she has lost two of her past five fights. Meanwhile, Pennington is entering her record 16th UFC bantamweight fight, having won her past three.

Vieira is the -125 favorite and has been the popular pick with 77 percent of the bets and 88 percent of the money backing her to beat Pennington (+105).

Nassourdine Imavov (194) vs. Sean Strickland (204)
Dan Ige (145.5) vs. Damon Jackson (145.5)
Roman Kopylov (185) vs. Punahele Soriano (185.5)
Raquel Pennington (135.5) vs. Ketlen Vieira (136)
Raoni Barcelos (135) vs. Umar Nurmagomedov (135)

–Field Level Media

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