Dillashaw will earn his respect versus Cruz

January 12, 2016 3:05 AM
by

Though the NFL Divisional Playoffs take center stage this upcoming weekend, come Sunday night it’s the UFC on FOX that will be front and center when Fight Night 81 is showcased on network TV.

TD Garden in Boston plays host to another stacked card and a pay-per-view-worthy main event featuring former UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz (21-1) who had to forfeit his title due to injury facing current 135 pound champion TJ Dillashaw who aims to successfully defend his UFC strap for the third time.

Oddsmakers opened the fight with Dillashaw listed as a -150 betting favorite, with the take back on Cruz +120. Since then, early money wagered on the former title holder has forced bookmakers to lower the price on the current champion to -135.

Based on what I’ve been seeing, hearing and reading, I would not be at all surprised to see Cruz attract even more money as the fight draws near and books subsequently adjusting the line some more.

For Cruz, this will be only his second fight inside the Octagon in the last four years. The former WEC and UFC champion has not suffered a defeat in over nine years, and rides a 10 fight win streak into this contest. UFC President Dana White may have said it best when he stated Cruz may be the “unluckiest” mixed martial artist ever. As dominant as he has been throughout his career, untimely injury has been his greatest challenge to date as a fighter.

Few in the sport have been as impressive statistically as Cruz. His greatest asset has been his ability not to get hit and make the fight take place where he dictates. In fact, he’s been able to avoid 76% of his opponents’ strikes, 83% of take down attempts. He’s had to give up some accuracy offensively to employ his game, but overall he’s been a stylistic nightmare for most opponents.

For Dillashaw, although he’s won 8 of his last 9 bouts with his only loss in that stretch a controversial decision to a home town fighter in Brazil, he hasn’t gotten much respect from the betting market.

Much has been made about Dillashaw leaving Team Alpha Male and throughout the press tour Cruz has appeared to get under the champion’s skin, but rest assured this fight will be settled inside the cage. Granted, all the drama is great for the buildup and for promotion but in the end when the Octagon door closes, the better skilled and more prepared fighter usually exits victorious. With that said, if an outcome is left in the hands of the judges then all bets are off as we’ve seen some very questionable decisions of late.

I expect the champion to have the speed to deal with the awkwardness of Cruz and the power to get his respect.

PICK: TJ DILLASHAW

Vegas-Runner is a professional bettor/handicapper featured on CNBC, ESPN, FOX, Yahoo, CBS This Morning, The Herd, JT the Brick, & More. Follow VR on Twitter @Greek_Gamblerand at the home of the Animals, Phillygodfather.com. Contact Vegas Runner at VegasRunner@GamingToday.com.