UFC Fight Night 45 Fight Breakdown: Leslie Smith (-140) vs. Jessamyn Duke (+120)

Jessamyn Duke One of the prelims at UFC Fight Night 45 is a three-round women’s bantamweight bout between Leslie “The Peacemaker” Smith and Jessamyn “The Gun” Duke. The current betting line for the fight at Several Bookmakers lists Smith as a -140 favorite (bet $140 to win $100) while Duke is a +120 underdog (bet $100 to win $120). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas originally opened up Smith at +100 and Duke at -140, and the line has flipped as Smith is now the favorite. I agree with the movement in Smith’s favor and I think she wins the fight. Here’s why. Smith (6-5, 1 NC) is one of the most exciting fighters in the women’s bantamweight division. The 31 year old trains with Nick Diaz and she fights just like him, constantly walking forward throwing a high-volume attack and also using taunting to her advantage. She has the experience of fighting in both Bellator and in Invicta and she has fought top-flight competition like Sarah Kaufman (twice) and Barb Honchak. She is an excellent volume kickboxer who has slick BJJ and who has a hell of a chin. Sure, she doesn’t have much power, but her volume is often enough for her to punish her opponents, similar to Diaz. Smith didn’t look good in her UFC debut against Kaufman, but she took the fight on a week’s notice. With a full training camp in her back pocket for this one, she should look a lot better against Duke and that’s why she’s the favorite here. Duke (3-1, 1 NC) was a contestant on TUF 18 under coach — and current training partner — Ronda Rousey. She made it into the house with a submission of Laura Howarth, but she lost on the show in the best fight of the season to Raquel Pennington. She then made her UFC debut at the TUF 18 Finale, defeating Peggy Morgan via decision, but she disappointed greatly in her sophomore effort against Bethe Correia, being easily outpointed en route to a decision loss. Although Duke is amongst the tallest and rangiest fighters in her division, she is very inactive and doesn’t throw nearly enough strikes. She has the striking skills but for whatever refuses to use them. On the ground she has good BJJ and she has some decent takedowns, but she rarely uses them. Duke is only 28 and she certainly has potential in the division due to her size, but until she starts fighting more confidently she shouldn’t be favored over anyone at 135lbs. I envision a fun standup fight between these two tall, lanky women bantamweights with Smith getting the better of the exchanges and mixing things up more with her punches and kicks to win a decision on the judges’ scorecards. At -140 I believe there is some value on Smith and she could be worth a straight play here. But the bet I like the most here is the OVER 2.5 rounds total, which is -275. Women’s bantamweight fights not involving Ronda Rousey typically go the distance and both Smith and Duke don’t have much finishing ability, so I think there’s value on this total and believe it’s a nice first leg in a two-team parlay.

Written by Adam Martin.

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