UFC Fight Night 35 Fight Breakdown: Trevor Smith (-150) vs. Brian Houston (+130)

brian-houston One of the preliminary bouts at UFC Fight Night 35 is a middleweight bout between Trevor “Hot Sauce” Smith and Brian “B-Hue” Houston. The current betting line for this bout at Several Bookmakers lists Smith as a -150 favorite (bet $150 to win $100), while Houston is a +130 underdog (bet $100 to win $130). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas originally opened Smith as a -155 favorite and Houston as a +115 dog, meaning so far the betting public is split on who they are picking to win this fight. As for myself, I’m leaning towards the underdog Houston to pick up the W. Here’s why. Although Smith is a solid grappler, he is willing to stand with most of his opponents and I don’t think that will turn out kindly for him here. I think this fight is going to end in the first round, and I see Houston being able to find Smith’s chin and finish him off with punches within the first few minutes of the match. Smith (10-4) was just involved in one of the best fights of 2013, a three-round back-and-forth war against Ed Herman at UFC on FOX 7. Although Smith lost the fight via split decision, he showed a lot of heart and toughness in that battle and proved he belongs on the UFC roster. The 33-year-old is a very good grappler and most of his wins have come via submission. He also has better striking than people give him credit for. However he has a tendency to stand around and get hit in the face a lot, and it’s burned him twice in the past as two of his four career losses came via T/KO. Since dropping down to 185 pounds, Smith is 0-2 but he’s been competitive with both Herman and Tim Kennedy and is a better fighter than most people think. But he’s still not elite by any means, and has tons of holes in his game that Houston can take advantage of. Houston (4-1) entered the UFC last year with a great deal of hype behind him after an unbeaten run on the regional circuit, but he faltered in his Octagon debut when he was surprisingly submitted by Derek Brunson in less than a minute at UFC Fight Night 32. But although he lost that fight, we didn’t really learn anything more about Houston — both good or bad — and I don’t feel it’s fair to judge him off that one fight. The 32-year old trains at ATT and has vicious knockout power as well as good wrestling. He also has some heart and doesn’t give up easily. From what I’ve seen, he is a good fighter who just had a bad debut in the Octagon. I actually feel like Houston is being very undervalued in this spot just because of that loss to Brunson, as I feel like he should actually be favored to beat Smith here. And that’s exactly what I think is going to go down. At +130, I’m going to be making a small play on Houston to pick up the win here. I actually thought he should be the favorite, so at the plus money I definitely see some value in Houston in this one as I see him either winning by first-round KO or perhaps even winning a decision if Smith’s chin holds up. I would also lean towards the fight endings UNDER 1.5 rounds.

Written by Adam Martin.

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