RFA 20 Betting Odds

RFA 20AXS TV will have a tougher time than normal drawing eyeballs to their combat sports programming this Friday, as RFA 20 will go head-to-head with the UFC Fight Night 55 main card. Luckily, Fight Pass cards tend to move along at a pretty decent pace, so the UFC event should be wrapped up by the time the main event of RFA 20 is scheduled to start. That main event is a particularly juicy battle between two very highly touted bantamweight prospects. Luke Sanders brings his undefeated record and his up-tempo style into this title bout. Jarred Mercado has just one blemish in his 13-fight career, and his wrestling has been absolutely stifling. It will be interesting to see if Mercado can use his wrestling against Sanders, who was a state wrestling champion in Tennessee. If not, Sanders — who now trains at the MMA Lab — will have an edge on the feet, and could very well walk away the new RFA bantamweight champion. The co-main event on this card is in the welterweight division as Xtreme Couture’s Ben Smith returns to the RFA for the second time to face Josh Cavan. Both fighters have dropped their only RFA appearances so far, but Smith’s was back at RFA 8 against Mike Rhodes and he’s since gone on to win four consecutive fights at the regional level. Cavan was on a similar four-fight winning streak before running into Chris Heatherly in his last bout. A win would send either fighter way up the ladder in RFA’s welterweight division. The final bout with odds features former TUF contestant and now-AXS TV staple Gilbert Smith takes on Serbian Bojan Velickovic. This is a battle between a pair of solid submission grapplers, as 13 of their combined 19 victories have come via tapout. Smith has faced the higher level of competition in his career, but Velickovic is no stranger to stepping in with solid fighters, as his bout with Krzysztof Jotko can attest. This will be the Serbian’s first fight in the US in over three years, but he was successful in his last trip stateside. MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened the betting lines for RFA 20 today at Several Bookmakers. Here they are: ——————– MAIN CARD (AXS TV, 10pm ET) RFA Bantamweight Title Luke Sanders -210 Jarred Mercado +160 Ben Smith -215 Josh Cavan +165 Gilbert Smith -185 Bojan Velickovic +145 ——————– Brad’s Analysis: Luke Sanders is a very, very good prospect in the bantamweight division, and I think his more well-rounded game will be enough to handle Jarred Mercado. At this point, Mercado is simply too reliant on his wrestling, and that’s not an area where he’ll have a big enough advantage over Sanders to really put it to use. Against the best grappler he’s faced thus far, Jordan Stiner, Mercado struggled, and I think Sanders is better in all areas than Stiner. Both of these fighters could find success at the next level, but I think it’s Sanders’ time now. My worry every time Josh Cavan steps in the cage is his cardio. He looked good early against Chris Heatherly, but faded badly in the second (and that was against a fighter not known for cardio himself), and got finished. If he doesn’t get Smith out of there early, the same could happen here. Smith has been stopped in both of his losses, so the possibility is certainly there, but I’m not going to play Cavan based on the chance he gets a quick finish. Gilbert Smith never seems to get any respect from the betting public. Since being cut from the UFC, he’s twice seen lines in his AXS TV fights have heavy action come in on his opponents. He won both fights. He was also nearly a +200 favorite against Brian Foster, and was very competitive in that fight. I think he puts on another solid performance here and picks up another win, I just hope the public goes in on Velickovic. While both are solid grapplers, Smith is the better wrestler, and very good at maintaining top position. His style isn’t the most exciting, but you know exactly what you’re going to get from him, and that’s the type of fighter you have to like betting.

Written by Brad Taschuk

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