UFC Fight Night 44 Play: Antonio Braga Neto (-155) vs Clint “Headbussa” Hester (+135)

Braga-NetoUFC Fight Night 44 Date: June 28, 2014 Arena: AT&T Center City: San Antonio, TX Middleweight bout: Antonio Braga Neto (-155) vs Clint “Headbussa” Hester (+135) Fight Breakdown: The UFC Fight Night 44 main card on FOX Sports 1 will feature a middleweight contest between Antonio Braga Neto and Clint “Headbussa” Hester, with Neto at -155 ($155 to win $100) betting favorite and his opponent Hester being a +135 ($100 to win $135) underdog at Several Bookmakerss. Antonio Braga Neto (9-1-1 NC MMA, 1-0 UFC) made his promotional debut just over a year ago, submitting Strikeforce veteran Anthony Smith with a kneebar in the very first round of action. Now after a year-long injury-plagued layoff, he is ready return to action and capture his second Octagon victory and fifth in a row, as he currently boasts a four-fight winning streak. Neto is a talented Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt who excels on the mat. He possesses an incredible submission game and is a threat when the fight hits the canvas, regardless of whether he is on the top or bottom position, as he is very active off his back. He is a five-time gold medalist in the sport of Jiu-Jitsu, and to compliment his skills on the mat, he has been putting time in at Evolve MMA in Singapore and sharpening his skills on the feet. Not to mention he is a member of Team Nova Uniao in Brazil, so he gets the best training and fight preparation any fighter could ask for. The Brazilian has a nice left hook he likes to throw to the body, and has a hard overhand right to go with it. Heading into New Zealand, this will be the first time in his professional mixed martial arts career where he is fighting outside his native Brazil, though it will be neutral territory, as his opponent Hester hails from the United Sates. Neto has not seen the judges’ scorecards since his lone career loss in 2008, and coming off a year-long layoff, his cardio may be an issue for him in this match-up, though I wouldn’t bet on it playing a major factor. Clint “Headbussa” Hester (10-3 MMA, 3-0 UFC) is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Andy Enz at UFC 169 over four months ago. He dominated Enz throughout the fight and nearly put him away, but Enz showed great heart and survived. The win put Hester on a six-fight winning streak and made it three straight inside the Octagon. He will be looking to add one more to his streak, as he gets set to square off against the highly touted Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt in Neto. The Ultimate Fighter season 17 veteran has decent boxing skills and possesses serious power in his hands, as well as every other limb on his body. He has very vicious knees and elbows, and likes to do serious damage with them. His striking is not technically sound, but he is slowly showing progress in the department. His main problem is that he does not train out of a top MMA gym, and does not put in time training with high level fighters and coaches. I feel that will end up costing him; if not in this bout, then soon. He trains out of X3 Sports in Atlanta, GA, and has solid cardio, so I don’t expect conditioning to be an issue for him going into this 15 minute bout. Hester has decent wrestling skills, but is only effective when being offensive. His grappling defense is not very good, as he has had trouble when put on his back by superior grapplers, which would be the case in this bout against Neto, though the question would be if the Brazilian would find success in taking Hester down to the mat. While he will be at a grappling disadvantage, I think Hester will head into this bout with advantages in both power and cardio. Gabe’s Thoughts: Simply put, I think the Brazilian has a good chance of submitting Hester, but should the fight hit the judges’ scorecards, I favor him getting the nod there, as well. I feel the only way he loses this fight is if he gets knocked out, and while Hester packs power, I will Neto is durable enough to take his shots en route to employing his own gameplan towards a possible finish, and if not, then a dominant position on the mat. Hester’s lack of training at a quality MMA camp may be what results in him coming short in New Zealand. Gabe’s Call: Neto by Submission (kneebar, 2:29 round 1) Gabe’s Recommended Play: Neto (-155) 6.2u to win 4u

Written by Gabe Killian

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