With MMA in full swing since this summer, you can expect to see weekly betting articles from us here at Line Movement, as I’ll be providing you with everything from fight analysis to the potential plays I like for the UFC’s offering this weekend.
UFC Vegas 17 is headlined by a welterweight bout between Stephen Thompson (-102) and Geoff Neal (-118).
Considering that the popular trend of fading older fighters has been a fruitful one as of late, I’m not surprised to see the betting lines open and stay tight for this fight.
Neal is a 30-year-old contender who many, including myself, have had their eyes on during his current 5-fight winning streak under the UFC banner. However, despite the southpaw striker offering underrated offensive grappling that will be live in this fight, I still believe that Thompson will be a big step up in competition for Neal.
Even though Thompson is in the more advanced stages of his career at the age of 37, I suspect that the former title challenger’s countering style could make Neal uncomfortable at range – inevitably forcing the Texan native to show his tools and intentions early.
Neil will have coach Sayif Saud in his corner and the smaller cage to work with, I’m just not sure how he’ll fare down the stretch should he fail to either secure takedowns consistently or find the knockout early. Both fighters are at a playable point of entry should you be confident in either party, but I suggest attaching a bit on the under 4.5 rounds (-150) as either a hedge or an added bonus coverage-wise.
The co-main event in Las Vegas features a fun featherweight affair between Jose Aldo (-145) and Marlon Vera (+125).
If this matchup were made a few years prior, then the betting line above would certainly be wider. However, given the recent trends and trajectories of each fighter, we are seeing some deserved respect being sent Vera’s way.
Under the care of Collin Oyama, we have seen Vera develop into a dangerous threat both on the feet and on the floor. But most importantly for this matchup, Vera is a durable fighter who both picks up late and isn’t afraid to rip the body.
Aldo is obviously an all-time great that’s on a higher caliber than his Ecuadorian counterpart, but the former featherweight kingpin – as stated in my breakdowns before – needs his pocket to recoup and recover. So basically, if Aldo isn’t able to become the first man to finish Vera, then things could get sketchy for the beloved Brazilian come round 3.
That all said, I still find myself siding with Aldo here. Although Vera is incredibly durable, his defensive stylings will make bodywork a potent two-way street worth watching for in this fight. More importantly, Aldo is still showing a will to stay in hard fights during this bantamweight renaissance, as I suspect he’s able to survive Vera’s surges down the stretch.
Regardless of which side you’re on, it’s easy to argue that both sides offer a reasonable point of entry from a betting perspective. But if the current plus number isn’t sexy enough for Vera supporters, then I suggest peaking at “Vera wins in round 3” props, which are currently being listed in the neighborhood of +1400.
Live dogs: Rob Font (+130), Cody Durden (+120)
Rob Font (+120) vs. Marlon Moraes (-150)
Betting on a fighter returning from surgery is always a risky proposition, which is why I’ll admit that this offering may be better applied in a live-betting format (should your book offer it).
Akin to the pacing issues addressed in the Jose Aldo breakdown above, Moraes, too, seems to suffer from similar problems. And though Font may not be the same type of builder as Max Holloway or as diverse as Cory Sandhagen, the New England native offers a lot of the same threats thematically.
From proper feints to well-utilized length, Font really seemed like he was able to put his entire game together once his defensive grappling got up to par. Should his new knee be as good as advertised, then I suspect we see an even better Font – even in this crowd-less era.
Font, who has admitted to succumbing to performance anxiety in Brazil (where he had his worse performances), will not be having to deal with a crowd this Saturday. So basically, If the down-trending Moraes can’t find a finish within the first round, then I suspect that Font is able to bury his Brazilian counterpart with numbers down the stretch.
Cody Durden (+130) vs. Jimmy Flick (-150)
As stated in my UFC Vegas 16 beakdown, Durden was one of the few underdogs that I felt was worth looking at before the native of Georgia was pulled from the fight (failed medical clearance).
But since Durden seems good-to-go for this Saturday, I figured I should include him in this section to stay consistent.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m a fan of Flick’s style, as his machine-gun submission stylings earned him an A+ in my Grading the winners column. I just suspect that the Oklahoma-based fighter will be up against a better wrestler and striker this Saturday.
Lest we not forget, Durden works his striking under Douglas and Dhiego Lima, and has spent this past camp training with the talent at American Top Team. That said, the turnaround intangibles of repeated weight cuts is a red flag that would be irresponsible not to mention, as you might want to see how each fighter looks on the scale before placing any wagers.
Regardless of what you’re betting, bet responsibly, my friends!