UFC Fight Night 63 Fight Breakdown: Julianna Pena vs. Milana Dudieva

julianna-pena One of the main card bouts at UFC Fight Night 63 is a three-round women’s bantamweight bout between Julianna Pena and Milana Dudieva. According to the current betting lines available at Several Bookmakers, Pena is a -270 favorite (bet $270 to win $100) while Dudieva is a +230 underdog (bet $100 to win $230). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened up Pena at -305 and Dudieva at +225, and Pena remains the favorite although the juice has dropped as the lines have tightened. Pena is the rightful favorite here and I believe there is betting value at the current odds. Here’s why. Pena (5-2) won TUF 18 as one of the underdogs in the house with a submission win at the finale over Jessica Rakoczy, but her career was put on hold for the past 16 months due to a major knee injury. Now healthy, the 25-year-old American is looking to get back to where she was before, and that’s in the top 15 of the women’s bantamweight division and banging on the door for a title shot. Pena is an extremely solid prospect and could definitely challenge for the belt within the next few years if she can stay healthy. She has a very solid wrestling base that she uses to bully her opponents down to the mat and then beat them up on the canvas. She has both submission ability and knockout power with her ground and pound on the mat and of her five pro wins all are by stoppage. She showed some flaws earlier in her pro career, but she cleaned those up on TUF and as long as she’s actually healthy now, she should be able to roll through Dudieva, a hand-picked opponent, and continue to move up the women’s bantamweight ladder. Dudieva (11-3) is 1-o in the UFC with a split decision win over Elizabeth Phillips. The 25-year-old Russian is currently riding a three-fight win streak and a victory over Pena would shoot her straight into the top 15 of the women’s bantamweight division. A finisher, Dudieva has nine stoppage wins including six by submission and three by T/KO. All of her wins have come in the first-round, indicating she is a fast starter. However, her level of competition as a whole has been quite poor and so that has to be taken into account when looking at her record. She comes from a grappling background and her wrestling has generally been effective against her other opponents, but it’s hard to see her having success in the wrestling against the bigger, stronger Pena. Dudieva is a decent fighter, but this is a fight the UFC is expecting her to lose, and I think that’s exactly what happens. Pena is coming off of a long injury layoff and that’s the only reason I think the line on her is so low, because personally I believe she should be a 4-to-1 favorite in this matchup. Her grappling is absolutely top level and if she can land takeowns on Dudieva like I expect her to, she’s going to win this fight easily. Whether it be by TKO, submission, or decision, I think Pena is going to take Dudieva down at will, beat her up on the mat, and win this fight. At the current line I see good value on Pena and believe she’s an essential parlay piece this weekend.

Written by Adam Martin.

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