TUF 18 Finale Fight Breakdown: Maximo Blanco (-165) vs. Akira Corassani (+145)

Akira Corassani One of the preliminary bouts at the TUF 18 Finale that is flying under the radar is a featherweight matchup between Maximo “Maxi” Blanco and Akira Corassani. The current betting line for the match at Several Bookmakers lists Blanco as a -165 betting favorite (bet $165 to win $100), while Corassani is a +145 dog (bet $100 to win $145). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas originally opened up Blanco as a -270 favorite and Corassani as a +190 dog, meaning the betting public has so far come in heavy on the dog Corassani. Personally though I feel as though the betting public is one the wrong track here, and now at -165, I’m really liking a play on Blanco. Here’s why. Blanco (9-4-1, 1 NC) was one of the most highly-touted lightweight prospects in the world just a few years ago, when he was laying the smackdown on a number of quality opponents while fighting in Japan for Sengoku and Pancrase. With a super-exciting fighting style that led to a number of highlight-reel finishes, Strikeforce decided to sign Blanco and he made his U.S. debut against veteran Pat Healy just over two years ago. However, although he won the first two rounds of the fight, his conditioning got the worst of him and Healy ended up submitting him late in the third round. After the fight with Healy and the merger of the Strikeforce roster, Blanco made his Octagon debut at UFC 145, and although he fought hard, he ultimately dropped a split decision to Marcus Brimage. The back-to-back fights really dropped Blanco’s stock, but the 30-year-old rebounded with a decision win over Sam Sicilia at the TUF 17 Finale and now he has the chance to earn a second-straight win when he takes on Corassani this weekend at the TUF 18 Finale. Corassani (11-3, 1 NC) was a member of TUF season 14 and since the show he’s gone a surprising 2-0 in the Octagon, with wins over Andy Ogle and Robert Peralta. The win over Ogle is generally regarded as a robbery decision by anyone who saw that fight, as Corassani was dropped twice during the bout, but Corassani most definitely impressed with the huge upset win over the highly-regarded Peralta earlier this year and that’s why he’s getting the chance to take on another quality opponent in Blanco as he tries to make his way up the featherweight ladder. A native of Sweden, the 31-year-old Corassani is a decent standup fighter and has some submissions in his tool box as well, but overall he doesn’t excel in any one area of the game and I think that will be a problem as he moves his way up the ladder. And to be honest, I think this is as high as Corassani will ever be ranked, because I don’t see him getting by Blanco. I see this fight between Blanco and Corassani staying on the feet and I see Blanco getting the better of the exchanges and knocking Corassani out in highlight-reel fashion. Corassani has been knocked out three times in his career, while Blanco has seven knockout wins, so the recipe for disaster is clearly here. That’s why I’m confused with the line movement here, as I have Blanco as nearly a -300 favorite in my head, close to where the line originally opened. I think many bettors are overrating Corassani’s win over Peralta, as I feel that fight had more to do with Peralta not showing up than it does with Corassani being a darkhorse contender in the featherweight division, and I think a lot of people are fading Blanco after the losses to Brimage and Healy, which I don’t think is totally fair. Regardless, matchups are everything, and I just see this being a bad matchup for Corassani. My prediction is Blanco via T/KO, and at -165, I definitely see enough value in him for a bet.

Written by Adam Martin.

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