One of the main card bouts at UFC 189 is a three-round welterweight matchup between Brandon Thatch and Gunnar Nelson. According to the current betting lines available at Several Bookmakers, Thatch is a -180 favorite (bet $180 to win $100) while Nelson is a +158 underdog (bet $100 to win $158). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened up Thatch at -160 and Nelson at +120, and money has come in on Thatch. This should be a competitive fight but I slightly lean towards Thatch to get the win. Here’s why. Thatch (11-2) is one of the top strikers at 170lbs in the UFC. The 29-year-old American is 2-1 in the UFC with stoppage wins over Justin Edwards and Paulo Thiago and a submission loss to Benson Henderson in his last fight. Thatch is one of the bigger welterweights in the UFC and one of the most powerful as well. He has a fantastic striking attack on the feet that he calls “calculated violence” and not surprisingly he has finished all 11 of his victories, including seven by knockout. He can knock opponents out with his hands, shins, knees and elbows and I’d argue he’s one of the top-ten strikers in the whole division. The issue with Thatch seems to be more with his grappling. He was taken down by a smaller fighter in Henderson in his last outing and submitted, which is not a good sign going forward as he fights wrestlers in the welterweight division. He is still young, though, so perhaps he can improve this part of his game. As far as his chin goes, he has a solid one, although his cardio is somewhat of a concern as he cuts a lot of weight to make 170lbs. Overall, though, the guy is a beast. His striking is so good and if he can keep his fights standing, he’s going to win most of them at the UFC level, because he is so technical and has so much power. Nelson (13-1-1) is a rising star in the welterweight division. The 26-year-old native of Iceland is 4-1 in the UFC with wins over DaMarques Johnson, Jorge Santiago, Zak Cummins and Omari Akhmedov with a loss to Rick Story. Nelson is one of the top BJJ practitioners in the sport today. He has absolutely lethal submissions once his fights his the floor, and is able to submit just about anyone in his division as his nine submission wins show. As well, Nelson has a karate-based attack on the feet. It’s a bit awkward, but for the most part it has worked for him. As far as his wrestling goes, he doesn’t have great wrestling, per se, but he is very adept at getting into the clinch and getting his opponents to the mat with a trip takedown or body-lock takedown in the vein of Demian Maia. The problem is, that doesn’t work against elite wrestlers, and that’s why Story was able to beat him. Nelson needs to keep working on his overall game, and at 26 he is always improving, but the fight with Story showed he has flaws in his takedown defence and strike defence and both are definitely red flags going forward. He does have a chance to win this fight, though, if he can get it to the ground, but if it stays on the feet most expect Thatch to hurt him badly, and that’s why he is the dog for the first time in his UFC career. This fight seems pretty easy to break down. If Thatch keeps it standing, he wins, if Nelson gets the fight to the ground, he wins. The question now, of course, is whether or not Thatch can stop the takedowns and keep this standing. I think he can, but I can’t bet on it happening after seeing him lose to Henderson, who, like Nelson, is a smaller welterweight. I would assume Thatch has been training his takedown defence like crazy for this fight, but even if that’s the case Nelson’s grappling is so good that he can probably get Thatch down to the mat and if he does, he’s going to get the tapout. Having said all of that, I think with Thatch’s size advantage and improvements in takedown defence he should be able to keep this upright and either win a decision or maybe knock Nelson out, but given the juice, I don’t think he’s worth betting on in this spot. The pick is Thatch, but there are better fights on the card to bet on.