UFC Fight Night 55 Fight Breakdown: Jake Matthews vs. Vagner Rocha

jake-matthews One of the preliminary matchups at UFC Fight Night 55 is a three-round lightweight bout between Jake Matthews and Vagner Rocha. According to the current betting lines available at Several Bookmakers, Matthews is a -360 favorite (bet $360 to win $100) while Rocha is a +300 underdog (bet $100 to win $300). MMA linesetter Nick Kalikas opened up Matthews at -385 and Rocha at -265, and the lines have tightened since the opener. I’m surprised the line on Matthews dropped from the opener as I expected him to be steamed by the betting public in what looks like a mismatch. Here’s why. Matthews (7-0) is one of the top prospects in the UFC lightweight division. Only 20 years of age, the Australian Matthews has already racked up seven victories as a pro, with six of those wins coming by way of stoppage. Matthews is one of the new breed of fighters coming up in the sport who started out doing MMA at a young age, and based on what we have seen of him so far I think it’s safe to say he has a high ceiling bright future. He is tall and strong for 155lbs, and we saw in his UFC debut against Dashon Johnson that he uses his size to his advantage. He has very good wrestling, vicious ground and pound, and he also has a nice submission game, particularly from top position. Matthews is working on his striking, and it’s coming along nicely, and when he has that down pat he will be hard to stop. He did lose on TUF Nations to Olivier Aubin-Mercier, but that’s not a bad loss at all, and if anything it turned Matthews into a better fighter, one who I believe has massive potential in the sport. Rocha (11-3) is making his return to the UFC after over two years away from the Octagon. He wen 1-2 overall in his first stint in the Octagon with a submission win over Cody McKenzie and losses to Jonathan Brookins (by KO) and Donald Cerrone (by decision). Since being cut, he has won four fights in a row (including three by stoppage) to earn his spot back on the UFC roster. A BJJ black belt, Rocha is very slick on the ground, having won eight fights via tapout. He generally has fought poor competition, but he does have a notable win over Igor Gracie from his time in Bellator earlier in his career. The 32-year-old American showed a lot of toughness in his fight against Cerrone at UFC 131, absorbing a huge amount of leg kicks with seemingly no quit in him, but after scoring a submission over McKenzie, he was brutally knocked out by Brookins, which makes me question his ability to take a punch. Rocha is good on the ground but that’s about it. He’s not a complete mixed martial artist, and as far as I can tell he’s being brought in to make Matthews look good, which is why he’s a big underdog heading into this fight. I expect Matthews to dominate this fight from bell-to-bell. It’s possible that he could show off his improving striking, but I think it’s more likely that he uses his wrestling to take control of this bout by bullying Rocha all over the Octagon and picking up a definitive win by stoppage, or possibly a decision since Rocha is tough. More often that not, though, I think Matthews gets a finish, and I see good value in the UNDER 2.5 rounds prop at +150, although the safest play here is to parlay Matthews at the current moneyline of -360 as I believe he is one of the most likely winners on the card.

Written by Adam Martin.

Leave a Reply

MMA Odds and Ends for Tuesday: Three New UFC Bouts Announced

UFC Fight Night 56 Newcomer Breakdown: Thomas Almeida