Coming off of the controversial UFC 247 card, we turn our Best Bets to UFC Rio Rancho.
Best Bets have went 3-3 this year but we’ve had some good underdogs cash returning you guys profit.
We got a good sleight of fights this week and I’m giving out two of my most confident plays for the card.
Let’s get into it!
John Dodson vs Nathaniel Wood
The Jackson Wink product, John Dodson, comes into this fight 3-4 since moving to bantamweight.
Important to note, he’s only lost to some of the best in the 135lb division.
Dodson has a unique style, which has benefited him but largely plagued him throughout the last 5 years.
He generally will play on the outside and look to land in flurries.
As a former flyweight, he has the speed advantage over a lot of his opponents but will eat shots when entering the pocket.
He really has the most success when he keeps his movement constant, as he did in the Moraes and Munhoz fights.
He can come in, land, and move off the center line to reset.
From here, he makes opponents chase him.
However, in his last two fights against Rivera and Yan, we saw a very different Dodson.
He was a lot more stationary and allowed them to back him up.
As I noted earlier, he’s only lost to top competition, but at 35-years-old, we could be seeing the heavy downturn of John Dodson.
Highly-touted prospect, Nathaniel Wood is getting a massive step up in competition after finishing all 3 of his first UFC opponents.
He’s a former Cage Warriors champion and is very well-rounded.
Wood stands very wide and is light on his feet.
He sets up his strikes well with good low leg kicks, particularly to the calf.
In a way, he has deceptive power as well.
He can engage in a brawl at times but largely remains very technical and has finished opponents with straight right hands.
He’s also a very solid grappler.
The main knock on him is that he can be hit.
He was hurt by Eduardo in his UFC debut and was nearly stopped in the first round of one of his Cage Warriors title defenses.
With that being said, he’s always survived, but at this level, that is something he’s going to need to tighten up.
I like Wood in this fight, if he’s able to utilize leg kicks and effectively pressure Dodson.
Moraes and Rivera were able to largely win at range, but if you try to play that game with Dodson, you’re asking for a closer fight.
I think Yan implemented the best gameplan of all, cutting the cage off and staying in his face for three rounds.
Now, if we see the old John Dodson and he’s bouncing around all over the place and Wood can’t cut him off, we could very well see an upset here.
However, based on Dodson’s last two performances, he seems about done to me and this is a perfect time for Wood to get a quality win.
Wood is easily one of my favorite Best Bets this week.
Best Bet: Nathaniel Wood at -165 or better
Merab Dvalishvili vs Casey Kenney
Casey Kenney comes into this fight riding a two-fight winning streak inside the octagon.
However, I personally thought he lost his last fight against Ray Borg.
He’s a former D2 wrestler at the University of Indianapolis and 9-time Judo National Champion.
Also, he held both the interim flyweight and bantamweight titles in LFA.
He does a good job of blending his wrestling with his BJJ.
However, he can be taken down and largely relies on his scrambling ability to win his fights.
Also to note, he loses the hand position battle in the clinch, which allows opponents to secure TDs.
I personally think he’s a flyweight and will be an undersized 135er in the UFC.
With that being said, I would have assumed his handspeed would have been better but it’s average at best.
Defensively, he is predictable as he will duck his head and lean back consistently.
The kid has potential but definite improvements need to be made if he wants to compete with the best in the world.
Merab Dvalishvili is a highly touted fighter coming out of the Serra/Longo camp in New York.
He’s 2-2 in the UFC but should be 3-1 and could arguably be undefeated.
He’s very strong wrestler who can be wild on the feet at times.
Merab also pushes a ridiculous pace over the course of three rounds.
His first fight with Frankie Saenz was close but ultimately, Merab ate too many shots on the feet and in the clinch, which swayed the judges.
In the Ricky Simon fight, he completely dominated everywhere.
He ultimately got screwed in the end, as the ref said he was out at the bell from a mounted guillotine (he wasn’t and should have won that fight 30-27).
Then in the Ware and Katona fights, he just dominated both guys on the ground, and was able to secure a lot more top time than in his previous two fights.
Overall, I think Merab has made some improvements in terms of his striking and ground control.
If he can mesh the two together and keep making improvements, I think he can be a top 10 mainstay in the bantamweight division.
I really like Merab here as I think he’ll have a massive strength advantage.
As touched on earlier, I think Kenney is a natural flyweight and will struggle against true bantamweights.
Kenney can be outwrestled and I don’t see him being able to have the kind of success in the scramble as he’s had in the past.
In Merab’s most recent fights, we’ve seen him utilize better overall control, wrist control and the lacing of legs.
When this fight is on the feet, I don’t give Kenney an advantage either as his hand speed is relatively sub-par.
Merab will have both the power, speed and grappling advantage.
A lot of the betting public is on the underdog Casey Kenney here, but I think Merab is justified at chalk for the reasons mentioned above, making him one of my Best Bets.
Best Bet: Merab Dvalishvili at -200 or better
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