UFC Fight Night 29 Sneak Peak: TJ Dillashaw (-240) vs. Raphael Assuncao (+200)

T.J. Dillashaw One of the best matchups on the entire UFC Fight Night 29 card is an important bantamweight bout between TJ Dillashaw and Raphael Assuncao, a fight that may very well garner the winner a title shot should they achieve victory in impressive fashion. Dillashaw is currently a -240 betting favorite (bet $240 to win $100) at Several Bookmakers, while Assuncao is a +200 underdog (bet $100 to win $200). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas originally opened Dillashaw -265 and Assuncao +185, but since then the lines have tightened as the books have seen back-and-forth action on this match. And it’s for good reason, as this is a close fight to call. In Dillashaw, you have one of the best wrestlers in the UFC bantamweight division and a guy who has shown improved striking ability in his last two fights, KO wins over Issei Tamura and Hugo Viana. It’s clear that new Team Alpha Male coach Duane Ludwig has helped his game exponentially, and considering he had already been training with studs like Urijah Faber, Chad Mendes and Joseph Benavidez, his game is on another level right now. He very much looks the part of a future title contender, but if he wants that title shot, he’ll have to get through Assuncao first, and it’s not going to be easy. In Assuncao, you have a well-rounded fighter who has gone unbeaten at 4-0 since dropping to 135. Assuncao has defeated the likes of Johnny Eduardo, Tamura, Mike Easton and Vaughan Lee since losing his promotional debut to Erik Koch at featherweight. This has set up his huge divisional match-up against Dillashaw, as a fifth-straight win at bantamweight will shoot Assuncao into the top five of the division and knocking right on the door of a title shot as a Brazilian vs. Brazilian matchup against Renan Barao would be huge in Brazil (that’s assuming Barao defeats Dominick Cruz next year to unify the belts and/or if Cruz doesn’t return). As far as this matchup goes, it’s tough to say what will happen. With Dillashaw, I expect him to show off his newfound striking skills early and then look for takedowns, but the Brazilian has solid takedown defense. If Assuncao can keep this fight standing, I do believe he will have the technical edge, although Dillashaw is definitely explosive. If Dillashaw can get the takedowns then he will look to ground and pound Assuncao, who has a solid ground game himself and who could definitely catch Dillashaw in a submission if the Team Alpha Male member is careless. This fight is close and as far as a bet goes I believe this is a dog or pass fight. Although the members of Team Alpha Male are undefeated in the UFC since Ludwig took over, I still don’t think laying -240 on Dillashaw is a good idea in this spot. Instead, watch the line on Assuncao — at the current +200 I think there’s some value, but it could get even higher so pay attention to the line movement and you may get yourself a steal in what is a close fight.

Written by Adam Martin.

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