OUR UFC correspondent David Walker (@Walkerdavid32) is in Vegas covering the big fight for us. Here’s his best bet from the undercard.
Chris Weidman v Luke Rockhold | Sunday 04:45
It’s amazing here in Vegas. The atmosphere moved to a different level on Friday with 8,000 Irish fans lifting the roof of the MGM Garden Arena during the Q&A with Holly Holm (which was hilarious by the way) and the proceeding weigh ins.
I can only imagine the noise level will increase further on Saturday as Conor McGregor makes his way into the Octagon. Disappointingly, there has been a real lack of Brazilian support for Aldo, but hopefully the partisan Brazilian fans will show up tonight to help the carnival atmosphere.
I’ve covered the big fight elsewhere for the boys so here is my best bet from the undercard and it involves the fight between Chris Weidman and Luke Rockhold.
This would be headlining most other events and not many MMA fans would have an issue paying for the PPV. This middleweight championship fight should not fail to entertain between the unbeaten Weidman (13-0) and former Strikeforce champion Rockhold (14-2).
Let’s start with the challenger. Rockhold is sensational! He has been on a tear recently winning his last four fights with very impressive stoppages (three via submission and one via KO).
Rockhold fights out of AKA under renowned coach Javier Mendes and is support by training partners such as former heavyweight champ, Cain Velasquez and current light heavyweight champ, Daniel Cormier. Rockhold believes that by training alongside this calibre of fighter, he will be prepared for anything that Weidman has to offer.
Rockhold has an incredible all round game mixing elite level striking and a strong grappling game. At the open workouts, Rockhold was throwing kicks that were simply ridiculous and he is tremendously long limbed despite having a 1″ reach disadvantage against Weidman.
Rockhold is very capable of winning this fight but is priced at 5/4 which does not provide enough value against a man who is unbeaten in his MMA career.
Weidman is the champ but is constantly questioned. He wins but it is very difficult at times to explain how and that is not a criticism. He is an extremely talented fighter who wins at all costs.
In his last four fights, he has defeated a who’s who of former Brazilian champions: Anderson Silva (who was the P4P champ at the time) twice in succession, Lyoto Machida and, most recently, Vitor Belfort.
Weidman has simply run through them all but is still questioned by many MMA fans. If he beats Rockhold on Saturday, then it will be difficult for him to be questioned further. Weidman is the slight favourite at 8/11 but there is not a great return considering the risk that Rockhold poses.
Rockhold and Weidman have very similar striking stats with 3.55 and 3.43 significant strikes landed per minute, both with a 43% accuracy. Weidman is slightly more susceptible to being hit with 2.18 significant strikes being absorbed per minute compared to Rockhold’s 1.65.
Weidman, however, is a much more dominant grappler and has 3.75 takedowns per 15 minutes in comparison to his challenger who has 0.35.
Add in the fact that Weidman has never been taken down in his professional career but has a 61% accuracy in takedowns and it is likely that Rockhold will spend time on his back in this fight. Not that Rockhold will be unprepared for this as he has an average of 1.6 submission attempts per 15 minutes and has submitted 9 of his 14 opponents en route to victory.
In total, Rockhold has finished opponents 12/14 times whilst winning and Weidman 9/13 times so it is very surprising to see that BetVictor are offering a win via finish at evens which is a sensational price and the bet I am plumping for in this fight.
Whilst I feel that Weidman will win via KO/TKO at 29/20 (Bet365), that price is not a great deal better than the evens on offer which is a safer bet should Rockhold pull off the upset.
Chris Weidman v Luke Rockhold – Win by KO/TKO or disqualification (Evens Bet Victor)
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