UFC Fight Night 39 Play: Andrew “Highlight” Craig (+115) vs Chris Camozzi (-135)

Chris CamozziUFC Fight Night 39 Date: April 11, 2014 Arena: DU Arena City: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates Middleweight bout: Andrew “Highlight” Craig (+115) vs Chris Camozzi (-135) Fight Breakdown: The UFC Fight Night 39 in Abu Dhabi preliminary card on UFC Fight Pass will be featuring a middleweight bout between former Legacy FC middleweight champion Andrew “Highlight” Craig and The Ultimate Fighter season 11 veteran Chris Camozzi. Craig is barely an underdog heading into this match-up at +115 ($100 to win $115), while Camozzi is a very small favorite at -135 ($135 to win $100) at Several Bookmakerss. Andrew “Highlight” Craig (9-2 MMA, 3-2 UFC) is coming off a second round submission loss at the hands of Luke Barnatt seven months ago in the Brit’s backyard. Craig is a talented mixed martial artist, but I don’t believe he has been very impressive in his time inside the UFC cage. His first victory in the promotion came against Kyle Noke. Noke won the first round, then blew his knee out, and ended up losing the final two rounds because he was fighting on one leg. His next outing was against Rafael Natal, a fight in which Natal dominated Craig for the majority of two rounds, and nearly finished him in the second. Craig showed incredible heart and durability by being able to take Natal’s shots and survive. He made a recovery, got the fight back to the feet, and as Natal got overly confident, Craig landed a beautiful headkick that put the Brazilian to sleep. The former Legacy FC middleweight champion followed that by losing for the first time in his professional mixed martial arts career, in a fight against another Brazilian in Ronny Markes. It was a close fight, but Craig came up short. After that, Craig took on the now-retired middleweight Chris Leben. He did enough to walk away with the judges’ nod. Now, as he is coming off the second loss of his career, and the first finish, I expect him to put it all on the line in an effort to get back in the win column. The 27 year old Houston native is a talented striker who started training in Karate during his childhood. While playing football and hockey, the athletic Texan began to dabble in wrestling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and fell in love with grappling and submissions, which started his road to mixed martial arts. The only regret he has is not finding MMA at a younger age, as he would have preferred to dedicate more time to that than other sports. Craig is a well-versed fighter, and a well-conditioned athlete. He packs power in both hands, and throws solid kicks. The former college football player still trains out of his hometown of Houston, TX, which I feel may be a mistake. He needs to move to a more renowned gym to better hone his skills and further his career. That said, he is a tough fighter who is always a threat, regardless of where the fight goes, and he will be prepared to go all three rounds against Camozzi, should the fight go the distance. Chris Camozzi (19-7 MMA, 6-4 UFC) had a four fight winning streak snapped by Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, losing the fight via submission in the first round of action. He then dropped a unanimous decision to Lorenz Larkin, in a back-and-forth entertaining brawl. Now on a two fight skid, The Ultimate Fighter season 11 veteran will be looking to get back to his winning ways, as he gets set to take on the former Legacy FC middleweight champion in Abu Dhabi. Camozzi is a well-rounded mixed martial artist who possesses a great chin, though it is worth noting he broke his jaw in his fight to get into the house on season 11 of The Ultimate Fighter television series. More importantly, he won that fight, but unfortunately he could not continue to compete on the show because of his broken jaw and was sent home. The California native resides in Lakewood, CO, and trains out of Factory Muay Thai MMA in high altitude, which helps him attain his noteworthy yet still improving conditioning. Camozzi is a talented technical striker, but also a very good brawler. He mixes it up well on the feet, and does a lot of damage while scoring a lot of points. He dishes out a lot of strikes, and connects with many of them. The 27 year old works an excellent jab, and uses his range really well. He works solid leg kicks, and loves to use his knees, as well as his elbows. In fact, it was a knee that cut Nick Catone’s forehead wide open and earned Camozzi a TKO victory. The Southpaw likes to throw short elbows and has a great clinch game, both in the Muay Thai clinch and when clinched up against the cage. He likes to use his head to control his opponents, when clinches against the cage, a la Randy Couture. Camozzi is an aggressive fighter who likes to move forward and keep the pressure on his opponents. He has a solid uppercut, and puts together some effective combinations. His takedown defense is not great, but has been improving. In fact, he’s been making strides in his all-around wrestling game, and it compliments his submission game well, as the TUF season 11 veteran owns a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and owns six career wins by way of tapout. Though Camozzi’s takedown defense isn’t great, he is good at finding his way back to his feet when he does get taken down. Also, when put on his back, he never feels he is in danger. He has solid submission defense and is good at getting reversals on the mat. The 27 year old will enter the Octagon eager to end his two fight skid, and I expect him to leave it all in the cage. Gabe’s Prediction: Coming off losses, I expect both fighters to be hungry for a win. The fact that Craig was finished for the first time in his last bout could affect him mentally, but I don’t think it will. I think both middleweights will throw leather, and in the end, with will be Camozzi’s superior technical striking that proves to be the difference. I think there is a chance that he may stop Craig, but if not, I think he takes the decision more often than not. Gabe’s Call: Camozzi by TKO (knees and punches, 2:48 round 1) Gabe’s Recommended Plays: Chris Camozzi (-135) 3.24u to win 2.4u

Written by Gabe Killian

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