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  • Best UFC Fight Night bets: Cerrone vs. Iaquinta 👊

    Best UFC Fight Night bets: Cerrone vs. Iaquinta

    ESPN PLUS ($ MATERIAL)

    There are few athletes whose primary reputation is the willingness to compete anytime and anywhere as Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone. That trait has made him a fan favorite, and it's also the primary reason he holds so many UFC records. He's a former title challenger and the most prolific fight winner, finisher and bonus winner in UFC history. And he's still going.


    But enter Al Iaquinta, a fighter who could not care less who is on the other side of the cage. He stepped in on short notice to face Khabib Nurmagomedov, taking the now-incumbent champion five full rounds in a gutsy performance that showed how little he minds being a massive underdog.

    Each fighter has been the underdog in their prior two outings, and the odds in this pairing are nearly even. One thing is for sure, neither will care where the odds land, though anyone betting the fight will need to.

    Let's take a closer look at the main event and see where there is some betting value.
    Lightweight matchup: No. 4 Al Iaquinta (-125) vs. No. Donald Cerrone (+105)

    Tale Of The Tape

    Last fight weight class Lightweight Lightweight
    Current age 36 32
    Height (in) 73 69
    Reach (in) 73 69.5
    Stance Orthodox Orthodox
    Analyzed minutes 383 148
    Standup striking offense
    Career knockdown ratio
    (Scored : Received)
    23:7 7:0
    Distance knockdown rate 6.5% 2.9%
    Head jab accuracy 33% 33%
    Head power accuracy 29% 33%
    Total standup strike ratio 1.0 1.0
    Striking defense
    Total head strike defense 66% 70%
    Distance knockdown
    defense ("Chin")
    98% 100%
    Wrestling and grappling
    TD attempts/minute
    (Standing/clinch)
    0.30 0.29
    Takedown accuracy 35% 23%
    Advances per
    takedown/top control
    1.1 0.8
    Opponent takedown attempts 111 53
    Takedown defense 72% 74%
    Share of total ground
    time in control
    56% 33%
    Submission attempts
    per trip to ground
    0.56 0.14
    With 30 knockdowns scored between these two fighters, you would think this fight will end as soon as the leather starts flying. Iaquinta's precise boxing versus Cerrone's more diverse Muay Thai will certainly make for interesting analysis, but it's impossible to tell who will get the better of the first exchanges. Both are highly skilled offensively, but also below average on strike defense. Their willingness to take some to give some makes this must-watch MMA, but it also makes it much harder to predict who wins in a standup fight.



    On the mat is another wild-card contrast, the wrestling of Iaquinta versus the submission game of Cerrone. Iaquinta's worst moments have come on the ground, while Cerrone sometimes forgets his slick grappling and submissions. So while Cerrone probably gets the advantage here, it might not even get to the ground if the two try to duke it out on their feet.

    One stat that leaps off the page is Cerrone's 1,075 cumulative head strikes received throughout his WEC and UFC career. He ranks fourth all-time in this ominous metric. But Cerrone has shown that he can withstand damage, even at welterweight, and still fight on. In this matchup, his durability might not be as big a liability facing an undersized lightweight opponent. So we should see both fighters resilient early, even if one pulls away later on.

    Some edges go to Cerrone here, but Iaquinta knows how to play the long game and outlast his opponents. It makes a final decision harder to predict. Cerrone has early finishing potential via submissions, but the longer they trade strikes, the tossup nature of this matchup will eventually trend in Iaquinta's favor.
    E+ recommends: The lean here is Cerrone, but only slightly. For more value, play the Cerrone 'by finish' prop at more than 2-1 odds instead of the near even moneyline. If he doesn't get the early finish, this fight will likely go at least a couple rounds, so look for the 'Enters Round 2 or 3' prop instead, and pair with the surging Macy Chiasson for a conservative parlay. Unfortunately, some main events must be played conservatively, or not at all. This fight will be appreciated by fans, regardless.

    Other fight card value

    E+ recommends: Another pick 'em fight is in the middleweight division, with Derek Brunson taking on Canadian Elias Theodorou. At even odds, Brunson is worth a small play on a fight card that is extremely limited in data visibility. The fight is expected to go to a decision, and should Brunson fall back on his effective wrestling, he should be the one winning on the cards.

    Brunson's biggest liability has been his chin against precision power strikers, but that isn't really Theodorou's game. And the higher pace and pressure of the Canadian could help Brunson close the gap sooner and get the fight to the ground. Take Brunson, and the Over.

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