UFC Fight Night 88 Opening Odds Breakdown: Thomas Almeida vs. Cody Garbrandt

UFC Fight Night 88Event: UFC Fight Night 88 Date: May 29th, 2016 Location: Las Vegas, Nevada Venue: Mandalay Bay Events Center Broadcast: Fox Sports 1 UFC Bantamweight Contender Thomas Almeida (21-0) After capturing the Legacy bantamweight title — with a picture perfect liver shot combination — Almeida was signed to the UFC. In his debut, he was matched with the ultra durable Tim Gorman and went to decision for the first time in his career. He followed that with one of his more typical performances, dominating Yves Jabouin with a first round TKO. Another veteran awaited in the form of Brad Pickett, and despite getting badly rocked multiple times in the opening round, Almeida recovered and scored a highlight reel flying knee knockout. To cap off a wildly successful 2015, Almeida knocked Anthony Birchak cold with a massive flurry of punches, leaving his opponent in a crumpled heap on the mat. UFC Bantamweight Contender Cody Garbrandt (8-0) A former amateur boxer, and state wrestling champion in high school, Cody Garbrandt entered the UFC after just five pro fights. He made an immediate impression, knocking out Marcus Brimage in the third round in one of the more unheralded fights of 2015. His next appearance ended up being the first decision of Garbrandt’s pro career, as Enrique Briones provided a stiffer test than anticipated. Garbrandt was then scheduled to take on John Lineker, but a touch of the dengue fever sidelined Lineker, and Augusto Mendes took his place. Garbrandt dispatched Mendes inside the first round and earned himself a main event slot against Thomas Almeida. UFC Fight Night 88 Opening Odds Analysis: First, this is a phenomenal fight. I’m often against the idea of prospects fighting each other so young, but the bantamweight division is stocked with young talent, so it makes sense in this case. MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened Almeida a -260 favorite (bet $260 to win $100) and Garbrandt the +180 underdog (bt $100 to win $180) at Several Bookmakers. The public immediately jumped on the opening number for Garbrandt and brought the line under 2-to-1. It now sits with Almeida a -160 favorite and the comeback on Garbrandt at +140. At the opening price the public was on the right track to take Garbrandt here, as the fight should be competitive and we’ve already seen Almeida hurt in the UFC. However, the current price makes Almeida a more enticing option. His superb conditioning makes his style almost impossible to deal with, and once he gets on a roll offensively or senses his opponent is hurt, he steps on the gas like few other fighters in MMA. While Garbrandt certainly has a chance to land a big shot on Almeida, standing with the Brazilian seems to be a losing proposition more often than not for him. The alternative for Garbrandt is to pursue a wrestling-heavy gameplan. He may find some success in that avenue, but Almeida’s takedown defense and particularly his ability to scramble back to his feet are excellent, so Garbrandt could just be wasting energy with that strategy. In the end, I think that Almeida’s pressure will result in Garbrandt’s back on the cage a bit too much, allowing the Brazilian to unleash the fight finishing torrent we’ve come to expect.

Written by Brad Taschuk

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