Weidman fight to air live on FOX

July 18, 2017 3:03 AM


History will be made this coming Saturday night as Long Island, N.Y. hosts the UFC for the very first time. The UFC on FOX 25 card will be televised nationally and the promotion has done an excellent job of competitive match making once again. A quick glance at the betting lines show that two of the top three main card bouts opened with a favorite of -135 or less, and the third -205.

The main event features New York’s own Chris Weidman (13-3), who limps into the Octagon off three straight losses, against the scorching hot Kelvin Gastelum (14-2-0-1). Therefore, it should come as no surprise the opening betting line of Gastelum -135 is currently -155. And based on the pre-fight perception I’ve been confronted while handicapping this bout, I’m confident the price to back the favorite will get even more expensive.

Now before we go out and piggy-back that early money bet on Gastelum and try to beat the closing number, let’s first break this fight down and confirm he’s the right side… because I’ve personally got my doubts.

Just four years ago this month, Weidman shocked the world of combat sports by knocking out middleweight champion Anderson Silva, who had not been defeated under the UFC banner. He then went on to beat Silva for the second time in their rematch, though he was once again an underdog to do so. Weidman went on to hold the 185-pound title for over two years, appearing to improve with every bout.

But then in December of 2015 at UFC 194, challenger Luke Rockhold finished Weidman in the fourth round and the former champion has not looked the same since. Some chalk it up to injury, others to a lack of evolution, but for whatever reason, the perception heading into Saturday’s main event is of two fighters whose careers are heading in opposite directions.

Both men come from a wrestling background, but their pedigree is very different. Gastelum won a state championship in high school and then turned pro after his first year in college. Weidman has a much more celebrated amateur wrestling background, having been a two-time Division 1 All-American at Hofstra.

Stylistically Gastelum has become a much more efficient striker, who hasn’t had to rely on his wrestling as much as Weidman has. Gastelum is a southpaw, with deceptively quick hands and feet. At this higher weight class even though he’ll almost always be the smaller man, he’s possessed an obvious advantage in speed to help level the playing field. Coupled with one punch knock-out power and an excellent gas tank, Gastelum has quickly earned respect in the middleweight division.

Simply put, I believe Weidman will be able to leverage his advantage in size, strength, and experience over Gastelum. I’m also confident the betting line is not accurate when compared to the win probability for Weidman. I’ll be backing up my opinion with my money again Saturday night.

Pick – Weidman