The UFC travels to Asia this week for a fight card that features talent from every corner of the globe. I cherish watching fighting talent from diverse regions of the world locked into a cage to determine mano a mano who is the better fighter.
The one catch for this week’s card is that it kicks off at 2 a.m. PDT Saturday, with the main card beginning at 5 a.m., so grab your lattes and enjoy a mixed martial arts matinee!
Ben Askren -165 vs.
Demian Maia 142
Welterweight (170 pounds)
Main Event (Westgate)
For MMA purists, this fight will be like watching Picasso paint — pure artistic fight pleasure as each man’s expertise lies in separate genres of world-class grappling/wrestling.
These ultra-talented specialists strive to prove to the other that their form of MMA is superior. Many will see this fight as potentially boring because it will be a strategic 25-minute roll on the floor.
Askren enters this fight coming off a highlight- reel KO by Jorge Masvidal, and Maia has rolled off a couple of wins in a row that I believe are affecting the price in this fight. This results in strong betting value on Askren.
Maia, 41, is a world-class fourth-degree BJJ artist who has fought professionally since 2001. While his age is a negative consideration, his vast experience must be regarded as a positive, for Maia has faced the UFC’s top fighting talent for decades.
Maia is more versed in MMA than Askren in that he can strike to an extent. The question is whether he will really want to for, as mentioned, Maia wants to prove to the world that he can conquer the “world-class wrestler.”
The issue for Maia and all BJJ artists is that world-class wrestling talent is kryptonite to world-class BJJ artists. As evidence, three of Maia’s last five fights have been losses — all to wrestlers not quite as accomplished as Askren. Those fighters
— Kamaru Usman, Colby Covington and Tyron Woodley — wrestled Maia to decision victories.
Askren raced to get back into the octagon for this fight, which to me signifies nothing but championship heart and mettle. As dynamic as Askren is with wrestling, he is singularly dimensional. But in this fight it will not matter because these two will maul one another on the mat and see who can dominate the other.
Askren opened -165, and this price has not moved much if at all.
I believe Askren, off that loss, puts whoever was going to be his next opponent in one poor position. In this case, it is Maia. I mentioned value on Askren as I handicap Askren -200 to -225, so anything under -200 represents outstanding value.
I’ll tie Askren -165 to last week’s first parlay leg (Dominick Reyes -165) to close out that wager. Potential payout 1.58 u.