WSOF 8 Fight Breakdown: Anthony Johnson vs. Mike Kyle

WSOF One of the featured attractions at WSOF 8 is a light heavyweight bout between contenders Anthony “Rumble” Johnson and Mike “MAK” Kyle. The winner of this fight will get a shot at the first-ever WSOF light heavyweight title. The current betting line for this bout at Several Bookmakers lists Johnson as a -380 favorite (bet $380 to win $100), while Kyle is a +340 underdog (bet $100 to win $340). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas originally opened Johnson at -315 and Kyle at +235, meaning there has been a significant amount of action on the favorite, “Rumble” Johnson. I agree with the betting public as I am also picking Johnson to win this fight. Here’s why. Johnson (15-4) is really coming into his own in the WSOF after an up-and-down career in the UFC. The 29-year-old member of the Blackzilians had a hard time making the welterweight and middleweight limits in the UFC, and after missing weight badly against Vitor Belfort at UFC 142 he was cut by the promotion. Since then, however, Johnson has fought at 195-pound catchweights, light heavyweight, and even at heavyweight, and he’s gone 5-0 since leaving the UFC with wins over former UFC heavyweight champion Anderi Arlovski, DJ Linderman, Esteves Jones, and former UFC middleweights Jake Rosholt and David Branch. He looks like a new fighter since not having to cut a ton of weight, and it looks like he made the right decision for his career to move up. As a fighter, Johnson is an athletic freak with good kickboxing and wrestling, and he has proven time and time again he’s a finisher as 10 of his career wins have come via stoppage. Riding a wave of momentum into this fight with Kyle, Johnson will be motivated knowing this is the last fight on his WSOF deal and if he wins he’ll likely get offered a big-money contract with either WSOF or the UFC. So I expect a great performance by him against Kyle. Kyle (20-10-1, 2 NC) is one of the most well-traveled vets of the light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions in MMA, having fought for a number of promotions over the past decade-plus including the UFC, Strikeforce, WEC, King of the Cage, Pancrase, and now World Series of Fighting. The 33-year-old member of American Kickboxing Academy is a powerful striker with brutal knockout power in his fists and he’s won 13 of his 20 victories by T/KO, as well as an additional three by submission. Although his recent record is rather poor — he’s 2-3, 1 NC in his last six fights — Kyle still packs a heavy punch and he can’t be underestimated by anyone. Still, he’s getting up there in fight years and he’s also said that he wants to retire but he can’t because he needs to fight in order to pay his bills. Kyle is actually getting a good opportunity here by WSOF, since he’s coming off a loss to Arlovski and “Rumble” a win over the same opponent, but this is a very bad stylistic matchup for Kyle on paper and he’s a big underdog for a reason. I see this fight primarily taking place on the feet, where I see Johnson being the more effective striker. It’s possible “Rumble” could get a stoppage on Kyle as he will surely be highly motivated in the last fight of his WSOF contract, but the fight could very well go the three-round distance if Kyle’s chin holds up. -380 seems like a high price to pay for Johnson, but I think it’s pretty realistic. Outside of landing a heavy blow for a shock upset, I just don’t see how Kyle can win this fight, so I have to go with the younger, more well-rounded and faster fighter Johnson here. I wouldn’t recommend playing Johnson straight at this price, but I would definitely consider parlaying him with another fighter or perhaps even with another sport so you don’t have to pay as much juice. There is also a total for this fight that has been set at 1.5 rounds to consider. The OVER is currently +110 and the under is -150. I don’t like playing totals set at 1.5 rounds but if I had to lean one way it’d be the OVER.

Written by Adam Martin.

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