Dec. 4, 2021
On Saturday December 4th, the UFC is back with a thrilling Bantamweight showdown. New England’s Rob Font looks to make a statement and put himself into title contention by beating former UFC champion Jose Aldo. Font has won four straight, and Aldo has won two straight.
Aldo is looking to earn another shot at UFC gold, and a win over 135-pound prospect Rob Font would certainly put him closer to that achieving goal. In the co-main, two Featherweight prospects are looking to extend winning streaks, as Brad Riddell takes on Rafael Fiziev. Both are on four-fight winning streaks under the UFC mantle.
UFC Vegas 44 has other exciting fights on tap including Alex Morono vs. Mickey Gall, Jimmy Crute vs. Jamahal Hill and William Knight vs. Alonzo Menifield.
UFC Vegas 44 Font vs. Aldo Betting Predictions
Aldo is looking to extend his two-fight winning streak to three as he takes on one of Bantamweight’s biggest striking prospects, Font, who is on quite a winning streak himself. Aldo is a striker. Font is a striker. Who is better? Font fights out of the New England Cartel gym, a gym known for housing terrific strikers, most notably the 145-pound division’s Calvin Kattar.
The type of striking Font possesses is very boxing-like. Most of his attacks are targeted up top, and the kicks he throws are nothing compared to what Aldo can do. Font mostly uses kicks to set up strikes to the head or body. The kicking game goes to Aldo in this fight. His leg kicks will be his main path to victory against the boxing-heavy Font. If Aldo can mix in his body strikes too he has a real shot at winning.
Looking at advantages on the Font side, he has to keep that patented jab of his in Aldo’s face all night. We’ve seen Aldo come up short against strikers with a strong jab before, most notably Max Holloway who beat him twice.
UFC Vegas 44 Font vs. Aldo tale of the tape
The mileage on the clock for Aldo is also an x-factor against a young cat on the rise like Rob Font. Aldo has had his career peak, and rarely do we see fighters peak twice.
If we dive a bit deeper into the stats of this matchup, it’s clear that Font has an act for out-striking his opponents to a far greater extent than Aldo. You could counter this with the fact that Aldo has faced tougher competition, but you can only beat who is in front of you. Font has been beating whoever is in front of him as of late.
Aldo has been out-landed 328 to 469 over the course of his last five bouts. Aldo’s last bout was the only time in his last five outings in which he did not get out-landed. In his last five fights, New England’s Font has landed 427 punches on his opponents and in turn, has only absorbed 256 strikes. He has only been out-struck once in his most recent five fights.
I don’t think any opponent has a stronger strength of schedule than Aldo, but regardless, the fact of the matter is that Jose is starting to stagnate at this point in his career - and I’m saying that in spite of the fact that he has won his last two fights. Aldo is an old-school guy, and he relies on his power to win fights - volume has never been something he throws.
Font is one of the younger guys who can stay in your face for five rounds and out-strike you for the entire duration of 25 minutes. I want to say technique is on Font’s side. In a striking battle, I simply have to go with the fighter who is more likely to land more strikes. Font has shown an ability to do this more so than Aldo.
Best Bet: Font via Decision
UFC Vegas 44: Font vs. Aldo Betting Resources
Rob Font has won four straight fights. (Getty)
UFC Vegas 44: Font vs. Aldo Card Picks
Brad Liddell vs. Rafael Fiziev
In the UFC Vegas 44 co-main, two 155-pound UFC prospects lock horns. It seems that every time either of these guys step into the octagon, some sort of fight bonus is inevitable. Riddell’s 4-0 run in the UFC has earned him two fight-of-the-night bonuses, and Fiziev has generated two fight-of-the-night bonuses and a performance-of-the-night bonus in his last three straight.
Striking-wise both guys are easily among the best of the 155-pound division. Fiziev is like a smaller, slightly more technical Paulo Costa if you ask me. He doesn’t always pick his openings to strike especially well. His thing is more about just throwing everything with murderous intent straight from the get-go.
This usually does mean that he slows down in the later rounds, and interestingly enough, he has only won one of three third rounds he has seen under the UFC mantle. At the same time, Fiziev has never lost a first round on the cards in the UFC. He is a fast starter, but that fast start takes a toll on you.
Riddell is actually the polar opposite in that regard, as ‘Quake’ rarely wins the first round of his fights, and tends to come on stronger in the later rounds. He has never lost a third round in the UFC. Guys like Fiziev usually run into problems with guys like Riddell. Fiziev’s whole game is all about getting ahead early and coasting in the later rounds. Rafael always pressures his opponents, but on the rare occasion that ‘Ataman’ is the one being pressured, he gasses out. Bobby Green was able to expose him a bit in that regard.
Brad Riddell has won 10 of its last 11 fights. (Getty)
Riddell’s style is brawling by nature, and he is not a stranger to being hit hard. Having never been knocked out is a big plus for Brad in this fight too, as he will be in survival mode for the first five minutes. I think Brad’s last fight and the performance he was able to pull off against a bulldozer like Drew Dober tells me he is more than capable of beating Fiziev. If he can hang in there and start pouring it on Fiziev in the later rounds, I could see him getting his hand raised at the end.
‘Quake’ has extremely sharp counters, and doesn’t just rely on speed and power to win - precision is a big part of Riddell’s game. Technique goes to Riddell in this one, and I think Fiziev’s striking prowess is being overstated just a bit by the betting public. The guy has amassed a single KO in the UFC, and cardio is not his friend.
Stepping on the gas early might earn Fiziev the first round, but Riddell always comes on strong in rounds two and three. Riddell could also sneak in some takedowns in the later rounds to further drain the gas tank and stifle the offense of a raging Fiziev. It’s a close fight, but I’ll go with the slightly more technical striker. After all, let’s not forget that precision beats power, and timing beats speed.
Best Bet: Brad Riddell via Decision
Clay Guida vs. Leonardo Santos
Two of the oldest lightweights on the roster go at it this weekend. Clay Guida, 39, has made the walk to the octagon a total of 31 times under the UFC mantle, and has gotten his hand raised 16 of those times. He has wins over names such as BJ Penn, Anthony Pettis, Rafael Dos Anjos, Nate Diaz and Josh Thomson.
With such a history in the promotion, Clay’s name is surely one that will be entered into the hall of fame in the future, but for now he has a tough opponent to get through on Saturday. Despite being 41 years of age with a 7-1-1 record in the UFC, Santos’ UFC tenure has flown completely under the radar for most fans, including myself. Injuries kept Leonardo out of competition from 2016-2019, which is why he has made the walk to the octagon a total of nine times in eight years.
Leonardo Santos is a wizard on the mat with submission wins, and digging through his track record I came across an interesting win over UFC legend Georges Saint Pierre in a grappling tournament. The jiu-jitsu on display once Santos gets you down is unrivalled. Most hardcore fans are familiar with Guida’s legendary forward-marching style, but it seems what once made that style great has depreciated more and more over the years.
Nowadays the volume striking seems to have been replaced with overzealous movement from the once great “Carpenter”. Clay has always been a take-one-to-give-one kind of guy, but as of late fights that stay upright rarely go his way when the strike totals are tallied, and the scorecards are read.
Guida relies more on his grappling to win these days, but wins over an aging BJ Penn and an over-the-hill Michael Johnson is all Guida has amassed in the last four years.
Clay Guida has seen three straight fights end with a Decision. (Getty)
Guida did have a close fight with unbeaten wrestling prospect Madsen recently, but rewatching that fight confirms my worry regarding Guida’s inability to land any damage on the feet. He moves a lot, sure, but there’s not anything dangerous being thrown his opponents’ way when he has them on the back foot.
“The Carpenter” has also never really had strong finishing ability in my opinion, a trend that might hand him some trouble against Santos. First of all, Leonardo is better on the mat, period. The only reason Santos hasn’t won every single fight of his via submission is because he has decent striking to work with. His dangerous grappling will be a problem for anybody in the division.
Second of all, Santos has a comfortable five-inch reach- and five-inch height advantage against Clay, which most likely means he will be dictating the distance on the feet. If Madsen, an olympic wrestler with limited striking, is able to pick apart Guida from a distance at this point in “The Carpenter’s” career, I’m quite confident that Santos will be able to do the same, in spite of being 41 years old.
The grappling spells checkmate for Guida, and striking-wise Santos should be able to work behind his jab. In both scenarios Guida has limited success.
Best Bet: Leandro Santos via Decision
Jimmy Crute vs. Jamahal Hill
Both fighters in this bout are coming off injuries. Jamahal had his arm snapped in a choke against Paul Craig, and Jimmy Crute had his leg shut off due to leg kicks from Anthony Smith earlier this year. The road back to the top starts here for both. Jimmy Crute, appropriately nicknamed ‘The Brute’, is a dangerous striker with good wrestling fundamentals.
Crute burst onto the big scene with a win on DWCS, and has yet to see the scorecards in the UFC. He is 4-2 on the big stage with all of his wins coming by way of finish. Despite being an effective finisher on the feet, Crute is a strong grappler with excellent submissions skills. He has amassed 12 takedowns in his six UFC bouts.
Hill has had a similar run to Crute, except for the fact that he actually has gone the distance and won. He is 2-1 with one no-contest in the UFC. On the feet I have to favor Hill in this bout, as he has a height and reach advantage over Crute. On the ground however, is where Crute should look to take the fight, as he should be able to dominate Hill from top position, and threaten with submissions.
Watching Crute fight Anthony Smith left me scratching my head thinking why aren’t you going for takedowns? Only after Smith had compromised Crute’s lead leg was when Jimmy decided to initiate the grappling exchanges - which worked very well for him for the most part. I think that five-inch reach disparity is very dangerous for Crute, and Hill fights well from a distance.
Crute has good power behind most of the stuff he throws, and his leg kicks could work well for him, but everything has to set up the takedowns. Once on the ground, he should be able to secure the submission without too much issue. I think Craig exposed Hill’s grappling deficiency a little bit in that bout, and that fight only took place about five months ago.
How much grappling can you learn in that time? It essentially comes down to one of two possible outcomes. Either Crute secures the takedowns and does whatever he wants to Hill on the ground, or Hill is able to catch Crute with something big coming in. Personally I favor Crute since his striking should be good enough to avoid the big shots on the feet, and Hill is quite green defensively on the ground.
Best Bet: Jimmy Crute via Submission
Brendan Allen vs. Chris Curtis
After an impressive UFC debut, Chris Curtis is ready to jump back into action against a tough Middleweight contender looking to solidify his name among the division’s top 15. Brendan Allen is the incumbent in this matchup as far as I’m concerned, and looking at the betting line it seems that most people would agree. He is a decent striker but his grappling is his trump card if you ask me.
Allen’s biggest deficiency is the fact that he sometimes opts out of using that grappling, and engages in a striking battle with his opponents. His striking did earn him a unanimous decision win in his last outing, sure, but it also handed him a KO loss against Sean Strickland, in a fight where Allen displayed questionable fight IQ.
Chris Curtis has been competing in smaller promotions for the longest time, and despite winning his DWCS fight with a knockout, he didn’t get the call. Curtis is a strong striker with good wrestling defense, but cardio isn’t particularly kind to him, and he lacks the toolbox to work with against the best.
Allen is not as chinny as Phil Hawes, so I’m not worried about a flash KO on that side. Allen however has good hands himself, and if he just looks to grapple early on, I think this fight should be a walk in the park. This fight could very well be over if Allen secures a takedown, and for that reason, I have to pick him to win. Curtis is tough though, and has only been finished twice in a lifelong MMA career.
Best Bet: Brendan Allen via Decision
Brendan Allen has won nine of his last 10 fights. (Getty)
Bryan Barberena vs. Darian Weeks
After Bryan’s initial opponent, Matt Brown, was pulled from this weekend’s fight, UFC debutant Darian Weeks steps in on two-week’s notice to fight. Barberena is still widely regarded as one of the toughest fighters on the 170-pound roster ever since his three-round fight-of-the-night war against Vicente Luque.
Consistency is not something Bryan has displayed throughout his UFC tenure however, with a 6-6 record in the promotion and a 2-3 record in his last five bouts. “Bam-Bam” is all about striking, and rarely will you see him shoot for his opponent’s legs. On the flip side you will often see opponents shoot for his legs, as a total of 32 takedowns have been successful against him in his 12 UFC fights.
Bryan is what I classify as a brawler, which means he is more than willing to take one to give one, because he believes he will do more damage than you if he connects. For the most part this narrative has held up for Bryan during his career, but as of late his technical deficiency has been exposed a little bit, most recently when he dropped the ball against UFC newcomer Jason Witt.
Weeks is just five fights into his professional career, but has had a lengthy amateur career to draw experience from. In the cage he is wildly patient for such a young guy, and he has a strong defensive wrestling game. Darian’s bread and butter is striking too, and I think that aforementioned patience could serve him well against a raging Barberena. If he can stay on the outside and avoid falling into a phone booth with Bryan, I think he has a legitimate shot.
The only x-factors are obviously the short-notice nature of this bout for Weeks, as well as the step up in competition. However, here’s a little piece of trivia for you, in ten bouts, Bryan has one win over a fighter who is still signed to the promotion - it was Warlley Alves back in 2016.
Since then, Bryan is 0-5 against fighters that are still signed to the promotion. Perhaps a stretch, but hear me out, if we’re talking level of competition, Bryan clearly doesn’t belong among the top 20 of the UFC welterweights. All things considered I think a stab on the newcomer is justified.
Best Bet: Darian Weeks ML
Maki Pitolo vs. Dusko Todorovic
Dusko versus Pitolo - 1-2 record versus 1-4 record. One will be cut, one gets to stay. Pitolo looked like an interesting new addition to the roster after an awesome first-round KO on DWCS would net him a UFC contract. However, Pitolo’s technical deficiencies would quickly come into the limelight, as he dropped two of his first three fights, and two on top of that. Pitolo has lost three straight coming into this weekend’s fight.
On the other side we have Dusko who has lost two straight himself. Both fighters move forward a lot, but I actually give the technical advantage to Pitolo in this fight in spite of his lesser UFC record. Dusko’s abilities are actually pretty good when he moves forward, but when he is the one being pressured he is lacking in defensive capabilities.
I’ll give the grappling advantage to Pitolo, as he has been the more effective grappler in his UFC run compared to Dusko. If this fight remains on the feet, I’ll say Dusko needs to keep pressuring Pitolo unless he wants to fall into another KO loss. His hands-down style was really punished against Soriano not too long ago, and it didn’t look like he made many adjustments in his most recent bout.
A three-fight losing streak is not a good look for Pitolo though, and rarely do I pick fighters on such a skid. Since Dusko is the one to taste victory most recently, I reckon he’d be the pick, but his defense is just so lacking that I can’t get myself to pick him either. Both guys have deficiencies the other can exploit.
In a situation like this, I’ll look towards the round totals for value. In the ten combined bouts these two fighters have had on the big stage, six of them have ended inside the distance. I’ll take a stab at the under 2.5 for this one, as Dusko tends to fade in the later rounds, and has that aforementioned hands down style.
Best Bet: Under 2.5 Rounds
Manel Kape vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov
In the 125-pound division, two technical strikers face off on the UFC Vegas 44 prelims.
Both fighters started off their runs in the UFC with two losses in a row, and both bounced back in their most recent bout a first-round finishes. The roads both men have taken to get here are very similar.
Kape is the more touted striker in this matchup with plenty of fights under the Rizin promotion in Asia. He is a great fighter on the feet, but he has struggled to find his rhythm in the octagon.
I think the main problem Kape has is his overly patient style. He simply waits too much. Kape mainly prefers countering his opponents when they come forward, but you need to be able to also push the action from time to time if you want to win on the cards.
In both of Kape’s losses, he faced opponents that clearly had him figured out. He only counters on head strikes which leaves his legs open to kicks. Spamming leg kicks should be a path to victory for Zhumagulov here.
Kape does have terrific movement, but he doesn’t capitalize on it. Cutting off the cage and putting together combinations are things that Manel needs to do much more of. For reference, watching a guy like Ciryl Gane should be a lesson for anybody wanting to learn how to move and strike effectively.
Zhumagulov has his usual size disadvantage on Saturday, but this time it isn’t that bad. One inch in height and two inches in reach shouldn’t be a deterring factor for Zhalgas to land his effective combinations and initiate the takedowns. And now I’ve touched on another chink in Kape’s armor - grappling.
Because he prefers ever waiting so patiently, he is open to takedowns if you can draw out his counter. I think Nicolau did this extremely well when he fought Kape, and managed to get a few takedowns in.
Counter striking can be extremely efficient in MMA, but when you never push the pace you will fall behind on the strike totals unless you find your finish.
Kape is 1-4 in decision fights, Zhumagulov is 6-4.
I think Zhalgas is good enough to land the leg kicks early on, and counter Kape’s counter with a takedown later on. A close fight for sure, but the low volume for Manel is the biggest x-factor in this fight, leading me to believe Zhumagulov is worth a ‘dog shot.
Best Bet: Zhalgas Zhumagulov ML
Jake Matthews vs. Jeremiah Wells
UFC newcomer, Jeremiah Wells, takes on the experienced 170-pound veteran, Jake Matthews.
Matthews is a grappler. Wells is a striker.
Personally, I feel as if Matthews is a prospect who never came into his own. He does still have time, granted he is only 27 years old, but there hasn’t been much evolution in his MMA game as a whole throughout his 15 UFC bouts.
Everything in this fight revolves around whether or not you want to bet against Wells’ takedown defense, or back it.
Jeremiah had a very successful UFC debut, scoring a second-round KO over the experienced Warlley Alves.
The age is a big advantage for Matthews, as UFC debutants over the age of 34 rarely tend to do well in their runs through the promotion.
Wells is 2-2 in decision fights.
That experience in Matthew’s backpack is his biggest advantage here, and based on the fact that he tends to average two takedowns every three rounds, I firmly believe he will be able to grapple for the win on Saturday.
Striking-wise Wells has the advantage, but given the fact that Jake has never been knocked out standing, I have to believe Matthews is savvy enough to work his way around that power coming at him.
Wells might land some big shots in the first round, but the younger and way more experienced fighter comes on strong in the later rounds.
It is very rare that we get such age and experience advantages on the same side. I think that is the x-factor in this fight.
Best Bet: Jake Matthews via Decision
Cheyanne Vlismas vs. Mallory Martin
Once again, we have another striker versus grappler bout on our hands.
Vlismas, formerly known as Buys, is the striker in this matchup, and has done relatively well in her three bouts on the big stage.
In the UFC, Cheyanne is 1-1 with a first-round KO win over Gloria de Paula, and a unanimous decision loss to Montserrat Conejo in her debut.
The game plans are clear for both fighters here: Cheyanne needs to remain upright and Martin needs to take this fight to the mat.
If not for Cheyanne’s most recent loss, I’d probably be on her to win this weekend, but now that we’ve seen her grappling deficiency, I have to fade her as she takes on a grappler once again on Saturday.
Martin is not a grappling god by any means, but she knows how to get a fight to the ground, and can finish fights with submissions if the opening presents itself.
On the feet I expect Vlismas to dictate the dance, but given that this is a women’s strawweight bout, the amount of effective damage you can do on the feet is often limited, as finishes tend to occur rarely at this weight.
About ten minutes is the amount of time Cheyanne spent on her back in her UFC debut, essentially meaning she was controlled for two thirds of a 15 minute bout. That’s bad.
I expect the grappler to get this one in the bag, unless Cheyanne pulls off some kind of crazy first-round KO. However, as Mallory has never been KO’ed, there’s little evidence pointing to that happening.
Getting takedowns is easier than stopping them in my book, leading me to conclude Mallory has a decent shot at winning as an underdog this weekend.
Best Bet: Mallory ML
Alonzo Menifield vs. William Knight
The two most jacked fighters on the 205-pound roster are pitted against one another this weekend, and it’s guaranteed to be a fun one.
Menifield and Knight are both extremely explosive fighters that can end fights within seconds if they connect clean. The main difference is grappling though, as Knight usually looks to secure takedowns whereas Menifield looks to remain standing to win.
I feel like Menifield has done well in similar matchups to this weekend’s bout against Knight, while Knight has flunked this matchup before.
Size goes to Menifield, which is unfortunate for Knight, the grappler, who needs to rely on his strength to muscle his opponents down. We finally saw Knight’s size disrupt his grappling against a much larger opponent, when he took on Da Un Jung in April. He was the one getting tossed around in that fight.
Now, I know Menifield is not 6’ 4’’ with a reach of 78’’, but the point still stands that Knight has trouble wrestling with fighters bigger than himself, and Menifield can check that box for sure.
On top of being built like a brickhouse, Menifield actually has very good takedown defense. “Atomic” has only been taken down once in the UFC, and throughout his entire career his opponents have all had massive trouble getting him down and keeping him there. The guy is like a spring, he just pops right back up everytime he hits the mat.
If Knight is to win here, I truly see him needing either a flash KO, which of course could happen, or something like eight minutes of control time to win a greasy decision.
On the other hand we have Menifield, who has his work cut out for him. Just pressure the grappler and take the center to deter Knight from shooting, and he should be good.
Cardio has been an issue for both guys in the past, but I think Menifield has shown the better improvements in that area, most recently taking UFC veteran Sam Alvey to a decision which he won unanimously 30-27 on all three cards. Knight has yet to show me he can keep that composure for 15 minutes.
All in all, I think the size and striking will be too much for Knight, who realistically should be fighting in the division below. 5’ 10’’ in height and 73’’ in reach just doesn’t cut it at Light Heavyweight if you ask me, but I may be wrong.
Best Bet: Alonzo Menifield via Knockout
Claudio Puelles vs. Chris Gruetzemacher
Now, you may remember I called Vlismas vs. Martin a striker versus grappler bout - I stand corrected, this is a striker vs. grappler bout.
Chris Gruetzemacher is a fossil in this day and age: An old-school guy who solely relies on brawling it out on the feet with his opponents until someone falls down. Chris usually succeeds in striker vs. striker fights, but his weakness is written in big fat ink at this point. Just take him down.
Gruetzemacher has never attempted a single takedown in his UFC career. He is literally all about striking and nothing else.
On the feet he can be dangerous, but given his brawling style he does tend to absorb quite a bit.
I think that brawling style is also what will cause him problems against most half-decent wrestlers at this point, since he goes forward with reckless abandon, the hips are there for the taking once he overextends.
Both Rafa Garcia and Davi Ramos took him down five times, and Chas Skelly only needed two to get the submission.
Standing across from him will be Claudio Puelles, who is a strong grappler currently on a roll in the UFC. He has won three straight coming into this weekend’s bout.
The improvements Puelles have made from fight to fight stand out to me, and I think Gruetzemacher has stagnated at this point in his career. That’s not a knock on Chris either, most 35-year olds don’t tend to evolve much in MMA.
Puelles is ten years younger, bigger, and, one can only guess, more motivated at this time than the older Gruetzemacher who has lost this fight countless times in the past.
I do like Chris though, and he always shows up to fight, but Puelles is a grappler that will punish that 61% takedown defense of his. It’s simply a bad matchup.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Puelles gets the submission in rounds two or three, as the gap in skill down on the mat is astronomical.
Best Bet: Claudio Puelles via Submission
Jared Vanderaa vs. Azamat Murzakanov
In the second bout of UFC Vegas 44, we have a fun heavyweight scrap on our hands.
Jared Vanderaa wasn’t supposed to fight this weekend, but after Murzakanov’s initial opponent had to withdraw, he stepped in to face undefeated Azamat.
The x-factor is size in this fight, and either you’re backing Murzakanov’s technical ability to negate that reach difference and get on the inside, or you’re backing the much bigger man to defeat a smaller opponent.
Azamat is 10-0 as a pro, and graduated from DWCS with flying colors, as he scored an impressive first-round knockout.
Contrary to what the betting line may tell you, Vanderaa is actually the far more experienced fighter in this bout, with almost twice as many pro outings as Azamat.
However, the overall skill level definitely goes to Azamat. He is a far more complete mixed martial artist.
If Vanderaa hadn’t taken this fight on short notice, I might’ve been able to consider him as the side in this fight, but given that he has had very limited time to prepare for an opponent like Murzakanov makes me doubt he will be able to get his hand raised on Saturday.
Even though he has the size advantage, and Azamat is moving up in weight, you need a full training camp to prepare for an unbeaten prospect, and that is a luxury Vanderaa does not have coming into this bout.
For that simple reason, I’ll go with the favored side.
Best Bet: Azamat Murzakanov inside the distance
Louis Smolka vs. Vince Morales
Kicking off the stacked UFC Vegas 44 card, is UFC veteran Louis Smolka taking on Vince Morales.
This is Smolka’s sceond stint in the UFC, as a four-fight losing streak initially ejected him from the promotion a few years back. However, Smolka would find his way back to the UFC octagon by stringing together a nice win streak in smaller promotions, and he would get resigned in 2018.
Smolka made the decision to jump up to 135-pounds somewhere in between his UFC runs, and the weight change appears to have done the Hawaiian well in the octagon. He is 3-2 in his second UFC tenure.
Vince Morales was signed back in 2018, and has been getting mixed results. He is currently 2-3 in the UFC with two decision wins.
On the feet, this fight is probably equal. Smolka has the edge going by the metrics alone, and has the better strength of schedule too.
On the ground is where I see Smolka settling this bout however, as Morales tends to struggle on the mat against better grapplers.
Morales is also a little bit young to have a 10-5 record in my opinion, and that carries a bit of statistical significance too, against a veteran like Smolka.
I think this fight is one of the easier ones to call on an otherwise tightly-contented card, since all arrows pretty much point in the same direction.
If you’re picking Morales, just keep in mind that he’s older despite being the less experienced fighter, has a worse striking differential, has lacklustre grappling, and has a losing UFC record.
Just going through Smolka’s record, the guys he is losing to are either solid contenders or title future challengers today. The same can’t really be said for Morales.
Smolka wins this fight any way he wants. Striking-wise he can win a unanimous decision, and on the ground he can find a submission for sure.
As I said, all arrows point in the same direction for me, and this betting line truly puzzles me.
Best Bet: Louis Smolka ML