UFC Fight Night 51 Play: “Brutal” Johnny Bedford (-165) vs Rani Yahya (+135)

Rani YahyaUFC Fight Night 51 Date: September 13, 2014 Arena: Nilson Nelson Gymnasium City: Brasilia, Brazil Bantamweight bout: “Brutal” Johnny Bedford (-165) vs Rani Yahya (+135) Fight Breakdown: Getting the action going as the first fight of the evening at UFC Fight Night 51 on UFC Fight Pass is a bantamweight rematch between Texas’ “Brutal” Johnny Bedford and The Brazilian, Rani Yahya. This time around, it is the American who is the favorite at the sportsbooks at -165 ($165 to win $100), with the Brazilian being the betting underdog at +135 ($100 to win $135) at Several Bookmakerss. “Brutal” Johnny Bedford (19-11-1-1 NC MMA, 2-2-1 NC UFC) is coming off a first round TKO loss against “The Renegade” Cody Gibson at UFC Fight Night 44 back in June and is very eager to pick up a win in Brazil. “Brutal” is a brawler who loves to wrestle. He likes to damage his opponents on the mat with his vicious ground and pound. The 31-year old is a very aggressive fighter who loves to push the pace and put the pressure on his opponents. He finds joy in playing the role of bully inside the Octagon, especially against opponents he has a size advantage over, which seems to be the case in most of his fights at 135-pounds, as he is a very big bantamweight. Bedford loves to use his knees and does a lot of damage when implementing them in his offensive attack. While he is excellent offensively, he leaves holes defensively. His chin is not bad, but it is not good, either. He has been knocked out three times now; once by Gibson a couple of months ago, once by former UFC bantamweight Edwin Figureoa on the regional circuit and once by current flyweight contender John Dodson in the semifinals for season 14 of The Ultimate Fighter reality series, though that loss does not reflect his professional resume. The biggest hole in Bedford’s game would be his submission defense, which has been improving, but he still leaves openings, largely in part due to his bad habit of making mental errors in fights. “Brutal” does not have very good takedown defense, but when put on his back, he is very active in guard, constantly attacking with elbows and submission attempts of his own. While his cardio is not the best, I believe he will have enough in his tank for a full 15-minutes of action, should the fight hit the judges’ scorecards. Rani Yahya (19-8-1 NC MMA, 4-2-1 NC UFC) last saw action at UFC Fight Night 39 in Abu Dhabi six months ago, taking on current opponent Johnny Bedford in their initial bout, which resulted in a no decision. Bedford was under the impression he has earned a TKO victory until Bruce Buffer announced the bout a no contest, at which point the Ohio native lost his cool. The referee ruled it a no contest because it was a headbutt that initially hurt Yahya, and after watching replays, Bedford apologized and a rematch was made for UFC Fight Night 44. Unfortunately, Yahya suffered an injury in training and was removed from the card. The 29-year old’s striking is average at best, but keeps improving. He has a nice lead left, and puts together some decent combinations, though he has limited head movement, is flat-footed, and does not move very well on the feet. The Brazilian does not do a great job of setting up his takedowns, as he tends to telegraph them. His game plan going into every fight is to get it to the ground, where he can implement his top level submission game. Yahya is a second degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, so it goes without saying that he is incredibly talented on the mat, as is also evident by the fact that 15 of his 19 professional mixed martial arts career victories have come by way of tapout. The seven-fight UFC veteran has great strength and dominant top control, even against larger opponents. He makes excellent transitions on the mat, and advances positions really well, ultimately setting up and securing a submission; usually a choke. His cardio is not very good, and should be something to keep an eye on at 135-pounds, though his opponent is no cardio-freak, either. Gabe’s Thoughts: I expect another finish in this bout; either Yahya by Submission or Bedford by T/KO, and I could really see it going either way, but I am going to stick with my initial gut-call on this one from the first time I did my homework on this fight months ago when they fought in Abu Dhabi. That call was Yahya by Submission. Should the fight hit the mat, I like his chances of submitting Bedford. The ‘under’ for this fight is set at 2.5 rounds, the line for which is currently -150. I personally expected the total for this prop to be set at over/under 1.5 rounds, so I see getting 2.5 rounds at -150 as a real gift. I am expecting a finish in this fight, and I think it will happen in under 1.5 rounds, so I think the under 2.5 is a safe play and will be the one I make. I see value in Yahya at the current betting line of +135, as I think he should be a slight favorite, but I see more value in the under, so that’s why I choose that play instead of Yahya straight up. If Yahya ends up winning a decision, I’ll be kicking myself, but it’s a chance worth taking. I think the chances of either fighter scoring a finish are greater than Yahya winning a decision. Gabe’s Call: Yahya by Technical Submission (triangle choke, 1:43 round 1) Gabe’s Recommended Play: Under 2.5 rounds (-150) 4.5u to win 3u

Written by Gabe Killian

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