UFC 174 Fight Breakdown: Ryan Bader (-150) vs. Rafael Cavalcante (+130)

Rafael Cavalcante One of the main card bout at UFC 174 is a three-round light heavyweight bout between Ryan “Darth” Bader and Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante. The current betting line for the fight at Several Bookmakers lists Bader as a -150 favorite (bet $150 to win $100) while Cavalcante is a +130 underdog (bet $100 to win $130). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas originally opened up Bader at -165 and Cavalcante at +125, meaning there has been slight action on Cavalcante as the lines have tightened. This is another close one to call, but I feel the value is on the dog and I’m picking Cavalcante to win the fight. Here’s why. Bader (16-4) won TUF season eight back in 2008 and has since then carved out a nice career for himself in the Octagon, going 9-4 in the UFC with wins over Anthony Perosh, Vladimir Matyushenko, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Jason Brilz, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Keith Jardine, amongst others, and with his only losses coming to Jon Jones, Lyoto Machida, Glover Teixeira, and Tito Ortiz. The 31-year-old American has excellent wrestling and he has massive knockout power in his hand to go along with it, making him a very dangerous opponent for anyone in the division. However, the one flaw Bader has shown has been a questionable chin, as he’s been dropped numerous times in the UFC which has led to him getting either submitted or finished with strikes. Still, despite the losses Bader remains a very capable 205er and with a win over “Feijao” at UFC 174 will keep his place as one of the top 10 light heavyweights in the world. Cavalcante (12-4, 1 NC) is the former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion. The 34-year-old Brazilian went 4-2, 1 NC overall in Strikeforce with notable wins over Muhammed Lawal and Yoel Romero before coming over to the UFC in 2013, where he has gone 1-1 with a brutal submission via strikes over Igor Pokrajac and a KO loss to Thiago Silva. In the fight against Silva, “Feijao” was heavily favored to win but he didn’t show up in good shape, gassed out, and was brutally knocked out. However, he rebounded nicely with the win over Pokrajac and the UFC is giving him a step up in competition here against Bader. Blessed with a powerful muay Thai attack, Cavalcante is one of the most dangerous strikers at 205lbs in the UFC and presents problems for anyone in the division. However, like his opponent Bader, his chin has let him down as he’s been knocked out in brutal fashion three times in his career to date. Although he has a disadvantage in wrestling on paper, Cavalcante does have solid takedown defence and if this fight against Bader stays standing it should be near a coinflip, which is why seeing Cavalcante as a plus-money underdog is intriguing. I believe this fight will stay standing and although either man could be knocked out, I think “Feijao” is the better striker and I see him finding Bader’s chin at some point throughout the three rounds and putting him out cold for the knockout win. At +130, I lean towards “Feijao” here but I would wait for the line to get closer to +150 before making a play. I definitely think it’s a dog-or-pass situation, but at the same time Bader is a solid fighter and could get the win so unless there is a better number on “Feijao” on fight day I would just recommend a pass on this one, although the prop on Feijao wins inside the distance at +185 is tempting. As for other props, I like the “fight not going the distance” and at -215 I think it could be a part of a two-team parlay as I really don’t see this fight going the distance and I think that prop will be a winner.

Written by Adam Martin.

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