Best bets for UFC Las Vegas 45

December 14, 2021 06:20 PM
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UFC Las Vegas 45 is 2021’s final fight slate of the year. Headlined by heavyweights, this card has 14 scheduled bouts featuring fighters from Canada to Australia who bring varying weaponry into the octagon.

Last week, Charles Oliveira + 145 took the fight right to Dustin Poirier and secured the undisputed portion of his lightweight title with an impressive submission win.

Entering the final week of 2021, Insight the Octagon profitability stands: 29-22 + 10.72 units.

DERRICK LEWIS (+ 120) VS. CHRIS DAUKAUS (-140)

Heavyweight (265 pounds) championship main event

Lewis, the No. 3-ranked heavyweight, had won four in a row before he entered the cage against Ciryl Gane in August. He owns a victory over current champion Francis Ngannou in one of the strangest MMA bouts of all time as well as a recent win over Curtis Blaydes.

Lewis, a blue belt in BJJ, possesses tremendous natural power and delivers incredible country strength with every strike and kick. He’s explosive for six to eight minutes in any bout before his game becomes a simple attempt to club his opponent unconscious with a telegraphed, predictable power shot delivered with glacier-like speed.

Lewis is aware that, with his size, he must ration output in order to remain effective for a couple of rounds then wing it after that because he’s not a mixed martial artist. He’s a one-dimensional brawler who’s been able to find the chin of most of his lower-caliber opponents. When he steps up to face elite fighters in the division, however, his lack of real MMA weaponry leaves him exposed.

Lewis had claimed to be training more effectively for his last several fights, which did not show against Gane. In fact, that claim may be difficult to back up given that he’s 36 old with a 6-foot-3, 265-pound physique and considering the tremendous amount of effort he puts into every “trip hammer hook” he throws.

Daukaus, 32, is a relatively new face in a heavyweight division short on talent. He’s ranked seventh after just four UFC bouts, looking impressive against pedestrian competition.

Daukaus, a former Philly policeman, holds a black belt in BJJ and is somewhat undersized at 240 pounds. But he employs great movement and athleticism, has a solid grappling game, has the cardio to wrestle effectively and has finished all of his UFC opponents so far.

Daukaus steps up in competition for this fight, but he’s catching a fighter on the downside of his career and one who is able to remain effective for only a short time.

Daukaus will need to use his superior footwork to remain evasive while choosing opportune times to attack. He needs to encourage Lewis to expend his precious energy early in the bout. Provided he can evade Lewis’ telegraphed and evolutionarily slow punches early, Daukaus has the chance to prove he is a legitimate top-six threat at heavyweight.

Total in this fight: 1.5 rounds Over -115

I am surprised at the 1.5-rounds total and see this going under only if Daukaus uses absolutely no fight IQ and rushes Lewis. However, fight IQ is one of Daukaus’ strengths.

Over 1.5 rounds -115.

STEVEN THOMPSON (-200) VS. BELAL MUHAMMAD (+ 175)

Welterweight (170 pounds) co-main event

Muhammad is the 10th-ranked welterweight in the UFC, he’s 33 and has a 19-3 professional record. Muhammad has been beaten in the UFC only by Alan Jouban, Vicente Luque and Geoff Neal with a NC decision against Leon Edwards, all top talents in the division.

Muhammad has a structured wrestling base to complement his purple belt in BJJ. His striking has improved dramatically, and his most impressive asset is his dynamic conditioning. Muhammad applies wicked forward pressure to smother, fatigue then eventually overcome opponents.

Thomson, 38, has a fifth-degree black belt in Tetsushin-ryū Kempo, a first-degree black belt in Jujutsu, a Black belt in American Kickboxing and a Brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. These weapons, coupled with Thomson’s experience, athleticism, precision striking, innately evasive defensive skill and unorthodox kicking game provide him with lethal finishing power, provided he is able to maintain the distance to deliver.

Ranked seventh, Thompson is perhaps the most overlooked fighter in the division despite his age. Thompson holds previous championship-level five-round experience and he has faced the best of the division without absorbing an abundance of damage.

Thompson’s Karate base, fluid movement, length and height allow him to effectively evade incoming strikes and kicks while simultaneously positioning himself to counter any attacker with refined precision fists, elbows, feet, shins and knee strikes.

This will be the MMA version of a bull fight as Muhammad will be unrelenting in attempting to force Thompson back, engage him standing, then eventually press him to the cage and drag him to the floor in order to gain dominance.

Thomson, meanwhile, will need to use his movement, counterstriking and length to control the space between the two in order to deliver kicks, elbows, strikes and knees into the incoming Muhammad.

This fight will feature a great contrast of styles, and I handicap Thompson to be a legitimate threat to dominate from bell to bell.

Total for this fight: 2.5 rounds. Over -260.

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