UFC Fight Night best bets: Reyes vs. Prochazka

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Last week’s UFC 261 in Jacksonville, Fla., featured three championship fights, each of which ended via finish, much to the delight of the capacity crowd at Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena.

This week we return to Las Vegas, where light-heavyweight contenders will do battle at the UFC Apex. The small cage will encourage confrontation between these two sizable sluggers as well the other three bouts that feature middleweight and light-heavyweight combatants.

Last week Rose Namajunas used a stealth front kick to the head of Weili Zhang to end the night early for the now former champion. Namajunas, again strawweight champion, is a fluid-moving gifted mixed martial artist who used her length, quickness and agility to finish the former champion in the first round.

I look forward to another meeting between these two where the opportunity to review new pricing in a rematch will be of interest as I believe that line may look a little different next time.  

Insight the Octagon 2021: 9-6 + 4.15 units

JIRI PROCHAZKA -135 VS. DOMINICK REYES + 115

Light heavyweight (205 pounds), Main Event

Fifth-ranked Prochazka is a relative newcomer to the division’s top 10. The 28-year-old Czech fighter will be shorter by a touch but will hold a three-inch reach advantage.

Prochazka’s fighting base is Muay Thai, which means he is a striker/kicker with active elbows and knees. Prochazka, 1-0 in the UFC, is not a refined striker, but he is an aggressive, powerful one who has been past the first round just twice in his last nine bouts.

Prochazka relies on his size, forward pressure and profuse power to bludgeon opponents and force them into a toe-to-toe throwdown. To date he’s had success with that simple approach.

Prochazka’s shortcomings entering are his lack of UFC experience, the capability of his previous opponents faced other than Volkan Oezdemir and finally the fact that he travels to the U.S. for his first event outside Europe.

Reyes fought and came razor close to beating champion Jon Jones two fights back. In his last outing, for the light-heavyweight title, he faced Jan Blachowicz and while Blachowicz earned that finish fairly, it was surely the poorest performance of Reyes career.

Was that Blachowicz taking Reyes out of his game? Certainly, but I also believe Reyes was a little intoxicated with himself after his success against Jones instead of focusing on the task at hand, which was Blachowicz.

Reyes, a southpaw, is an inch taller than Prochazka but will give up three inches in reach. He’s a deft, athletic striker with a blue belt in BJJ, which may come in handy should he have the opportunity to drag Prochaska to the floor to tire the monster out and sap him of his will.

Comparing careers, Reyes has faced a more competent level of opponent, while possessing much more octagon experience.

Although Prochazka dominated Oezdemir in his debut, it takes more than one supreme outcome to claim legitimate top-five status in the UFC’s light-heavyweight division.

Reyes enters desperate to return to No. 1 contender status and make amends for his last outing, which he readily admits was unsatisfactory. Reyes will be truly tested here, which will tell us whether he is a legitimate top-five talent in the division or not.  

Reyes must use his complete skill set to navigate this bout into the late second round and beyond in order to tax the singularly dimensioned knockout artist and force him to expend energy. From that point Reyes may be in a great position to tee off on a guy who may be in line for a Ph.D. in MMA.

Reyes + 115

Total for this fight: 1.5 Over -155

Lean Over as I believe Reyes and the Over are correlated.

GIGA CHIKADZE -155 VS. CUB SWANSON + 135

Featherweight (145 pounds) Co-Main Event

Two unranked fighters who have a real opportunity to break into the top 15 of the division.

Chikadze is the taller, younger, longer man. His speed, movement and precision striking will be accentuated as he strives to keep his opponent at distance and on the end of his volume striking. He’s not overly dangerous or powerful, but he is a volume fighter and with time he does have the ability to finish.

Swanson, 37, has won his last two bouts after losing four straight fights. His knockout of Daniel Pineda last December looms important because Swanson was coming off an ACL before the bout.

Versed in BJJ and with a competent stand-up game, Swanson will need to earn his way inside Chikadze in order to negate his length and soften Chikadze up with dirty boxing and inside body work. Should this fight fall to the floor, Swanson will hold the advantage.

Swanson is long on grit, mettle, experience and guile and is the more mature, experienced fighter, but he is 37 and fighting a man who holds physical and speed/quickness advantages. This is a well-matched fight.

Monitoring.

Total for this fight: 2.5 Over -200

MERAB DVALISHVILI -240 VS. CODY STAMANN + 200

Bantamweight (135 pounds)

Here’s a bout featuring two solid wrestling-based fighters who will each attempt to go out and sap the strength, will and energy of the other. These fighters are about the same size, though Dvalishvili will own arm and leg reach advantages. Footwork is what will separate these athletes.

Stamman, a sturdy wrestler, has little fluidity of movement when standing while Dvalishvili more resembles the Tasmanian devil as he moves frantically but with quickness, purpose and unrelenting cardio. Dvalishvili will win this bout using constant in-and-out movement, superior cardio and wrestling.  

I’ll look to props later this week with regard to releases on this bout.

Total for this fight: 2.5 Over -280

 

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