High flying light heavyweight Johnny Walker (17-5, 14 KOs, 2 SUBs) will meet rising prospect Ryan Spann (18-5, 4 KOs, 11 SUBs) at UFC Fight Night: Woodley vs. Covington on Saturday, September 19, 2020 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. The headlining matchup of the night is a grudge match between welterweight contenders Colby Covington (15-2, 2 KOs, 5 SUBs) and Tyron Woodley (19-5, 7 KOs, 5 SUBs). Let’s take a look at the contest between Walker and Spann and break down your best betting options at the online sportsbook. The UFC odds at BookMaker.eu opened with Walker as a slight -134 favorite, with Spann at +102 on the comeback.
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Johnny Walker (17-5, 14 KOs, 2 SUBs)
Want to see an example of a guy getting too much hype, too fast? Look no further than Walker. We admit, it was easy to jump on the bandwagon - there is a lot to like about the Brazilian. For starters, he’s got all the physical tools: Walker is just 28 years old (young for the division), he’s 6’5, shredded and ridiculously athletic. In his UFC debut against Khalil Rountree, Walker needed just two minutes to end the fight with an elbow. He followed that up with a spinning backfist knockout of Justin Ledet in just 15 seconds. He followed that up with a flying knee KO of Misha Cirkunov in less than 40 seconds. And he did it all with a natural charisma, gyrating during his walkout and doing the worm after wins.
All of a sudden, Walker was being thrown into the conversation as a possible opponent for then-champion Jon Jones. That was proven way premature when Walker was knocked out in his next fight by Corey Anderson. In his chance to bounce back, the Brazilian was decisioned by Nikita Krylov. Hype train derailed. It’s fair to question whether he was a true contender in the first place, but the good news is that he has the tools and the time to prove that.
Ryan Spann (18-5, 4 KOs, 11 SUBs)
We’re not quite sure what to make of Spann, but he has managed to put together an eight-fight winning streak that includes four fights inside the octagon. That in itself shows that he belongs, although it’s tough to tell what his ceiling is. Spann’s debut was an unimpressive win over Luis Henrique Barbosa de Oliveira, but the encore was a big KO over a shopworn Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. Even more impressive was a submission win over the solid Devin Clark, but Spann followed that up with a split decision win against journeyman Sam Alvey - the same Alvey that’s usually cannon fodder for young up-and-coming fighters.
Like Walker, Spann easily passes the eye test - he has an impressive physique at 6’5and is obviously a good athlete. That’s where the similarities end, as Walker is nowhere near as flashy on the feet, and far more comfortable in the grappling exchanges. He’s got some power, but Spann does his best work as a submission grappler, with 11 subs in 18 career wins. Obviously, he’ll have to avoid getting into a firefight with the dynamic Walker - but he should have a clear advantage on the mat.
Significant Striking Stats
Strikes landed per minute: Walker 4.01 / Spann 3.32
Striking accuracy: Walker 70% / Spann 43%
Strikes absorbed per minute: Walker 3.58 / Spann 3.01
Striking defense: Walker 30% / Spann 50%
Takedowns per 15 minutes: Walker 0.43 / Spann 1.13
Takedown average: Walker 100% / Spann 30%
Takedown defense: Walker 69% / Spann 60%
Submission average: Walker 1.3 / Spann 1.9
This is an extremely tough matchup to call, but we lean Spann for a few reasons. For starters, he’s one of the few light heavyweights that’s the same size as Walker, and he won’t be bullied around. Second, his grappling ability should allow him to dictate where the fight goes - and Walker is somewhat unproven on the ground. We expect a lot of clinchfighting and takedown attempts here, which should lead to more control time for Spann, which in turn should lead to the win.
UFC Fight Night: Covington vs. Woodley Card & Odds
Welterweight: Tyron Woodley +283 vs. Colby Covington -361
Welterweight: Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone +131 vs. Niko Price -158
Light Heavyweight: Ryan Spann +103 vs. Johnny Walker -127
Women’s Strawweight: Randa Markos +131 vs. Mackenzie Dern -158
Middleweight: Darren Stewart +210 vs. Kevin Holland -259
Women’s Flyweight: Mara Romero Borella +200 vs. Mayra Bueno Silva -245
Flyweight: Jordan Espinosa -112 vs. David Dvorak -112
Bantamweight: Randy Costa +118 vs. Journey Neson -142
Bantamweight: Irwin Rivera +170 vs. Andre Ewell -206
Bantamweight: Sarah Alpar +181 vs. Jessy-Rose Clark -220
Featherweight: Darrick Minner +221 vs. TJ Laramie -274
Flyweight: Jerome Rivera +136 vs. Tyson Nam -165
Middleweight: Gerald Meerschaert +350 vs. Khamzat Chimaev -463
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