UFC Fight Night expert picks and best bets: How Brendan Allen can extend his win streak?ESPN PLUS $ MATERIAL
Brendan Allen puts his five-fight winning streak on the line as he faces fellow middleweight contender Paul Craig in the main event at UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas on Saturday night (5 p.m. ET on ESPN+, with prelims at 2 p.m. on ESPN+).
Allen (22-5) has won his last three fights by submission. He beat Bruno Silva by first-round submission in June. Craig (17-6-1) enters the fight following a second-round knockout win over Andre Muniz in July. Neither fighter is ranked in ESPN's divisional rankings.
Andres Waters spoke to veteran MMA coach and ESPN analyst Din Thomas to get his perspective on the UFC main event. ESPN's betting experts Reed Kuhn and Ian Parker add their insights and analysis on the main event and other intriguing bets they like on the card.
Editor's note: Responses have been edited for brevity and clarity.
Middleweight: Brendan Allen vs. Paul Craig
Din Thomas, veteran coach and ESPN analyst
Tale Of The Tape
|Last Fight||Jun. 24, 2023||Jul. 22, 2023|
Allen is the better striker and wrestler, and he's the younger fighter, so his well-rounded skillset should give him a lot of advantages in this fight. But he can't allow himself to get cocky, and he's shown that, at times, he can get too confident and end up getting clipped. He has to be careful to avoid doing that against Paul Craig. Otherwise, if he just sticks to his game and applies pressure to Craig, especially with his wrestling, Allen could force Craig into making mistakes. Allen can make this an easy fight if he gives this matchup the proper respect and doesn't look past Craig.
How Craig wins: Craig is great in bottom position when grappling on the mat. He's sneaky because it often catches people off guard. That may work to his advantage, if Allen underestimates him. Most times, fighters disrespect the bottom game and tend to leave themselves open for submissions.
In addition to his ground game, Craig, a former light heavyweight who moved down to middleweight in July, is just a powerful guy. He's got that old man power. Even though he's at a disadvantage in the striking, I think he could clip Allen and change the course of the fight. To win, Craig will have to look for that big shot or try to catch Allen slipping and then get him into his guard. He may even have to pull guard, which he's not afraid to do. Throw a big shot, and once Allen tries to brawl, pull guard and get the fight where Craig wants it to be.
X-factor: Craig's natural power. He caught Andre Muniz with a punch that hurt him in his last fight. That shot allowed Craig to change the fight and ultimately get the win. If Craig could do that in his last fight, he probably could do that again in this fight.
Prediction: I think Allen gets it done. It may not be as easy as the odds suggest, but he finds a way to beat Craig.
UFC Fight Night: Allen Vs. Craig
|Stand-up striking offense||Allen||Craig|
|Total knockdown ratio (Knockdowns/times knocked down)||3:2||1:3|
|Distance knockdown rate||1.7%||0.0%|
|Head jab accuracy||37%||18%|
|Head power accuracy||35%||24%|
|Standup strike ratio (Attempted vs. opp. attempted)||0.9||1.3|
|Wrestling and grappling|
|TD Attempts per Min Standing/Clinch||0.28||1.04|
|Advances per takedown/top control||1.2||0.7|
|Opponent takedown attempts||25||14|
|Share of fight time in ground control||55%||26%|
|Submission Attempts per Trip to Ground||0.55||0.58|
|Table compiled by Reed Kuhn|