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Event: UFC 257 (Jan. 23rd)
Risking 2 units @ -156 on Brad Tavares to win versus Antonio Carlos Junior
The implied odds I made for this fight are -233/70% Tavares to win.
ACJ does not fit the fighter prototype that has given Tavares trouble in the past (i.e., very threatening strikers). On the contrary, Brad Tavares is the type of fighter who has given ACJ trouble in the past (i.e., a fighter with superior cardio and solid defensive grappling).
Brad is much better here. He is more technical, more defensively sound, and the much better counter striker. Brad will utilize low kicks (i.e., ACJ has a wide stance and is heavy on his lead leg) to succeed while landing on ACJ with counter strikes and combinations. ACJ throws many naked kicks, which Brad has shown in the past to counter very well. ACJ keeps his hands low, throws a lot of naked strikes, and does not have proper utilization of head movement, so he is very susceptible to counterstrikes. ACJ has 0 knockdowns in the UFC and 0 knockouts professionally in MMA, so Brad will comfortably win these exchanges in all likelihood.
ACJ is a very high-level submission grappler and solid takedown artist (i.e., takedowns from the body lock, single-leg takedowns, and double leg takedowns). Still, I do not believe his offensive grappling is good enough to control Brad to win multiple rounds or earn a submission. Brad’s takedown defense (i.e., has an outstanding balance, strong hips, and “hits the switch” very well), scrambling ability (i.e., even when he has been taken down, he is tough to control), and clinch control (i.e., fishes for underhooks, good head positioning, and good awareness) will very likely give ACJ a lot of grappling resistance and largely neutralize the threat of being controlled for many minutes. Also, ACJ’s cardio in the past has repeatedly shown to be a liability (i.e., was very tired towards the end of round 2 against Heinisch and finished on the ground in round 3 against Kelly), so he will more than likely get fatigued from Brad making him work for takedowns and in the clinch. Furthermore, Brad has much better cardio overall.
TLDR: Betting Tavares here because he will likely be able to keep the fight standing most of the time where he can win the fight by a comfortable margin because he is the superior striker with much better cardio.
Risking 1 unit @ -160 on Tavares vs. Carlos Junior OVER 2.5 Rounds
I believe the line is where the majority of ACJ’s pro fights ended inside the distance. However, I’d be surprised to see one fighter finish the other here.
Even though I’m favoring Brad on the feet, he has historically not shown to be a big power puncher (i.e., has 2 wins by TKO/KO since 2010). ACJ has historically shown to be durable (i.e., has never been knocked out on the feet, has only been knocked down once in the UFC where he recovered well). Therefore, I find it hard to believe a TKO/KO finish materializes.
In terms of the grappling. ACJ was not able to submit Hall nor Heinisch despite multiple back takes. I trust Tavares’ defensive grappling over Hall’s and Heinisch’s. Also, Tavares has never been submitted in pro-MMA and has very good defensive grappling and awareness from the eye test.