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UFC closes year in South Korea

The final UFC card for 2019 is in Busan, South Korea, and will be broadcast beginning at midnight Friday PT, with the main card kicking off at 3 a.m. Foreign fight cards like this highlight regional and local talent and spark growth for the sport.

As is typical with these slates, I am looking to invest in only a couple of fights besides the main event.

Last week’s UFC 245, simply put, was profitable. We lost a half-unit on Colby Covington but witnessed an epic scrap and won 1.5 units on the Alexander Volkanovski decision. Insight the Octagon profitability stands at 20-18 6.76u to date, and we’ll tread lightly with this week’s matchups, preferring to finish the season in the black.

(Any reader who played just $50 per wager on this year’s “Insight the Octagon” releases would have been able to pay for a full VSiN subscription and pocket some cheese besides. It’s business …)

Frankie Edgar 160 vs. Chan Sung Jung -185 — Featherweight (145 pounds) main event

This was had been scheduled for a few years ago, but Edgar withdrew because of an injury. But Jung lost his original opponent for this bout, so Edgar, who was slated for a later UFC card, accepted this fight on short notice.

“The Korean Zombie” is on similar plane to the fighters from Russia who are born and bred to become fighting machines. He’s decorated in Judo, Hapkido, BJJ and Taekwondo. He also is a mature, centered individual who interrupted his career for two years to serve in Korea’s military. Jung is primarily a stand-up fighter, and while he is colorful and aggressive offensively, he can also be wild with his strikes. That can and does expose him, as in his loss to Jair Rodriguez. Jung’s level of opposition and experience surely put him in position for a competitive match with Edgar.

Edgar’s career has spanned 14 years and a couple of weight divisions. He’s a world-class wrestling talent with ever-flowing cardio and outstanding striking. I’ve written often of the wrestler’s advantages, and Edgar possesses them all. His plan will be to mix striking with takedowns and try to damage the Zombie and control him from the top position on the mat, where the flamboyant striker’s effectiveness will be squelched.

Edgar’s wealth of experience is surely a benefit, yet there comes a time when experience gives way to an erosion of skills, and I concern myself as to whether this may be occurring with Edgar. He’s also giving up height, 4 inches of reach and six years to Jung.

I lean to Edgar 160 but pass for now pending weigh-ins.

Aleksandar Rakic -150 vs. Volkan Oezdemir 135 — Light-heavyweight (205 pounds) co-main event

Rakic is a towering 6-foot-5 Austrian who is an aggressive kickboxer/striker. He’ll hold height and reach advantages, so this sets up to be a striking match Rakic feels well prepared for. Still, I’m not certain how prepared he’ll actually be.

Rakic has fought 13 times in nine years, which is not particularly active. His UFC career spans four fights, the last two of which were first-round KOs over fighters of decent caliber. The previous two were workmanlike decisions against less capable fighters. Rakic’s size will be an asset, but he’ll be giving away vast octagon experience.

Oezdemir, a Swede, is also specialized at kickboxing/striking, so I believe we’ll witness a superior striking battle. The difference as I see it is that Oezdemir’s UFC body of work is stacked with top talent, and he’s not been overwhelmed against any of them besides current heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier.

Though he has lost three of his last four fights, he has been defeated by Cormier, Anthony Smith and Dominick Reyes — a fight many believe he won, myself included. There’s no shame in those defeats. Further, this ultra-elite level of competition indicates this fight should be priced with Oezdemir a slight chalk or pick-’em at worst.

I believe Oezdemir to be the more battle-tested, polished professional mixed martial artist. And though he’ll have to manage Rakic’s size, range and power early in this fight, Oezdemir will display his durability and forward pressure and chop down the larger, less-tested fighter.

Oezdemir 135

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