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BATTLEGROUND BRAZIL

By Lou Finocchiaro  () 

UFC 244 captivated fight fans with the BMF belt on the line Nov. 2, and another outstanding slate of world-class MMA talent will be presented for UFC 245 on Dec. 14. So it makes sense that last week’s Moscow production along with this week’s ESPN 22 card from Brazil pales in comparison.

Last week’s “Insight the Octagon” discussed Greg Hardy as being ill equipped to compete with a polished mixed martial artist like Alexander Volkov. Volkov pieced up the athletic MMA novice over three rounds, and though Hardy was game, he was in a gunfight with a dagger. Because Volkov was such a large favorite I did not release it, but suffice it to say that refined MMA skills and years of experience do matter in MMA.

Let’s break down Brazil.

Jan Blachowicz -190 vs. Ronaldo “Jacare’’ Souza 170

Light-heavyweight (205 pounds)

Main Event

Jacare is not only an OG BJJ savant, he has competed at the highest level of MMA since his first professional fight in 2003. His dominant performances over top-10 killers are too lengthy to list.

But vast experience does exact a price — age and attrition. Both apply to Jacare. For 14 years, Jacare lost only three times after his debut, going 25-4. Yet since 2017, he has beaten only two aged, pedestrian

fighters and has lost to three of the middleweight division’s top 15. Throughout his career Jacare has fought at middleweight

(185) but moves up to light-heavyweight (205) for this bout, which I find quite odd.

The Jacare we’ll watch Saturday is not the Jacare of five years ago. The difference

is that he’s now 39, and the accumulated damage of fighting world-class opponents with diverse skills for 16

years far exceeds the experience he has gained from those same fights. Add to this the move up in weight and it spells desperation.

Blachowicz will be the taller, larger man in the Octagon. He’s six years younger with a 4-inch reach edge in the arms and a 3-inch reach edge in the legs. These physical attributes contribute to Blachowicz’s confidence, and he has won five of his last six fights against top-caliber mixed martial artists in the light-heavyweight division.

Blachowicz will want to keep this fight standing to utilize his size, speed and length and minimize Jacare’s damaging strikes via leg kicks and forceful fists. Jacare’ must not try to stand with the Polish power puncher but must find a way inside Blachowicz and clasp, clinch and maul him against the fence, then to the floor. That is where he holds his only reasonable chance to win this fight.

Though Blachowicz is traveling into Jacare’s backyard, he holds a dynamic edge in striking and can compete with Jacare’s grappling. Provided weigh-ins go smoothly and no last-minute issues arise, I see Blachowicz controlling this fight. To minimize exposure, I’ll use Blachowicz - 190 as the first leg in a two-team parlay (1u), leaving the second leg open for an upcoming December fight card.

To date “Insight the Octagon” profitability stands: 18-17 4.21u

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