While the flyweight division is in limbo at the moment, two of the top competitors will battle it out this weekend. Joseph Benavidez and Jussier Formiga met in a previous contest in 2013, but both are different fighters at this point in time.
While training in Las Vegas these days where he can take advantage of the Performance Institute, Joseph Benavidez is your prototypical Team Alpha Male fighter. He’s a skilled wrestler with fantastic scrambling ability and a scrappy striking game.
Now 34-years-of-age, Benavidez could be on the downswing of his career. This isn’t to say he’s on a rapid decline, but if you compare his last few fights to those from earlier in his career – I definitely think he’s lost a step in terms of speed and athleticism.
Benavidez looked impressive in dispatching Alex Perez, but it’s worth mentioning there was an involuntary clash of heads that the referee didn’t notice. Perez stated he was on autopilot from that moment onwards – which somewhat invalidates an impressive win.
In his last contest, Benavidez got the better of Dustin Ortiz in a three round decision, but he got the worse of the striking exchanges in open space. It was a strange performance by Ortiz, as he kept opting to grapple instead of strike – which played to the strengths of Benavidez instead of his own.
On paper, Benavidez appears to have a favorable match-up against a jiu-jitsu master (but lesser wrestler) in Jussier Formiga. However, fights aren’t fought on paper.
Earlier in his career, Jussier Formiga was known as a pure grappler. Since moving his training over to the world renowned American Top Team, he’s rounded out his game tremendously.
The Brazilian now has the offensive wrestling to compliment his jiu-jitsu, and his hands look sharper than ever. Given the amount of high level talent at that gym, it’s no wonder he’s still making improvements – even at 33-years-of-age.
While Formiga is a high level MMA grappler with great entries into his takedowns, I’m not confident he can take down a credentialed wrestler like Benavidez. If the two tie up, we’re going to be in for some amazing scrambling exchanges – but I’m not sure if grappling is Formiga’s best path to victory.
I actually think the Brazilian can find success with his boxing. Benavidez might be the more dynamic striker, but Formiga’s accurate punches could be the difference in open space.
Even though both fighters are at a similar age, I get the feeling Formiga is peaking right now whereas Benavidez was at his peak a few years ago.
Skill for skill, this is a close match-up. Both men are elite scramblers, while Benavidez is the superior wrestler. Benavidez might have the larger array of offensive weapons, but Formiga has the edge in terms of pure boxing.
I’m not confident in who is going to win, but I do feel confident it will be a competitive match-up. In terms of betting value, I think you have to side with Jussier Formiga at underdog odds.
Pick: Jussier Formiga +150
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