UFC Fight Night 51 Fight Breakdown: Igor Araujo vs. George Sullivan

George-Sullivan One of the prelims at UFC Fight Night 51 is a three-round welterweight bout between Igor Araujo and George Sullivan. According to the current betting lines available at Several Bookmakers, Araujo is a -170 favorite (bet $170 to win $100) while Sullivan is a +150 underdog (bet $100 to win $150). MMA linesetter Nick Kalikas opened Araujo at -165 and Sullivan at +125, and so far there has been slight action in Araujo’s direction. This is a close fight for sure, but I lean slightly towards Sullivan and feel like there could be mild value on him as a dog. Here’s why. Araujo (25-6, 1 NC) was a contestant on TUF 16 but was bounced from the tournament after a loss to eventual winner Colton Smith. After winning a fight on the regional circuit after the show, the UFC called up the 34-year-old Brazilian and since he’s been in the Octagon he’s gone 2-0 and has looked quite solid overall. In both his wins over Danny Mitchell and Ildemar Alcantara, he showed tremendous wrestling and top control and clearly won both of those fights. However, he showed a lack of aggression as far as sub attempts and ground and pound go in the UFC and that will surely cost him against higher-level competition, although of course I should point out the BJJ black belt scored 17 submissions before he entered the Octagon. As well, although he has good wrestling his striking isn’t very good and any time he’s on the feet he’s at risk of getting hurt. Against Sullivan, he has to use his takedowns to take his opponent to the ground and grind him out there for the win, because if this fight stays standing he’ll be at a disadvantage. However, with the excellent top control he’s shown so far in the UFC, I understand why he’s the favorite heading into this fight. Sullivan (15-3, 1 NC) scored an upset in his UFC debut, scoring a decision win over Mike Rhodes as a sizeable underdog. Overall he is riding a seven-fight win streak at the moment, with four wins coming over TKO, including a knockout of TUF 16 alum Julian Lane. Sullivan is a very tough guy to beat as he’s a well-rounded fighter with a lot of heart and good cardio. For 15 minutes you know Sullivan will be there the whole time trying to get the victory, and you have to respect that. He isn’t the most talented or athletic guy in the division, but he makes up for it with his will to win. He has solid overall wrestling and while his striking isn’t great, it’s decent. He also is strong and can win most grappling exchanges up against the fence. Against Araujo he will be looking to stop the takedowns and keep the fight standing, because he is the better striker. But if the fight hits the mat, he could be at the risk of being laid on en route to a decision loss. Still, stylistically it’s a favorable matchup for Sullivan, and I’m not so sure he should be a +150 dog. Araujo’s gameplan will no doubt be to take Sullivan to the ground and grind him out over three rounds with top control, but I think Sullivan has good-enough takedown defence to keep the fight on the feet, and on the feet I believe he is a better striker. I expect a close, competitive fight between two veteran mixed martial artists, but at the end of three rounds I think Sullivan will have done enough to win a decision. However, since the fight is in Araujo’s hometown, if it’s close and he can land some takedowns in the last minute of the rounds he might be able to steal it. That’s why I can make a bigger bet here on Sullivan, because otherwise I would as I think stylistically this is a good matchup for him. Based on the line of +150, a small bet on Sullivan is warranted but nothing more than that because the threat of Brazil judges going against him in a close fight is too high.

Written by Adam Martin.

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