All eyes will be on two heavyweights this weekend as they swap leather out in the western United States. No, I’m not talking about Mike Tyson vs Roy Jones Jr. – I’m talking about a real fight – Curtis Blaydes vs Derrick Lewis. The two heavyweights will be headlining this weekend’s UFC card from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, conveniently named ‘UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs Lewis’ (or UFC Vegas 15, if you rather).
The oddsmakers at Mansion seem to agree with me in thinking that this fight has a clear favourite heading into it. ‘Razor’ Blaydes currently sits at
4/17 on the board, which is a huge number for a heavyweight fight, where there is so much power and size involved that one punch can end things (especially when Derrick Lewis is delivering that punch). The obvious advantage for Blaydes is his wrestling, something that Lewis has struggled with in the past. Blaydes is a terrific, relentless wrestler, and should have no issues putting Lewis on his back any time he chooses to. But he’s by no means a ‘lay and pray’ fighter – once he gets his opponent to the mat, he’s raining down ferocious haymakers. He’s won 10 of his 14 pro fights via (T)KO, many via ground and pound. Lewis doesn’t have the wrestling defense or the cardio to fight Blaydes off, in my opinion. While Lewis is famous for eschewing technique and just standing up when opponents have him down on the canvas, I think Blaydes is too strong and too good a wrestler for this style of defense to work. Blaydes via TKO at
6/5 is looking mighty nice to me.
Clark a Steal in the Co-Main Event
The co-main event sees a pivotal matchup at a weight class down – light heavyweight. Pivotal in the sense that it will help determine if one former title challenger has anything left in the tank and if his opponent is a legitimate future title challenger. Anthony Smith has not looked good since being turned away by Jon Jones for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship, going 1-2 in his last three fights. His opponent on Saturday, Devin Clark, meanwhile, is on a two-fight win streak. He’s also younger, has the striking and grappling stats in his favour, and is teammates with the aforementioned Jon Jones, so he should have a winning gameplan for Smith. Getting Clark for plus money on Saturday –
11/10 – could be a steal.
Clark is just one of a handful of betting dogs that I have my eye on for this card. If you really want to go out on a limb and try for a big score, I’m suggesting Jonathan Pearce at
47/20. There are a few factors making me think he’s worth a gamble against Kai Kamaka this weekend. First off, Kamaka is taking this fight on short notice, and late replacement fighters are only winning at a 33% clip in the octagon this year. Plus, Pearce is much bigger than Kamaka – he’s five inches taller and has two inches of reach on him. While he dropped his UFC debut, I think he’s worth a little gamble this weekend.
Maness to Beat Sanders
For a safer underdog, go with Nathan Maness at
6/5 against Luke Sanders (this fight will be at a catchweight of 140 pounds). Maness is four inches taller and has five inches of reach on Sanders, so he’ll be the much larger man in the cage on Saturday. He’s also six years younger, has the grappling stats in his favor, and is a sparkling 12-1 as a pro. He looks like a solid underdog to me.
*All odds correct at time of writing.