Backing Brooks at UFC Fight Night from Portland

Backing Brooks at UFC Fight Night from Portland

September 27, 2016 3:08 AM


The UFC makes its way back to the U.S for Fight Night 96. Moda Center in Portland, Oregon, hosts this Saturday what appears to be another action packed card.

As a fight fan, I too am really looking forward to the main event, whose result will ultimately shape the very top of the bantamweight division’s rankings as John Lineker (28-7) tries to get one step closer to a title shot. Standing in his way is arguably the weight class’ No. 1 contender John Dodson (19-7).

Dodson has already beaten almost all of the division’s big names, fighters like TJ Dillashaw and John Moraga. Yet he has not been able to defeat the biggest name at 135 pounds, current UFC Bantamweight Champion Demetrious Johnson. Dodson has stepped into the Octagon twice already against Johnson, going toe to toe with the title holder for 5 full rounds both times. But both times the judges scored the fight in favor of the defending champion.

Oddsmakers have listed the bout between Linekar and Dodson as more or less a coin flip, with Dodson a slight favorite at -115 and Linekar -105. The betting line is a very accurate reflection of the probability of victory for both men, in which case there isn’t enough value on either fighter to warrant a wager.

In the co-main event for UFC Fight Night 96, Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira (14-4) drops back down to light weight to take on Will “Ill Will” Brooks (18-1). The current market average has Brooks listed as a -250 betting favorite, with the take back on Oliveira +220. The -250 line reflects a win probability of 71% for Brooks.

If we conclude Oliveira’s chances of victory are greater than the take back, then he warrants a wager. If Brooks’ chances of getting his hand raised is better than 71%, then the ticket in our pocket should read Brooks.

Alex Oliveira, who fights out of the Tata Fight Team in Brazil, will be stepping into the Octagon for the seventh time on Saturday. He’s competed at welterweight and lightweight, with success in both weight classes. Nine of his 14 wins have come by way of KO, while 3 of his 4 losses were by submission.

Oliveira has only been successful on 30% of take-down attempts but he’s averaged almost 2.5 take-downs per 15 minutes, showing he’s very persistent. He’s also been able to defend 66% of his opponents’ take-down attempts. Though almost even in height, he’ll enjoy a 4-inch reach advantage against Brooks.

Brooks is making only his second appearance inside the Octagon, having been signed less than 6 months ago by the UFC. His victories have been split right down the middle, with 9 by KO or submission and 9 via the judges. Brooks’ lone loss came back in 2013, when he was caught in the very first round with a punch. Since then he’s tightened up his defense, being able to avoid 59% of opponents’ strikes and 96% of take-down attempts.

In Brooks’ very first fight under the UFC banner he was matched up against the always tough veteran Ross Pearson. The newcomer did not disappoint as he was able to keep the fight standing for the entire 9 minutes, except the one time he put Pearson on his back. While standing, Brooks managed to out-strike the very efficient and dangerous striker, landing 26 more strikes in their three rounds.

The win against Pearson was impressive, but it should not have been a surprise. Though many casual mixed martial arts fans who may only follow the UFC have not heard of Brooks, he’s been dominant in making his way up the ladder and earning entry into the promotion. In fact, Brooks was the Bellator lightweight title holder and has been competing professionally since 2011.

I believe by laying the -250 we are undoubtedly getting the best of it. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the line drop some prior to the fight, but a price of -300 or less warrants a wager on the favorite.

Pick: Brooks.

Twitter: @Greek_Gambler