Alexander Rakic will tell anyone who will listen that he deserved to win his last fight, which ultimately went against him because of a controversial decision. Still, the No. 8-ranked light heavyweight knows the only way to avoid a similar fate is to leave no doubt when he takes on fifth-ranked Anthony Smith in the main event of UFC Fight Night: Smith vs. Rakic on Saturday. Their important battle tops the UFC Fight Night card from the Apex facility in Las Vegas, with the main card set for 9 p.m. ET.
Rakic lost a disputed decision in his last fight, but was still given a new contract and a higher-ranked opponent in Smith, suggesting the UFC brass shares his view that he was robbed of a victory. Rakic is a -270 favorite (risk $270 to win $100), down from -325, while Smith is a +220 underdog in the latest UFC Fight Night: Smith vs. Rakic odds from William Hill. In the co-main event, Neil Magny (-230) faces Robbie Lawler (+195) in a matchup of welterweight veterans. Before making any Saturday UFC Fight Night picks, make sure you see what SportsLine MMA analyst Kyle Marley has to say, considering the epic run he's on.
Marley won the first-ever "ToutMaster" UFC betting contest sponsored by MMAOddsBreaker and appears regularly on multiple MMA betting and daily Fantasy shows. He watches every single fight for every single UFC card and does extensive research before each event.
Over the past 19 months, $100 bettors who have followed Marley's picks are up nearly $19,000. The accomplished MMA analyst has been on a rock-solid run in 2020 as he has connected on 16 of his last 20 main-event selections, a stretch that included a streak of five straight underdogs. At UFC Fight Night last Saturday, he accurately called a submission win for Joe Solecki (-105) against Austin Hubbard (-115) in a clash of lightweight prospects. Solecki controlled the action from the opening bell and soon secured a standing choke, giving Marley's followers an easy winner. Anyone who has consistently followed Marley is way up.
Now, with UFC Fight Night: Smith vs. Rakic fast approaching, Marley has carefully studied every matchup on the card, identified the best value in the UFC odds and released his MMA picks for every fight. Those selections are only available here.
Smith vs. Rakic preview
Marley knows the bout comes with a keen sense of urgency for Smith (33-15), 32, who has lost two of his past three fights in lopsided fashion. His last appearance resulted in a prolonged beating delivered by No. 4-ranked Glover Teixeira in a bout that many observers believed should have been called off long before it was brought to a merciful end early in the fifth round. Smith also was battered around the Octagon by Jones in his March 2019 title shot.
Even so, "Lionheart" showed his signature fortitude by pulling an upset of former title challenger Alexander Gustafsoon with a fourth-round submission in their June 2019 fight.
Rakic (12-2) lost his professional MMA debut before reeling off eight consecutive stoppage victories. The 28-year-old Austrian fighter made his UFC debut in September 2017 and emerged as a contender behind four straight wins, with two coming inside the distance.
His lone UFC defeat came in a controversial split decision against No. 7-ranked Volkan Oezdemir in December of last year. Still, he was signed to a new six-fight contract in February. You can see Marley's coveted Smith vs. Rakic picks here.
Top UFC Fight Night: Smith vs. Rakic predictions
We'll share one of Marley's UFC Fight Night selections here: He is backing Alex Caceres (-200) to get the best of newcomer Austin Springer (+180) in a featherweight bout.
The fight represents an about-face in expectations for Caceres, who had been a significant underdog against previously scheduled opponent Giga Chikadze. But Chikadze had to withdraw because of a positive COVID-19 test, while Kevin Croom, another potential opponent, pulled out for undisclosed reasons. Their departures paved the way for Springer to take a short-notice callup to the big stage.
Springer (12-2) defeated Chikadze on "Dana White's Contender Series" two years ago with a third-round submission, but wasn't offered a UFC contract. Instead, he defeated Kevin Boehm by decision in a five-round bout last October in the CageSport MMA promotion.
"Caceres is the better all-around striker and is the better grappler as well," Marley told SportsLine. "I expect him to be the better and faster guy everywhere."
How to make UFC Fight Night: Smith vs. Rakic picks
Marley also has strong picks for Smith vs. Rakic and every other bout on the UFC Fight Night card. He is also backing one "dangerous striker" to pull a monumental upset. Those selections are only available here.
Who wins Smith vs. Rakic? And how exactly does each fight end? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed picks on every fight at UFC Fight Night: Smith vs. Rakic, all from the incomparable expert who's up nearly $19,000 on MMA in the past 18 months and nailed 16 of the last 20 main events, and find out.
UFC Fight Night odds (via William Hill)
Aleksandar Rakic (-270) vs. Anthony Smith (+220)
Neil Magny (-230) vs. Robbie Lawler (+195)
Alexa Grasso (-310) vs. Ji Yeon Kim (+255)
Magomed Ankalaev (-350) vs. Ion Cutelaba (+290)
Impa Kasanganay (-130) vs. Maki Pitolo (+110)
Mallory Martin (-300) vs. Hannah Cifers (+250)
Alessio Di Chirico (-120) vs. Zak Cummings (+100)
Giga Chikadze (-240) vs. Alex Caceres (+200)
Polyana Viana (-110) vs. Emily Whitmire (-110)
Sean Brady (-380) vs. Christian Aguilera (+310)
Alex Caceres (TBA) vs. Austin Springer (TBA)