Best bets for UFC Fight Night: Rob Font vs. Cody Garbrandt 👊

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[h=1]Best bets for UFC Fight Night: Rob Font vs. Cody Garbrandt[/h]
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The UFC bantamweight title picture is a logjam due to the controversial upset that occurred when defending champ Petr Yan landed an illegal strike to the downed challenger, Aljamain Sterling. Months later, Sterling (now the champ, via disqualification) is still recovering from surgery, while the Yan rematch has yet to be given a firm date.

So, it would appear nobody new is entering the bantamweight title picture any time soon, unless it's squeezed in by the end of 2021. That said, the headliners this week will put themselves into that conversation for whenever the division can move forward. Or perhaps the winner will advance to a title eliminator against the winner of Cory Sandhagen and TJ Dillashaw, assuming that fight finally happens.

It's crowded title challenger group in the post-Cejudo era, but this week's main event is a key part of solving it.

Prelims start at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN+ and the main card begins at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN+.

Odds are courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill.
[h=2]Bantamweight main event: No. 4 Cody Garbrandt (-105) vs. No. 3 Rob Font (-115)[/h]
[h=2]Tale Of The Tape[/h]
Last fight weight classBantamweightBantamweight
Age2933
Height6868
Reach65.571.5
StanceOrthodoxOrthodox
Analyzed minutes90100
Stand-up striking offense
Total knockdown ratio (scored:received)10:56:0
Distance knockdown rate5.8%2.5%
Head jab accuracy39%34%
Head power accuracy32%33%
Total stand-up strike ratio0.91.2
Striking defense
Total head strike defense75%74%
Distance knockdown defense ("Chin")95%100%
Wrestling and grappling
TD attempts per min standing/clinch0.170.28
Takedown accuracy33%36%
Advances per takedown/top control0.60.5
Opponent takedown attempts929
Takedown defense68%59%
Share of total ground time in control63%43%
Submission attempts per trip to ground0.000.33

CODY GARBRANDT ROB FONT

These two bantamweights have combined for 16 career knockdowns scored, a rarity for any pairing, let alone in one of the smallest divisions. And both of them still have plenty of fights ahead of them. When lines opened, Garbrandt was a clear favorite, but the market has bet this down to a near pick 'em.



We could be in for a banger of a stand-up war, as neither man is typically eager to take fights to the ground. Both men spend more time on their feet than average, and both men prefer to box, each aiming 86% of standing strikes at the head of their opponents.

One key difference is pace. Expect Font to initiate exchanges, as he averages over 15 strike attempts per minute at a distance, compared to just under nine for Garbrandt. In general, Font tends to outwork opponents, mixing in a lot of jabs, while Garbrandt allows himself to be outworked. That pattern should remain true here, as Garbrandt favors counters, due to his shorter reach and swings with power strikes with the vast majority of his punches.

Font will likely get the edge is round-by-round scoring, but only if Garbrandt doesn't catch Font moving forward too recklessly. Each man should fight to his style and strength, and that makes it a hard one to predict -- especially as Garbrandt recently disclosed challenging symptoms from a COVID-19 diagnosis.

E+ recommends: Pass, unless Garbrandt can be found at plus money.
[h=2]Best bets elsewhere on the card[/h]
Deep on the undercard, submission ace Claudio Silva (-110) will face off against veteran gatekeeper Court McGee (-110). In terms of stand-up, neither is much of a threat. They both combine below average striking accuracy and power with sloppy striking defense. The primary difference on the feet is McGee's far busier pace. It's unlikely either will run away with the fight on the feet, but it's also unlikely to be purely a standing duel.

McGee has high school wrestling roots, though he doesn't normally rely on that base. He does attempt his fair share of takedowns, but his success rate is below average, and his defense is about average. The net-net on the ground is that McGee has been in control more often than not, but still appears to be susceptible to a concerted grappling offense.

And that leaves us with Silva, who could easily be described as a submission specialist, given that nine of his 14 wins have come by that method. His wrestling and takedown statistics have been dominant to date, and his only UFC loss occurred when he failed to get the fight to the ground on 10 of 12 takedown attempts against James Krause in his most recent outing.

Overall, Silva spends a third of all Octagon time on the ground controlling his opponents and attempts submissions on half of all trips to ground. Even if Silva can't lock in the submission against McGee (who has not been submitted in pro competition), dominant grappling could at least win rounds. And if he's on his game, we could see him give McGee his first ever submission.

E+ recommends: Money line play on Silva.

For a (minor) upset, consider former strawweight champion Carla Esparza (+100). The game plan of the "Cookie Monster" is never a surprise to anyone, as she is absolutely going to wrestle. But that plan, even if obvious, has been often successful, even against dangerous strikers and generally highly ranked opposition. She spends over a quarter of all fight time on the ground controlling opponents, second only to Claudio Silva on this fight card.

Her opponent, Yan Xiaonan ()-120, is on an impressive 6-0 undefeated streak in the UFC but hasn't faced an elite wrestler yet. Esparza opened as a bigger underdog, but already the market has forced the lines to nearly an even pick 'em. It's possible Esparza could even flip to the favorite.

E+ recommends: Take the over 2.5 rounds or fight will go the distance prop on the assumption Esparza will use a wrestling-heavy attack, using them for parlays. Money line lean on Esparza at plus money, or better yet, Esparza by decision for a larger payout than the money line.
 
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