On Saturday evening at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee, the UFC keeps their busy schedule moving at full steam with their fourth event in March, headlined by a welterweight tilt between former number one contender Stephen Thompson and former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis.
Karate will be on full display on Saturday, so let’s kick it to the bets fans of UFC betting should be considering.
Stephen Thompson is the preeminent karate practitioner currently competing in the UFC. His is almost exclusively a striker, and his game revolves around distance management and timing.
He prefers to keep a very long range to maximize his potent kicks and tends to only open up with his fists when fighters close the distance on him. The rest of Thompson's game is built to keep him in standing and at range. He's a solid defensive wrestler and has excellent footwork and when he is taken down, he’s good about getting back to his feet quickly.
The biggest concerns for Thompson coming into this fight are his age and his layoff. Thompson hasn’t competed since last May when he lost a controversial unanimous decision to Darren Till. In that fight, he tore his MCL and had a prolonged recovery from the injury.
At 36 years old, it’s fair to wonder if “Wonderboy” has seen his best days or if he has one last title push in him.
Standing opposite of him on Saturday will be the former UFC lightweight champion, Anthony Pettis. Pettis is one of the most offensively gifted fighters in MMA history but since losing his title in 2015, he has failed to regain the form that got “Showtime” on the cover of a Wheaties box.
Like Thompson, Pettis’ best strikes are his kicks but he’s a better athlete and a better boxer, and an incredibly dangerous submission threat from anywhere.
The biggest concerns for Pettis are his footwork and tactics. Pettis has always been a predatory finisher when he’s allowed to fight his style of fight, but when pressured consistently, his game falls apart. He's never developed sharp footwork which allows him to be backed into the fence where he is far less dangerous.
The contours of this fight are pretty clear: Both men are strikers and neither is a particularly good offensive wrestler so this fight will be contested almost exclusively with striking.
On the feet, Thompson is the bigger, longer fighter with better footwork. That lends itself to a fight that Thompson wins on points, maintaining range to nullify “Showtime” and outlanding him en route to a clean sweep of the scorecards.
However, the odds currently have Thompson as a 1/4 favorite with the comeback on Pettis at 3/1 with 888Sport. That is too high. Thompson’s isn’t likely to pressure Pettis in the way that gives him the most trouble and he has never fought someone who can kick with him like Pettis can.
That means the fight will mostly play out at a range and pace in which Pettis can have success as well, especially with his kicks. I still favor Thompson to win but there are avenues for Pettis so he shouldn’t be a 3 to 1 underdog and he’s worth a small value bet at those odds.
Also, grab the odds of the Fight Going the Distance are 21/20 with Karamba. Considering the type of slow tempo fight that is this is likely to be, getting plus money on the fight going to the final cards is also worth a small bet.
Pettis, for all his faults, is still very durable and “Wonderboy”isn’t going to put the volume on him that a Max Holloway or Tony Ferguson did. Even if he does lose, I expect him to hear the final bell.p>
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