We are in some weird times aren’t we? Straight after one of the best cards in modern day MMA we have a midweek card to look forward to. While it doesn’t have the same calibre of fights that we saw in UFC 249, we have the intriguing battle between Anthony Smith and Glover Teixeira as well as the always entertaining Ben Rothwell and former title challenger Ray Borg. So let’s dive into some of the more interesting matchups and betting propositions on the card.
Lionheart Smith is a bad bad man and that we are going to be reminded of here. Glover Teixera has now eclipsed 40 and he has won his last three fights in 2019 but this is a big step up in opposition against Anthony Smith. This is his second fight since losing to Jon Jones for the title and for a man who beat Alexander Gustafsson, he should be too strong and classy for Glover. He is underrated on the ground to at least negate Glovers ground game advantage and should be too powerful on the feet. People have short memories in MMA and Smith has beaten the likes of Hector Lombard, Volkan Oezdemir and Mauricio Rua as well as Gustafsson while Teixeira has fell to Corey Anderson and Alexander Gustafsson convincingly in the last couple of years. Smith gets this done convincingly and puts his name back in the headlines as a title contender.
This is one of those fights where stats almost need to be disregarded completely. Ovince Saint Preux (OSP) moves up to heavyweight for the first time and he meets a man who will just come forward and try to walk you down and will take one to give one. OSP is coming off some nice wins but the way to beat Rothwell is to overwhelm him with strikes and OSP is is the type of fighter to be patient and look for the big shot or his signature submission and that doesn’t match up well against Rothwell. While OSP is the more skilled of the two, Rothwell is a huge man and OSP has never faced anyone who hits as hard as Rothwell. Rothwell barely makes 265 and as an underdog I like the chances of Rothwell to wear down OSP before likely getting a knock out.
Moises has looked promising in his relatively new MMA career. However, Michael Johnson is realistically a level above Moises. The question for mine isn’t is Michael Johnson a better fighter it is what version of himself shows up. Johnson has some fantastic wins in his career but some equably shocking losses. In his first fight moving up to lightweight he lost to Stevie Ray and just didn’t look comfortable at all but I’m banking on him being more settled and methodical now he has been in the division for over six months. I can never be comfortable tipping Michael Johnson as he did less than two years ago barely beat Artem Lobov and has had some poor displays of late, but he really should be winning this.
There is an under the radar factor in this fight and that is that the fight is being contested at Featherweight instead of their regular Bantamweight division. Although I do believe this suits Kelleher more than Azure, I don’t see it being enough of a factor for him to beat Azure. Hunter Azure has won all 15 fights in his career, seven amateur and eight in his professional career. I don’t know how much Kelleher was training before taking this fight on two weeks’ notice and in Azure’s last fight he beat Brad Katona comfortably and Katona has a very similar fighting style to Kelleher. Hunter Azure has a bright future ahead of him and Kelleher is a stepping stone for him to move towards the top 15. Azure just needs to be careful if this goes to the mat as Kelleher has a sneaky submission game but otherwise he should be able to dispose of Kelleher without too much of a problem as he holds a definite advantage on the feet.
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