UFC Fight Night 34 Fight Breakdown: Tatsuya Kawajiri (-110) vs. Sean Soriano (+100)

Sean-Soriano The co-main event of UFC Fight Night 34 is a featherweight bout between Japanese veteran Tatsuya “Crusher” Kawajiri and UFC newcomer Sean Soriano. The current betting line for the fight at Several Bookmakers sees Kawajiri as a -110 betting favorite (bet $110 to win $100), while Soriano is a +100 underdog (bet $100 to win $100). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas originally opened up Kawajiri at -210 and Soriano at +160, meaning so far all the money has come in on the dog Soriano. I agree with the betting public here as I am also picking Soriano to win this fight and collect his first UFC win. Here’s why. Kawajiri (32-7-2) is one of the most well-traveled veterans of the fight game out there, having fought all over the world while competing in organizations such as PRIDE, Strikeforce, DREAM, Shooto, and ONE FC. The 35-year-old Kawajiri spent most of his career at lightweight, but two years ago he dropped down to featherweight and so far he has gone 4-0 with wins over veterans like Michihiro Omigawa and Joachim Hansen. Kawajiri is an excellent wrestler, especially for someone with a non-traditional wrestling background, and he also has very heavy ground and pound. He also has underrated power on the feet. However, he is also getting up there in age and he hasn’t fought in over a year. And while I like him a lot more at featherweight, I really believe he should have made the drop down earlier in his career, and I’m afraid he might be on the downside of his career now as he makes his UFC debut at the age of 35. And I’m not sure if that’s a good thing as he takes on a much younger opponent in Soriano. Soriano (8-0) is an undefeated prospect fighting out of the Blackzilians camp, and he took this fight with Kawajiri on short notice, filling in for the injured Hacran Dias. The 24-year old Soriano is a very well-rounded fighter with excellent stand-up and wrestling skills. He also has very good cardio and is rapidly improving. There’s no doubt in my mind that Soriano is taking on the toughest of his young career so far in Kawajiri, but it’s a high-risk, high-reward kind of fight for him and if he can take Kawajiri out, he will move far up the featherweight ladder. And while I respect Kawajiri, I recognize Soriano’s skills through tape study and I really believe this a much closer fight than many realize. I recognize that Kawajiri is a stud, but I believe he’s past his prime and it’s a shame he wasn’t in the UFC five years ago. Although Kawajiri has looked solid at featherweight so far, Soriano has looked even better, and I see him being able to stuff Kawajiri’s takedowns and beat him up on the feet using his speed in order to win a decision on the judges’ scorecards. I wish he was still +160 like he was at the opener, but since he’s down to only +100 here in the final few hours ’til the fight, I don’t feel like there’s enough value to make a bet on Soriano at this point when comparing the number now to the number that was available just yesterday. That being said, I still think it’s dog or pass and that I wouldn’t recommend a bet on Kawajiri even at -110. I would just sit back and enjoy this fight, but if you absolutely have to have action on this match, go with the youngster in Soriano.

Written by Adam Martin.

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