UFC Fight Night 45 Fight Breakdown: Rick Story (-280) vs. Leonardo Mafra (+240)

Rick Story One of the main card bouts at UFC Fight Night 45 is a three-round welterweight bout between Rick “The Horror” Story and Leonardo “Macarrao” Mafra. The current betting line for the fight at Several Bookmakers lists Story as a -280 favorite (bet $280 to win $100) while Mafra is a +240 underdog (bet $100 to win $240). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas originally opened up Story at -380 and Mafra at +260, and so far the action has come in on the dog Mafra. I disagree with the action on Mafra as I’m picking Story to win this fight. Here’s why. Story (16-8) has competed in the UFC for over five years, going 9-6 overall with wins over Johny Hendricks, Thiago Alves, Brian Ebersole, Quinn Mulhern, Dustin Hazelett, Nick Osipczak, Brock Jardine, Jesse Lennox and Brian Foster. With his combination of power wrestling and solid boxing, Story is a ton to handle and even some of the best welterweights in the world have struggled with him. He has only lost to John Hathaway, Mike Pyle, Charlie Brenneman, Martin Kampmann, Demian Maia and Kelvin Gastelum, and all of those fights minus the Maia bout were very competitive and Story lost decisions in all of them. Still only 29 years of age, Story has a terrific chin and is tough to finish. He has fought some of the best strikers in the UFC and has been able to withstand their shots and it’s hard to believe Mafra is going to be the guy to knock him out. Although Story is one a bit of a decline, he is still a very tough out and going up against a guy who lacks big-fight experience like Mafra, he should really be able to put on a good performance and keep his job on the roster with a big win. Mafra (11-1) was on TUF Brazil 1 but after losing to Cezar Mutante via submission on the show and at UFC 147 to Thiago Perpetuo via third-round TKO, the promotion cut him and he has had to work his way back to the big show. After racking up five-straight wins on the Brazilian regional circuit, the UFC called the 25 year old back up when John Howard pulled out of the Story fight and it’s a golden opportunity for him to emerge as a contender. Mafra is an excellent striker with vicious knockout power and he’s very aggressive. He also has an underrated ground game. However, he doesn’t excel in grappling and he also seems to have an issue with his gas tank. He also has fought very poor competition in his career minus his TUF Brazil fights and his earlier career fight against Santiago Ponzinibbio. Overall he’s a solid addition to the roster but going up against a tough veteran like Story is not going to be easy for him and that’s why he is the underdog heading into the fight. Although Mafra is a solid muay Thai fighter, I believe Story will be able to use his wrestling to take Mafra out and grind him out en route to a decision, or he may elect to be more aggressive than usual and finish the fight with ground and pound or with a submission, maybe a rear-naked choke. At -280 I think Story could be a nice piece of a two-teamer with another fighter on the card such as Donald Cerrone. Although Mafra has improved since his UFC stint, I believe Story is one of the most underrated welterweights on the planet and with his huge edge in the grappling department against Mafra this is certainly his fight to lose and I just don’t see that happening. Story for the win.

Written by Adam Martin.

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