Prediction: Adrian Yanez vs. Tony Kelley | UFC on ESPN 37 1

Up-and-coming prospect Adrian Yanez 28, continued his perfect run in the UFC following a split decision win in his most recent fight. Since earning a contract from Dana White’s Contender Series in 2020, Yanez is 4-0 in the UFC with three knockout wins. Seven years older but with fewer professional fights, Tony “Prime Time” Kelley has an 8-2 record and is 2-1 in the UFC with one knockout win.

Yanez and Kelley will go head-to-head this Saturday night at UFC on ESPN 37.

Betting Odds

Yanez is one of the largest favorites ahead of UFC on ESPN 37 at odds of -305 to win. Kelley will step in as a large underdog with odds of +245 at the time of writing.

A $100 bet on Yanez to win would return $132 if he is victorious this weekend. On the other hand, if Kelley manages the upset, a $100 bet would see $345 returned to punters.


While Yanez is an immensely talented boxer who expertly combines technique, hand speed, and power, he is more of the boxing ilk of plant and throw compared to the often-cited stick and move. Thus far, Yanez’s fight style has resulted in wins, bonuses, and increased fans. However, he has taken a few shots that have come close to costing him the fight. This is because, even though Yanez has the edge in technique, hand speed, and power, when boxing with 4oz gloves, it is much harder to defend your chin compared to defending with 16oz boxing gloves. I’m not sure if Yanez’s tendency to engage in violent and entertaining exchanges is part of his game plan or an oversight, but, the result is Yanez has had to rely on his chin and striking acumen more than other boxers of his caliber have in the UFC. That being said, Yanez’s boxing is impressive, entertaining, and has resulted in eight wins in a row. My concern is that as Yanez enters the rankings — a place I anticipate him to be sooner rather than later — that without improved footwork, head movement, or a kicking game, Yanez will struggle when he faces someone with his level of boxing. Until then, Yanez’s powerful combinations, rib-cracking liver shots, and ability to win in heavy exchanges will continue to be reliable paths to victory.

Kelley is a man who fights like a wild animal. Although he’s only fought three times in the UFC, Kelley has already proven that he can be hit by the kitchen sink, stay standing, and return fire. His style and game plan are simple, walk forward through any and all shots, get in tight, and either throw down or look for the takedown. Because of Kelley’s tough chin, constant pressure, and high-end cardio, despite being someone who encourages brawls, Kelley still has a positive strike differential. If Kelley finds himself in a fight where he is getting out landed, he has the skillset to mix in effective wrestling. Much like his striking, his wrestling is not the most technically sound but it is effective and successfully drains his opponent’s gas tank and will to fight. Ultimately, Kelley is an athletically limited fighter who often is at a disadvantage in striking speed and technique. But, what he lacks in natural gifts, he more than makes up for in forward pressure, aggression, and cardio.


This fight, on paper, should be closer than the odds suggest. Yanez has struggled when he can’t put fighters away early and against fighters who are willing to make a boxing match a brawl. Kelley does both of those things very well. However, Yanez just fought and beat Davey Grant who is a more complete version of Kelley- wild, tough, and aggressive. Therefore, I like Yanez to learn from his most recent fight, make adjustments, and find a more direct path to victory.

Pick: Yanez by Decision

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