One of the fights I’m most looking forward to at the upcoming UFC Fight Night 29 event is a light heavyweight matchup between hard-headed and heavy-handed brawlers Fabio Maldonado and Joey Beltran, a bout that very well could be one of the most exciting slugfests we see inside the Octagon all year. The current betting line for this fight at Several Bookmakers lists Maldonado as a -180 favorite (bet $180 to win $100) while Beltran is a +140 dog (bet $100 to win $140). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas originally opened Maldonado at -190 and Beltran at +150 which means a tiny bit more money has been coming in on the dog Beltran so far. Overall, the line has held steady as the betting public seems split on this fight and I can’t blame them as I can realistically see either man getting his hand raised as both men are evenly matched on paper. In Maldonado, you have one of the best dirty boxers in the UFC light heavyweight division, a guy with smooth punching skills and an iron chin. But he lacks in the wrestling department, and Beltran — who trains with Phil Davis and Alexander Gustafsson at Alliance MMA — showed improved grappling in his last fight against Igor Pokrajac. However, he tested positive for performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) after the bout and therefore it’s difficult to gauge just how much he has improved or if it was just the PEDs that made him look so good. And that’s why I think it’s tough to bet him here. But, while I don’t lean any particular side for a bet, I do lean towards betting on a total, and it’s one of my heavier leans in a while. The total for this fight was set at 2.5 rounds and it’s currently -215 at Several Bookmakers. To me, this is the right play in this fight, and I’ll explain why now. Both Maldonado and Beltran are tough as nails, two of the most durable fighters in the UFC, if not MMA. Maldonado showed in his fight against Glover Teixeira that you need to literally call in the doctor to get this man to stop fighting as the Brazilian was absolutely pounded on for 10 minutes by the current number one contender and yet never gave up. As for Beltran, he has shown time and time again that he can take a licking and keep on ticking, although he did surprisingly get knocked out last year by Lavar Johnson. But keep in mind he’s since dropped down to 205 pounds and now, facing guys his own size instead of huge, 265-pound dudes like Johnson, it’s not likely that he’ll be finished anytime soon. I mean, if he survived the bombs of James Te Huna for 15 minutes, who is going to knock this man out? And that’s why I really like the over in this fight, because I just can’t envision either guy getting knocked out here and there’s an even smaller chance of a submission. I suppose there is always the threat of a doctor’s stoppage in this fight as I expect it to be a bloody war, but I think more often that not this fight goes past the 2:30 minute mark of round three and that’s why I like over 2.5 rounds for a bet.