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  • UFC Fight Night best bets: Ngannou vs. Dos Santos 👊

    UFC Fight Night best bets: Ngannou vs. Dos Santos


    The heavyweight title picture is suddenly crowded now that Daniel Cormier has acquired double-champ status and the hints of a Jon Jones move up in weight class get louder. But first, Cormier must defend his new belt in a rematch against the No. 1 contender, Stipe Miocic, in August, making this weekend's bout between the No. 2- and No. 3-ranked heavyweights a timely title eliminator.

    Matchmakers always stack the deck when the UFC airs on ESPN in prime time, and Saturday's main event exemplifies that trend. Junior Dos Santos and Francis Ngannou have landed a combined total of just five takedowns in their UFC careers, yet have scored an absurd 18 knockdowns between them over the same duration. A slugfest of the highest order will close out the main card, and well before the Independence Day fireworks, this card should end with a bang.
    Heavyweight matchup: No. 2 Francis Ngannou (-250) vs. No. 3 Junior Dos Santos (+210)

    Tale Of The Tape

    Last fight weight class Heavyweight Heavyweight
    Current age 35 32
    Height (in) 76 76
    Reach (in) 77 83
    Stance Orthodox Orthodox
    Analyzed minutes 216 65
    Standup striking offense
    Career knockdown ratio
    (Scored : Received)
    14:4 4:0
    Distance knockdown rate 5.2% 8.2%
    Head jab accuracy 42% 26%
    Head power accuracy 36% 27%
    Total standup strike ratio 1.4 1.5
    Striking defense
    Total head strike defense 70% 67%
    Distance knockdown
    defense ("Chin")
    98% 100%
    Wrestling and grappling
    TD attempts/minute
    0.04 0.02
    Takedown accuracy 56% 0%
    Advances per
    takedown/top control
    1.0 NA
    Opponent takedown attempts 82 34
    Takedown defense 80% 71%
    Share of total ground
    time in control
    38% 3%
    Submission attempts
    per trip to ground
    0.05 0.20
    When there's a combination of two confident strikers who almost never attempt takedowns, you can expect a standing duel. The traditional tale of the tape gives an edge to Ngannou, who is slightly younger (and less damaged) and also has the longer reach. Technically, Dos Santos is the superior offensive striker in terms of accuracy and defense.

    This will boil down to the evasive movement and experience of Dos Santos to stay out of danger and his ability get his timing down. Ngannou is definitely the harder hitter, but Dos Santos is more likely to land first, and then more often. It's unlikely the Brazilian will utilize his grappling, but he does have more experience on the mat in the case of an opportunistic scramble.

    Ngannou can win by knockout against any opponent in the UFC, and that's generally the only way to bet him. But at current odds, Dos Santos is a value play who can win in multiple ways, if he doesn't make an error first. Five rounds is a long time for heavyweights.

    E+ recommends: Small play on Dos Santos at +200 or more, and Fight Does Not Go the Distance (-490) for parlays.
    Other fight card value

    Joseph Benavidez is one of the more well-rounded MMA fighters on the UFC roster, and his résumé includes every notable name in the flyweight division. His record includes a victory over current champion Henry Cejudo, as well as over his opponent this week: Jussier Formiga. Always calm and collected, Benavidez is not a fighter who needs extra confidence -- but he'll have it knowing he's finished Formiga before in an away-game fight in Brazil.

    Benavidez knows how to secure rounds and is a constant dual threat with his striking and grappling. He has the wrestling experience to stay out of Formiga's danger zone, and Benavidez is far more busy on his feet, more than doubling his opponent's striking output on average. The winner here is potentially on deck for a flyweight title shot.

    E+ recommends: Benavidez ML -170

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