UFC 169 Fight Breakdown: Jamie Varner (-135) vs. Abel Trujillo (+115)

Jamie-Varner-UFC The opening main card bout of the UFC 169 PPV is a lightweight contest between Jamie “C-4” Varner and Abel “Killa” Trujillo. The current betting line for the fight at Several Bookmakers lists Varner as a -135 betting favorite (bet $135 to win $100) while Trujillo is a +115 underdog (bet $100 to win $115). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas originally opened up Varner at -190 and Trujillo at +150, meaning so far the betting public has come in pretty heavily on the underdog Trujillo. I agree with the line movement as I’m picking Trujillo to win this fight as well. Here’s why. Varner (21-8-1, 2 NC) is the former WEC lightweight champion and holds notable career victories over Edson Barboza, Donald Cerrone, and Melvin Guillard. The 29-year-old Arizona native has excellent boxing and very solid wrestling. He also has a tremendous chin and his ability to take punishment is second to none in the UFC lightweight division. Since returning to the UFC in 2012, Varner is 2-2 with upset wins over Edson Barboza and Melvin Guillard and losses to Gleison Tibau and Joe Lauzon. Although he shocked in the Barboza upset, for the most part Varner has been pretty average in the Octagon and it seems to me he is on a decline. A member of the MMA Lab, Varner is a tough vet and a good fighter and is the perfect high end gatekeeper in the UFC lightweight division. If he wants to remain relevant, he needs to take out the surging Trujillo this weekend and that won’t be easy. Trujillo (11-5, 1 NC) is one of the top up-and-coming strikers in the UFC lightweight division. A member of the Blackzilians, Trujillo is 2-1 with one no contest so far in the UFC with destructive finishes over Roger Bowling and Marcus LeVesseur and a loss to top-ranked Khabib Nurmagomeov. He has shown tremendous improvement in his striking, aggression, wrestling, and cardio in recent fights. In the rematch against Bowling, he looked like a fighter who could be a future title contender. I didn’t believe in Trujillo when he first came to the UFC because I thought he had a padded record against bad fighters, but he’s shown steady improvement and outside of the loss to Nurmagomedov where he was completely outwrestled, he’s looked pretty fantastic. Varner marks the second toughest opponent that Trujillo has had to face so far in his MMA career, but a big win would shoot him into the top 20 of the lightweight division and so I expect him to be highly motivated and in great shape for this contest. I see this being a competitive fight but I believe Trujillo will have the edge in striking and I see him being the more aggressive fighter. I see him winning at least the first two rounds with his power striking, although I do think Varner could make a late comeback should Trujillo’s cardio let him down late. Still, I think Trujillo gets his hand raised at least by decision, and he very well could become the first man to stop Varner with strikes in mixed martial arts. I missed the opener on Trujillo at +150, but at +115 I still like him for a small play. I’ll play it cool and wait to see how the lines move in the next day or so before placing my bet, but I do like Trujillo for a small bet at any sort of plus money as I believe he’s going to win this fight. The OVER 2.5 rounds, which is available at a Pick ’em price, is also an intriguing play to make as I see both these guys being very difficult to finish.

Written by Adam Martin.

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