UFC Fight Night 54 Play: Bryan Caraway (+230) vs Raphael Assuncao (-270)

MMA: UFC on FOX 5-Assuncao vs EastonUFC Fight Night 54 Date: October 4, 2014 Arena: Scotiabank Centre City: Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada Bantamweight bout: Bryan Caraway (+230) vs Raphael Assuncao (-270) Fight Breakdown: The co-main event for UFC Fight Night 54 in Nova Scotia will be a bantamweight contest that will likely determine the next contender for the promotion’s 135-pound gold following Dominick Cruz. Both fighters are ready to go to war and one is expected when The Ultimate Fighter season 14 veteran Bryan Caraway squares off against Atlanta’s Raphael Assuncao. Caraway is the betting underdog heading into this scrap at +230 ($100 to win $230) with the favorite Assuncao being -270 ($270 to win $100) at Several Bookmakerss. Bryan “Kid Lightning” Caraway (19-6 MMA, 4-1 UFC) is coming off a second round rear naked choke submission victory over Erik “Goyito” Perez and now rides a two-fight winning streak, which could have been six, if not for a controversial split decision he dropped to Takeya Mizugaki on enemy territory in Japan back in early 2013. He firmly believes that with a victory in this match-up against Assuncao, he will be next in line for a shot at the winner of Cruz vs Dillashaw. The 30-year old is a talented grappler who works solid takedowns and is dominant from top position. He has an excellent Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu game, owning an impressive 17 of 19 professional mixed martial arts career victories by way of submission. “Kid Lightning” has been making significant improvements in his striking game, as has been evident fight to fight. He works solid outside leg kicks and has a nice uppercut. Caraway also possesses a good chin and is capable of taking a punch, so he isn’t afraid to test his skills on the feet against his opponents. The Ultimate Fighter season 14 veteran generally has had cardio issues in the past, but I believe that is in the past. I think he has made improvements in that department, as well, and expect he will be game for a full three rounds of action against the Brazlian, should this 135-pound scrap hit the judges’ scorecards for a decision. Raphael Assuncao (22-4 MMA, 6-1 UFC) is coming off an impressive unanimous decision victory over previously undefeated former Legacy FC Bantamweight Champion Raphael Assuncao. He is now on a six-fight winning streak and undefeated as a bantamweight, with victories over the likes of Vaughan Lee, Mike Easton, Johnny Eduardo, Issei Tamura, and most importantly, current UFC Bantamweight Champion TJ Dillashaw, respectively. Eager to get another shot at Dillashaw or Cruz, if he’s victorious, the Brazilian believes a win over Caraway will guarantee him that opportunity. The 32-year old is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt who is well-versed in the submission game, both offensively and defensively. Nine of his 20 professional mixed martial arts career victories have come by way of submission, so while he does not go searching for the sub, he knows how to capitalize on openings in order to get the tapout. Assuncao is skilled in the Brazilian martial art of Capoeira and you can tell in his movement and footwork, which are excellent. He moves really well inside the cage and is not easy to cut off. He has solid boxing skills and his striking arsenal keeps growing and improving. The UFC and WEC veteran has good takedowns defense, and is quite effective with his jab. He is a well-conditioned mixed martial artist, so I believe he will have no trouble going a full 15 minutes against Caraway, should this fight go the distance. Gabe’s Thoughts: I think this will be a closely contested contest in which I feel Assuncao will find success in stuffing Caraway’s takedown attempts, keeping the fight on the feet and outstriking The Ultimate Fighter season 14 veteran for three rounds of action en route to a decision victory. However, due to the nature of this fight and with both of these bantamweights having the tendency to go to split decisions, even when their fights are even a little bit close, I think a safer play here will be taking the over 2.5 rounds at -205, rather than taking the Brazilian straight up at -270. While these two are decent finishers in the UFC’s 135-pound division, I think it would be a rare instance for one of them to finish the other within only 15 minutes of action. I believe more often than not they will be battling this one out for all three rounds of action for a judges’ decision, and I do favor Assuncao to take the nod and cement himself as the rightful number one contender after Dominick Cruz. Also, not only do I think the Over 2.5 rounds is the safer play at -205, but I think it offers far more value than Assuncao straight up at -270, as I think both lines should be at -300. To me, stylistically, this fight has “decision” written all over it, so I am going to count on these two finishers to fail on finding the finish and finding themselves in the center of the Octagon, listening to Bruce Buffer read the scorecard. Gabe’s Call: Assuncao by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27) Gabe’s Recommended Play: Over 2.5 rounds (-205) 3.69u to win 1.8u

Written by Gabe Killian

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