UFC 181 Fight Breakdown: Urijah Faber vs. Francisco Rivera

Francisco Rivera The featured prelim at UFC 181 is a three-round bantamweight bout between Urijah Faber and Francisco Rivera. According to the current betting lines available at Several Bookmakers, Faber is a -435 favorite (bet $435 to win $100) while Rivera is a +340 underdog (bet $100 to win $340). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened up Faber at -405 and Rivera at +285, and so far the betting public has been betting on Faber. I agree with the line movement in Faber’s direction as I see him winning this fight in impressive fashion. Here’s why. Faber (31-7) is one of the top bantamweights in MMA history. The 35-year-old leader of Team Alpha Male is 7-3 in the UFC with wins over Alex Caceres, Michael McDonald, Yuri Alcantara, Scott Jorgensen, Ivan Menjivar, Brian Bowles and Eddie Wineland, with his losses in the Octagon coming to Renan Barao (twice) and Dominick Cruz (once). Faber is extremely well rounded. He has great wrestling, excellent submission ability, good striking, fantastic cardio and a huge heart. The only thing that has held Faber back in the past is his chin, which isn’t the greatest, but other than that he’s a near-perfect fighter. Faber is one of the top dogs at 135 but his teammate TJ Dillashaw is the champion and he won’t fight him, so in the meantime he’ll take these stay busy fights against the likes of Rivera, fights where he is a deserved big favorite for a reason, and fights that so far have been lucrative for those who have been betting on them. Rivera (10-3, 1 NC) is one of the hardest-hitting bantamweights in the UFC. The 33-year-old American is 3-2, 1 NC in the UFC with wins over George Roop, Edwin Figueroa and Alex Soto and losses to Takeya Mizugaki and Reuben Duran. Rivera lives and dies with his boxing, and when he’s on, he’s a devastating striker with seven knockouts at 135lbs. Unfortunately he himself doesn’t have the greatest chin and it’s cost him against Mizugaki (where he was knocked down) and Erik Koch in the WEC (where he was knocked out). Still, if he can connect he always has a chance to win. Outside of his boxing, though, Rivera doesn’t offer much. He doesn’t have great wrestling, and he has no submission skills on the ground. He is a technical brawler, and while that is effective against the division’s lower-ranked guys, the elite 135lbers will give him trouble, and that’s exactly what Faber is. And that’s why Rivera enters this fight as a big dog. Rivera is a hard hitter at 135lbs and he has a chance to win by KO any time he steps into the cage, but I’d be surprised if he finds Faber’s chin in this one as I see this fight mostly playing out on the mat. Faber has a huge wrestling advantage in this fight and I see him using it to take Rivera down at will, beat him up on the floor, and eventually either get a submission or win a decision on points. Heck, he could even stop Rivera with strikes for a TKO win. Whatever the case may be, I like Faber here a lot and at -425 I see value on him as a parlay piece as I believe he should be a much bigger favorite in this bout.

Written by Adam Martin.

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