Miocic deserves the favorite role versus Dos Santos

Miocic deserves the favorite role versus Dos Santos

May 09, 2017 3:04 AM
by

The UFC returns this coming Saturday night when the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas plays host to UFC 211. The card is solid from top to bottom with two title belts on the line, coupled with multiple fan friendly bouts in both the men’s and women’s divisions.

More importantly for those of us who like to back our opinions up with our cash, the UFC 211 card also offers up plenty of value that warrants a walk to the betting window.

The main event features a rematch in the heavyweight division between current UFC champion Stipe Miocic (16-2) and former title holder Junior Dos Santos (18-4). The betting line this time around is much different than when these two faced off back in December of 2014.

At that time Dos Santos had already captured and then lost the heavyweight strap, while Miocic was still trying to climb up the division’s ladder. Bookmakers had JDS listed as an over 3-to-1 favorite for their first bout and though it appeared to be an extremely competitive fight, he emerged victorious via unanimous decision.

For the rematch current champion Miocic was installed as a -200 betting favorite by oddsmakers, but that price didn’t last long as bettors immediately began backing the challenger Dos Santos. As we go to print the market average reflects Miocic is now as low as -130. That’s a significant adjustment, especially when compared to the betting odds in their last meeting.

Personally, I thought the judges did not do a very good job of scoring the first bout between the two. The decision was unanimous and two of the three judges had Dos Santos winning 49-46. I remember thinking they were way off back then, and after watching the replay twice before writing this column, my opinion hasn’t changed. In fact I believe at the very least the fight should have been scored a draw, or awarded to Stipe, who undoubtedly inflicted more damage.

But that was then, and this is now.

Simply put, I always make my own line for a bout before looking at what the oddsmakers send out in order to avoid any bias. And for this main event I made Miocic an even greater favorite than the opening line did, and the continued drop in price only adds value to the position.

Bottom line, Miocic is a much improved fighter who continues to gain confidence with every bout. He’s become bigger and stronger since they met in 2014, while also improving his technique and adding to his skill set. The champion has come into his own and it’s really starting to show. He’s listed at the same height and weight as JDS, but will enjoy a 3 inch reach advantage. Stipe is considered a “wrestler & boxer” and Junior a “boxer & jiu jitsu fighter.”

I expect Miocic and his team will attempt to employ the same game plan against Dos Santos since he had so much success the last time. He’ll want to wear JDS out by making him grapple and defend take downs as much as possible. The champion will also want to grind it out in the clinch and look to land when the challenger tries to break. This will help slow Junior down, which Stipe will need to do because his opponent has what many believe to be the fastest hands in the division. JDS also moves well for a big man so dictating where the fight takes place will play a major role.

Also, Dos Santos has moved his camp to American Top Team, which should prove to be a positive for sure. He’s going up against a very efficient wrestler in Miocic, so having lots of top level grapplers to train with will only help.

Finally, I look for Miocic to use a lot of movement when striking and he seems to do his best work when moving forward. That shouldn’t be much of a problem against Dos Santos who likes to counter punch. Back in 2014, Miocic showed he could be patient when needed and also put a lot of pressure on JDS, especially after taking his best punches.

The champion did get hit flush a few times, but he was able to withstand the power shots and inflict more damage when he landed some of his own. Dos Santos was busted up by the middle of the second round and by the end of the fifth his face was a swollen mess. So although Miocic felt cheated when the decision was rendered, he gained the confidence needed to reach the top of the heavyweight division.

Fortunately, even though he’s captured UFC gold Miocic still doesn’t get the respect he’s earned, most notably by the betting market and that’s just fine by me. This Saturday I’ll be able to back the champion again at what I believe to be a heavily discounted price.

Best Bet: STIPE MIOCIC

Bonus: YAIR RODRIGUEZ

There is no denying the fact Frankie Edgar has had a very impressive mixed martial arts career, having faced and beaten many of the sport’s best. But at 36 years of age, a few kids, and lots of responsibilities, including taking on a broadcasting gig with the UFC in Brazil, I believe he’s at the point where a decline is certain. On the flip side, Rodriguez continues to trend upward and have his UFC stock price increase each time he steps inside the Octagon. He’s only 25 years old with unlimited potential, as he showed by dominating and spoiling BJ Penn’s comeback in his last bout.

Edgar went on the record stating he believes the UFC brass is trying to set him up to lose, as evident by making this fight. Personally, I don’t think that is what’s going on here but regardless, I do believe “the wrong fighter is favored.”