UFC Fight Night 51 Fight Breakdown: Sean Spencer vs. Paulo Thiago

Sean-Spencer One of the prelims at UFC Fight Night 51 is a three-round welterweight bout between Sean Spencer and Paulo Thiago. According to the current betting lines available at Several Bookmakers, Spencer is a -180 favorite (bet $180 to win $100) while Thiago is a +150 underdog (bet $100 to win $150). MMA linesetter Nick Kalikas opened Spencer at -150 and Thiago at +110, and so far the action has come in on Spencer. I think this is a great situation to fade Thiago in and with stylistic advantages, I definitely see why the betting public is favoring Spencer in this spot. Here’s why. Spencer (11-3) is a solid middle-of-the-pack welterweight in the UFC. He’s 2-2 so far in the UFC with wins over Drew Dober and Yuri Villefort and losses to Rafael Natal and Alex Garcia. The 27-year-old American is a striker, and loves to throw volume at this opponents. He doesn’t have knockout power, but he does keep up a pace that’s hard for most guys to deal with, and most of his wins have come via unanimous decision. His ground game is lacking, and his wrestling isn’t that good overall, but his takedown defence is improving as we saw against Garcia and if he can keep his fights standing he always has a chance to win. I like Spencer and think he has what it takes to make a decent career for himself in the UFC, and against Thiago I think the UFC is setting him up with a winnable fight against a veteran on the decline, and that’s why he is the favorite heading into the fight despite his lack of experience against top-shelf competition. Thiago (15-7) was once one of the top welterweights in the UFC but he’s fallen on hard times as of late, going  2-6 over his last eight bouts with the only wins in that time period coming over David Mitchell and Michel Prazeres. At one point, the now 33-year-old Brazilian was a top-five fighter after he knocked out Josh Koscheck back at UFC 95, but that was over five years ago and since then Thiago really hasn’t did much. Overall he does skills, including decent boxing and decent wrestling and BJJ, but he’s shown such a decline that it’s hard to back him anymore, and in many ways it looks like he’s completely shot. I was surprised the UFC kept Thiago around after his last loss to Gasan Umalatov, and once again they are giving him a tough matchup against a young up-and-comer in Spencer, a fight I don’t think he will win, and I’m not surprised he’s the underdog going into the fight despite historically being a popular fighter among bettors. I believe Thiago is pretty much done and I think Spencer is going to beat him up badly here and pick up the biggest win of his career. I think he stuffs Thiago’s takedown attempts, keeps it standing, and outstrikes him with volume to win a clear decision. At -180, Spencer is one of my favorite bets on the card and I will be playing him as part of a two-team parlay. I also think he wins by decision so if that prop is decent plus money, it could be worth a stab too, although I do feel the moneyline is the safest play given the situation.

Written by Adam Martin.

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