UFC Fight Night 44 Play: Joe “Excalibur” Ellenberger (-192) vs James “Moonwalker” Moontasri (+177)

James_Moontasri_RFAUFC Fight Night 44 Date: June 28, 2014 Arena: AT&T Center City: San Antonio, TX Lightweight bout: Joe “Excalibur” Ellenberger (-192) vs James “Moonwalker” Moontasri (+177) Fight Breakdown: Getting the action started for the UFC Fight Night 44 main card on FOX Sports 1 will be a lighweight scrap between Joe “Excalibur” Ellenberger and James “Moonwalker”Moontasri. Ellenberger is the betting favorite in this match-up at -192 ($192 to win 100), with Moontasri being the underdog at +177 ($100 to win $177) at Several Bookmakerss. Joe “Excalibur” Ellenberger (14-1MMA, 0-0 UFC) is riding two fight winning streak into his Octagon debut, with the only blemish on his professional mixed martial arts career resume being a unanimous decision loss to current UFC lightweight Justin Salas. He is the twin brother of UFC welterweight Jake Ellenberger, and despite suffering from a rare blood disease, he has decent conditioning and is capable of going hard for three rounds of action, so I don’t think his conditioning will play a major factor in this bout; though Octagon jitters and adrenaline dump may be a factor, so I can’t say that with full confidence. “Excalibur” is a talented wrestler who works a solid double leg and has a nice inside trip. His striking is rudimentary, but improving. He works nice hooks, has a solid uppercut, and likes to go for the occasional high kick. Ellenberger is a fighter with high fight IQ, a lot of heart and excellent submission defense. He will be looking to extend his winning streak to three, as he gets set to make his Octagon debut. James “Moonwalker” Moontasri (7-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) is set to make his promotional debut on extremely short notice, coming off a second round knockout victory over Jordan Rinaldi earlier this month under the RFA banner. The win put him on a three fight winning streak, and he certainly is a finisher, as five of his seven professional mixed martial arts career victories have come by way of stoppage; three via T/KO and two by tapout. The only blemish on his professional mixed martial arts career resume has been a split decision loss to journeyman Darren Smith, though I have not seen that fight and it is possible Moontasri could have deserved the nod there. “Moonwalker” is a talented striker with a background in Taekwondo. He has a variety of beautiful and effective kicks in his arsenal, including a roundhouse kick, a switch kick and various flashy kicks. He often likes to go for the high kick, timing it for when his opponent’s just begin to drop their hands. Moontasri puts together some excellent combinations on the feet, often ending them with a kick. He works great hooks and has a vicious uppercut, which he used to put Rinaldi out cold in his last outing. The Black House MMA product is a very good counter striker who has been training his wrestling with Kenny Johnson and he possesses solid takedown defense. He has strong hips and excels in keeping the fight on the feet, and when taken down, does a fantastic job of working his way back to his feet. Moontasri is talented on the mat, as well, owning a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He is a very well-rounded fighter who is ready to pick up his second June 2014 victory in what will be his UFC debut. Gabe’s Thoughts: Moontasri fought earlier in the month and took this fight on extremely short notice, so his conditioning combined with Octagon jitters and a possible adrenaline dump could prove to be a factor, but I am personally betting against it. I think Moontasri is not only the superior striker in this match-up, but also the superior mixed martial artist, in general. I think he will succeed in keeping this fight on the feet and schooling Ellenberger en route to a possible T/KO stoppage, and if not, a unanimous decision W on the judges’ scorecards. I am a fan of Moontasri’s and feel he should a -210 favorite in this match-up, so getting him at the current underdog price of +177 is just a steal in my book. If he was not taking this fight on such short notice and making an incredibly quick turnaround, I would have said he should be a -360 favorite. Gabe’s Call: “Moonwalker” by KO (left-hook, uppercut combination, 2:28 round 2) Gabe’s Recommended Play: Moontasri (+177) 5 to win 8.85u

Written by Gabe Killian

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